So, I am days behind on blogging because the days were so full. I need to get some of my thoughts down about the last few days of Seoul because I don't want to loose them and I just want to get them out there. Monday we visited the Dibrary and the Samsung Delite Innovation Centre. The Dibrary is quite frankly amazing. Linked the the National Library, they have created an enormous space based on digital resources and consuming digital content and creating it. This place has had serious money spent on it. Wide open space full of computers, different monitor sizes depending on need, and in some cases three monitors for complex work like programming etc. Clean desktops and new computers abound. There are stations for digitising tapes and others types of media and watching content from DVD. Also, there is a video recording booth and a sound recording booth. Courses are run to show how to use the technology in these booths and must be done before you can hire them.
Downstairs, large tables with inset touch flat screens allow you to look at digitised heritage material. Turning the pages as you would on a real book. Beside this are several upright large touch screens, which give access to 7 major newspapers. Again, designed to replicate the experience of reading the actual physical thing. Beside this is an amazing exhibition space. We were lucky enough to see an exhibition by Airan Kang, called Light Reading, which involved electronic devices shaped like books. This were lit up and displayed their titles and covers. By touching some of these you could make their words appear on the floor. Others, would read themselves aloud when touched. Yet another, had the words scrolling across the open pages of the book. It was, simply beautiful.
Do I have any criticisms of the Dibrary? Well only that it felt very functional and smart but not very human. I am conscious, as I say this that Korean society is very orderly, polite and rules driven. You have to register to use the library (become a library member) and there are gates like at a train station to stop you entering if you are not a member. This felt a bit restrictive, but then again, also, I acknowledge that they are dealing with a significant investment that they need to protect. I think if we did this in Auckland, I would want the space to be more inviting and friendly. Oh, and also, online shopping sites and games sites are not accessible within the Dibrary. This is quite a different approach than we take in New Zealand. Another question I have been left with is what are the Korean libraries doing online. I did not see much evidence of that on this trip.
After the visit to the Dibrary we had lunch in the National Library staff cafeteria. It was very pleasant and very Korean which I have learnt provides me with some eating challenges. Some of us choose the "Fun Place" line for food, and some the "Rice Place". We soon discovered it was the same food, no matter which line ;-)
The second visit was to the Samsung Delite Centre. This is basically a showcase of Samsung's current and future technology. Oh My God!!! This place is awesome. The tour guide was lovely (and exceptionally beautiful which a lot of women seem to be there) and the interactive spaces were amazing. I managed to take over the wall of monitors with a picture of me that I took on one of their devices. It was a funny moment and good for my ego ;-) Glass that you can see through and also interact with, typing in a search and getting results displaying. I would love to have a window of that in a library one day :-) Sadly the Samsung Galaxy Note II was too expensive even there I think. At 1,000,000 WON I was not prepared to take the risk of it not working and so did not buy one as was my plan....
That evening we had a Chinese meal at one of the restaurants in the hotel. It was nice to be able to sit down and chat some more with colleagues. The food itself was good, but again challenging at times. I drew the line at Sea Cucumber, which I just could not eat.