Held at the beautifully revitalized National Museum, I met old friends, made new acquaintances and even shook the hand of Minister of Information, Communications and The Arts (MICA), Dr. Lee Boon Yang! Just watch the short video above.
I was quite surprised at the high level of reception our museums have for bloggers such as myself. National Heritage Board’s (NHB) sharp-dressing CEO, Michael Koh (left), as well as Corporate Communications Director and friend, Walter Lim (right), introduced me to Dr. Lee just as he arrived at the museum. Through the event, they also kept me informed of what was going on, and I took it upon myself to reiterate key points so I could report accurately.
About meeting Dr. Lee Boon Yang… at first I felt a little embarrassed by the amount of gadgets weaved onto my sousveillance backpack, but I think it got the message across: Individuals today can become media entities on their own. Referring to the myriad of online personalities / celebrities, anyone with enough charisma, tech-savvy, and business sense, can rival the attention which only media conglomerates previously enjoyed. Has this happened in Singapore? Sure… MrBrown’s a good example, with his daily podcasts and other online shows.
While the event was to officially start IMD2007 activities throughout the island, something subtle was introduced at the launch as well. Called SGCOOL, this new heritage web site’s name is actually short for Singapore Collections Online. As Michael Koh mentioned, about 6,000 different artifacts were either photographed or scanned, then shared online for the public viewing. Apparently this would act as a sampler of the kind of artifacts our museums hold, in a bid to attract more visitors to our museums. Besides becoming a useful search engine for historians, some suggestions on its growth included giving the public the ability to purchase high quality prints.
Incidentally, Walter told me that they are planning to have a contest for SGCOOL soon, where they’ll have participants use images from the site to “curate” their own galleries. Apparently prizes include a Nintendo Wii! Michael made it a point that this is the first version of such a site, and the National Heritage Board welcomes suggestions on how it could be further improved.
What’s interesting about SGCOOL is that it mirrored something I was involved with back in the University at Buffalo. Over at the Educational Technology Center (ETC) where I worked, we were involved in coding and archiving gallery databases for various works, including architecture (See Rudy Bruner Award Digital Archive), digitized research / instructional tools (See UBdigit) and even Pulp detective novel covers. Perhaps SGCOOL could take some cues from there, but top on my list would be to provide higher resolution images since the “detailed view” still looks very much like thumbnails.
Finally, a highlight of the event included tour bus rides by three tour operators each launching new services of their own. There was Luxury Tours, City Tours with the double-decker Fun Vee Bus, and DuckTours with their amazing monster Rhino Bus. You know which I preferred by now obviously… the Rhino bus was designed in Singapore and looked more like a spaceship from the inside (as seen below).
Together with panoramic windscreens, theater style ascending seats, a multi-language system with “Kiddo” language for young ones, and a projection screen for detailed historical presentations, I wish I could buy this Rhino bus to live in (see external view). Look out for these new tours in the next two months.