Former Australian Labor Party Federal leader and current Federal Minister for the Arts, Regional Development and Local Government, Simon Crean, has announced a new “iPublication” – a book called 100 Stories that looks at Australia’s maritime heritage.
Available in printed form, online for classrooms and as an Apple iBook-compatible iBook, the book features “one hundred stories and one hundred objects”, which spans “Indigenous bark paintings that share sacred knowledge of sea country, a silver medallion engraved by a First Fleet convict and even a boat made from 2,000 beer cans” and plenty more.
The book is said to “showcase the rich diversity of Australia’s maritime heritage to new audiences in a publication launched today” - and will be available to download free of charge as an Apple compatible iBook from the 11th of October, while the printed version will cost AUD $39.95.
As former Australian Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating might once have described it, Minister Crean spoke from the arts-end of his portfolio and stated that the “100 Stories [book] from the Australian National Maritime Museum marks the beginning of a cutting edge partnership between the National Maritime Museum, New South Publishing and Apple.”
“We have a rich and fascinating maritime history and these stories will resonate with Australians whether they access them as a book, an iBook or in the classroom.
“The partnership leverages each organisation’s strengths to publish this iBook side-by-side with a hardcopy version, making these important stories as accessible to as many people as possible.
“Our national collecting institutions, like the Maritime Museum, hold a vast amount of historical documents, objects and material that tell Australia’s story.
“The Museum has taken an important step towards realising the enormous potential of digital technology and the capacity to reach a much wider audience with the release of 100 Stories online.
“The move to online publishing is an exciting development as the Australian Government rolls out the National Broadband Network and beds down the National Curriculum.
“I’m a great believer in partnerships to deliver projects and congratulate the Australian National Maritime Museum, New South Publishing and Apple for joining the dots between culture, innovative technology and education”, concluded the Minister.
Minister Crean's speech launching the book earlier today is as follows:
Arts Minister Simon Crean
Speech at the launch of 100 Stories from the Australian National Maritime Museum
Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney
Friday 5 October, 2012
I do pay my respects to the traditional owners of the land on which the museum stands, the Gadigal people and to acknowledge, not just the importance that they play in terms of what our culture is, the oldest living culture on earth, but its connection, not just to the land, but importantly for this museum's purposes, to the sea, that knowledge of the sea and that early maritime activity that they themselves were involved in. It's a rich and important part of their history and I know that there are examples of it picked up in these formats today.
The second thing I think that's important to understand is the history of our maritime experience and the importance of it to us, not just in trading and economic terms, but the European settlement, the cultural exchanges, the challenges of an island continent, accessible only by the sea or by the inhabitants that were already on it.
So, it is a rich history and it's an important one to preserve, to commemorate and celebrate.
I was struck the last time I was here, that you had the replica of the Duyfken, Peter, and that reminds of the Portuguese connection to this country, and next year is the four hundredth anniversary of the Dutch connection with Dirck Hartog.
Those cultural exchanges and those reminders of the length of exchange and history between our European countries is terribly important, but so too are they with the Asian cultures. There are all sorts of stories about the Chinese connection to this country even earlier still.
This is part of the rich tapestry which, I think, is important to record.
So we need an institution that houses the artefacts, the memories; the modern depiction of this history. And if we're going to have a national institution that holds on behalf of the nation that which is important to our heritage and our culture, it's also important to make it more accessible to the nation.
Of course, the digitisation of content and the way in which one disseminates that information becomes a terribly important platform by which we can do it.
So today we've got two platforms - one old and one relatively new - one the traditional book, and the other, the iBook.
And so I do congratulate what I consider to be a very significant partnership in this case. Not a partnership borne out so much of resources, but of knowledge, a knowledge partnership, a partnership that understands the importance of the works that are here, and the way in which we make them readily available.
Can I make the point, given that you've made this initiative, there really is an opportunity here through a combination of art in the school curriculum, as well as the importance of history in the curriculum, to look at the opportunities to disseminate the content that is here into educational content for the school curriculum going forward.
It is very important - and I think I speak for all of us - when you get a much better understanding of why things happened and how they happened if you see them - and if you have a living experience around them rather than just trying to read about them.
The more you can make that experience real, in real time if not in real presence, I think will be very important going forward.
So congratulations to all of the participants that are involved in this project. I've had the opportunity obviously since I've been arts minister for the last two years to be part of the 20th anniversary celebrations here.
And we’ve also had this facility host the very first ever gathering of chairs and chief executives of our National Collecting Institution.
This one here today of course is not housed in Canberra - most of them are. But interestingly, I've just come from the launch of another partnership associated with the Bundanon Trust, the Arthur Boyd farm, and now the home to an art living, learning, as well as holding experience, and the only one that's actually housed in regional Australia.
So I think you have your own uniqueness away from the national capital but nevertheless the challenge is the same: to make the content accessible to the rest of the nation either by drawing them in - or by developing mechanisms and using technology to reach out.
Because the reaching out will also draw them in.
I think that this shows the importance of looking to skill sets that are required by our national institutions going forward. We are in a new age. We are in an exciting period.
I must say I think that with the greater acceptance through reconciliation and through pride in the age of our culture, the oldest living culture, we’re seeing a country that's also been welcoming to the greatest diversity of cultures on earth.
Respecting the culture and the importance of what made it and what connected us is terribly important. And so whatever way in which that story can be told and represented, I congratulate you for.
This is truly a great initiative. I'm delighted to be here as part of it. I look forward to working with the National Maritime Museum on future works going forward.
Thank you very much.