Monday, 31 December 2007

Dame Lynne Brindley

Cool! An excellent way to finish the year. Lynne has been made a Dame in the New Years honours list. From The Times: Order of the British Empire DBE  Lynne Janie Brindley, Chief Executive, British Library: services to education. Quoting from Wikipedia - partially as it annoys the luddite fringe :-) :
"The British Library (BL) is the national library of the United Kingdom. It is based in London and is one of the world's most significant research libraries, holding over 150 million items in all known languages and formats; books, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, patents, databases, maps, stamps, prints, drawings and much more. The Library's collections include around 25 million books, along with substantial additional collection of manuscripts and historical items dating back as far as 300 BC."
The collections include:
  • The Diamond Sutra, printed in 868 during the Tang Dynasty, claimed to be the world's oldest dated printed book
  • The Lindisfarne Gospels
  • Two Gutenberg Bibles
  • Two 1215 copies of Magna Carta
  • Papyrus Egerton 2, the Egerton Gospel
  • The only surviving manuscript copy of the poem Beowulf
  • 347 leaves of the Codex Sinaiticus
  • The Codex Arundel one of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks.
  • Working manuscripts by J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, Arthur Sullivan, Gustav Mahler and Benjamin Britten 
...which all adds up to one heck of a responsibility for the top person and the staff answerable to her. Here's Lynne, speaking with some geeky looking guy at the British Library:

Microsoft Vista UK launch

And going way back (well, to the mid 1990s) Lynne is in the centre of the picture holding the Jason Farradane Award for the eLib programme. Seems like yesterday; left to right is Alice, Chris, Lynne, Dave and Kelly:

These are not very good quality pictures; that's because it was in pre-digital camera days. Picture taking was much more onerous, involving getting them developed and scanning them in (the weak point, as the scanner in the Ariadne/UKOLN office was primitive by todays standards, and I had no patience with it).

I remember her as friendly, and open-minded, and as someone who didn't suffer fools gladly. I learnt quickly, in her presence, to keep my mouth shut unless I had something useful to contribute. Oddly, in every job I had from 1995 to 2001 I'd end up bumping into Lynne at some point, be it for a lottery consortium funding application, presentation on Ariadne, or seminar on some aspect of digital libraries.

It's great that Lynne is now a dame; for the work she has done, for the British Library, and as recognition of the key importance of libraries, knowledge and information. Though I live almost exactly halfway between the British Library and Reykjavik, I still visit the building when I'm in London and have a few hours to spare. I could seriously live in there, if I had a tent and was inconspicuous. As well as the permanent and temporary exhibitions, there's good cafes, wi-fi, and numerous other facilities. But most of all, just being in and surrounded by one of the greatest collections of the sum of human knowledge is, in itself, profoundly inspiring. Long may these collections grow, be preserved and be used.

Wishing all readers of this blog a healthy and prosperous 2008.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Seasons greetings...

Seasons greetings from Digital Sands / Silversprite here on Berneray, to readers on Scottish islands and further afield. Wishing you a peaceful Christmas and a prosperous and healthy 2008.

(This is an archived Island Blogging post, which is/was originally here.)

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Digital Games in Libraries and Information Science

Making a hole in the ice

The slides from the presentation I did in Finland last thursday are below. The quality has somewhat degraded in Slideshare, so some of the smaller text and illustrations are now a bit difficult to make out:

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Planning info. Online. Everything. In the Outer Hebrides.

The Comhairle (council of the Outer Hebrides) have just launched their new online planning service.

And ... it's really good (you were expecting me to say something negative there?).

If you go to the Planning Services section of their website, then click on Online Planning Information, you get to their database.

What's really interesting is that it doesn't just deal with current planning applications, but ones from several years ago. Even more interesting is that, for nearly all applications, they've scanned in everything. I mean EVERYTHING. Application forms, warrants, correspondence with council people, correspondence between council departments, letters of support, letters of objection, even the till receipts for various applications.

That's a heck of a lot of scanning. The search mechanism is a bit fiddly - I found it easier to search via road, then drill down to the individual property - but does work.

All kudos to the Comhairle - this is a big step forward. Now if they could just overhaul their main website...

(This is an archived Island Blogging post, which is/was originally here.)

Thursday, 23 August 2007


Day three of the fog.

Anyone else in the middle of a really long spell? This is like something out of a Stephen King book here.

(This is an archived Island Blogging post, which is/was originally here.)

Friday, 10 August 2007


I have been banned from my local shop for blogging negatively about it (this isn't a big loss)(to me, or the shop). nb also it wasn't my islandblogging blog but my silversprite one.

Has anyone else suffered consequences or sanctions through their blogging or other online dissemination activities?

(This is an archived Island Blogging post, which is/was originally here.)

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Monday, 6 August 2007

Chicago White Sox

More baseball... On the last full day of the latest US trip, I saw the White Sox beat the Blue Jays 2-0 in Chicago. Great fun; in some ways similar to the Seattle Mariners match, but in others, quite different. For a start, the stadium isn't half as "homely" as the Mariners ground. Granted, it's big, but aesthetically it's a bit of a concrete bowl:

Chicago White Sox stadium

In addition, the food options were largely of the chubby variety. Less of the salads and fruit bowls that were available at the Mariners ground. Instead, fried this and that, and inevitably small bucket-sized drinks:

Grill at the baseball

Having said that, people who sat in the really posh seats (the section between me and the backside of the man on strike) were able to order a whole range of classy food and drinks from their seats, for delivery. Some of those looked like cocktails and margaritas:

Drinks to your seats

Unlike Seattle, Chicago has an extensive mass transit system. This meant I could get to the match in plenty of time (the stadium has its own train station), and so could watch the practice sessions:

Baseball practice

Sitting where I was meant a close-up view of the quartet singing the national anthems of Canada (polite applause) and the USA (big applause, cheering and chants of U-S-A):

Singing the national anthems

Having good seats meant a real close-up of the action. And the way the ball whizzed off the bat (two of which broke), I was pretty glad of the net between our section and the diamond:

Play ball

The one thing that got a larger reaction than the USA anthem? The White Sox scoring a ...

Home run!

Game over, the Sox win, and the firework display starts for post-match entertainment:

Post-match fireworks

The crowd happily stream out (even the losing supporters), and either drive away or squeeze themselves, Japanese-style, onto the trains back into the city. Following the match it was straight to the cinema for me to see The Simpsons Movie, then back to the hotel for the last night of kip before the long triple-flight home.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Facebook and MySpace

As an Internet research i.e. someone who researches the use of the Internet, I spend a lot of time playing about with Social Networking sites. These are ones where you slap up a profile, get some mutual friends to interlink, and communicate. Features vary, but they usually combine primitive blogging and messaging with some kind of photo or video feature i.e. the ability to upload pictures. The key leverage is community - growing one organically around your own shared interests, and seeing how they intermesh with other communities.

As ever, these things are better understood by trying them out.

MySpace I don't like, mainly aesthetically. I can see the point of it, especially if you are a band or heavily into a media-based culture which can be digitally shared, such as music. But most MySpace accounts look vile. The default settings are awful, and configuring it makes it worse. Also the navigation and functionality are not intuitive (well, to me, anyway). Worse of all is that I don't like going to any web page and immediately being hit by pounding music, forcing me to find the off button.

But Facebook ... ah. It clicks. It looks refined and aesthetically pleasing. People of my vague generation (25 to 50) seem to prefer it, so the level of conversation is understandable and not shoutey or sweary. There's also various people from the Outer Hebrides on there - was invited through one of them. Also, through looking at the friends of other friends, have discovered several ex-work colleagues and can pick 'n' choose who to add on to my friends. If that makes sense.

This is my profile:

...or search for John Kirriemuir. Or if you are a regular Island blogging blogger and not a nutter / stalker :-) and want an invite on, then get in touch (

(This is an archived Island Blogging post, which is/was originally here.)