Friday, 25 July 2014

Decaying Detroit

Most of the images you tend to see of Detroit are of the central business district - grand buildings decaying, but this series entitled 'GooBing Detroit' a tumblr blog, uses Google Street View Time Machine to follow the fast transformation of family houses from cute and cheerful suburban residences to overgrown vacant lots.
Exeter, northern Detroit, 2009, 2011 & 2013
Much has been said about the decline of a once great city, and the seemingly diminishing chances of a revival. The metropolis has lost 25% of its population in the last decade. The city’s 78,000+ 'feral houses' - abandoned, looted, burned-out - are the stuff of legend, seeming to revert back to a wild state the way domesticated animals tend to do when left to their own devices.
These Google Street View images of Detroit from 2009 through to 2013 paint a poignant portrait of decay in the city. 
Rampant growth - Healy St, north of Hamtramck, 2009 & 2013
The Street View images are often astonishing in the rapid transition in a span of just a few short years. A stretch of houses may have cars parked in the driveways, toys on the lawn and other signs of life all around in the first image, while by the third or fourth they’re barely discernible among the overgrowth.
While these images really drive home how much Detroit has lost over the last three decades, many residents aren’t ready to give up hope, despite the fact that the city’s population has declined from a peak of 1.8 million to just 700,000. There are areas of the city that still thrive, but the question of an overall plan (either to break the city into manageable pieces or reinvigorate it as a whole) remains an open one. In the meantime, it seems to almost be an industry with urban explorers and photographers recording what is left before nature claims it back.
Remove the residents and homes rapidly deteriorate, Arndt, East Side, Detroit, 2009, 2011 & 2013
Next post more of those grand decay photos you associate with Detroit.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Crack open a dystopia

Don't judge a book by its cover, but I did pick it up because of the cover - the title scratched on a surface which looks authentically flaky, rusted and verdigrised. It it 'Ship breaker' by Paolo Bacigalupi.
He says he was inspired by the work of Robert Heinlein, and especially 'Citizen of the galaxy'.
In 'Ship breaker' it is post-peak oil, the planet's natural resources have been exhausted, global warming is an actuality. Antarctica has disappeared, the Arctic is patrolled by displaced fierce piratical Inuits, the major cities have drowned.
On America's Gulf Coast, grounded oil tankers are being broken up for their constituent parts. Here Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota to big corporations - and hopefully live to see another day.
But when he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: strip the ship for all it's worth (which is the lucky strike of a lifetime) OR rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl heir to one of the biggest corporations, and which could lead him to a better life...
Yet, even for the swanks of the big corporations, the future is not all plain sailing, even here they must fight and manoeuvre to survive in a world totally different from ours. Here the divide between the rich and the poor is deeper than ever.
There is a sequel - 'The drowned cities'.
A dystopian post-apocalyptic young adult title, with a gritty background that portrays the struggles of loyalty, integrity and ethics.

Mobile Things 3 - emails

Emails, are pretty much indispensable now-days, virtually any business requests your email when signing you up.
Like us, even our eAudio/eBook supplier sends email alerts when your loan's about to expire or your reserve becomes available.
Have had Eventbrite and other similar organisations send me email reminders
For me, I have different emails configured for my different devices, and have used the camera function for a whole variety of uses, including photographing book covers and ISBNs to order later. That is when they don't appear via Bowker's 'Bookwire' app - the app that allows you to scan ISBNs, access book records and add titles to selected lists on the go. I've also added apps that will read both barcode and QR codes on the run.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Music memories

What are the chances - two of the sites that I monitor both featuring music location posts.
There is Twisted Sifter's 'Famous album covers superimposed onto their actual locations' This is Bob Egan again, see my earlier post 'The photography of music' that one was in New York, this one is a 'Now & then' of album covers in London, England.
Firstly there was the iconic one that everyone wants to emulate - The Beatles on Abbey Road. The cover photo of the Abbey Road album was taken on 8 August 1969 outside EMI studio on Abbey Road. And here, superimposed, is the album over the modern street, from Google Street views.
Personally I'd love the excuse to actually shoot on location rather than use Google from home. As I said it is iconic and there are a multitude of takes on the original, including a number with Lego.

 Then David Bowie as Ziggy from 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars' recorded in 1972, the photograph was taken outside of 23 Heddon Street, a small, block-long, dead end street in central London, just west of Carnaby Street. Apparently photographer, Brian Ward, had his studio on Heddon Street and shot stills of Bowie using black & white film. The resulting pictures were later colourised to give Bowie an alien appearance.

There's Liam & Noel Gallagher on the Oasis What's the Story, Morning Glory? album. The cover photo was taken on Berwick Street, a street featuring several popular record shops in the Soho section of London in 1995.

The Clash's self-titled The Clash, the album cover photo location is an outdoor stairway near the band's rehearsal studio in Camden ("Stables") Market in Camden Town in northern London, shot in 1977.

And, in addition to the Bob Egan post is this one from Gondwana (who don't immediately shout 'music'), but here is their link to an Interactive map which pinpoints every New York City reference in song. There are virtually a countless number of songs that refer to New York - from its neighbourhoods to familiar & famous streets - and now you can see them all on a map, and link to the song on YouTube, from Greshwin to The Killers. Apparently Paul Simon's 'Me & Julio down by the schoolyard' refers to a location between 48th & 49th Avenue. There are about 200 songs referenced.

Mobile Things & photos - 2

The second Thing explores Using mobile devices to take photos. Obviously the camera on your device for capturing still photos and video, and also some of the photo apps for sharing photos and messages like 'Instagram' and 'Snapchat'.

I downloaded the Instagram app just on a year ago, and use it to send photos to distant friends, played with the editing and the filtering.
I hadn't checked out Snapchat which seems to again have the immediacy of chatting, very "now".
Have the Flickr app, just haven't used it to actually take a photo, I'm more inclined to use it to check on my Groups, and Recent Activity.

From the Pinterest Board, checked out the link to '9 interesting ways to use Instagram for your library' which has ideas on promoting what you're doing, advertising events, as using a photo is worth 1,000 words.

Homework - take a photo of a library sign with an app then play with the filters & effects. The Flickr upload initially failed, so here's the Instagram shot.

Friday, 4 July 2014

First Mobile Thing

Ok, I've completed the 'Web 2.0' 23 Things back in 2007, then followed that up with 'Web 2.1' Things 24 to 70 in 2009, now comes the 23 Mobile Things a program to learn  about the potential of mobile things - technologies that are changing the way people, society and libraries access and deliver information and communicate with each other.
The first "thing" is Twitter. I was introduced to Twitter as part of Thing 35-Microblogging. Since then I've spasmodically checked my feed, and currently my count of tweets stands at 91, most of them are now the Twitterfeed RSS feeds from this blog.
To explore this Mobile Thing you need to sign up to Twitter, install the app and tweet about you favourite library or museum.

 Library was too easy so I've chosen museum, and one of my favourites, just 'cos it was such a surprise. The Jeparit Museum (the Wimmera-Mallee Pioneer Museum) was so much more than I anticipated, it has a varied collection of buildings, lots of machinery, and collections of the stock and trade (bottles, antique & historic home-wares, farm tools, etc). What is different is the set out - a collection of medical equipment in the old Chemist shop building, Sporting & club memorabilia in the Hall building, the school and homestead both set up as if still in operation.

The sheer volume of items that have been donated is staggering. The showcase piece is the Albacutya Homestead which was dismantled and re-erected at the site, but seeing the fully finished Detpa school virtually as the students would have left it in 1953 was amazing.

Back to Twitter, and its role in libraries? Yes it has immediacy for short messages - 
The Mobile Library has broken down and won't be visiting today,  
or advertising storytime/holiday activities, for people who are checking their accounts regularly. But personally I prefer the look & feel of Facebook to fulfill that role.

Doomsday decomposition

I’ve borrowed eBooks, I’ve downloaded freebie eBooks, now the time had come to actually purchase an eBook.
But, which one, there are more than a couple out there competing for my attention, what criteria should my potential initial purchase possess?
In the end, the book I chose was one I’ve had for years, and now is the time to cut it loose and replace it with the new upgraded model.

My  copy with its broken spine & the contents stapled together
According to the iTunes Store, it’s title is “Mutant 59”, but my old paperback copy is “Mutant 59: the plastic eater” by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, the guys who invented the Cybermen for “Doctor Who” (the still epic "Tomb of the Cybermen" series). Gerry was one of the script writers for many of the Doctor Who episodes (the old and best series).
“Mutant 59” is a chilling story of what can happen when scientific research, done in the name of progress, backfires to spread terror throughout the world.
It was the premise that awed me, and has stayed with me, like other similar apocalyptic/disaster speculative sci-fi novels – “The Andromeda strain” and Patrick Tilley’s “Fadeout”. A premise that may be more realistic now, than back in 1971 when it was written, what with our increased pollution, reliance on electronics, and utter dependence on the humble plastic.
It begins innocently enough, motivated by ecological issues to produce eco-friendly products, a manufactured microbe that consumes plastic, is accidentally released, and as the strain evolves it begins to wreak havoc through the London Underground as electrical wires stripped of their plastic coating are no longer insulated ... at first it is bizarre incidents and unconnected accidents that develop into a major crisis. A jet explodes and falls out of the sky, a nuclear submarine vanishes, and infrastructure starts to collapse.
Our hero has to analyse and contain the infection before the expanding devastation causes a world-wide catastrophe. 
It is a frightening (and realistic) scenario when things we take for granted are suddenly out of our control and begin to disintegrate before our eyes.
So, I’m off to purchase the eBook edition before some parasitic plastic muncher can destroy my iPad.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

More than just a click

I'm obviously not getting the best out of my attempts at photography.
Here are just a few examples of photographers (or visual engineers as one refers to themselves) exploring the limits and extending those boundaries with artistic interpretation and technological innovation.


Firstly two images by Canadian Benjamin Von Wong, One on the left in a literary mode and below his underwater wreck shoot in Bali.
See more at his website There's also a viral YouTube video of the shoot

Martin De Pasquale is a photographer and digital artist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, best known online for his incredible photo manipulations and surreal digital artworks.
With a great deal of planning and using programs like Photoshop, Poser and 3DS Max, he creates amazing images that distort the lines between reality and fantasy.
 Yes, another one in the literary theme.
 More of Martin's work via Twisted Sifter

Erik Johansson states that he is a photographer and retouch artist from Sweden, who uses his "photography as a way of collecting material to realise the ideas in my mind" see

'Go your own road'
'Drifting away'
And finally to say good-night, this is from French photographer Laurent Laveder.

'Moon games'

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Ghosts of Irish times

Time for another installment from WebUrbanist, this one is Ghost Estates of Ireland: Symbols of an EconomicCollapse
While they look like miniatures, it's a real estate
Built with visions of suburban prosperity in more optimistic times, the empty shells of former dream homes dot the countryside among piles of construction rubble and fallen-down fences. Economic highs and lows have led to abandonments of entire villages all over the world, from China to the Mediterranean, but Ireland is among the nations that was particularly hard-hit.

The ghost estates in Ireland, is well over 10,000 mostly-empty neighbourhoods in a relatively small nation (and just a small percentage of Ireland’s 350,000-some-odd abandoned houses.)
Most of the ghost estates are found in the rural areas of the northern and western parts of the country. These empty shells are eyesores for the locals in these small towns. The crisis is affecting the country – unemployment, debts, budget cuts, capital investments – but it is also shaping its landscape.
Yes, the words 'little boxes on the hillside..all the same' comes to mind
Why did I immediately think of the Clearances of the 19th century, when many families suffering poverty and the potato famine were evicted from their homes by bailiffs, and watched their buildings being demolished so they couldn’t move back in.
I found it all very evocative, while I love abandonments more than most, at a time of housing shortages and homelessness, can't we place someone in these buildings/towns/cities around the world?