Archive for October 2011

Home Contained Debbie Glassberg Kansas City

Home Contained Debbie Glassberg Kansas City
Who would have thought that containers will serve much more than their original purpose? Industrial designer Debbie Glassberg says she is driven by design and this is what helped her overcome ordinary architecture. Debbie Glassberg’s home is a 2,600 square feet structure made of five shipping containers that has a rather unusual appearance. Located in Kansas City, the extraordinary dwelling has it all: space, light and life.

http://homecontained.com/








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Retail Interior Design 2011

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Containers of Hope Costa Rican Shipping Container House

Containers of Hope is the latest project by Benjamin Garcia Saxe and is composed of two 40' shipping containers set together with a raised mid section and clerestory windows. The discarded shipping container home was built for a couple who wanted to live debt free on their property outside of San Jose, Costa Rica. A simple skewed arrangement of the containers allows a view of the rising and setting sun and is perfect for cooling via natural ventilation.












In praise of the Big Library

: has Philip Pullman got it wrong?


Few librarians could fail to be inspired by Philip Pullman's address to the Library Campaign's conference. His passionate support for libraries and librarians expressed in such his speech "Consider the context" will surely rank as a key text for the library profession and we hope for society at large. It points out that there is a context to all this talk of "Save our libraries". Saving libraries, argues Pullman, is not about saving libraries - it is about saving society.

The speech was especially welcome coming as it did shortly after publication of a comment piece in The Telegraph by John McTernan. This questioned the need for libraries in a modern society; suggesting that rather like horse troughs they had served a useful function in the past, for which we should all be grateful, but were not needed today.

But despite that - or possibly because of that - we should not take everything that Pullman said uncritically. The bit that I want to take issue with is his statement "It would be far more sensible to close the big libraries and open even more small ones" I don't want to suggest he was entirely wrong to say this but to point out that we need to examine that idea in more detail.

First, in deference to the title of the talk, we must examine the context. The full paragraph reads:

This is why Brent and the other local authorities who want to close lots of small libraries in favour of fewer much bigger ones are wrong. It's a bad policy. It would be far more sensible to close the big libraries and open even more small ones. If Kensal Rise Library is still open, if Blackbird Leys in Oxford still has a library within walking distance of the people who live there, if hundreds of other libraries all over the country are kept open and properly staffed, then readers can reach pretty well any book they want to with the help of the inter-library loan system
.

To some extent the line about closing big libraries is a rhetorical riposte to the plan to close small libraries. It is based on the idea that many people need convenient local access to libraries if they are going to be able to use them. Pullman is also aware (as so many commentators on libraries are not) of the interconnectedness of libraries through the Inter Library Loan system).

The point I want to make is that there should be two elements. First there has to be a good library service and this is a function of size. There has to be a range and a depth of book stock. There has to be a sufficient number of library professionals with a range of specialisms. We need to offer a full range of activities and services to meet the diverse needs of our users. The service is not the same as an individual library building. It is not even the same as a library authority. As Pullman points out individual libraries and library authorities do work together to provide a service.

The second element is how to deliver this service to the people who desire to make use of it. As Pullman makes clear, many people, especially families with young children, will be unable to use the service if local small libraries are closed. On the other hand there are also many people (and John McTernan is probably an example of this group) who are unable to use the library not because of physical access but because the quality of the provision is not what they need. If the library does not offer the full range and depth of materials and services then they are just as excluded as the young child or family who can't afford the bus fares.

Pullman's point is that the network of small libraries is an access point to the larger service and so it should be - but as professional librarians we know this is not always the case. A dozen small libraries are likely to duplicate a fairly limited range of books and even a functioning ILL system does not completely overcome this. The user will not be exposed to the full range of titles on the shelves, there will be a delay in obtaining items and in some cases the user will have to pay a charge for obtaining books from outside the library service - undermining the concept of a free public library.

Large, modern central libraries can provide an in-depth book stock, specialist information services (e.g. business, science & technology, health etc.), a wide range of literature in English and other languages, specialist journals, archives, a range of activities, professional library staff and extended opening hours seven days a week. People who want and need these services will make a special journey to access the library. We are right to be concerned about those people who find physical access is difficult but I do not believe that we are doing ourselves or our customers any favours by not having these centres of excellence. Our communities deserve excellence as well as access and it is our responsibility to deliver both.

I believe in the concept of a big library. I believe that there is a synergy in a single large library that you do not get with a network of smaller libraries. Yes, I know that in theory you can go into the small local library and find what you want on the catalogue or with the help of professional staff, but it is just not the same.

Of course, what we want is both and I genuinely believe that the benefit to a community of such a library system far exceeds the cost. However, we all know that many library managers are being faced with the reality of having to deliver a quality library services with inadequate funding. I believe that as professionals we do need to come up with a realistic way of maintaining a service in the face of unreasonable cuts and that keeping a large number of small libraries open is not of itself better than a smaller number of bigger libraries. First develop the service, then deliver it as appropriate.

Meka Thor 960 Container Home

Meka Thor 960, a great combination of 2 x 40ft and 2 x 20ft high top containers giving you 920 sf.
This company really have a great concept and very modern use of the shipping containers.
http://www.mekaworld.com







Business information

JISC Open Innovation and Access to Resources (OIA2R ) project

I have been monitoring the pilot projects that were funded by the JISC Open Innovation and Access to Resources (OIA2R), funding call which is part of the Business and Community Engagement (BCE) programme.

For an introduction to the BCE programme see the video  and the BCE blog

The aim of the Access to Resources stream of OIA2R was to develop integrated business information services involving universities and other agencies. Five pilot programmes were funded to explore different approaches in different areas.

The project funding has now come to an end and the projects have reported their results. In some cases workable outcomes have been produced while in others concepts have been explored but the results have been limited. It is possible that further work will be done on these projects. I have summarised three of the most relevant projects below.

In summary, the projects have demonstrated that local projects based on co-operation between HE and FE institutions and focused on the needs of local business can produce actual and potential benefits. Local businesses do have a need to access the information and expertise held by universities. Most universities already offer business support services but there is a need for wider and deeper engagement with the business community. Information Technology and the use of Web 2.0 tools can aid this engagement but the technical issues of integrating individual institutional websites must not be underestimated. The process of how individual organisations can work together and focus on the needs of local businesses needs to be considered as much as the technology.

These projects demonstrate that that it would be worthwhile exploring initiatives in our area based on co-operation with local universities, colleges and other organisations. It would be unwise to adopt one of the existing projects as a model - instead we should explore the needs of local businesses. The Universities would be expected to lead on such a project but the initiative should come from the local authority on behalf of local businesses and support agencies.

OPEN Biz

OPEN Biz involved the pilot of an online programme to support Scottish Universities’ engagement with the wider community – namely businesses, social enterprises, charities and business advisors.

Led by the University of Edinburgh and Interface – The knowledge connection for business, the pilot project focused on the West of Scotland, working with key University partners such as the University of Strathclyde, University of the West of Scotland, Glasgow Caledonian University and University of Glasgow.

Outcomes and achievements of OPEN Biz have been:

Video case studies of 2-3 minutes hosted on YouTube-
Live blended webinars events which engaged the virtual audience through the use of moderated online chat forum- (Problem with sound at start).

• Testing easier access to research publications via a digital publishing tool.

• A free to download iPhone app with business relevant content.-

For further information go to http://www.interface-online.org.uk/3897 or contact siobhan@interface-online.org.uk. A flyer is available.
BRACKEN

BRACKEN (Business Resource and Community Knowledge Exchange Network) project aimed to develop and optimise the knowledge, information and business support services provided by the South West Wales Vocational Support Initiative (SWWVSI) network of HE and FE institutions and regional business support agencies. The objective was to provide a one-stop-shop for business support information that would be continuously synchronised with the emerging services offer from the partner institution websites and would include general information about business support services in the region, including the support from sector-specific business support agencies, and also current opportunities for support funding.

The project also explored the Enterprise Architecture (EA) modelling methods to improve the operational effectiveness of the regional network.

A beta website has been set up but the project identified significant shortcomings in some of the partner institution business-facing websites and the information they provided about business support services. This had an effect on the ability of the information hub to trawl for information on those websites and was identified as a key area for the Bracken project to address. As a result of this analysis, each institution created a development plan for the improvement of services to be delivered through the SWWVSI network and disseminated through the institutional websites.


ENGAGE

The ENGAGE project, led by Queens University Belfast (QUB) with partner Belfast Metropolitan College (BMC), recognises the importance of bringing together co-located private companies and higher education organisations. In the knowledge that some high profile links have been established already to individuals or private sector organisations beyond the local community (i.e. usually international and attaching kudos), the project is very focussed on encouraging and nurturing relationships between small or large local companies and complementary groups within Queens University Belfast or Belfast Metropolitan College. A useful review of the aims of the project can be found here.

Celebrating social science research

The Festival of Social Science 2011 takes place in London during the week 20th October to 5th November.

Coordinated by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) the events provide insights into the impact that social science research has on economic, social and political policies.

As part of the event, Sage and the British Academy (in association with Times Higher Education) will be hosting a debate on 31st October at the British Academy. How Can Social Scientists ad Government Work Together to Strengthen Public Trust in Scientific Evidence will be chaired by Evan Davis and speakers from academia, government and policy will be represented.

Other events at the Festival are listed here.

Sifting email archives

The latest issue of The New Scientist reports the release of Memories Using Email (MUSE). Developed by Sudheendra Hangal and colleagues at Stanford University, the tool allows email archives to be sorted and grouped to help users ‘reminisce on [their] digital past’.

Data will be stored on your own computer, so there are no confidentiality concerns. The software identifies emotions, creates timelines and groups contacts together based on shared messages.

The developers acknowledge that more personal communication is now taking place outside of email and through social networks, but that MUSE could possibly be adapted to work with Facebook.

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Sage Research Methods Online - free trial

SAGE Research Methods Online (SRMO) focuses on research methodologies, helping students, faculty and researchers with research projects. SRMO links over 100,000 pages of SAGE book, journal and reference content with advanced search and discovery tools.

You can now sign up for a free trial here.

Urban Outfitters Container Store on Tour

Urban Outfitters Store on Tour
created from 2x 20ft shipping containers, a great concept store that will relocated to different venues from the brand Urban Outfitters.
http://blog.urbanoutfitters.com/blog/category/store_on_tour