Category Archives: Movies Lost in Galway / Stars at Galway Film Fleadh

From Galway First:

Star Trek fans are called Trekkies, but watch out for the Lost-ies. Fans of the inexplicable and never-ending TV series are planning to come to Galway this week to honour the conferring of the star of several episodes of the series, who is receiving an honorary degree at NUI, Galway.

Fionnula Flanagan is an Emmy Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated Irish actress. She trained in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and has appeared in numerous films, including The Others with Nicole Kidman, Transamerica and Waking Ned Devine, as well as television series and stage productions. She came to prominence in Ireland in 1965 as a result of her role as Máire in the Teilifís Éireann production of the Irish Language play, An Triail. Ms Flanagan established herself as one of the foremost interpreters of James Joyce in the 1967 film version of Ulysses.

But as far as fans of Lost are concerned, she will forever be that mysterious white-haired woman Ms Hawking who appeared in the “Flashes Before Your Eyes” of Lost. Message boards online pertaining to the series have revealed that dozens of Irish Lost fans are to come to Galway to congratulate her on her conferring.

So, if you see any black smoke, polar bears or see Mutton Island being moved mysteriously this Friday, don’t panic. It’s just all in a day’s happenings on Lost.

The honorary conferrings are on tomorrow here in NUI Galway. Funnily enough, I think the first thing I saw Fionnula Flanagan in was actually Star Trek (The Next Generation). But I loved her best in Paddywhackery on TG4 in her role as Peig Sayers!

In other news, it was announced yesterday that the 2008 Galway Film Fleadh will play host to some international stars including Peter O’Toole, Jessica Lange, (President!) Bill Pullman, and Alex Gibney, the 2008 Oscar winner for Best International Documentary.

"Made in Japan: What Makes Manga Japanese? And Why Western Kids Love It"

Since I’m interested in manga through running the / Manga to Anime site, I found out about a talk when I was in Tokyo last week entitled “Made in Japan: What Makes Manga Japanese? And Why Western Kids Love It”.

It was held by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in Japan, and featured Roland Kelts (photo), author of “Japanamerica“, and Masakazu Kubo (drawing Pikachu here), an executive of Shogakukan and producer of the Pokémon movie series. The talk covered “the nuts and bolts of the craft of manga and […] the nature of its appeal beyond Japan”, and was followed by a Q&A session.

The speeches were pretty interesting. Kelts started off by giving an overview of the history of manga, ranging from the 40s and 50s art of Osamu Tezuka to its current penetration of American bookstores. He then turned over to Kubo-san for some industry perspective, including details of how a week’s worth of manga used to correspond to just 15 minutes on screen, and the fact that anime has permeated other countries in some part because it is easier (and hence cheaper) to dub in comparison to other animation (it has less precise movements of the mouth).

I asked the speakers if something like Brewster Kahle’s book archiving / book mobile project (which I blogged about last week; see video here) would have relevance to the world of manga, since Kubo-san mentioned that a lot of manga is now being digitised. Kubo said that since there are various upload / download legalities with respect to currently-licensed manga, this would be difficult, but that anything that fell outside the (previously) 50-year copyright span could potentially be provided in such a manner.

I enjoyed the session, and even found a picture of the back of my head and t-shirt on the Japanamerica blog! My own photos are here.

Brewster Kahle's (Internet Archive) ISWC talk on worldwide distributed knowledge

Universal access to all knowledge can be one of our greatest achievements.

The keynote speech at ISWC 2007 was given this morning by Brewster Kahle, co-founder of the Internet Archive and also of Alexa Internet. Brewster’s talk discussed the challenges in putting various types of media online, from books to video:

  • He started to talk about digitising books (1 book = 1 MB; the Library of Congress = 26 million books = 26 TB; with images, somewhat larger). At present, it costs about $30 to scan a book in the US. For 10 cents a page, books or microfilm can now be scanned at various centres around the States and put online. 250,000 books have been scanned in so far and are held in eight online collections. He also talked about making books available to people through the OPLC project. Still, most people like having printed books, so book mobiles for print-on-demand books are now coming. A book mobile charges just $1 to print and bind a short book.
  • Next up was audio, and Brewster discussed issues related to putting recorded sound works online. At best, there are two to three million discs that have been commercially distributed. The biggest issue with this is in relation to rights. Rock ‘n’ roll concerts are the most popular category of the Internet Archive audio files (with 40,000 concerts so far); for “unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, forever, for free”, the Internet Archive offers bands their hosting service if they waive any issues with rights. There are various cultural materials that do not work well in terms of record sales, but there are many people who are very interested in having these published online. Audio costs about $10 per disk (per hour) to digitise. The Internet Archive has 100,000 items in 100 collections.
  • Moving images or video was next. Most people think of Hollywood films in relation to video, but at most there are 150,000 to 200,000 video items that are designed for movie theatres, and half of these are Indian! Many are locked up in copyright, and are problematic. The Internet Archive has 1,000 of these (out of copyright or otherwise permitted). There are other types of materials that people want to see: thousands of archival films, advertisements, training films and government films, being downloaded in the millions. Brewster also put out a call to academics at the conference to put their lectures online in bulk at the Internet Archive. It costs $15 per video hour for digitisation services. Brewster estimates that there are 400 channels of “original” television channels (ignoring duplicate rebroadcasts). If you record a television channel for one year, it requires 10 TB, with a cost of $20,000 for that year. The Television Archive people at the Internet Archive have been recording 20 channels from around the world since 2000 (it’s currently about 1 PB in size) – that’s 1 million hours of TV – but not much has been made available just yet (apart from video from the week of 9/11). The Internet Archive currently has 55,000 videos in 100 collections,
  • Software was next. For example, a good archival source is old software that can be reused / replayed via virtual machines or emulators. Brewster came out against the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is “horrible for libraries” and for the publishing industry.
  • The Internet Archive is best known for archiving web pages. It started in 1996, by taking a snapshot of every accessible page on a website. It is now about 2 PB in size, with over 100 billion pages. Most people use this service to find their old materials again, since most people “don’t keep their own materials very well”. (Incidentally, Yahoo! came to the Internet Archive to get a 10-year-old version of their own homepage.)

Brewster then talked about preservation issues, i.e., how to keep the materials available. He referenced the famous library at Alexandria, Egypt which unfortunately is best known for burning. Libraries also tend to be burned by governments due to changes in policies and interests, so the computer world solution to this is backups. The Internet Archive in San Francisco has four employees and 1 PB of storage (including the power bill, bandwidth and people costs, their total costs are about $3,000,000 per year; 6 GB bandwidth is used per second; their storage hardware costs $700,000 for 1 PB). They have a backup of their book and web materials in Alexandria, and also store audio material at the European Archive in Amsterdam. Also, their Open Content Alliance initiative allows various people and organisations to come together to create joint collections for all to use.

Access was the next topic of his presentation. Search is making in-roads in terms of time-based search. One can see how words and their usage change over time (e.g., “marine life”). Semantic Web applications for access can help people to deal with the onslaught of information. There is a huge need to take large related subsets of the Internet Archive collections and to help them make sense for people. Great work has been done recently on wikis and search, but there is a need to “add something more to the mix” to bring structure to this project. To do this, Brewster reckons we need the ease of access and authoring from the wiki world, but also ways to incorporate the structure that we all know is in there, so that it can be flexible enough for people to add structure one item at a time or to have computers help with this task.

20071113b.jpg In the recent initiative ““, the idea is to build one webpage for every book ever published (not just ones still for sale) to include content, metadata, reviews, etc. The relevant concepts in this project include: creating Semantic Web concepts for authors, works and entities; having wiki-editable data and templates; using a tuple-based database with history; making it all open source (both the data and the code, in Python). has 10 million book records, with 250k in full text.

I really enjoyed this talk, and having been a fan of the Wayback Machine for many years, I think there could be an interesting link to the SIOC Project if we think in terms of archiving people’s conversations from the Web, mailing lists and discussion groups for reuse by us and the generations to come.

Ruairi Robinson tipped to direct live-action Akira

From horror news site on Sunday, Irishman Ruairi Robinson is being touted as the director for a forthcoming live-action version of the classic manga (and anime) Akira.

Robinson, who was Oscar-nominated for 50 Percent Grey (one of my favourite computer-animated shorts), also directed Silent City (starring Don Wycherley and Cillian Murphy). He has not commented on the news as of yet.

Back in the fold…

…and off the antibiotics – yay! Some nasty bugs going around this Christmas, and really virulent too.

I’ve been nominated in the Digital Media awards “Content / Blogging Award” category. Thanks to my nominee (Brendan) and I’m looking forward to the event!

In other news, I gave my first lectures in CT108 Next Generation Technologies I (Semantic Web) and DM110 Emerging Web Media yesterday – I’ll be uploading a PDF of the slides after each week’s lecture. We’ve provisionally booked a guest lecturer for DM110, none other than Conn Ó Muineachain from Edgecast…

I'm teaching an "Emerging Web Media" module next year

I not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before before but I’ll be teaching a new module to Masters students in Digital Media at the Huston Film School in NUI Galway next semester (as referenced by Haydn in last month’s Irish Times article). The aim of the module is to educate these students on applications of new web technologies to digital media, including Web 2.0 applications such as podcasting, blogging and content syndication. Here’s the module synopsis.

“Emerging Web Media”

This module will begin with an introduction to previous forms of web media communication, and describe in detail the emergent trends and technologies being employed for media communication through the Web. These include:

  • Blogs (online journals or sets of chronological news entries that are maintained by individuals, communities or commercial entities, and can be used to publish personal opinions, diary-like articles or news stories relating to a particular interest or product)
  • Wikis (collaboratively edited websites that can be updated or added to by anyone with an interest in the topic covered by the wiki site, and have been used to create online encyclopedias, photo galleries and literature collections)
  • Audio podcasts (also known as audio blogs, podcasts are to radio what blogs are to newspapers or magazines, and people can create and distribute audio content using podcasts for public consumption and playback on personal/portable media players, computers or other MP3-enabled devices)
  • Video podcasts (also known as “vlogs” from video blogs or “vodcasts” from video podcasts, this is where people can produce and publish video content on the Web for consumption on media playing-devices, and this content can range from individuals publishing home movies or their own news “interviews”, to studios releasing TV episodes or movies for a fee)
  • Content syndication (a means whereby people can keep up to date with material published via the new media communication methods above, through RSS, Atom and other subscription methods)
  • Annotated social bookmarks and photo sharing (sites like Flickr, and Google Maps are allowing people to publicly publish textual or multimedia content along with associated annotations of use to others)

I will also be uploading slides to our DERI teaching site after each week’s lectures.

(No, Martin Sheen won’t be taking this course!)

Martin Sheen, NUI Galway (and Ireland's) most famous mature student

I’ve been seeing lots of Martin Sheen in the Irish media recently. For those of you who don’t know, the West Wing actor and movie star is currently finishing up his semester as a mature student at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where he was studying English literature, philosophy and oceanography.

Martin Sheen is probably used to playing courageous characters on screen, but with all his accompanying fame I think that enrolling as an undergraduate student at NUI Galway must have taken more courage than you would expect from a typical Hollywood celebrity.

Also of note is his work for various charities while he has been in Galway. He need not have bothered, but he deserves our respect for doing so…

Here’s a funny quote from Martin Sheen in today’s Irish Independent:

Despite his instantly recognisable features, there were a few students who did not recognise the actor, but one of his favourite anecdotes concerns one who obviously did:

“Is it yourself?” the student inquired when he came across Sheen wandering around the campus, apparently lost.

“It is,” said Sheen.

“Where is your minder?” the young man demanded.

Sheen said he didn’t know what a “minder” was. “Your bodyguard,” came the reply. “I don’t have one,” said the actor.

“More power to you,” said the student and off he went.

Other articles about Martin Sheen at NUI Galway from The Guardian, The Irish Examiner, The Washington Post, BBC News, and The Sunday Times.