Project Reflection

The aim of my project was to create a platform where stories about cultural heritage conservation can be shared to the wider public. I wanted to incorporate all aspects of conservation such as the documentation, storage, object background and the repair process. Mostly I want to aim this at family heirlooms but also other experiences that I come across as a conservation student. I want people to think about the culture around them, in their local community, town, their family and to appreciate what they have. With the ultimate aim being that individual heritage is respected between people and groups.

We often tear each other down for our differences, this happens on an individual level but also on a national level as displayed through racism. I feel that if we could understand each other’s stories we would realize we are not that different and help to build each other up. Museums are a great place to go to learn about the past however as a platform they don’t reach everyone. Digital media such as websites and social media, I feel has a much larger outreach potential to those people who do frequent museums and galleries as well as those that do not.

By creating a website with a blog linked to the social media platform Instagram I would be able to communicate short snippets of cultural information as well as longer in depth blog pieces about cultural heritage and conservation. Types of blogs I think would work well are the conservation of different family heirlooms and then reincorporating that into the home so that inherited items are no longer put in a cupboard but brought out as part of the everyday. While some people proudly display inherited items, others don’t know what to do with them. They don’t know their history, how to care for an object or its significance other then in belonged to Grandma X and therefore must stay in the family.

 

Overall my project has gone pretty well, it is an on going project that will build momentum through more engagement and content. I found it difficult to create daily content for Instagram but I am sure its something I have to get use to and that will come easier with practice. My overall aim was communicating through Instgram better then my website as I was able to put up many images about different aspects of heritage where as the website so far only introduces cultural heritage conservation.

I also have never built a website before so that was something I had to learn from scratch. From finding a server and host, to making the website look professional. It was a lot more time consuming then I originally intended. One thing I would like to do that I did not is to combine the landing page and home page article making that the new home and landing page however I am not sure how to do that.

I download Insta-track and Jetpack so I can monitor engagement, followers, visitors user interaction on both Instagram and the website. I think this will be more useful as time goes on and I will be able to see what content works and what doe not work. I certainly think I executed my plan and produced a good project in the end so I am happy with the overall result. My first blog is a little dry however with the sound of a typical university assignment and not so much a casual blog. I need to work on finding my voice as a blogger and communicating my content in a more casual and friendly manner.

 

One of the comments I received back on my project proposal was the development of my idea, which had not been communicated effectively. I definitely struggled with honing in on what my specific idea was as I had so many ideas that I wanted to incorporate altogether. I think this is more of a morphing project that is going to evolve, as I get deeper into creating content, seeing what works and how to communicate with my audience. Often ideas start out as one thing and as you work on them they become another. I think this is how I will find my specific niche by just trialling different ideas and coming to a natural rhythm in the content I put out.

Originally I aimed to post content on Instagram everyday. The Instagram audience thrives on regular posts to build an audience and to keep that audience engaged. I managed to post half the time of what I intended. My first post was delayed as I wanted my website to be up and running however that took much longer then I anticipated so in the end I has just had to start posting. Secondly I found posting everyday rather exhausting, finding a photo, thinking of a caption, appropriate hashtags and then engaging with an audience – writing comments, liking posts etc. This will come easier and a little more natural with time and the more experience I gain. Ultimately sitting down, pre-planning images with written captions and hasthtags will also make this process easier. I planned all my images but often found I didn’t have time to research and write a meaningful caption so the images I planned were left un-posted.

I also aimed to upload two blog posts to my website which again I achieved 50% of. Writing the blog was not too difficult but I couldn’t launch my first blog with out a fully functioning website and this took time as I do not have any previous website building experience. Going forward the website is up and running so posting a monthly blog should be well within reach. I think after I build momentum creating a monthly post I can then look into creating two posts a month and so on depending where the project goes in the future.

 

The website, blog and Instagram interaction can be extended indefinitely with content and engagement being put out on a regular basis. I have a number of blog ideas that I still want to put out including the conservation of some ambrotype photographs and how they have been reframed for a modern home.

I would also like to connect with some local museums and create some behind the scenes content. Or create a virtual gallery on my website that users can explore. Plus once an audience picks up suggestions on specific concerns someone may have to an inherited item and how they could incorporate that inherited item into their modern home or how to care for it.

I look forward to evolving my website and finding my voice on this platform. You can check out my website at www.elucidatingconservation.com and follow me on Instagram @elucidatingconservation. (You will need an Instagram account to view the IG posts)

 

 

Week 11 – Reflection

This week we looked at archiving the web. I explored some flash backs to the past like Pacman and Windows 3.1. I was definitely taken back to my childhood with my mother playing solitaire in the kitchen. Archiving the web is fantastic for time travel. We can create whole worlds within our computers and never feel like we left a decade.

I also tried the Wayback machine. Now I am not sure if I am using it wrong but I did find that some younger websites that I tested did not give much detail at all. Even though some sites were created in 2013-2014 the earliest date I could get was around mid 2015 and even these snapshots didn’t display images and fonts. I wonder if the website builder used for individual websites has something to do with how these sites are archived in the wayback machine. I tested some older sites and while they could take me back to 2004, the captures were pretty much blank until I reached 2015.

Web archiving is certainly something that needs wide attention for historical records. Although it does create an individual and perhaps moral conundrum for people who want something removed from their website for reasons such as character deformation, wrong information being displayed, mismatched facts etc. The old saying that ‘once something is on the web, it is there forever’, really comes to mind.

The twitter archive not only has archival benefits for historical records but also trend migration. I see the use of TAGS being archived very helpful when exploring the way news travels and what topics are popular at different times. Combine this with real world news events and we have the start of a map for how news and events influences behaviour.

Week 10 – Reflection

The main difference I feel with AR, VR and 3D experiences today when compared to virtual experiences ten and twenty years ago, is that the public are more accepting of it and our acceptance is only going to grow. Nothing is truly different, just modified, expanded and more appealing to the modern eye. So integrating virtual experiences into museums will definitely aid in the learning and entertainment practice of institutions overall. How this is ultimately done will depend on how the public receives it and inturn will be adjusted accordingly.

This week I experimented with the 123Dcatch App. I created an image of a vitage kitchen scale. Check it out below in the link – http://www.123dapp.com/Catch/Vintage-Persinware-Kitchen-Scale/6285472

I did go on to experiment with meshmixer and sketchfab however it is all very fiddly and like many weeks before I feel I need to just move on in order to cover the workload, after all it took 4 tries to capture an image in 3D that was presentable.

One of the best ways to engage and learn is by using our senses, smell, taste, touch, sight and hearing. The use of 3D images and printers to recreate objects would definitely aid in the learning value to students. Replicas are a great way of understanding the past and the future. Engineers and architects use 3D models to predict the viability of buildings before spending time and money on implementing them. We use 3D models in chemistry to reconstruct models of atoms that cannot be seen by the naked eye. The benefits of 3D structures are already in place. Unlike the real thing however the smell, weight, textures etc of the object may not match up and this could potentially harm a learning experience. An image comes to mind from my Geochemistry class last semester. Two people side by side held up a bar of gold. To the unknowing person it looked like they both were rich. However someone with a little more ‘real’ experience could notice the difference between the two. One person held it  low by their waist while the other person held it high above their head. This wasn’t a battle of strength, this was an image of what it takes to hold the real thing which is extremely heavy compared to a lightweight fake.

No matter how much we can offer a virtual experience we are still going to want to experience the real thing. We are improving on the realness of the experience but that will never replace first hand experiences. The main difference I note with a virtual made up experience and the real thing is the dirt. The dirt is cleaned up for public viewing. The virtual tour of Rome showed buildings in mint condition, they weren’t falling down, half built, cracked, pooped on, burnt, dirty. They were clean and presentable.

Medieval or pilgrim re-enactments for example deliberately cut out some of the harsher conditions of the time. As best as people strive to re-create the exact conditions, some of the things left out are the actual blood, dead bodies, the stinky toilet pits and days without a shower. The re-enactments are all very sanitary and it appears that virtual history is heading the same way. Reflecting back on my 3D image, it actually appears in worse condition in the 3D image then it is in real life. However, had I pursued cleaning it up and better quality photography it too could look better then it is. It is something we the people are just going to have to muddle through, we will debate, protest and go back to the drawing board time and time again when it comes to how we wish history to be portrayed in the present day.

 

Reflection – Week 9

In todays class I learnt how to zip up a file on a mac. So unlike PC’s, mac automatically unzip your files. Which doesn’t help when trying to carry out tutorial tasks. It’s not hard but whenever I hit roadblocks and things don’t work perfectly as detailed in the steps I stop, instead of pushing through to find the answer straight away. Anyway I found the answer in record Amanda time today and can now move on with the rest of the task. So I tried the Reduction task with interesting results. After uploading the zipped files and waiting well over the suggested 3-4 minutes training time, I was able to see how the recognition program works.

 

Every week we are shown something new that I would love to implement on some kind of cultural heritage endeavour. If seems fairly simple using the visual recognition program and I wonder if it could be used to identify family heirlooms or museum acquisitions. You know how people take their treasured possessions to some expert on ‘Antique Road Show’ or a local expert. What about a program that people could use to identify their object at home. I guess the database would need to include millions of images and information collaborated by many experts. But it could be possible. This type of program would be particularly useful for classifying museum acquisitions especially in smaller museums where an expert may not be present. Once the object has been identified it could be presented with a list of history, display, and care instructions. 3D imaging would also help the accuracy of the recognition program.

 

As for recognition use in the future with all its dangers and issues, humans have always recorded the past. And like the use of redactions, decided for whatever reason to include or not include parts of those details in their retelling of their version of the past. We, as a human race have managed to mold our past as accurately as our memories and personal requests have desired. So, yes using technologies might also skew the history records, but that really is no different to what has previously been happening. So I think the danger here is not so much in the false positives a machine gives but the power we are giving to machines in writing our past.

 

This isn’t all doom and gloom though whatever the out come the human race will still move forward and deal with whatever catastrophe we create by our own doing and it will be just another story for the history book. If technology is going to keep growing in use and advances as it has (and of course it will) then people just need to soften up to the fact that yes they may one day be labelled a gorilla like Google’s photo app mishap, or Asian when frowning (as in one of Tim’s facial recognition examples) or any other number of titles. Besides I don’t think the new fashion styles for avoiding facial recognition are that bad. They are very futuristic and the future is where we are all heading.

Week 6 – Reflection

 

Data Visualisation or Statistical Analysis?

Data visualisation or statistical analysis? It is a bit of both really isn’t it and I can’t say I was fond of statistical analysis in first year. Although info graphs appeal to me very much. They tell a much better story then a plan ol’ graph.

Data visualisation all seems very subjected to me, what appeals and represents information to one person is completely confusing to another, especially when you start to employ colours. I like pink and purples and my attention will be grabbed immediately when using these colours. Browns and greens not so much. I guess it is the same with straight lines and curves or cluttered and clean spaces. Data visualisation isn’t just for research papers the way I was taught way back when for statistics. If it is on the internet, it is about audience attention, usability and interaction.

Which brings me Kindred Britain and The Origin of Species. These are great pieces of interactive data visualisation. You have the ‘far away’ view and the ‘close up’ view. The overview and the detailed information. There’s a bit of clever marketing with ‘The Origin of Species’ too. Sure you can sit there and read all the changes or you could buy their products based on these observed changes in time. I did wonder though, what happened to deleted pieces of the book from one edition to the next?

I loved the real time evolution of Darwin’s theory so much, I think it would be great to create a world view on the acceptance of earth being round and not flat. I might work on that but for now I have embedded some other graphs from this weeks tutorial tasks.

Number of People Accessing The Internet at Home According to Age

 

Another Plot.ly Chart

Attendance to Cultural Institutions 2013-14

 

The Morris Car GIF

One last thing for the week. I made a GIF. I found that the website and editor for pixlr.com kept freezing so I used a photo editing app instead. I then uploaded the photos to imgflip.com where 13 images were put together to make this GIF. This website also gave me an image HTML so I could put it in my post.

Week 5 – Text Analysis

I am hoping there are no other tasks needed for this weeks reflection, as this post brings my blogging up to date.

I actually find this idea of analysing text very interesting. At first I was like, What the? But by the time I finished reading the articles I could see a very practical use for text analysis. Much like the National Archives uses science, visual analysis and watermarks among other techniques to date the production of paper as well as the origin of paper production. I find it incredibly fascinating that we could use computer analysis to scan text and date writing based on the language used and possibly pin point it to not only a location but similar to a finger print, to an actual author. Truly an amazing thought.

I created a Wordle “word cloud” this week using the text from my week 5 notes. I actually saw a post on Instagram recently from a mum blogger who used a “word cloud” as her image post and asking people what they thought of blogs and if they actually read them. I highly doubt she even knew that the image used was a “word cloud” and until now neither did I.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 12.10.06 PM

I changed the colours of my word cloud using hex colour codes so that they are better suited to my taste. What do you think? I think it is incredibly pretty.

Week 4 – Reflection

 

Information Overload

The management of digital heritage is definitely becoming more of a concern today then ever before. The problem I feel with digital heritage is that there is just too much. In the past where physical objects would get destroyed due to age, deterioration, handling etc., the collections of heritage available for preservation would get smaller per subject field as time goes on. When it comes to digital heritage as time goes on, the accumulation per subject field becomes more.

It is lovely to save everything but perhaps like trying to save everything in a fire we need to let some things go. As well as a system designed for improving data management we also need a system to dispose of data. Perhaps we could employ a bot for the job?

I had a go a creating a graph using Plot.ly this week. It absolutely looks no different to the graph from the tutorial however I did make this one all by myself, from scratch. #proudmoment Embedding the graph was easier said then done. Firstly, one must enable the private share link and secondly since I have coded this weeks blog in the text format, I needed to change the embedding code from an ‘iframe’ to ‘html’. I also decided we needed some style and colour on this blog page. Note: my coding skills are young and fresh with much to be learnt so basic coloured headings and some font change is all I could achieve for this week.

A Plot.ly Graph

1901 Census: Population of South Australia (except Adelaide)

 

Week 3 – Do we need a Filter Bubble?

The Filter Bubble is a very interesting observation regarding search engines. I don’t think bias will ever be eradicated whether it’s a search engine based on Internet usage, a library catalogue or anything else in the real world. A search for ‘unprofessional hairstyles vs ‘professional hairstyles’ does not depict a racist search engine but rather 1. The type of people using the web, 2. Their interpretation of what professional means and as a results 3. What a professional hairstyle looks like.

I also do not think bias needs to be eradicated. Many of us choose to live in a ‘bubble’ of some description and that is okay. When it comes to search engines we also need to live a bubble on some level. When I search for a restaurant, I don’t want to know what restaurants are in another country. I want to know what restaurants are available in the city I am in.

Our bubble helps protect us from paths and places that we are just not ready yet to see or deal with and that is okay too. When it comes to search engine bubbles I feel that if you want your search engine to start showing you other perspectives then you need to actively go out into the World Wide Web and search for those other perspectives first. It lets the search engine know that you are open minded enough to accept and question what those other perspectives are.

This also goes for the saving, displaying, conserving etc. of cultural heritage collections that society/ or whom ever simply is not yet ready to deal with for whatever reason. It is okay to leave things for another generation or someone else to deal with. Someone better equipped, more knowledgeable and practiced within an area will handle that information and object of a particular culture better then someone who has to deal with it simply because it showed up on their desk or with in their search results. Our personal judgment is there to protect use, the individual from that, which we are not yet equipped to handle.

This is not to say that search engines are perfect and can not be improved. Creating conversation around how search engines work points our attention to the need for search engines to evolve in some way. Perhaps search engines shelter people a little too much and it is time to widen the bubble just a bit. I certainly do not feel it is time to let the flood gates wide open but some refinement may be in order.

 

 

Week 2 Reflection

It is the beginning of week 5 and as I received my log in details last Thursday I am using today to catch up on my reflections from the previous weeks. The blog post required for week 2 was our introduction however some people have posted a reflection so I am just going to go with a reflection also.

My reflection is based on the readings from Foster, Robertson and Sherratt. Firstly I think that Museum Selfie Day is a fantastic idea. The World Wide Web should be interacting with museums and museums should be interacting with the World Wide Web. When I first started this degree I completed a project teaching the hand written method for cataloguing museum and library objects. Clearly the presentation and documentation of historical objects is outdated as the world shifts to online resources. What better way to make history interactive, then to bring it to online mediums. I say, “If the people won’t come to the museums, bring the museums to the people.”

I did not understand most of Robertson article as I found this article difficult to read and I do not fully understand all this entire digital world ‘stuff’ in depth. However, the idea of hacking to discover what we are not allowed to know or to better present what is available in a more readable form had me thinking about history, Australian history and the way it has been taught to me up until this point.

Last week I went on a excursion (for another class I am studying this semester) to the National Museum of Australian (NMA) to explore the aboriginal displays, where we had to think about the way they were displayed and the way the displays spoke to the viewer. My overall impression from these displays was the effect white mans intrusion had on aboriginal communities, how these communities felt about the intrusion and a sense that aboriginal communities were reclaiming their identity by sharing their artwork and cultural traditions. Which brings me back to what I have learnt about history in school and the wider outside world. Most of the history I have learnt has been based on a white Anglo-Saxon background and as I think about it, surely other cultures have had a substantial influence on Australian history yet it is not heavily weighted in the teaching of Australian people. Would our history look different and therefore the formation of this country in particular be different, if history was documented without hidden agendas.

Perhaps as the online community for history grows, a more real world representation of history will be gained as opposed to the somewhat suppressed history that seems to be present.