Namibia online databases

Joris Komen joris at NATMUS.CUL.NA
Thu Jun 24 11:22:07 CDT 1999

Hi TAXACOM listers,

I've had a number of refreshing offline reactions to my posting about the
National Museum of Namibia yesterday, and queries as to how we manage
things here:-).

Thanks for the encouragement!:-)  I've been wondering how people, globally,
interface with our webtop databases, having only done "think-aloud" tests
with a smallish spectrum of local folk; from kids (10+yrs old) to older
persons, including illiterates, mentally disabled persons as well as

My main interest lies in developing simple database applications for the
mindlessly boring task of collection inventory work - I've purposely moved
(away) from (narrow-minded) scientists to (open-minded) 10yr olds:-), and
am implementing various tricks:-) to make data capture more stimulating (if
this is at all possible:-)).  With Macintosh, Quicktime, AppleEvents and
FMPro, such developments have been a great pleasure to explore.

As I recall, Piotr Naskrecki has had some interactions with us in the
past:-), and may know our circumstances better.   In spite of it's
relatively large collections (1.5 million plus specimens/objects, and
growing), the museum is a tight little ship:-), with a small ethernet LAN
(Linux server (a verrry old 486DX:-)) + Mac webserver, + six workstations
(4 oldish macs (I use an old quadra 660AV for development work:-)), and 2
dreadful pentiums:-)) shared by 9 curators, 4 collection managers and 6
technical assistants.  One of the Macs is a library-based web kiosk, for
email and browsing by the (bulk of) museum staff who don't have boxes in
their offices (yet), as well as library visitors.  We have a 64K leased
line to a 256K commercial ISP backbone - you *will* have noticed the slow
connection speeds:-) - and hence our avoidance of frames and other web
gimmicks:-).  The web site was developed by museum staff, each attending to
his/her own needs and aspirations:-).  None of us is particularly
hackerish:-), but there is a statistically significant staff component who
actually read manuals:-).

The museum website has been around since mid-1997, and is relatively
popular; we get in the order of 700 - 1000 requests daily, which is not bad
for a museum tucked away in the southwest Arid zone of Africa:-).  Take a
look at

which is an Analog report of our virtual visitors, updated once or twice a

Cheers for the mo'

Joris Komen
Curator of birds/IT manager
National Museum of Namibia

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