Missives from the Bat Tower

Doing 23 Things all in the name of Web 2.0

Archive for the tag “archives”

Thing 17: Screencast-o-Matic

With a name that sounds like something from a Wallace and Gromit story and a promise to help users actually use the archives catalogue, I was keen to have a go with Screencast-o-Matic. Our archive catalogue does actually work quite well but it isn’t very intuitive, especially for first time archive users. A screencast seems like the perfect solution to show people how to use some of its features – mainly how to browse collections from your search results.

I found the whole process of recording a video with Screencast-o-Matic very easy. The controls are simple and there are a few things you can customise (like whether to highlight the mouse in the video). I even found the caption writing a breeze which I thought might be a bit more tricky. You have to write a text file with the captions and the timings you want for them and then they appear at the bottom of the screen. It took a little bit of fiddling to get the timings right but after I’d sorted that out I was pretty pleased with the outcome.

But… when you finish your video you have a couple of options, you can either upload it to YouTube or Screencast-o-Matic or download it as a video file. I wanted to put it on the RHUL Library YouTube channel but I didn’t have the log in to hand so I thought I’d save it to Screencast-o-Matic in the mean time. All was well, I could share the link – great. However, when I came back to try and upload it to YouTube it wasn’t anywhere near as easy as I had hoped. There was no longer the option to do it straight from Screencast-o-Matic but I could still download the video as a file. So I saved it and then uploaded it to the RHUL Library YouTube channel which was all quite easy. When I played it back my lovely captions weren’t there! Disaster! I didn’t record a voiceover because a) I don’t like the sound of my recorded voice and b) a voice over isn’t very helpful if the user is in the library so the captions are quite vital.

I haven’t yet worked out how to rectify this so to see the video please follow this link (I can’t embed it because WordPress is mean and strips out the code and I’m not tech savvy enough to work out how to embed it another way). I suspect I may have to record it again to upload it with captions to YouTube but if anyone has any tips please leave me a comment below!

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Thing 7: Flickr

Week 3 is all about copyright and how we can find things on the web to reuse without any copyright infringement. I’m brand new to blogging and shamefully when I was searching Google images for things to brighten up this blog copyright didn’t cross my mind. Despite the fact that as an Archivist I’m used to the headache of finding copyright holders and gaining permission for users to copy and publish material. I guess I just thought, if Google images has it I can use it. Oops.

 So thing 7 has come as a handy reminder that I should be thinking about these things more carefully and rooting out content which is open for use rather than just taking what I please. Our task for this thing is to add a Creative Commons photo from Flickr to our blog.

Flickr allows to narrow your search down to only those images which are available to use through Creative Commons licences which is really useful and brings up some really great quality images. All the copyright info is there so you can credit the creator properly. Easy peasy.

 A search for ‘archives’ brings up a huge range of images but I thought this one sums up quite nicely how neat and tidy I wish the archive stores looked:

(c) Ohio University Libraries Flickr

(c) Ohio University Libraries Flickr

We do actually have a Flickr account for RHUL archives although this was set up as a test before my time here and hasn’t been added to since. It is something that we are thinking about using more although I’m slightly tentative as I would prefer to have our digital content online in a way that has better links back to our archive catalogue. Having said that, it does open up our content to new audiences and that can only be a good thing.

Thing 4 – social networks: useful or useless?

Thing 4 of RHUL’s 23 Things Project asks us to reflect on our own use of social networks and what, if any, value they have in a professional context.

Before I came to RHUL (just over a year ago) I hadn’t used social media or social networking in a professional context. Despite the fact my interview presentation was on archives’ use of Twitter, I’d never actually sent a tweet – professional or personal.

I use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, which I find very useful as many of them live in different parts of the country, but I’ve always kept my Facebook account personal rather than professional – no one at work needs to see me in a fancy dress outfit on my friend’s hen do. I do also have a Twitter account but I never tweet from it, despite which Barack Obama is following me (does this mean I’m on some sort of watch list??). I use it almost entirely to keep up to date with celeb gossip and find out what the Nails of the Day are on HelloGiggles (the koala bear ones are my favourite but well beyond my capabilities to recreate).

Koala nails

If a (real – as opposed to celeb) news story is breaking you can be sure that Twitter will have more details (mostly true) of what is going on than dedicated news sites and it was through Stephen Fry’s tweets that I discovered Fitzbillies – home of the best Chelsea buns. In the world. Ever. If you’re ever in Cambridge be sure to try them!

I currently tweet using the Library’s Twitter account to promote the archives (in particular our items of the month) which means I get a ready made batch of followers. I think this is more productive than having our own archives Twitter account as I really want to reach the people who don’t already have an interest in the archives and hopefully raise awareness of our service. I use hashtags to garner more interest and even tried (very unsuccessfully) to get a celebrity re-tweet to boost the usage stats on our website. This is the only social networking I do in a professional context, the Archives and Records Association has a community area which basically consists of discussion boards but I don’t really think it’s worth using as the JISCmail listserve kind of serves the same purpose and has more people on it. I’ve never felt that using LinkedIn would be worth it for an Archivist (although happy to be proved wrong if people find it useful to create links and contacts with people), it seems to be more for business people hoping to be head hunted for new jobs.

After seeing a friend build up her blog about eating out in Oxford through her Twitter account and eventually ending up with a spot on BBC Radio Oxfordshire (see the blog here) I can certainly see the power of the Internet to reach people outside your normal sphere. Overall, I can definitely see the benefit of using social networks in a professional context especially as services like Twitter are a lot more fast moving and up to date than traditional websites but I think it’s probably more useful for the Archives Service than the Archivist.

Look I’m in another blog!

Well I’ve got off to a flying start with the blogging process – I’m already featured in someone else’s blog. Ok, so I didn’t really do this today but by coincidence a write up of the Open University seminar I spoke at recently has been posted today: http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/boh/?p=292 Scroll down to see a write up of my talk and some dodgy photos of me attempting to look intellectual.

The seminar was one of a series exploring Religion in London, this one focussing on the Muslim community. It was a fascinating day including a very delicious curry lunch and a chance to look round Croydon Mosque as well as the more intellectual side of things with talks from academics and representatives from community organisations talking about the history of Muslims in Britain and what organisations are getting up to in terms of engaging the community (both Muslims and non-Muslims) with the past. I was particularly struck by the Asian Youth Alliance who are doing some great work – find out more about them here: http://www.asianyouthalliance.co.uk/

 

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