The death of slides?

12 10 2010

Yesterday I wanted to gather some statistics about slide usage in UK universities, to compare with the United States information covered in many issues of the Visual Resources Association journal.

As a mini-follow-up to the Digital Picture survey (2005), I have sent out a much smaller questionnaire aimed more directly at Slide Librarians, Image Librarians, and Visual Resource Curators:

Q.1. Job Title/Institution Name

Q.2. What has happened to your slide collection in the last five years? e.g. down-sized/expanded, digitised or replaced by new digital image collections, decrease in useage or increase in useage, disappeared, or the management subsumed into a small part of other activities, preserved, or in process of any of the above?

Q.3. Are you still making new slides, is this only by special request? is this still supported within your institution?

Q.4. Does your institution still support those who wish to give slide lectures e.g. by providing the equipment (presumably until it can no longer be repaired)? Or has all equipment been removed?

Q.5. How reliant is the future of the existing slide collection on the DACS licence negotiations? and/or what do you predict for the future?

One of the most sobering comments from questionnaire respondents so far:

at a recent library induction a student asked ‘what is a slide?’


Thoughts on Flickr

6 10 2010

The results of the survey, and anecdotal comments received, acknowledge the role of Web 2.0 and other technologies in providing presentation interfaces.

One choice could be to use Flickr to create either a private or public collection of images that can be dipped into, organised in groups, and form a teaching tool.

This approach is not without its problems though, as JISC Digital Media point out, it is wise to back-up your data elsewhere rather than rely completely on an externally hosted Web site.


Limited offer: 20% discount on Bridgeman Education subscription

21 09 2010

The first 50 to register for Bridgeman Education’s updated and freshly designed resource will receive extended trial access and a 20% discount off subscription for the first year. Contact Bridgeman Education for more information.

Bridgeman Education provided me with trial access in order to feed into this research project. The design is definitely fresh; very clean with lots of white space to enable the images to take centre stage. Some of the features I liked the most were:

  • The zoom feature is intuitive and easy to use, and many images can be zoomed to view details such as brush strokes, for a great experience try the following:
    • Gogh, Vincent van (1853-90). 1890. Bouquet of flowers. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
    • Freud, Lucian (b. 1922). 1991. Leigh Bowery. Private Collection.
  • Search results can be sorted by relevance, image number, artist name, artist nationality or medium.
  • The simple search is useful enough without the advanced search, even though this has been integrated well. I found that once I had done a simple search being able to click on the hyperlinked artist name was brilliant. They have also hyperlinked the keywords field.
  • Good error messages: they have really thought about the user experience and automatic feedback is sent to the developers.
  • The SlideShow feature

    One of the best features is the renovated slideshow experience. Images can be added from thumbnail results page, or core record page. There is a permanent slideshow tool bar at the top right of the screen; when you first login this is a blank square, but when you start adding images, the current slideshow displays a miniature version of the images chosen. This is a very good visual reminder. The toolbar also has very helpful tooltips over the icons to the extent that I did not need the help section at all.

    Once you have added images to the slideshow more features can be accessed. Cropping images is easy, and can be reset with the click of a button at anytime, the slides can be organised into twos or fours, and there are a few other viewing options. There is a choice of Artist Name, Title, and one editable field called Caption.

    Slideshows can be downloaded as a PDF document, or in a zip folder, which once extracted works like a small website. It would be great if it was possible to add additional images to the slideshow from other image libraries or collections. The XML file that is provided with the zipped download can be edited to do this, I have tried and can report that it works, but depending on the number of images this could be time consuming.


Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer 2010

18 05 2010

Further to Kim from Microsoft’s suggestion, I have joined the PowerPoint community on Facebook. I have just seen a post about Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer 2010 now being available for download, so thought I would link to that here as well.

ARTstor’s Public Offline Image Viewer

13 05 2010

This is one piece of presentation software that I have been aware of for a number of years.


  • Greater variety of image templates than PowerPoint’s slide layouts.
  • Zoomable image templates, only requires user to drag and drop image into the template; supports high quality images.
  • Easy shortcuts to use e.g. pressing ‘0’ fits the image to the frame, and pressing ‘9’ shows it at actual size.
  • Image palette area, similar to a physical slide light box, you can drag and drop images and view them in a large group.
  • Pared down functionality so that it is focused on images.


  • When presenting at a new venue the ARTstor software would need to be installed prior to giving your presentation (this doesn’t take long but is a technical consideration).
  • The version I downloaded today was 2.6a (BETA), if you subscribe to ARTstor the version is 3.0. Unfortunately the free version has compatability issues e.g. I couldn’t use it in Windows 7 even in compatability mode, although it would let me run a previous presentation.
  • This can’t incorporate moving images.
  • Templates are fixed, so you can’t add text boxes in addition to the template options (or this may be a compatability issue I am having).
  • It is good that it is streamlined, but then what happens if you want additional functionality such as animations or more complex image editing tools

Slideshow software

9 02 2010

The Museums Computer Group has a great email list: MCG@JISCMAIL.AC.UK

Follow this link for details of the list including how to join.

There are currently a few posts this afternoon about slideshow software, those mentioned so far include: