Sound and vision blog

7 posts from October 2013

27 October 2013

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

27th October is World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. UNESCO designated this day to highlight the work of archives worldwide in preserving and making accessible their unique audiovisual collections that are at risk of decay. It also acknowledges the importance that audiovisual records have in shaping mankind's memory. "Saving Our Heritage for the Next Generation" is this year’s theme, and it draws attention to the fact that there is an estimated ten to fifteen year window for digitising audiovisual records before irremediable loss occurs due to the obsolescence of playback equipment or the degradation of carriers. It is quite likely that future viewers and listeners will be accessing content in a purely digital environment so the challenge for us now is to digitise as much existing material as we can without compromising quality or meaning.

To celebrate World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, World and Traditional Music at the British Library has added fifteen European recordings made by Peter Kennedy in the 1950s to the Peter Kennedy Collection available through British Library Sounds. The recordings online are only a small portion of  Kennedy's work, 150 hours of a total of around 1500, that were made during the four decades in which he was very active 'in the field': 1940, 1950, 1960 and 1970.  These European recordings add an interesting international slant to Kennedy's folk music collecting activities, otherwise based entirely in the British Isles.

made during the four decades in which he was very active "in the field": 1940, 1950, 1960 and 1970 - See more at:
Peter Kennedy
Peter Kennedy in the 1990s [MS Mus. 1771/1/PR0924]

Many of these recordings wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for the fact that Alan Lomax made Peter Kennedy responsible for the Yugoslavian and English volumes in his LP compilation set A World of Folk and Primitive Music. The set was commissioned by Goddard Liberson, President of Columbia Records, after a chance meeting between Lomax  and Liberson in a Broadway coffee shop. The thirty LPs that make up this set are available to listeners in British Library Reading Rooms: you can search for them on our Sound and Moving Image Catalogue. Lomax based himself in London to put together the collection and one of the first places he called at was Cecil Sharp House, as at the time the British Institute of Recorded Sound (what is now the Sound Archive of the British Library) was still at an embryonic stage. The Director of the English Folk Dance & Song Society at the time was Douglas Kennedy, Peter's father, and Kennedy soon became one of Lomax's most important collaborators.

The recordings that formed the basis of the Yugoslavian LP were made at the Opatija Folk Music Festival in September 1951 in what is now Croatia. You can listen to Kennedy's recordings made on reel-to-reel tape at this festival by browsing the Peter Kennedy Collection by location, under 'Croatia'. His recordings at the festival, which had been organized as a special event for the members of the Conference of the International Council for Traditional Music (founded in 1947 in London), convey the excitement that must have been palpable at this international gathering which brought together over 700 performers from around the world.

Listen to this Serbian group performing. You can hear the performers feet busily thudding in perfect synchrony with the sound of the duduk and male and female voices. At the festival, Kennedy also made recordings of Croatian music, Macedonian music, music from Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia.

Pamplona-biarritz PK
Programme for the II International Folk Music and Dance Festival

Kennedy's other European recordings were made two years later in July 1953 in the Basque country (Pamplona, Spain and Biarritz, France) during the II International Folk Music and Dance Festival. The festival was celebrated in both Biarritz and Pamplona to coincide with the 6th International Council for Traditional Music Conference. “…I travelled eastwards along the Pyrenees…towards the Atlantic coast…into the 'Basque Country proper'. Here everything was different…the people, the faces, costumes, houses, language and the music. It was strange! To get here I had travelled the full length of France, almost into Spain, and now…in a way I almost felt I was back home. You know that strange sort of feeling of 'familiarity' that you get sometimes – the feeling that you’ve been to a place before and yet, in fact, this is really your first visit. Well this curious feeling swept over me only a few hours after my arrival…” (extract from Peter Kennedy’s transcript to ‘Basque Festival’ which aired on the BBC Light Programme in March and April 1954). He was reminded of a Welsh Eistedfod when hearing the Oldarra choir sing because of “the same spirit of devotion and working together – a small community with the resulting natural harmonising ability.” Seeing the costumes of the Basque dancers also brought to mind English Morris dancers, and he was struck by the image of something that looked to him like a hobby horse.

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Basque dancers photographed by Peter Kennedy [MS Mus. 1771/1/PR0838]

In Pamplona Peter Kennedy attended the encierros and “danced the whole night through – quite a fact when I think of it now – but at the time I found the music and the friendly spirit of the people of Pamplona in Fiesta kept me going on and on and on." In this recording you can hear how the crowd in Pamplona reacts fervently to the songs performed.

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage is an important moment to celebrate and draw attention to the efforts currently being made in audiovisual preservation, such as the digitising of the Peter Kennedy tapes. But the story doesn't end here as the digital environment raises its own preservation challenges concerning the ephemerality of websites and digital formats. Saving our heritage for the next generation involves engaging with the ongoing complexities of preservation in a rapidly changing environment.


15 October 2013

Revealing the Hidden Beauty of Birdsong

In 2010 the British Library released 'Secret Songs of Birds', a CD featuring the slowed down songs of 24 birds from around the world. The elaborate warblings of species such as the Skylark, Grasshopper Warbler, Grey Fantail and White-winged Fairywren were placed under the acoustic microscope and manipulated to reveal a level of detail not normally detected by the human ear.

Secret songs

Skylark song normal speed (0'55")

Skylark song at 35% of normal speed (3'01")

The process of slowing down bird sounds is by no means a new one. In the late 1950s Musical Director of CBS Radio in the USA, Jim Fassett, began experimenting with the speed and pitch of sound recordings and would showcase his results on his Sunday afternoon radio programme ‘Strange to your Ears’. Fassett is perhaps best known for his work ‘Symphony of the Birds’ which was created entirely from manipulated North American bird recordings. Together with CBS technician Mortimer Goldberg, the two men carefully re-recorded fragments of field recordings at varying speeds and then superimposed these altered sounds onto a single tape. The final composition has a strange, ethereal quality that embraces the ideals of Musique Concrète and manages to bridge the gap between the natural and the artistic world. In 1960 Columbia Records released an LP version of ‘Symphony of the Birds’ along with another of Fassett’s creations ‘A Revelation in Birdsong Patterns’. This comprised a selection of individual songbird recordings that had been slowed down in order to reveal the intricate patterns and subtle variations that are usually concealed from the human listener.

Dr Peter Szöke, a Hungarian scientist and musicologist, also experimented with the speed of bird vocalisations. ‘The Unknown Music of Birds’ was released in 1987 and featured recordings of birds from around the world. Szöke strongly believed in the concept of avian music and used the voice of opera singer János Tóth to support his theory. Tóth beautifully imitated the slowed down songs of birds such as the Hermit Thrush and Woodlark, which helped Szöke emphasize the similarities between human music and birdsong.


The concept of slowing down birdsong was taken a step further in 2007 when British artist Marcus Coates produced an installation entitled ‘Dawn Chorus’. Recordings of individual species such as the Yellowhammer and Song Thrush were slowed down to such an extent that human singers could successfully mimic the individual notes. These examples of human mimicry were then filmed and speeded up to match the natural speed of each bird’s normal songs. The end result was a series of films that not only transformed the human voice but also revealed unconscious movements that were comparable to the physical behaviour of specific birds.


The goal of our 'Secret Songs of Birds' project was to strike a balance between revealing the detail within a song and creating a "new" song that was interesting, pleasant to listen to, yet still retained the essence of the original composition. Through experimentation, different speeds were selected depending on the nature of the song.

Grey Fantail song normal speed (0'47")

Grey Fantail song at 40% of normal speed (1'28") 

Goldcrest song normal speed (0'33") 

Goldcrest song at 35% of normal speed (1'30")

In some cases, recordings were slowed to 50% of the original speed which proved an adequate reduction to allow the listener to distinguish the hidden notes and rhythm of the song. At other times, further reductions in speed were necessary to fully uncover the song structure. In all cases, the alteration of the natural speed allowed us to reveal the subtle intricacies of these songs and present them to a new audience in their full splendour.

Secret Songs of Birds is available through the British Library Shop priced £10.00

(Skylark - Alan Burbidge / Grey Fantail - David Lumsdaine / Goldcrest - Richard Savage)

11 October 2013

World Newsreels Online

Sampler video for World Newsreels Online

I'm delighted to be able to report that the British Library is now offering access in its Reading Rooms to World Newsreels Online 1929-1966.

This is a collection from Alexander Street Press of 500 hours (8,000 individual items) of newsreels (filmed news for cinema release) from Japan, France, the Netherlands and the USA, including wartime propaganda newsreels and a complete run of the important The March of Time series in its American edition (the British release version was slightly different). Most of the films have been fully transcribed, with transcriptions available in synchronisation presentation alongside the video. The contents include:

Nippon News—36 hours of Japanese newsreels from 1940-48 with English transcripts.

Four French newsreels, 75 hours of fully translated and transcribed news items from:

  • Les Actualités Mondiales—Selections 15-20 minutes in length, adapted from the German series that ran from 1940 to 1946.
  • France Actualités—A coproduction of the Vichy regime and the Germans from 1942 to 1944.
  • France Libre Actualités—1944–1945 segments from an offshoot of the French Resistance.
  • Les Actualités Francaise—selections from the 1945–1969 series in which the French state discussed war topics, consequences, and reconstruction

The March of Time—Full run of this American series, 115 hours of fully transcribed content, 1935-51.

United Newsreel—More than 35 hours of 1942-46 American weekly newsreel produced by the US Office of War Information, complete with transcripts.

Universal Newsreel—More than 200 hours of content with full transcripts from Universal Studios’s bi-weekly series that ran 1929-46.

Polygoon Profliti—87 hours of Dutch newsreel 1939-45.

The March of Time is of huge importance for the history of news on film. It was founded by Louis de Rochment in 1935 as an offshoot of Time magazine and as a follow on to a CBS radio series of the same name which started in 1931. It immediately made its mark with its dynamic presentation of the stories behind the news. It courted controversy in its outspokeness, in its occasional use of dramatised recreations, and in its choice of controversial themes at a time when newsreels (the form of news shown regularly in all cinemas) were looked upon more as part of the entertainment industry than as hard news offerings. Its distinctive bold style with booming commentary was artfully pastiched by Orson Welles for the News on the March sequence in Citizen Kane (1941).

The series ran in cinemas until 1951. Notable stories include Leadbelly (vol. 1 issue 2, 1935), Huey Long (vol. 1, issue 3, 1935), Father Divine (vol. 2 issue 2, 1936), League of Nations Union (vol. 2, issue 5, 1936), An Uncle Sam Production (vol. 3 issue 4, 1936), Conquering Cancer (vol. 3, issue 6, 1937) and the issue-length Inside Nazi Germany (vol. 6 issue 6, 1938) and Norway in Revolt (vol. 8 issue 2, 1941)

The key publication on The March of Time is Raymond Fielding's book The March of Time 1936-1951 (1978) and he provides a handy overview of the series on the HBO Archives site.

World Newsreels Online is available now in the British Library Reading Rooms and adds to our growing number of onsite audiovisual resources, including the Library's own television and radio news service, Broadcast News, which has a collection of over 30,000 UK TV and radio news programmes recorded since May 2010, to which over 60 hours of new content is added daily.

British Library onsite users can access World Newsreels Online via our Electronic Databases pages. Sadly access is not possible outside our Reading Rooms.

10 October 2013

What does the fox say?

What does the fox say? Good question. This is something that usually occupies the thoughts of scientists beavering away in a lab or a muddy field somewhere. It seems as if they're not alone though. Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis has recently responded to this question with their own imaginative interpretation.  The Fox (what does the Fox say?) has so far entertained over 100 million viewers around the world and comes complete with dance routine and costumes (if only wildlife conferences were more like this).


Is this an accurate rendition of the Red Fox's vocabulary though? On the surface it appears like nothing more than a wee bit of fun, but in some cases they're actually not far off the mark. Phrases such as "Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow" and "Chacha-chacha-chacha-chow"  may seem plucked out of the sky but it wouldn't be unusual to find this kind of description gracing the pages of an identification guide. We've got over 250 recordings of Red Fox calls here at the British Library and I've been doing a little comparision of my own.

The most commonly heard sound is the familiar "wow-wow-wow" contact call:

Red Fox "wow wow wow" bark 1'22"

Then you've got those ear splitting, spine chilling screams that rip through the air on cold winter nights: 

Red Fox screams 0'57"

After these come a range of wudders, whickers, chatters, wails and yaps that make up a sophisticated communication system featuring 40 or so identified vocalisations. I don't know about you, but I think this last example, recorded in a Hackney backgarden in 2010, comes pretty close to Ylvis' take on the subject:

Red Fox chattering 1'27" 

Are the pair here saying "Tchoff-tchoff-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff" or perhaps "Fraka-kaka-kaka-kaka-kow"? In the end in all comes down to personal interpretation. But when Ylvis ask "What is your sound?" and "What do you say?" we can actually say that we've got a pretty good idea of both.

Listen to more Red Fox sounds at British Wildlife Recordings

07 October 2013

Recording Quiet Places: six questions with Tony Whitehead

Tony Whitehead is a field recordist living in South Devon where he runs the label Very Quiet Records. He also has a bit of a thing for our feathered friends and works as a press officer for the RSPB. His favorite bird is the Little Egret.

When did you first start making field recordings?

I first started making field recordings in 2002 when I bought a cheap Sony microphone and minidisc. I was encouraged by field recording outings with John Drever, then at Dartington College (now at Goldsmiths) and some of those early recordings became contributions to Chris Cutler’s Out of the Blue Radio on Resonance FM. The show invited people to submit half hour pieces that had been recorded between 11:30pm and midnight.  The two I sent were of the River Dart flowing beneath a bridge near Holne, Devon, and the rain on my car at Southerly Point in Cornwall. This started my interests both in recording quiet places, and long duration sound recordings.

Around the same time, through John, I also became involved with Sonic Arts Network and their wonderful Sonic Postcards Project for schools. And I’ve being doing field recordings ever since really. And a large number of these recordings have involved recordings of quiet.

Last year you launched the small independent label Very Quiet Records. What inspired you to set up this label and why did you choose to focus on quiet recordings?

Simply because I like listening to recordings of quiet places, or quiet things, either my own or other peoples. It struck me, rather out of the blue last year while listening to some very quiet recordings of the Australian outback by Peter Lenearts, that there might be some interest in a label that publishes people’s recordings of quiet.


And as I’ve said before, although there’s abundant room for people to conceptualise, that’s not where I approach this from. The first thing to me is always “what can I hear?” and then “do I like what I hear”? Always start with the sounds. With listening. In some sense it’s about authenticity. Of substance before ideas. Direct experience before abstraction. These recordings to me are just what they are.

How do you define quiet?

Bearing in mind what I’ve just said, I’m cautious about defining quiet. It’s any one of a number of things, and it’s definition depends entirely on individual interpretation. And such definitions can limit enquiry - which I don’t want to do. But if pushed, here are a few thoughts to play with ...

Quiet is sometimes situations simply lacking in volume. The simplest definition perhaps. One that can be measured in decibels. Pianissimo.  The opposite of loud.

Quiet can also reside in small sounds. The gentle crackling of leaves in a gentle breeze. A tree creaking. The hiss of estuary silt on an ebbing tide. The dissolution of chalk. The freezing of water.

Beach - improvisation with seaweed, driftwood & shells (7'02")

Quiet also exists in the spaces between louder events. Indeed, it is often intensified in these situations. A single car passing on a remote road to me makes the surrounding quiet quieter. Rural church bells do the same. As do single passing aircraft. It's a relationship to its opposite. Which is as you might expect.

Sometimes it's distance. Recently I was recording quiet places in Bristol and ended up at the top of Cabot Tower - the highest point in the city. Here I was immersed in the sounds of the city all merged into one distant rumble (put into relief by the individual calls of birds from surrounding treetops). It certainly wasn't lacking in volume. But the merging of sound gave, to me, a sense of quiet. I had the same experience while recording from the river Dart in spate last spring. A very noisy quiet. Analogous with calm perhaps.

Cabot Tower (3'44")

Sometimes quiet is absence. Or, to be specific, human absence. All that stuff that's going on when there's nobody there. I often like to leave my recorder running in places where no-one is likely to be near, and walk away.  This particularly appeals because what is recorded, to a degree, is authorless. Although of course I realise the author has chosen time and location and so on. As an aside, I also noticed a similar effect in Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story, Late Spring and other films of his that I’ve been watching recently. In some of the so called “pillow shots” the camera lingers on often empty spaces between scenes, or before the actors arrive or after they’ve departed, giving a sense of quiet. And also, returning to what I mentioned above about experience before concept, they also provide a pause between the reflective and emotional subjects of the films. Before all our joys and worries the world simple exists. I appreciate that feeling in field recordings as well as films.

Empty hull of beached trawler, Exe Estuary 2013 (6'21")

Quiet is also wordlessness or the space between words. A  lack of narrative, plotless-ness.  A situation that’s not leading anywhere. That just is, but is all the better for it’s “is-ness”.  It is static rather than dynamic.

And certainly it’s never hurried. The recordings I’ve done of quiet that I’ve enjoyed listening back to most, are those where I know I’ve been quiet and calm while recording them (as opposed to feeling hurried, rushed and pre-occupied with a million and one other things). This lack of speed, or not rushing things, also has a relationship to duration and the reason I’m interested in durational (in)activity in recorded material.

What can we expect from Very Quiet Records over the next few months?

Over the next few months we have releases from David Velez and Darius Ciuta as well as a collaboration between Jeph Jerman and myself, which I’m pleased to say will be issued on good old fashioned cassette tape. Personally I’m also hoping to work on some very long duration recordings of quiet places.

Placed_very quiet records

You also conduct sound walks in southwest England – what does each walk entail and what criteria do you apply when planning the journey?

Like the label, there’s no deep theory with these walks. They are simply arranged to give participants the opportunity to explore places quietly at often unfamiliar times of day - dawn or at night - those taboo times when for instance one “shouldn't really be wandering about on a lonely moor”. Simple, but people really appreciate it.  I’ve done them in wild places. I’ve done them in cities.

The last one we did was up at Bellever Tor in Devon, and it was timed to make the most of moon rise at a point this year when the moon was particularly close. The experience, which is the easiest thing in the world, was breathtaking. The quiet was almost physical as we stood in silence and watched a dim glow on the horizon slowly expand to become this crimson globe..

And sharing quiet is a powerful experience. I don’t insist people are silent (which I think might make everyone feel uncomfortable) but just use time and watch as people gradually become, quite naturally, quieter and quieter. Sometimes, at its best, the group without prompting  just collectively stops, and no-one says anything. Then - often after quite a while - we just move on without a word. It’s akin to the notion of “absence” that I mentioned before.

Finally, with so many ways of documenting our surroundings we ask the question Why field recording?

Simply because I enjoy making and listening to field recordings. Which, conveniently, gives me the opportunity to say a big thank-you to all the wonderful people who have submitted material for the label so far.

Audio works from Very Quiet Records including Bellever (British Library call number DD00000318), Murmur (British Library call number DD00000314) and Freezing the Mic (British Library call number DD00000317) are archived at the British Library. For full details, please visit the Sound and Moving Image Catalogue.

04 October 2013

The Listening Project

Holly Gilbert, Social Sciences, writes:

This week we’re uploading the first 355 Listening Project conversations to the British Library Sounds website. It’s an exciting moment because it means that for the first time these recordings will be available in their entirety for anyone to listen to from anywhere in the world.

The Listening Project is a collaborative project between the BBC and the British Library. Producers from regional and national BBC radio stations have, since the beginning of 2012, been recording people talking to each other about a topic of their choice, often something that they have been wanting to discuss but never found the time to sit down and really talk about. The conversations are around 40 minutes long and are usually between people who are members of the same family, friends or have a romantic or professional relationship. All of the conversations are then permanently archived in the British Library.

There is a great variety in participants and topics of conversation. For example friends Thea and Brigitte talk about how their friendship has helped them deal with their different experiences of the Holocaust, mother and son Monica and Rikki compare their experiences of coming out and being gay, colleagues Camila and Karl discuss their experiences of street violence and gangs in Britain and friends Hannah and Lizzie talk about Hannah’s life as a polar explorer and adventurer.

The oldest speaker is Anne Howie, aged 95, who talks to her grandson Andrew about her memories of growing up in Glasgow during the Second World War. One of the youngest speakers is Alice Tyson, aged 8, who talks to her mother, Tracey, about Alice’s rare skin condition that means she is allergic to sunlight.

The conversations span the length and breadth of the country, from friends John and Jimmy talking about their jobs as a fishmonger and a fisherman in Hastings, to husband and wife Andrew and Fran discussing family relationships, national identity and adoption on Orkney, to grandmother and grandson Marlene and Christopher talking in Belfast about life in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

It’s interesting to hear an intimate conversation between friends, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett and Claire Martin, who discuss their careers as internationally renowned jazz musicians but also describe their close friendship, providing a very different experience than hearing them being interviewed by a journalist.

As a result of this ongoing project there now exists in the British Library a treasure trove of stories and personal reflections that describe the many different experiences of life and relationships found in the UK today. They are stored here permanently for contemporary researchers and future generations to discover and are now available to listen to worldwide on British Library Sounds.

01 October 2013

Semantic Media

On 23 September the British Library played host to the Semantic Media Network for a one-day worksop, snappily entitled Semantic Media @ British Library. The Network has been established by Queen Mary University of London to "address the challenge of time-based navigation in large collections of media documents". Digital and digitised media archives have grown vast, and finding what they actually contain has become a huge challenges for broadcasters, archivists, researchers and some bright developers who are interested in a challenge.

It was those developers who were the main target of the workshop, which was based around the sound and moving image collections of the British Library. After an opening address by Mark Sandler (Head of School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at Queen Mary) we had four short presentation from projects which have received funding support from the Network.

Michael Bell (Newcastle University) introduced the Tawny Overtone music synthesis project; Tim Crawford (Goldsmiths University of London) spoke on semantic linking and early lute music, which made for a delighful combination of  the ancient and modern; Ryan Stables (Birmingham City University) discussed 'Large-scale Capture of Producer-Defined Musical Semantics' (defining music recordings by subjective terms such as humans like to use but machines struggle to comprehend); and David Newman (University of Southampton) on enriching news stories by semantic means, specifically enriching episodes of Question Time with contextual information taken from Twitter, Wikipedia etc (so themes raised in the programme are connected to online resources).

Next up came three speakers from the British Library, describing our audiovisual collections, the potential for opening up their research value by extracting meaningful information (which is what semantic media is all about), and describing some of the challenges involved. Richard Ranft (Head of Sound and Vision) describe the British Library Sound Archive collection, with its 8 million tracks requiring 66 years were you to listen to it all - by which time rather more than an additional 8 million tracks will have been acquired. How to manage and make available such information, let alone listen to it all? Of course there is a catalogue to guide you to the Library's sound holdings, but some much information that the audio files contain lies buried because so much of the media is not yet in digital form, or if it is then barriers such as copyright and limited catalogue records mean that too much of the collection remains largely undiscovered. Automated indexing and enrichment through such tools as melody matching,  score matching, speaker identification and speech-to-text have the potential radically to transform how researchers engage with such archives. But demand needs to come before tools. Ranft was disarmingly frank about the need for users to demand more. From demand will come new services - people just need to raise their expectations and think not simply of what can be found now, but what ought to be found.

Paul Wilson (Radio Curator) described a collection of over 200,000 hours of radio, access to which would be radically transformed by the application of searching tools such as speaker identification and speech recognition. He described the national radio archiving picture overall, revealing the alarming fact that of the 3 million of hours of radio broadcast in the UK each year, only 3% can be said to be archived properly in a form that will ensure its long-term preservation. There is so much in radio content that can benefit a huge range of research enquiries, yet before we devise ingenious means of discovering such archives, we have to ensure that we have the archives to discover in the first place.

I then spoke on the News collection at the British Library, by which is meant newspapers, television, radio and web. We are at different stages of development for each. We house the British Newspaper Library, with some 750 million pages from the 17th century to today. Our television and radio news service, Broadcast News, began recording programmes in May 2010 and has now passed the figure of 30,000 titles, with some 60 hours of new content added every day. Web news sites are to be a special focus of our UK web archiving activities, now that the non-print legal deposit legislation and regulations are in place, but we are still in the process of determining which sites to harvest on a daily or weekly basis. The great challenge for the British Library will be to start forging meaningful links between these different news media, because ultimately the news does not exist in any one medium, rather it is we who seek out the news from the multiplicity of news forms available who create what news actually is, in our heads. Thinking semantically will help bring the news media together to create a more meaningful and potentially very exciting future for researchers.

A panel session then followed, for which Mahendra Mahey of the BL Labs initiaitive joined us, a project similar to the Semantic Media Network in encouraging the development of new ides with small amounts of project funding. The debate turned away from the practicalities of semantic linking to the angst of archivists. There is so much to be discovered, so much that can be done, but is the demand always there? Do you wait for demand, or hope to encourage it through new tools and services? Do we capture everything, even if we can? Where is the place of audiovisual in a Library which still - for the most part - puts print first and foremost?

The day finished with a lively 'speed-dating' session, in which we sat opposite another delegate, exchanged ideas for three minutes, then a bell rang and we all moved chairs to sit opposite someone else and started up the conversation once again. I came away with three business cards, so I can't have done too badly. The ultimate aim of the Network is just that - to be a network, because it is from casual meetings that ideas start to grow (Silicon Valley is built on that very principle).

The slides from most of the talks given on the day are available from the Semantic Media Network site. There will be a funding call from the Network before the end of this year, and hopefully some of the issues raised during the workshop will help inform the nature of that call or the responses that are made to it.

Many thanks are due to Sebastian Ewert and the team at Queen Mary for having put together such a productive and interesting event. If we put on another event like it, we'll want to bring in users and potential users to meet up with the developers. Combining need and opportunity so each feeds off the other - that's the way forward.