Projects in Detail
The development of ASAPWeb has proceeded rapidly since
the establishment of ASAP's own dedicated WWW server in July 1995.
As well as the specific projects listed below, there have
been many enhancements to the site. In particular, the
new home page design by Griffiths & Young provides a clear
but attractive entrance. As well as our publicly accessible
resources, we have also been extending the use of the WWW for
internal ASAP purposes. Guillaume Mallet developed a number
of information sharing utilities, while Victoria Young and Elissa
Tenkate have maintained the social side of our virtual office.
Australian Society of Archivists - Directory
of Archives in Australia
Rosanne Walker, Guillaume Mallet, Tim Sherratt
In 1995 ASAP approached the Australian Society of Archivists (ASA)
with a proposal to create a WWW edition of its Directory of
Archives in Australia. ASA agreed to fund the project and
organised a mailout to repositories seeking up-to-date information
to add to the Directory. In the first phase, the existing
Directory information was converted into a database to
allow for easy management and conversion into HTML. Rosanne Walker
then entered updates and corrections. Over 350 of the
470 entries in the Directory were updated and, where appropriate,
e-mail addresses and URLs were added. The structure and
organisation of the WWW edition were carefully designed to provide
ready access to the data. In addition, Guillaume Mallet
developed a new search interface, providing users with the choice
of a full text or a fielded search. ASAP also added a new section
to the Directory listing Australian archival resources
on the WWW, including a hyperlinked list of all archival repositories
with WWW sites, and a listing of finding aids on the WWW.
The Directory was formally released to the world in
late May 1996 and has attracted considerable interest, both in
Australia and internationally. It can be accessed at on the WWW
Bright Sparcs underwent a series of major redevelopments
from late 1995 through 1996. This work was made possible
by grants from the Australian Vice Chancellors' Commission Improved
Information Infrastructure program and the Australia Foundation
for Culture and the Humanities. In addition, ASAP's improved
financial security has enabled us to commit significant resources
to the on-going maintenance and development of Bright Sparcs.
Bright Sparcs' future as an innovative, accessible and informative
resource seems well assured.
Developments occurred in many areas: our systems for managing
data input were rationalised; our WWW design was overhauled; new
resources were created; and new links were established to other
facilities, publications and sites. Rosanne Walker took
over the job of maintaining the data within Bright Sparcs,
with Victoria Young and Denise Sutherland creating an exciting
range of additional resources. Work was overseen by Tim
Sherratt and Elissa Tenkate, with technical support provided by
Guillaume Mallet and Robin Stephens.
Bright Sparcs - Site Redesign
The 'front end' of Bright Sparcs underwent some much needed
renovations in 1996. Tim Sherratt's original Bright Sparcs
logo was finally put out to pasture, replaced by a much more exciting
design by Griffiths & Young. This changeover provided
the inspiration for a more fundamental redesign of the WWW pages,
aimed at presenting the information in a more attractive and compact
way, while enhancing its ease of use. A series of additional
navigation pages, including a site index and a What's New? page,
were also created.
Bright Sparcs - New Search Facilities
Guillaume Mallet, Tim Sherratt
In late 1995, Guillaume Mallet began work on a new search facility
for Bright Sparcs. The original, admittedly primitive,
search script had already been replaced by a third party keyword
search product, but we were keen to develop something that would
enable users to generate complex fielded queries - for example
'female geologists born in Australian before 1900'. After exploring
various options, Guillaume adapted the Harvest system to provide
the flexibility we sought. Some fine tuning is still required,
but the new facility adds considerably to Bright Sparcs'
ease of use.
Bright Sparcs - Data Entry
Rosanne Walker has taken on the role of Bright Sparcs 'Registrar',
ensuring that the core data which constitutes Bright Sparcs
is properly maintained. Rosanne has already worked through the
backlog of corrections, and is now adding new entries from the
material which has accumulated since the last systematic updating
of RASA in 1991. Our methods of reporting errors and noting possible
additions have also been streamlined. The provision of resources
to enable the maintenance of the database is vital to Bright
Sparcs' continued value.
Bright Sparcs - Users' Guides
Denise Sutherland, Elissa Tenkate
In order to familiarise users with the contents and structure
of Bright Sparcs, Denise Sutherland has developed an online
'Users' Guide'. This Guide provides a tour of Bright Sparcs
with examples of how its resources can be utilised. More than
just a 'Help' file, the Guide will hopefully encourage visitors
to Bright Sparcs to extend their explorations. To provide
more specialised advice, Denise is also working on a 'Teachers'
Guide'. Drawing upon Australian science curricula, the Teachers'
Guide will provide a series of suggestions for using Bright
Sparcs in an educational setting. Information about the Teachers'
Guide, and Bright Sparcs in general, will be distributed
to teachers in 1997.
Bright Sparcs - Exhibitions
Tim Sherratt, Denise Sutherland, Elissa Tenkate
One of our main aims in promoting the use of Bright Sparcs
is to draw in people who have had little previous contact with
the history of Australian science - who, indeed, might be surprised
to find Australia has a scientific heritage. To help achieve
this, we are developing a series of online exhibitions, extensively
cross-linked with Bright Sparcs, but designed to reach
out beyond the narrowly defined history of science community.
It is expected that these exhibitions will take two forms:
- short presentations created to highlight or link with specific
anniversaries or events; and
- detailed, stand-alone, exhibitions exploring topics in considerable
The first mini exhibition was created by Denise Sutherland to
commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of pioneer
naturalist Amalie Dietrich. It can be found on the WWW at: http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/exhib/dietrich/
Denise has also developed a detailed exhibition examining the
design and manufacture of optical munitions in the Second World
War. The optical munitions story is a fascinating one, involving
a number of the major figures in Australia's scientific community.
Denise has assembled a set of comprehensive resources, providing
information on the people and institutions involved, and incorporating
little seen photographs from the Australian War Memorial and Mount
Stromlo Observatory. This exhibition will be known as
The Giant's Eye: The Optical Munitions Exhibition and will
be formally launched early in 1997. It will be found on the WWW
Bright Sparcs - Bibliography of the History of
Guillaume Mallet, Tim Sherratt, Karl Slotte
Bright Sparcs has always provided information on archival
or unpublished sources of information, but what about published
material? Published bibliographies, particularly those by Ann
Moyal and Laurie Carlson, have existed for some time, but they
needed to be brought together to provide detailed coverage of
the history of Australian science. In late 1995, Karl Slotte
began entering data from these existing published bibliographies
into a database. By the end of 1996, there were over 2,500 entries,
and Karl had begun to supplement the published bibliographies
with data from other sources. Care was taken to tag articles
with the relevant Bright Sparcs ID numbers, thus enabling
easy cross-linking between the two databases. This bibliography
of the history of Australian science will be made available on
the WWW in 1997. It will be accessible both via a dedicated search/browse
page, and through the Bright Sparcs entries of individual
scientists. This resource will greatly add to the value of Bright
Sparcs as a research and reference tool.
Bright Sparcs - Memoirs of the Australian Academy
Rosanne Walker, Victoria Young
The scanning and processing of the biographical memoirs of the Australian Academy of Science published in Historical Records
of Australian Science was completed by Victoria Young in February
1996. This was a considerable task and has made available over
eighty detailed biographical articles, all fully cross-linked
with Bright Sparcs. It is intended that future memoirs
will be added to this important collection.
Bright Sparcs - Directory of Archives in Australia
As reported elsewhere, ASAP has developed a WWW edition of the
Directory of Archives in Australia. This was also important
for the on-going maintenance of Bright Sparcs, as the Directory
has replaced the repositories database that was included in
early editions. Considerable work was required to synchronise
the data and to establish appropriate links between the two databases.
This work will ensure that Bright Sparcs always provides
up-to-date information with minimal duplication of effort.
The Cabinet of Curiosities
Greg St John's design of the
Cabinet of Curiosities
The idea for the Cabinet of Curiosities arose out of discussions
between Peter Vallee (Executive Secretary, Australian Academy
of Science) and Tim Sherratt in January 1996. The replica
Endeavour was sailing to the UK later that year, and the
Academy of Science and the Royal Society of London were seeking
ideas for a science related event or project that could be tied
into its voyage. Inspired by various historical and contemporary
sources, Tim suggested that the Endeavour carry a Cabinet
of Curiosities. Just as Banks's voyage and collections marked
the incorporation of Australia into western science, so the Cabinet
would provide a new 'collection' - a representation of the way
science had developed in Australia over the intervening two hundred
Tim's one-page project outline was taken up by the British Council
under the NewIMAGES program, and in October 1996 RTZ-CRA
agreed to sponsor the project. ASAP was engaged by the
British Council to see the project through to completion.
Time was limited, and it was decided that the Cabinet
would join the Endeavour in Madeira, its last stop before
London in March 1997.
What is the Cabinet of Curiosities? It is, in essence,
a work of art, or rather an art exhibition. Tim has developed
themes and stories exploring aspects of the history of Australian
science. These are being allocated to eight artists around
Australia who will develop works based on their responses.
Their artworks will be enclosed in a magnificent cabinet,
designed and built by Greg St John at the Canberra School of Art.
We hope that the Cabinet will encourage those who
see it to undertake their own explorations of the history of Australian
science; that it will be a work that inspires both fascination
and, of course, curiosity.
After a brief sojourn in London, the Cabinet will travel
back to Australia as part of the Kaleidoscope of Life exhibition
being developed by the Australian Museum and the Natural History
Museum. It will be exhibited around Australia throughout
1997 and 1998, before returning to Britain, where it will be formally
presented to the Royal Society of London as a gift from the people
Further information about the Cabinet of Curiosities and
its schedule will be made available through the Cabinet's
own WWW site: http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/cabinet/
History of Australian Science Newsletter
ASAP's plan is to transform the History of Australian Science
Newsletter (HASN) into an electronic magazine which will be printed and distributed at regular intervals. It was
hoped that the first edition would be available by mid-1996, but
this has not been possible. However, Griffiths & Young
have put together some great design ideas and it is expected to
be operational by June 1997.
The electronic version of HASN will go by the name of The Duckbill Messenger - but it will be more than just an electronic HASN. It will include many links to ASAP's range of resources, thus providing an alternative gateway to both Australia's scientific,
technological and medical history, and to ASAP in general.
The Journal of Syms Covington
In August 1995, ASAP published on the WWW The Journal of Syms Covington, Darwin's assistant on the voyage of the Beagle. This journal is held by the Mitchell Library, and was transcribed
and annotated by ANU researcher Vern Weitzel. Vern approached
ASAP about the possibility of publishing his work on the Internet
and we gladly obliged. Victoria Young undertook the processing
and design of the WWW edition, which includes images of some of
Covington's own sketches. As far as we know, this was
the first complete manuscript from an Australian repository to
be made available on the WWW. It can be found at: http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/covingto/
WWW Guides to Collections
Guillaume Mallet, Tim Sherratt
Tim Sherratt developed a package of macros, reports and queries
to automatically generate WWW editions of Guides from ASAP ADS.
In addition, Guillaume Mallet modified existing WWW indexing
software to provide a search facility that links users to the
contents of individual files within the collection (rather than
simply to blocks of text or complete data files). The
first Guide to be generated in this manner was the Guide
to the Records of CSIRAC, which is available on ASAPWeb
Other guides successfully published in this manner this year were:
WWW Site Development
Guillaume Mallet, Lisa O'Sullivan, Tim Sherratt, Victoria Young
ASAP Canberra's Information Services consultancy with the Academy
of Science continued this year, with ASAP redesigning most of
the Academy's WWW site. Lisa O'Sullivan and Guillaume Mallet
developed a prototype of 'Science in Action' - a new science education
resource - for demonstration at the Academy's Annual General Meeting
in May 1996. Academy staff have now taken over responsibility
for the day-to-day editing and creation of their WWW materials.
ASAP continued to provide Academy staff with training, advice
and backup throughout the year.
ASAP is also assisting the Australian Academy of the Humanities in the development of their own WWW site, and provides advice
and assistance to a range of other organisations, including the
Australian Science Communicators and the
Australian Society of Archivists.