Thursday, October 08, 2009

Keeping Score

I helped develop a website for the PBS program Keeping Score, specifically for the second season. I did some editing on the sections about three compositions -- Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique, Ives' Holidays Symphony and Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony -- and worked a lot on a map feature that shows classical music milestones of various eras on a Google map based structure. I think it's neat and I think you should look at it.

The programs themselves are excellent and will be airing on local PBS stations this October. Keeping Score was developed by the San Francisco Symphony and features their conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas, who is an excellent ambassador for classical music. I learned a lot from the program about the composers but also about how to listen and what to listen for.

And, I can't recommend it highly enough, check out the program's own page (not on at There are super excellent interactive features. For example, listen to the music and read the score as it scrolls by. Not impressed? How about stop the score and click on a soloist's part to see a little video of the soloist talk about what the part means for that instrument and how it fits in with the rest of the orchestra. And there's more of that -- thoughtful interactivity that makes a point and teaches as it amuses.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Review of the Virtual Museum of Iraq

Now online is a review I wrote of the Virtual Museum of Iraq. It's a really beautiful, well thought out site but I hate it for reasons that become apparent in the review.

Here's the first paragraph:
The Virtual Museum of Iraq serves as an excellent multimedia introduction to the history and archaeology of Iraq, from prehistoric times through the Islamic period. Users can "turn" objects to see 360-degree views, watch short videos that explain concepts and introduce time periods, and have access to maps and plans of archaeological sites. There is, however, a major problem with the site that is big enough that it colors everything good about the site and makes it impossible for me to give a whole-hearted endorsement of this project.
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