Oct 062011
 

On 29th March 2011 Nicola, from the Addressing History team, gave a short “Pecha Kucha” presentation on AddressingHistory at the LIFE-SHARE Digital Collaboration Colloquium in Sheffield. LIFE-SHARE has been a project looking at digitisation and digital preservation of historical materials across three universities (Leeds, Sheffield and York) and the event focused on sharing experiences and ideas about the ways in which digital materials can be made available and shared with wider communities.

You can view Nicola’s presentation – which won the best Pecha Kucha prize! – on Slideshare or here:

Nicola had hoped to liveblog the day but for various technical reasons had to save her notes for later hence this very belated write up.

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Jan 212011
 

A quick update that we think will make for some fun weekend browsing.

AddressingHistory project partners the National Library of Scotland have recently added a new page to their website allowing you to browse the Post Office Directories that have already been scanned and made available online. Each directory is listed and the number of directories available is shown in brackets after the town or city name. This can be found at: http://www.nls.uk/family-history/directories/post-office and the page looks like this:

A screen shot of the NLS Scottish Post Officer Directories page

A screen shot of the NLS Scottish Post Officer Directories page: http://www.nls.uk/family-history/directories/post-office

Clicking through to a directory lets you either look at the PDF file or browse the directories in an online viewer at the Internet Archive – I decided to have a look at the Glasgow directory and rather liked the “names too late for insertion” section:

Glasgow Post Office Directory in the online viewer

The new Scottish Post Office Directories page is a really useful way to browse the collection, and the directories are always huge fun to read through, so we know you will be pleased to see that so many Scottish directories can now be viewed from there for free.

On a related note: currently only three Edinburgh directories that appear in the AddressingHistory search and mapping tool so you may also be pleased to hear that we are currently looking at several possible developments to AddressingHistory including the possibility of broadening coverage to another or several other areas of Scotland. If there are areas you think would be particularly useful we’d love to hear your comments below.

Have a fantastic weekend and do let the National Library of Scotland know your thoughts on their new directories page!

Oct 122010
 

Last week our Project Officer Nicola represented AddressingHistory at the Edinburgh Beltane Annual Gathering 2010, a workshop and networking event on community engagement.

Last Wednesday afternoon around 40 members of educational, research and cultural organisations from Edinburgh and beyond gathered together at the Engine Shed (native Edinburghers may know it better for it’s delicious tofu than as an events space) for a workshop organised by Edinburgh Beltane, a National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement with partner organisations across – and beyond – Edinburgh.

All of the attendees had signed up for the day with a tweet to the event hashtag (#ebag2010) describing areas of interest and ideas so we knew we would be meeting a really interesting group with a diverse set of ideas for engagement and communication – from mathematical knitters to theatrical chemists. I grabbed a space for AddressingHistory with this tweet:

“Social Media evangelist seeks genealogy & local history collaboration and/or expertise for @Addresshistory project and blog”
Image: Our Group's Ketso Board halfway through the afternoon...

Our Group's Ketso Board halfway through the afternoon...

The idea of the workshop was to develop event ideas and we split between tables representing various possible venues (AddressingHistory joined the National Museum of Scotland’s (NMS) table) and began forming ideas for events using the “Ketso” planning and ideas tool. The goal was to find three viable event ideas for each of six venues that could then be voted on.

Ketso, which I’d not used before, is a tiny bit like Fuzzy Felts for groups of adult brainstormers. A large felt planning area with several “stems” forms a background (which looks like a tree root structure) to add ideas and comments on little leaf shaped cards which you can stick anywhere on the stems. The process involves several rounds of idea sharing and, in this workshop, also several rounds of switching tables to comment on other’s emerging idea boards (adding comments and approval to their ideas, suggesting new event ideas based on their interest areas).

The National Museums of Scotland table attracted a diverse group and, in addition to representatives of NMS and AddressingHistory, there was a scientist working on communicating renewable energy projects, an expert on language and language preservation, a member of the BSLUptake project and a representative from the University of Edinburgh’s sustainability office.  Having written our ideas and resources down (on brown leaves), our good ideas and clever solutions to combine lots of ideas (on green leaves), our concerns (on grey leaves), our comments (on white strips) and having picked out our favourite ideas (little yellow ticks and red exclamation marks) we had an enormously fruitful and full Ketso board and three fully formed ideas to take forward.

The NMS Group's Ketso Board at the end of the day.

The NMS Group's Ketso Board at the end of the day.

The ideas that went through from our table were all for possible events to be held in a new area of the National Museum of Scotland (in part of the building being refurbished under the Royal Museum Project):

  1. LangEvol: Language diversity and diversity in language: origins, evolutions and futures of language
  2. Meaning: Debunk the jargon! Speed dating exploration of science through sign language, visual arts, dance, etc.
  3. Idea: Mapping the ideas and innovation of Edinburgh institutions.

I was particularly excited about the potential for AddressingHistory to be a part of either the possible event on the history of ideas in Edinburgh or the possible event on  language – since the origins and changes in place-names are a really interesting c0nnection to the historical post office directory data.  The history and changes in language over time was an important part of forming the “LangEvol” idea but one of the most interesting contributions that first sparked the idea was from Bob of BSL:Uptake who explained that the sign language for telephone has changed three times since telephones was first invented and that all three signs remain in use. The signs each says something about the type of phone being described and about the signer since they represent either an early mouthpiece/earpiece set, a relatively modern handset or a mobile phone.

Post It Note of our LangEvol idea

The main reason for compiling all of these ideas was to share experience and make new connections but some of the ideas may go on to become real events which is a thrilling prospect as every group came up with superb suggestions any one of which would be huge fun to take part in (all of the ideas are listed on the workshop blog). All eighteen event ideas also went forward to the evening networking event at InSpace where both workshop attendees,  and lots of additional communicators and researchers who had joined us, were able to vote on their favourites.  The results of the voting have just been released on the Beltane Blog (see the graph below and click on the image to go to the full results) – I am delighted to see that Langevol received the most votes but I think all of the winning ideas sound fantastic!

#ebag2010 Votes

The remainder of the workshop consisted of presentations from two previous Beltane grant recipients who presented on  two very different projects.

BSL Sign Language Interpreter - from the BSL:Update Website

BSL Sign Language Interpreter - from the BSL:Update Website

The first presentation, from Bob Duncan of Heriot-Watt and BSL:Uptake, was about a Knowledge Exchange Cafe for the deaf community that enabled networking, engagement in public policy – particularly the ability to contribute to a consultation document by being videoed signing their responses – and socialising over tea and cake as well of course.

3D Tree Image ("3D-02-22-09-0018a geese in holding pattern above the trees") - Image by Flickr user Jim Frost (jimf0390)

"3D-02-22-09-0018a geese in holding pattern above the trees" by Jim Frost (jimf0390) from Flickr

The second presentation, from Dan Ridley-Ellis of the Centre for Timber Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University, was on “Real Life Science – Wood Biomechanics 3D”. This was a weekend of activities at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh in which various organisations concerned with increasing public awareness of trees and woodland worked with a secondary school student to create engaging displays including a 3D tree exhibition.

Awaiting the results of the Public Engagement Challenge Award

Awaiting the results of the Public Engagement Challenge Award

The afternoon workshop was followed by a lovely evening meeting others’ working at academic organisations, museums, galleries and similar organisations throughout the city, and also finding out the winner of the Public Engagement Challenge for the year (which was the BSL:Uptake project!).  I was able to share AddressingHistory flyers with various researchers and made contact with organisations including the National Museum of Scotland, the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Hopefully AddressingHistory may feed into the work or events of some of the organisations we met at the Beltane Annual Gathering but we’d also love to hear from you if you your local history groups would like flyers, posters or would like to include AddressingHistory in an event or piece of work of yors or of a community group you are involved in.

Huge thanks to Heather Rea at Beltane and all who organised the Annual Gathering – I had a superb time and was delighted that my fellow attendees were really excited to hear about AddressingHistory and keen to have a play with the website when it launches in November!

Jul 022010
 

The AddressingHistory team may have been a little quiet lately but we’ve been very busy…

January 2010 Issue of Cairt

January 2010 Issue of Cairt

Joe, our software engineer, has been creating a fantastic beta/test version of the AddressingHistory tool (and as promised in our last post he’ll be writing us a guest blog post on how that has been going).

Stuart has been working with Chris Fleet, at project partner the National Library of Scotland, to create an article on AddressingHistory for Cairt, the Scottish Mapping Forum magazine, which should be out later this month. We will link to the digital copy as soon as it is available. Stuart has also written a piece on the project for the next issue of ALISS Quarterly (due out in August).

Nicola has also been out and about talking about the project. In mid June she gave a presentation to the JISC Regional Support Centres Scotland Web 2.0 Forum for Academic Librarians. The title, “AddressingHistory: Using Social Media to Frame an EDINA Crowd-Sourcing Project“, reflected that the talk looked at how we are using social media – tools including this blog, twitter and facebook – to help build awareness of the project.

ahprezi

Also presenting at this event was Gillian Hanlon of Ask Scotland. They are a real time service for asking librarians in Scotland questions about libraries, research, Scottish heritage questions… almost anything in fact (at the event we Gillian demonstrated the system live by asking a question about Cranachan and the history of this delicious Scottish desert). If you’re interested in giving it a try then take a look at the Ask Scotland website.

Nicola also attended a workshop run by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement in London in mid-June and was excited to hear about a new Micheal Wood TV series for the BBC called “English Story” that will look at the history of a single village, Kibworth in Leicestershire, from it’s earliest origins through to the present day.

Kibworth Church by RATAEDL
Kibworth Church by RATAEDL

The programme makers (MayaVision) are still completing filming and post production so it may be some time before it hits TV screens but the initial glimpses looked fascinating and the wealth of local history knowledge and enthusiasm that the programme makers had found was inspiring. Given how many fascinating events had taken place in this one small village it is also fantastically exciting to think about what we may be able to find out about Edinburgh’s past when the AddressingHistory tool is launched.