A reading list for 2018, with many thanks to Modern Mrs. Darcy

Instagram picture announcing the 2018 Reading Challenge
The 2018 Reading Challenge. Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bcr_rqVlYpZ/?taken-by=annebogel

“I should read more” “I should read that” “I should have already read that” So many shoulds- how effective are they? I’m aware of the punitive and unfun nature of “shoulds.” It doesn’t matter if they’re well-meaning, would be beneficial, and/or just need to happen. A “should” is both an impetus and a stalling mechanism. You should but you aren’twhat’s stopping you?

For me lists help. They help by providing a path, momentum, progress, and other intangibles. Along those lines and with many thanks to the Modern Mrs. Darcy, I’ll be participating in the 2018 Reading Challenge, which you can join: here

Share your picks and follow along using these hashtags by @annebogel: #IdRatherBeReading, #MMDchallenge, and #MMDreading 

I had a lot of fun looking for books for each category and I encourage you to make your own list. Along those lines, I thought of six more categories- that would bring the total to 18 books in 2018, if you like.

The 2018 Reading Challenge categories are:
1. A classic you’ve been meaning to read:
2. A book recommended by someone with great taste:
3. A book in translation:
4. A book nominated for an award in 2018:
To find this pick I used: This Twitter search
5. A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection:
6. A book you can read in a day:
7. A book that’s more than 500 pages:
8. A book by a favorite author:
9. A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller: (I’m broadening this to include “recommended by a podcast host”)
10. A banned book:
To find this pick I used: This Wikipedia resource
11. A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction:
12. A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own:

My additional category prompts are:
13. A book about a talent you admire- For example, drumming, photography, dance- (and a strong nudge to try it yourself).
14. An illustrated book- Extra credit move: pick a page from it and make your own drawing, post it to Twitter, thank the artist, and include a link so that others can buy the book.
15. A book that addresses a source of pain connected to your family- For example, understanding dysfunction, abandonment, alcoholism- How would you benefit from acknowledging something and being reminded that you’re not alone in your experience?
16. A cookbook- Yes, read it. Don’t just look at the pictures, don’t cherry-pick the easy bits, read it the whole way through- look at how it’s organized, the steps and the tips, what ingredients are included, how times in life are connected to certain foods- festive desserts, refreshing breakfasts, nourishing lunches, and more.
17. A book written before 1500- Extra credit move- who translated it? What can you learn about them? Their context, motivations, strengths, and restrictions?
Stumped? Check out: This GoodReads link here
18. A book you’re embarrassed to admit you want to read- Whatever you are intrigued by but also consider cheesy- be it self-help, young adult fiction, romance novel- whatever! Life is too short to only stick to the Great Classical Works of Yore.

Here are the books I’ll be reading this year, using the prompt list from the wonderful Modern Mrs. Darcy to start and adding 6 more of my own to bring it to 18 in 2018:

  1. A classic you’ve been meaning to read:
    Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, Gia-Fu Feng (Specifically the translation by Ursula K Le Guin yassss)
  2. A book recommended by someone with great taste:
    The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2), Brandon Sanderson
  3. A book in translation:
    Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation Ken Liu (Editor, Translator), Chen Qiufan, Xia Jia, Ma Boyong, Hao Jingfang, Tang Fei, Cheng Jingbo, Liu Cixin
  4. A book nominated for an award in 2018: To find this pick I used: This Twitter search and picked
    Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist, Jess Keating
  5. A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection:
    My Dearest Hurricane: Love and Things that Looked like It, Morgan Nikola-Wren
  6. A book you can read in a day:
    The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, Joshua Becker
  7. A book that’s more than 500 pages:
    Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
  8. A book by a favorite author:
    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander (Pseudonym), J.K. Rowling, Albus Dumbledore (Foreword)
  9. A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller: (I’m broadening this to include “recommended in a podcast”)
    The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness, Bari Tessler
  10. A banned book: To find this pick I used: This Wikipedia resource and choose
    The Lottery, Shirley Jackson
  11. A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction:
    Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy Kaling
  12. A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own:
    Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
  13. My additional category choices are:

  14. A book about a talent you admire:
    Ice Skating Basics, Aaron Foeste
  15. An illustrated book:
    Flotsam, David Wiesner
  16. A book that addresses a source of pain connected to your family:
    Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You, Susan Forward, Donna Frazier
  17. A cookbook:
    The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory–More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Wizards and Non-Wizards Alike, Dinah Bucholz
  18. A book written before 1500:
    The Odyssey, Homer, specifically the new translation by Emily Wilson
  19. A book you’re embarrassed to admit you want to read:
    The Adventures of Samurai Cat, Mark E. Rogers

Well, those are my picks! Read what you want, enjoy what you read, and have an excellent 2018~

and buy this book- doesn’t it look great?

SharkLady book
The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist. Written by Jess Keating, illustrated by‎ Marta Alvarez Miguens

GitHub and Museums

Series of overlapping squares showing The size of 23,557 artworks in the Finnish National Gallery
The size of 23,557 artworks in the Finnish National Gallery

GitHub is exciting for museums. It’s a way for museums to participate in the febrile, weird, optimistic world of open source.

GitHub is scary for museums. It’s a weird word; it’s a weird site. Museums who do it well can benefit, museums who ignore it are also ignoring an amazing group of curious creatives.

For any non-profit, one of the first considerations for any endeavor is financial. How much will it cost? Cost is more than a dollar amount- there are also time-costs to consider- the time it takes to upload and establish, the time it takes to monitor/moderate, and the time-cost of keeping things updated.

Then, there are legal considerations. Copyrights¹, usage agreements, registrars, loan agreements, gift stipulations, individual agreements with living artists, and more. Many museums have entire Rights and Reproductions departments.

There is good news though, and that is the magical phrase “public domain.” What is public domain? From the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain: “The public domain is the realm of material — ideas, images, sounds, discoveries, facts, texts — that is unprotected by intellectual property rights and free for all to use or build upon. It includes our collective cultural and scientific heritage, and the raw materials for future expression, research, democratic dialogue and education.”

Although museums can have works that are restricted by very specific copyrights, museums can also have works that have passed into the public domain either through the passage of time or because the artist has chosen to do so. Works in the public domain are what you’ll most often find on museum GitHub accounts.

So public domain is open source? Not quite- “No, free and open-source software is not in the “public domain,” which would mean that it is not protected by copyright law. The software is copyrighted, but the copyright holder chooses to grant specific freedoms to the public through a license (such as the General Public License), and she can do this precisely because she owns the copyright. So, while public domain materials are free because they’re unprotected by intellectual property rights, open-source software is free because of private action. This is how the license works: it says that anyone may copy the source code and incorporate it into a new program, but if they do so and redistribute their work, their new program must also be covered by the same license, making it freely available for others to use and build upon. (The license thereby keeps the source code publicly available and encourages broader collaboration, innovation, testing, and use.) If you violate these terms, then the freedoms granted by the license disappear, and you are where you would be without the license — namely infringing the programmer’s copyright.” ([emphasis mine] source: https://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/publicdomainday/2012/faqs#q10)

It’s this combination of public (the works in public domain) and private (the non-profit’s… everything else) that museums are still navigating in various ways.

Below is a look at some of the most active museum GitHub accounts and how they have approached the question of rights and licensing:

Museum: GitHub link: Posted rights/license:
Cooper Hewitt https://github.com/cooperhewitt CC0 1.0 Universal, and requests attribution
Tate https://github.com/tategallery/collection#usage CC0 1.0 Universal, and requests attribution
Carnegie Museum of Art https://github.com/cmoa/collection CCo 1.0 Universal, except for images, says to contact their R&R
Walters Art Museum https://github.com/WaltersArtMuseum Varies by repository- mostly CC0 1.0 Universal. Also saw GNU AFFERO GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE and Apache License. Has the email templates on GitHub, saw some hackathon projects
Harvard Art Museum https://github.com/harvardartmuseums Has a lot of code, terms of use in place @ API level
Indianapolis Museum of Art https://github.com/IMAmuseum CC BY 3.0
MoMA https://github.com/MuseumofModernArt/collection CCo 1.0 Universal, except for images, says give attribution

How are museums using GitHub?

The Cooper Hewitt Museum released their collection on GitHub in 2012: http://labs.cooperhewitt.org/2012/releasing-collection-github/

The Tate’s GitHub account appeared roughly 18 months after Cooper Hewitt’s- and it’s great. I love that they showcase artworks and digital visualizations people have made using the data here. Take a look at their examples section: https://github.com/tategallery/collection#examples

MoMA’s GitHub account appeared July 2015- this is a good article about it: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/a-nerds-guide-to-the-2229-paintings-at-moma/

Also in 2015, the Andy Warhol Museum posted their digital strategy as a working document on their GitHub account, in a fantastic act of transparency and inclusion: http://blog.warhol.org/museum/more-than-a-museum/

Today, searching GitHub with the terms “museum collection” pulls up 76 repositories²; this is a good general sense of museum activity in GitHub, specifically in terms of collection data. https://github.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=museum+collection Take a look!

This link is also informative- it’s a collection of open-source museum projects: https://github.com/MuseCompNet/muse-tech-central


These projects urge interaction and collaboration. I look forward to seeing many more added as more and more museums look to GitHub as a useful tool and community engagement oppertunity.

Valuable cultural institution resources:

Europeana Pro site: http://pro.europeana.eu/page/rights-statements-an-introduction

Rights Statements for cultural heritage institutions: http://rightsstatements.org/en/

OPenn: Good use-statement wording: http://openn.library.upenn.edu/ReadMe.html

¹In the United States, Section 502 of copyright law has been referred to in legal cases pertaining to code and copyright (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/chapter-5). For more on open source software licensing slides from a recent Drexel Law panel are available here: http://www.slideshare.net/DrexelELC/open-source-software-licenses-61682869

²Which is exciting, unless you do the math- the International Council of Museums estimates there are 55,000 museums in the world. Which means that less than one-tenth of 1 percent (00.14 %) of museums have data publicly available on GitHub.

Virtual Reality Demo Day, NYC

Recently I had the opportunity to check out LoNyLa/Timewave’s Virtual Reality Demo Day in New York. The main reason I wanted to go was to check out the various physical hardware iterations for virtual reality- a technology that is growing at an amazing rate and has exciting implications for museums.

While I was there I was able to test every virtual reality headset on the market- from Oculus Rift to Google Cardboard. I also made a point to speak to each developer and noted their opinions about each product.

I was surprised to find that Oculus Rift was not the top choice- and neither was Google Cardboard! The main issue with Google Cardboard was the lens quality. Google Cardboard has created the cheapest VR headset option which is wonderful in terms of price accessibility, but to do so they reduced the quality of the lenses. A number of developers noted feeling nauseous after using Google Cardboard- something to consider when thinking about interactive/immersive experiences for the broadest possible audience. A shorter VR experience helps, and there are a number of museums using Google Cardboard, but having less devices of a higher quality is also a good option. Offering the public an opportunity to experience VR on a high-quality device they might not be able to afford on their own is also part of what museums can do to make art accessible.

What can museums do with virtual reality? I see two equally interesting options. First, museums can work with digital artists who are already using this medium as a form of expression- artists like Jon Rafman and Rachel Rossin for example. Some new media art being created today is being created specifically to be experienced in VR.

Second, museums can use VR to more deeply activate existing pieces in a collection- creating new ways of seeing what is already there. The Dali museum did this recently by offering a VR experience where people could go into a Dali painting; a completely immersive 3D experience.

I saw many similar things at Timewave’s Demo Day- “The Giftschrank (Poison Room)” “Dream within a Dream” and “Unboxed,” for example. “Unboxed,” by Jackson Tam, was especially interesting because as you moved around the environment (an inventor’s workshop) you could select objects on the wall and desk- so, for example, you’d see a newspaper article, select it, and it would come to you and be readable. Or, you could select a tool on the inventor’s workbench and a definition would come up. In essence, the label text/additional content wasn’t anchored to a wall in a museum gallery; it came to you.

More and more museums are using VR in galleries and exhibition spaces. Museums do not merely exist as physical structures holding physical objects- they’re spaces for inspiration, education, community, and creativity. It’s a digital space as well as a physical space, and the digital space has a far longer reach. Creating and supporting VR is a recognition of this.  

Of all the hardware at Timewave Festival’s Demo Day, HTC Vive was the top pick by far.

Learn more about the participants here: http://timewavefestival.com/spring-vr-lab-2016/