Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

What’s Flickr done for George Eastman House?

Posted by zyrcster in Articles, Interviews
Heurtoir - 18 Avenue Montaigne (8e arr)

Eugène Atget
Heurtoir – 18 Avenue Montaigne (8e arr), 1901-02
George Eastman House: 1981:0950:0033.0001

George Eastman House celebrates their first year on the Flickr Commons with a few words about their achievements on Flickr. We asked Ryan Donahue (Flickr Commons Picture Mover) and Jessica Johnston (Flickr Commons Picture Picker) this question: “If you had to pick 3 things that being on Flickr has done for GEH, what would they be?

What the Flickr Commons has done for George Eastman House:

  1. Engaging and sharing Eastman House collections with Flickr users is fun and helps fulfill our mission to tell the story of photography. What’s better than that?
  2. Commons users are giving us a lot of really interesting data about our photos: thousands of tags, hundreds of comments (some insightful, some interesting and some funny).
    There is interesting work yet to be done on the data the project has gathered.
  3. The Commons is exposing the museum to online communities that are new to George Eastman House. The Commons is also preparing George Eastman House for the Museum 2.0 movement that is opening new lines of communication and creating conversation between curators and the public. The Commons has fostered George Eastman House’s relationship with innovators in this movement, such as the Brooklyn Museum, the Powerhouse Museum, and the Library of Congress.
Jiu-Jitsu for Women
Jiu-Jitsu for Women
Outdoor urban market scene
Outdoor urban market scene

Happy Commonsversary, George Eastman House!

And thanks to Ryan and Jessica for their own words!

GEH as transcribed by Wordle

GEH as transcribed by Wordle, licensed cc-by

Interview: Paula Bray and Sebastian Chan, Powerhouse Museum

Posted by Stephanie Fysh in Interviews, News

The Powerhouse Museum is not just a fabulous institution for Sydney, Australia; it’s also a powerhouse in the world of “museums 2.0″. For the Powerhouse’s first anniversary in the Commons, I had an opportunity to interview Paula Bray and  Seb Chan — two of the staff making the museum an industry leader.

What is your job at the Powerhouse Museum, and what is your role with the Powerhouse’s Commons presence?

Paula Bray

Paula Bray

PAULA: Paula Bray, Manager Visual & Digitisation Services. I manage Photography, Photo Library, Image Resource Centre, Rights & Permissions and just recently Audio Visual has moved into our area. I have been working on the Commons since we launched last year. I select the collections and choose images from each of these on a weekly basis ready to load to the Commons. I then send them to Luke (Dearnley), one of the Web & Social Technologies team who uses the Flickr API to upload them. Once made public, I add them to sets and groups and watch what happens. I participate with the members checking comments, tags and notes. I check the account several times a day. The Commons is a really big part of my working schedule now and I consume this with great appreciation.

Seb Chan

Seb Chan

SEB: Sebastian Chan, Head of Digital, Social & Emerging Technologies. I’m Paula’s boss and also manage the managers of the Museum’s Research Library; Web & Social Technologies team; our digital media teaching labs; and a number of national and state-wide digitization and online projects. I develop strategy and direct the general directions we take our around digital content and the like. I was much more involved directly in the Commons in the early stages but I still pop in to the account every week and communicate the learnings and usage data to our Director/CEO.

When did the Powerhouse first hear about the Commons?

SEB: George Oates and I were both speaking at Web Directions South in September 2007 and the conference organizers knew we both shared similar interests in designing for social behaviour on the web and put us in touch. George visited the Powerhouse and met Paula and during the visit mentioned that the Library of Congress was working with them on this “Commons project”. We immediately told her that if the project expanded we’d want to be involved. Over the months between September 2007 and April 2008 we saw the LoC go live and George stayed in touch with us so that we could come online second just in time for Museums & the Web 2008, where we were both speaking!

What lessons did you take from the Library of Congress’s first couple of months for your own Commons debut?

Sydney GPO colonnade

Sydney GPO colonnade

SEB: We were fascinated by the rapid take-up by the Flickr public and we were conscious that our content would be very Australian-centric. I had a long conversation with George about the global makeup of the Flickr userbase and its US-centricity — and she assured us that there was a sizeable Australian userbase. Because we already had tagging on our own website we were less interested in tagging but very excited about the geotagging possibilities — especially because most of the initial set of photos we were uploading were of places, buildings and scenery.

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Interview: Mary McKercher, of the Brooklyn Museum, on Egypt

Posted by zyrcster in Interviews

Photographs of Egypt have long fascinated the West. We talked with Mary McKercher, photographer and archaeologist for the Brooklyn Museum’s Mut Expedition, about the most recent season of work. Her new photographs are on Flickr in the Mut 2009: Sights at the Site and Beyond set and at the museum’s Dig Diary.

Mary McKercher

Mary McKercher

Mary, what is your involvement with the Brooklyn Museum and the Mut Expedition?

Based on work I had done for another expedition, Richard Fazzini, Curator of Egyptian art at the museum and Director of the Mut Expedition, hired me as expedition photographer in 1979. We first met face-to-face at the site and were married later that year. I am still the expedition photographer but I get involved in the digging as well since I am trained in archaeology and speak reasonable Arabic. Back in Brooklyn I handle the post-season photo work and have lately become interested in studying the pottery we have found.

Going back to the Mut Precinct year after year is the best part of the job. Luxor is a beautiful place and there is always the curiosity about what we will find this year. We also have many Egyptian, European and American friends and colleagues whom we only see in Egypt. Not only is it fun to catch up with the news, but the chance to work with people we like and respect and to talk to colleagues about what we are doing while we are doing it can be very useful.

Mut & Amun

What is the Mut Expedition?

The 20+ acre Mut Precinct, part of the Karnak temple complex, lies about 100 yards south of the Amun Precinct to which it is linked by an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes. It contains the Mut Temple (surrounded on 3 sides by a sacred lake called the Isheru), two other large temples, a number of smaller chapels, and remains of domestic buildings of various periods.

Mut, the consort of Amun and mother of the moon-god Khonsu, had 2 forms, like many Egyptian goddesses: beneficent Mut, and fierce Sakhmet, who protected Egypt but could destroy it if angered. This dual nature is the reason for the many large statues of lioness-headed Sakhmet at the site. Rituals to keep Mut/Sakhmet happy often involved singing, dancing, eating and drinking.

The earliest official dig took place in 1895-97 and was led by two Englishwomen, Margaret Benson and Janet Gourlay, the first women to lead an archaeological expedition in Egypt Although additional work was carried out by others during the intervening years, the Brooklyn Museum expedition, begun in 1976, was the first to undertake a systematic exploration of the site as a whole. Since 2001, we have shared the site with an expedition from the Johns Hopkins University. All work at the site is carried out under the supervision of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, which is responsible for the exploration, preservation, and restoration of Egypt’s rich cultural heritage.

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Interview: Meet The Digital Media Team at the National Maritime Museum

Posted by Anna Graf in Interviews

This week we find out a bit more about the very cool folks who look after all things Web-related at the National Maritime Museum, including the museum’s Flickr Commons account.

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

As the NMM in Greenwich is my local museum, I was delighted when they joined the Commons in September 2008. I visit the museum regularly as it takes up a large area in the middle of Greenwich and is housed in some very photogenic buildings. I was pretty excited when Fiona invited me down to the Museum one Wednesday afternoon to meet the team and have a chat about Flickr and the Commons. Having met them all, I can say I like the NMM even more now than I did before.

The NMM also organized and hosted our very first Flickr Commons meetup, held not long after these interviews. You can check that out too!

1. What is your involvement with the National Maritime Museum and the Commons Project on Flickr?

Fiona Romeo, National Maritime Museum

Fiona Romeo

FIONA: I’m Head of Digital Media at the National Maritime Museum (and Royal Observatory, Greenwich), which means that it’s my job to think about how we can transform our visitors’ experience of the museum through innovative uses of technology. In particular, my department is responsible for things like digitization; the museum website; and creative development of digital content and services — from a monthly podcast, to interactive exhibits and mobile learning. About half of my department is participating in the Commons project in some way.

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Interview: Paul Hagon, Developer

Posted by Jayel Aheram in Interviews

Paul Hagon is the mashup developer whose amazing mashups of Google Maps and images from the Commons were featured on Indicommons recently.

Could you tell me more about yourself?

My first coding experiences were back in high school when I learned the basics of programming on a VIC-20 and a TRS-80. This sparked an interest in computers, but my real passion is in design. I studied Industrial Design at university.  I was still involved with computers then, but mostly doing a lot of CAD drawings, renderings, Illustrator and Photoshop work (this was back in the days of Photoshop 1.0). After graduating I worked in the furniture industry for 7 years before moving into the web world.

I always had a fascination about how people interact with things. Industrial design was perfect for feeding that fascination — it has an extremely personal scale of interacting with an object.  Designing for the web is so similar, it’s interaction at a personal level.

When the internet came on the scene in the mid ’90s, I read lots of websites and read lots of books, taught myself HTML and never looked back.  I moved out of the furniture world and into the world of cultural institutions when I got a job as a web developer with the Australian War Memorial (who recently joined Flickr Commons). Since 2006 I’ve been a web developer at the National Library of Australia.

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Interview: Daniel Bogan, Flickr developer

Posted by Jayel Aheram in Interviews
waferbaby

waferbaby

We tried to find out from Daniel Bogan, the Australian Flickr developer who goes by “waferbaby”, just what was built to drive The Commons for its launch a year ago. Here’s what we learned:

Tell us a little bit about yourself? What is Waferbaby?

I’ve been a bit of a web geek for over a decade now, accidentally falling into the industry. I do web development work — the back end stuff, the bits of a site you never really see. Though I do dabble in front end work now and then, badly.

I mostly write PHP (for work) and Ruby (for fun) code.

And “waferbaby” was originally going to be a comic label, and ended up becoming my online “persona”. Go figure.

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Interview: Helena Zinkham, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Posted by Stephanie Fysh in Interviews, News

As part of the Indicommons marking of the first anniversary of The Commons, I interviewed Helena Zinkham, Acting Chief, Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, to learn more about how The Commons came to be a year ago.

Let’s start with a bit about you. What’s your job title, and what do you do when you’re not doing things for The Commons?

My work as Acting Chief for the Prints & Photographs Division at the Library of Congress is a lively mix of activities. With 40 very capable colleagues, I’m trying to make the 14 million pictures in our care as available and useful as possible. I’m a communication switchboard, project coordinator, cataloging teacher, and paperwork scrambler. For fun, I write about ways to read and research photos, and, of course, I enjoy interacting with the Flickr members tremendously.

Celebrating the Commons launch with cake

Celebrating the Commons launch!

After 30 years of working with old pictures, it feels like I’ve come happily full circle. From local historical societies in the 1970s, where we spent time poring over old photos with researchers, asking, “Could that be … ?” or “Do you see …?” then running to a crumbling city directory volume to check a street address. Now, it’s a vast virtual reading room where people all over the world can offer identifications and debate their ideas by tapping the new online info sources as well as their personal experience and expertise. Flickr Commons has a comfortably familiar feel while also expanding enormously the number of people who can participate. I’ve got tremendous respect for the Flickr members.

Most people on Flickr assume that Flickr came up with the idea for The Commons then called the Library of Congress with an invitation. What actually happened?

The Library of Congress initiated the contact with Flickr, but it was Flickr designer George Oates who had the brilliant idea to create a brand new community space — The Commons, where many cultural heritage organizations could offer photos. To be clear, LOC is far from the first library to participate in Flickr. We called Flickr up, though, because we wanted to load a fairly large quantity of images and invite lots of tags and comments to better identify the images. And we couldn’t do that with the available licenses for photos on Flickr.

Our relationship to the photos is that of a steward. Unlike photographers who load their own work to Flickr, we don’t own the copyright for images in our collections. We needed a new rights statement that became “No known copyright restrictions.” The rights conversation and other discussions over the summer of 2007 resulted in The Commons launch on January 16, 2008.

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Interview: Shelley Bernstein, Chief of Technology, Brooklyn Museum

Posted by Anna Graf in Interviews
Shelley Bernstein

Shelley Bernstein

The first in our series of interviews featuring some of the curators, archivists, collection managers and webmasters behind The Commons.

1. What is your involvement with the Brooklyn Museum archives and the Commons Project on Flickr?

I’m the Chief of Technology here at the Museum and I’m responsible for the Brooklyn Museum web presence which includes not only our website, but also the Museum’s profiles on social networking sites like Flickr, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and beyond. In terms of The Commons on Flickr, I work directly with Deirdre Lawrence, our Head Librarian ,and Angie Park, our Archivist, to help upload and manage content that is under their direct care. In addition, I coordinate with Deborah Wythe and Erin Sweeney in the Digital Lab, who help get those assets scanned into digital format. Generally, I work behind the scenes coordinating everything and you’ll see me working with the web community the most, though many of our team are now starting to respond using their own personal accounts, which is pretty cool.

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