Wednesday, 9 May 2007

First Day of Internship ^^

Starting work as an intern in the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR) in NUS has me caught up to my neck with so much new information that I can only start blogging about it 3 days into internship. The going ons behind a museum was never a thought that i analysed much. It was more of looking at stuffed animals and probably reading information about animals that I never knew existed, at a very superficial level. Yet, I was blown off my feet about what really goes on in a museum.

My supervisor, Mr. Sivasothi (Siva for short), a very busy man (:P), was the one who brought the mundane idea of a museum very much alive for me. I could not be more wrong about the fact that nothing goes on in a museum. Over here in the RMBR, it can get very happening.

On top of the list of new terms introduced to me was the Toddycat's room. It's a room mainly for storage of materials ranging from cartons of maps, fossil figures, outfield items like tools for dissecting a dugong to fiction books. Most of the items were strewn about because there was an exhibition and many cartons were just taken down to be rummaged for the essential materials and abandoned. So my comrade in hand, Danliang and I were set upon to clean up the room.

Besides being a storage room, it's also a place where meetings are to be held about major events like Earth day and the International Museum Day (IMD). One emphasis Siva made was on the trolley which had several glass jars of various preserved animals like crabs. It had to be accessible, probably because it has to be used often to carry huge loads of such jars for events like exhibitions, in and out of the museum many times. Maybe, the visitors are allowed to get a close up look and feel at the contents in the jar. After all, RMBR's all about educating the public about conservation. And collecting specimens and research of course. Anyway, what better way is there to learn than to expose people directly to it.

The room was further equipped with two Mac computers Danliang and I lugged from LS lab7. Anyone thinking it was an uneventful process would be wrong because pushing a trolley around the hilly and full-of-steps-NUS can be challenging both physically and mentally. The lesson learnt at the end of the day: there's a direct connection between S6 and S1a with absolutely no steps and gradient. This only shows the boundless amount of new things you can learn while on internship.

Aside from the Toddycats room, it was down to work in the cubicle with Siva. Forget hotmail as gmail is the webmail that allows access and linkages to many things like Blogger and Flikr. It also has a cool option of allowing people you select to share documents and spreadsheets within your community of friends. Edition can be done by those selected ones too. Which will really help in future group projects. These files are stored online as well, which cancels all worries of losing it if your computer or hardisk crashes. Lastly, it has a huge storage amount of 2,600 megabytes which wins the other webmails around hands down.

Besides gmail, Siva taught us how to use an online graphics editor, Snipshot. It allows you to save directly into an online photo management program, Flickr, which can be shared with friends. This way, the photos are organisable and more importantly, conveniently available to either Danliang or Siva to upload on any new events reported, anywhere and anytime. As hands on practice, a mugshot (picture with only my face) was taken and posted on gmail.

Among those that were mentioned, RSS feeds was one of the important ones. It allows instant notification of a web content its connected to once it is updated with new posts. In other words, it displays publicly what you have just done online which alerts people to things happening around you. We were told to subscribe to various mailing lists like Habitatnews, Raffles Bulletin of Zoology (RBZ) and Ecotax. RBZ is a scientific online journal which comprises of South East Asian zoology that's published publicly. It has two issues issued per year that is downloadable as PDF files for research and educational purposes. Also, an exchange of information around the world of different museums can be made easier this way. Habitatnews is a RMBR blog about events regarding environmental issues. These were the major web locations that make up RMBR as the only museum which actually blogs and remains active in engaging the public.

All that in the first day, with more to come on the second. Some of the job scopes incude talks in schools, entourage around the museum and a major portion which will be left for another entry, georeferencing.

Last but not least, the friendly staff Danliang and I were recieved by, Greasi holding fort at the reception, Martyn a research assistant, Kelvin a curator with the museum, Dr. Tan Swee Hee at the next cubicle and Nanthinee a graduate student. There will be many interactions to come, but that is not for this, but the next post.

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