Month: January 2010

A Thousand Dogs – beautiful dogs, amazing photography…

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I borrowed this book from my boyfriend, and if you like dogs or photography I can highly recommend it.

It’s got some stunning pictures and it’s done chronologicaly, tracking the development of photography, changes in society and the close relationship between dogs and humans over the years. It would definitely appeal to anyone who enjoyed the Horizon programme, ‘The Secret Life of Dogs’ on the BBC, (you can still watch it on iPlayer) which was one of the best things I’ve seen on TV in ages.

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Stillness: Stories of Life in War-torn Yugoslavia by Courtney Angel Brkic

I started reading Stillness by Courtney Angel Brkic this morning on the train. It’s a collection of stories about the war that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia and I think it’s really outstanding.

Brkic worked as a forensic archaeologist in Bosnia after the war, and in the prologue she speaks of photos she found, rendered a foggy white by water damage. The book seems to be trying to restore the detail to these ‘photos of the dead’ – the people killed, displaced or scarred by the war, even the animals left starving in the zoo. If you’re interested in literature about the Balkan conflict, I can highly recommend Sarajevo Marlboro by Miljenko Jergovic, Sarajevo Blues by Semezdin Mehmedinovic and for a completely different take, Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazade and The Fixer. I’d be grateful for any other recommendations of books by Croatian, Bosnian or Serbian authors – it’s not something I seem to stumble upon often.
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Photographers Rights In The UK

Photographers Rights In The UK

Here in the UK, there???s been a recent spate of harassment and even arrests of innocent photographers by police invoking anti-terrorism laws.

So we???ve compiled an easy-to-read wallet-sized infosheet of photographer legal rights here in the UK (PDF). It???s designed by David McCandless and Joe Swainson. The information is sourced directly from the UK Metropolitan Police and distilled from other bust cards out there.

Download and print the PDF, cut it out and stick it in your wallet or purse. If you???re stopped by police for taking photos, whip out the sheet and instantly check your rights.

Of course, it???s never a good plan to antagonise the politzei. We hear they???re particularly unimpressed by having ???infosheets??? waved in their faces. If you are stopped for suspicious photography, a good response is usually something like:

???I???m an amateur photographer taking pictures for fun. Would you like to see them officer????

NOTE: Note Saturday 23rd Jan 2010, there???s a Mass Photo Gathering in Trafalgar Square in London 12 Noon to protest photographers rights. It???s organized by PhotographerNotATerrorist.org

If you can help us with photographers rights cards for other countries, such as the US, please get in touch. Thanks!

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Cowboys in India – C4 documentary on mining in Orissa

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I found this a really interesting documentary on the operations of the mining company Vedanta in Orissa. I haven???t got time to say all I???d like to about it ??? it???s such a comlex an emotive subject – but it brought back a lot of memories of my own trip in 2003, just after the factory I was built. I remember that feeling was running very high at the time ??? there were a lot of roadblocks and we were strongly advised not to camp out as we???d planned, in case anyone thought we were connected to Vedanta.

BBC News – Tim Berners-Lee unveils government data project

Tim Berners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee was hired to work on the project last June

Web founder Tim Berners-Lee has unveiled his latest venture for the UK government, which offers the public better access to official data.

A new website, data.gov.uk, will offer reams of public sector data, ranging from traffic statistics to crime figures, for private or commercial use.

The target is to kickstart a new wave of services that find novel ways to make use of the information.

Sir Tim was hired by PM Gordon Brown in June 2009 to oversee the project.

Developers have already built a site that displays the location of schools according to the rating assigned to them by education watchdog Ofsted.

“It’s such an untapped resource,” Sir Tim told BBC News.

“Government data is something we have already spent the money on… and when it is sitting there on a disk in somebody’s office it is wasted.”

Road hazards

A beta, or test, version of the site has been running since September, with more than 2,400 developers registering to test the site and provide feedback.

So far, 10 applications have been created using the data feeds, including PlanningAlerts, a free service that combs local authority planning websites looking for planning applications.

It then automatically e-mails details of applications in the local area to anyone who has signed up for the service.

Another site, FillThatHole, allows people to report potholes and other road hazards across the UK.

It uses location data from the Office for National Statistics.

This is a tremendous opportunity for UK firms to secure better value for money in service delivery and to develop innovative services which will help to grow the economy

Stephen Timms
Minister for Digital Britain

“A lot of this is about changing assumptions,” said Professor Nigel Shadbolt of Southampton University, who helped develop the website.

“If [the data] can be published under an FOI (Freedom of Information) request why not publish it online?”

The site currently contains 2,500 data sets but the pair hope it will continue to grow.

“It is a job that is never going to be entirely finished,” said Prof Shadbolt. “Government is always collecting data.”

One of the key data sets they are trying to include is geographical location from the Ordnance Survey (OS).

“That will make a real difference to the way that people make sense of the information,” Prof Shadbolt said.

He said they were “currently in discussion” with the OS and were hopeful that the data would be available on 1 April.

In November, the government announced that all Ordnance Survey map data would be freely available online in 2010.

Currently, it is only available free of charge to small-scale developers.

‘Grow the economy’

Prof Shadbolt is also trying to extend the project to cover local government information.

The site is part of a growing trend amongst governments to be more transparent with their data.

In the US, the Obama administration launched data.gov, which offers feeds from various departments including the US defence department and Nasa.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has also announced the city’s authorities will open an online data warehouse on 29 January with more than 200 data sets relevant to life in the capital.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for UK firms to secure better value for money in service delivery and to develop innovative services which will help to grow the economy,” said Stephen Timms, Minister for Digital Britain.

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