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Above: The Africa Media Online Media blog will initially focus on the Twenty Ten project, a partnership between World Press Photo, FreeVoice, Africa Media Online and lokaalmondiaal with funding from th Dutch Postcode Lottery.

We have just recently launched two new blogs which I thought I should bring your attention to. As an organisation Africa Media Online bridges two worlds – the Heritage sector (museums, archives and libraries) and the Media sector. Up to now the Digital Picture Library Manager blog has serviced both sectors.

With the launch of our Twenty Ten project, togther with Dutch organisations World Press Photo, FreeVoice, lokaalmondiaal and funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, training 108 journalists from all over Africa to cover the lead up to and the event of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, I thought we should have a blog that focuses specifically on media matters. So we have launched the Africa Media Online Media blog. This blog focuses on happenings in the media world in Africa, and in particular, it will keep interested people up to date with the Twenty Ten project as it unfolds.

With 108 journalists in 34 different African nations, Twenty Ten will be bringing you the most complete in-depth coverage of the first African FIFA World Cup from an African perspective.

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Above: The Twenty Ten blog will publish the content from the 36 text journalists, 36 photojournalists and 36 radio journalists and will provide a quick link to the material as it is loaded on the Africa Media Online web site.

Where our Media blog keeps you up to date with the project itself, our Twenty Ten blog keeps buyers abreast of the latest content from the journalists that has been posted online on the Africa Media Online web site.

Our Digital Picture Library Manager blog is going to continue to keep the Heritage sector up to date with developments in that sector. I should imagine that many of you will be interested in both, or all three and I would encourage you to sign up to the RSS feed to all.

cc-logo.jpgAbove: The Creative Commons logo is, for many, a symbol of a new way of dealing with copyright more applicable to the information era. It certainly holds out promise for museums, archives and other public repositories that hold collections in trust for the public good.

Copyright and Creative Commons

I am delighted that distinguished copyright lawyers Tobias Schonwetter and Andrew Rens will be joining Digital Imaging consultant Graeme Cookson, metadata expert, Sarah Saunders and myself in giving input at the Heritage Digital Campus to be held in Cape Town from August 17 to 21.

I met Andrew some years ago through one of our advisory board members, Dwayne Bailey of Translate.org.za. Andrew is Intellectual Property Fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation and has initiated a number of innovative initiatives in the area of intellectual rights. Tobias has his PhD in copyright exceptions and limitations and, among other distinguished positions, is legal lead of Creative Commons South Africa. Both are sought after speakers on intellectual property issues and I believe they will be of immense assistance to participants in the 2009 Heritage Digital Campus, particularly in relation to the advent of Creative Commons licenses which I believe give the legal framework for heritage institutions to both grant access to collections held in their trust for the common good, while at the same time ensuring that the collections are not exploited.

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Above: Andrew Rens was the initiator of the African Commons Project and Freedom to Innovate South Africa. Andrew is an active blogger and two of his blogs can be found here and here.

Tobias sent me an outline of what he and Andrew will be dealing with in their afternoon sessions:

What is copyright?
Copyright terms, the public domain, orphan works etc.
What happens when you digitise?
Introduction to CC licenses
How to use CC licenses

I am very excited about the star line up with have for this first Heritage Digital Campus. Those of you who have signed up for the full week and those signed up for Sarah Saunders’ course will have Tobias and Andrew’s sessions included in your training. If you have already booked and are still to pay, please be in touch with Jacqui Cook (+27-33-345-9445) as soon as possible to secure your place. If you are a government department this can be done by giving her a purchase order number. If you have not yet booked please urgently be in touch with Sue Hadcroft on +27-83-445-6042 so that she can secure your place.

Download the Masterclass Outline
Download the Booking Form

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Above: Two woman await a tram in a shelter advertising an exhibition of Richard Avedon pictures which was on at the Foam_Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam while we were there.

In February I was in Holland, together with our Product Manager, Ian Blackburn, and Media Manager, Dominique Le Roux, to work on a joint project with four Dutch organisations, World Press Photo, FreeVoice, lokaalmondiaal and the Tropen Museum. What has brought our five organisations together is a very exciting project centred around the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Together, the five organisations, headed by World Press Photo and FreeVoice, have been awarded over €2.2 million by the Dutch Postcode Lottery to carry out the project.

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Above: Africa Media Online’s Media Manager, Dominique Le Roux (left), together with colleagues from Dutch partner, lokaalmondiaal at a pub in Arnhem, a town outside Amsterdam, Holland.

The aim of the project is to bring an African perspective to the reporting on the soccer World Cup, which will be held in Africa for the first time in history – in South Africa in June and July 2010. In the latter half of this year (2009) World Press Photo and FreeVoice will be training photojournalists, radio journalists, and text journalists at a number of venues around the continent. The journalists will then report from their various nations on the lead up to the event and that content will be distributed by Africa Media Online to African and global publishers. It will also be published on lokaalmondiaal’s web site for the Dutch Public. The best of the content will also be curated to form part of a major exhibition in the main exhibition hall at the Tropen Museum in Amsterdam which will be launched just before the staging of the World Cup itself.

Then in 2010, the best of the qualifying journalists will be invited to South Africa where they will cover the 2010 Fifa World Cup on the ground. There will be three teams, two based in Gauteng province but traveling to the games, and one traveling down the coast to finish up in Cape Town at the semi-final due to be held there. The teams will not just be reporting on sports, but rather on every aspect of life that is impacted in any way by the soccer fantasia.

Throughout, Africa Media Online will be distributing the content to publications all over Africa and the World. As part of this we will have created the application web site and upgraded our MEMAT system to facilitate seamless distribution.

After the event, a select group of photographers will qualify for the 2010 African Photo Entrepreneur Programme to be run by Africa Media Online, and lokaalmondiaal will be putting together a book with the best of what was produced. There will also be a traveling exhibition in South Africa.
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Above: From left to right: Project Manager for the “Twenty Ten: African media on the road to 2010 (and beyond)” project, Ruth De Vries, from World Press Photo with her colleague Katusha Sol, Africa Media Online’s Media Manager, Dominique Le Roux and Product Manager, Ian Blackburn, and a representative of the Tropen Museum in Amsterdam view the main exhibition hall of the museum where the project exhibition will be staged just before the 2010 Fifa World Cup next year.

So it is all very exciting and it starts right here with you and or those you can encourage signing up to:
*Make application to be one of the journalists to cover the event (the closing date for registering to receive a username and password is 4 May 2009). If you want to be considered for APEP next year, please sign up to participate in this project.
*Sign Up to receive information about the project and, if you are an African publication out side of South Africa, to receive free content.

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amo-top-extended-white_ap2.jpgAbove: A mock up of the new top include for the new MEMAT system using the Africa Media Online web site as an example.

Next Generation of MEMAT begins to Rise from its Foundations

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After a year of development behind the scenes we are at last beginning to see the next generation of MEMAT take shape. The whole process has taken us far longer than could have been imagined, but creating a system that can handle images, sound, and video has proved to be highly complex.

We spent most of last year getting the base infrastructure together led by our Head of IT, Daniel Smith. Daniel is an absolute wizz. He does miracles with tight budgets. He has come up with an incredibly scalable system that means we can deploy mirrored servers all over the world in multiple depots. This translates to both security and high speed access.

The base system also utilizes the very latest developments in metadata. This is still very much a developing field. I happened to be at the first international metadata conference in 2007 at the CEPIC convention in Florence, Italy and we have tried to keep up with developments since then. The advantage of this is, of course, that right at the heart of the system are global standards which means cross-platform compatibility. So, if you load media onto the new MEMAT system, that media is not forced into a format that is unique to that system – rather your hard work of capturing data is maintained, no matter what system you chose to migrate that media to. The other advantage is that the metadata in the files can be leveraged to ensure very powerful search filtering.

At the heart of the base infrastructure of the new MEMAT is The Vault. The Vault is a digital repository with virtual “deposit boxes” which can be very easily written to write once media. The concept was given to us by Peter Krogh who wrote The DAM Book. We brought him out last year to teach at our Digital Campus and he has been a real friend to us. (Rumour has it that he is about to bring out a brand new version of The DAM Book, so watch this space.)

Originally we had planned to use an open source media management system at the core of the new MEMAT. That, unfortunately did not work out, and it did set us back some months. It just was not up to the professional standards we require. So Rosanne and I have spent long hours doing hand drawn wire frames. We got up to 75 pages! At the same time, those wire frames are being transformed into PDF designs by Brendan Temple at Temple Creative. Brendan is a real gem. Some years ago he spent some time in the UK heading up the designs for two major picture collections – Digital Vision (which is not part of Getty Images) and Image Source. He then helped us with elements of our MEMAT 2.0 system and now we have the privilege of his heading up the design of the new MEMAT, and I am sure you will agree, he has done a fantastic job.

So now we are on to the development with many programmers beavering away using Rapid Application Development protocols. They are using a combination of Ruby on Rails and PHP (both programming languages) to develop the system. We have already used this in the development of the application web sites for the Twenty Ten project and for MENA Training Programme for World Press Photo, and it has worked really well, giving a solid product with very few bugs.

So all in all, it is very exciting to at last see things taking shape. We are really grateful to the support of the European Union through Gijima KZN who provided part funding for development and to the Dutch Postcode Lottery who through World Press Photo and FreeVoice have also provided funding toward further development. This has been a costly venture and their help has been invaluable.

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Black or White

As part of launching the new MEMAT system, the Africa Media Online site is getting a face lift. Temple Creative has given us two possible designs, but we would love your input on which one to chose. The image used is one of my favourites from Photo Access.

Here they are:
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We await your feedback on our poll below:

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Above: A fragment of “Cassarinas at Dawn, Maputo, Mozambique” by David Larsen, is one of the images that forms part of the IZWE de Africa exhibition that has travelled to Buenos Aires, Argentina as part of a cultural exchange programme.

Clare Louise Thomas writes to participating photographers from Buenos Aires:

So, we opened the exhibition on Thursday evening and it was a roaring success. The space looked amazing and the feedback was just magnificent. Every single one (I love this) of the photographers were singled out as someone’s favourite and people were just thrilled to be seeing the work that was coming out of South Africa. The cultural TV channel (Canal A) came and did an interview and I made a speech about what an honour it has been to work on this project and how valuable it is for emerging South African photographers work to be getting out there.

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Africa Media Online exhibition organiser and photographer, Clare Louise Thomas being interviewed by Canal A at the opening of the “IZWE: Desde Africa” exhibition as part of the Proyecto 34˚S cultural exchange between Cape Town and Buenos Aires. PHOTO: Clare Louise Thomas

The Economic, Political and Cultural Counceller from the South African Embassy Vicor Rambau was there and showed great interest in the exhibition. I will be meeting with him next week to see what future possibilities may hold, as well as with the director of the Borges. Marta Camponara is a well respected African Art Collector here who is touring her exhibition of African sculptures around Argentina and we are looking into our exhibition travelling with hers… The options are looking good, but even if it just stays as is where it is now. it is a great thing. The pictures look incredible and as a collection really work wonderfully together. I can’t wait till we can bring it back home and show the people there… :)

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Members of the public browse the exhibition at the opening in the prestigious Centro Cultural Borges in Buenos Aires, Argentina. PHOTO: Clare Louise Thomas

Watch the media for information about the exhibition as it filters out bit by bit. The Cape Argus featured something this weekend with their own selection of photos and quotes from the information provided. So check that out and I will keep you updated on more as it happens.

Again, congratulations. I am so thrilled at the outcome of this experience.

Clare in Buenos Aires
(Africa Media Online)

Last night saw the opening of the IZWE de Africa exhibition featuring the works of South African photographers in a prestigious venue in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A collaboration between Africa Media Online and Proyecto 34°S, this six-week exhibition provides a mix of emerging and established photographers with the chance to share their views on Contemporary African Culture.

Proyecto 34°S is an artistic exchange between Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Cape Town, South Africa. Its primary objective is to promote and facilitate the exchange of African and Latin American performing arts, culture, heritage and literature. Curated by Nadia Strier, the Izwe de Africa exhibition features as part of the South African Embassy’s heritage showcase at the Centro Cultural Borges, as well as online at Africa Media Online, where buyers will be able to select and purchase art prints.

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Above: Jeremy Jowell’s image of Seychellois fishermen is one of 23 photographs by Africa Media Online photographers featuring in a prestigious exhibition in Argentina which also serves to launch our new print-on-demand service

Each of the photographers was asked to describe how their photographs reflect their views on the theme. Tammy Gardner, whose image is of a young man striding with his briefcase before the crumbling façade of The Empire building in Muizenberg, on the False Bay coastline, sums up the overall tone of the exhibition in her commentary:

“The obvious statement of crumbling Empire in Africa, the dilapidated building still showing its beautiful design form, the optimistic morning light, the purposeful stride of the black man with his shabby clothes and briefcase. A perfect metaphor for the complexities of African life as we know it today – not so shiny, not so picture perfect, but hopeful, working with what we have.”

Africa Media Online is a South African organization that specializes in giving African photographers a voice and an opportunity to compete on equal footing in international markets. “A balanced view of Africa and her rich heritage cannot exist unless we as Africans are able to consistently tell Africa’s story from our perspective in the global information economy,” explains David Larsen, Director of Africa Media Online.

Larsen refers to Africa Media Online’s role as the provision of a ‘digital trade route’ – this includes training, the provision of online systems and an image library that markets content directly to editors and publishers, curators and art directors around the world. Now this exhibition launches yet another platform that the company will be providing: the opportunity for international buyers to select African images online and have art prints delivered to their door.

The exhibiting photographers are:
Sean Wilson, Marinda Louw, Kim Thunder, Christine Nesbitt, Simone Scholtz, David Larsen, Jeremy Jowell, Karin Duthie, Craig Urquhart, Chris Kirchhoff, Nikki Rixon, Tammy Gardner, Clare Louise Thomas and Toni Jade Efune.

Six of these fourteen photographers were a part of the African Photo Entrepreneur Programme run by Africa Media Online in 2008, which was focused on growing photo entrepreneurs to compete on the global stage in terms of photo production and market savvy.

Right Click to download PDF slide show of the exhibition

For further information please contact the Media Manager, Dominique le Roux: +27 21 788 6261 or +27 82 823 0460 dominique@africamediaonline.com

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