I am a couple days behind on these, and just can’t seem to catch up. Despite that, even with the huge grabbags I’ve been doing, I have enough content sorted and grouped for at least another week! I don’t know, I might have to extend Advent into the 12 days of Christmas just to catch up with all the goodies.
For today, I’ve chosen one of my absolute favorites of all the Advent Calendars. You can tell, because I actually keep going there every day! It represents much of what I love most in the world — libraries, museums, history, science, healthcare, beauty, emerging technologies, trivia, arts and crafts, kids and … well, you’ll see what I mean shortly. This is just too, TOO good to mix up with anyone else’s delightful offerings. You may think I’m raving. Yes, I am. There is a reason.
The Wellcome Trust is one of those places I’ve never been to, but I can’t get enough of it anyway. If I did go, I suspect I’d never want to leave. That will have to go on my list for my next life. Their areas of special interest are pretty much the same as mine — biomedical science, technology transfer, international, public engagement, medical history and humanities, ethics and society. Now if you just added in educational technologies, disaster & crisis planning & response, crowdsourcing, and a couple other small points, I’d be completely unable to contain myself. See why I might just be a tad giddy over the work they do? And they’ve done an ADVENT CALENDAR. Can you even imagine? Oh, my.
The Wellcome Trust includes the Wellcome Library, one of the more luscious medical and science libraries in the world, with exemplary collections in the areas mentioned above. One of the major resources forthcoming from their amazing collections is Wellcome Images. Wellcome Images includes a truly massive database of images remarkable for its range, diversity, quality, historical and scientific value, and importance to research both in science as well as in the arts and humanities. Much of the content is available under a Creative Commons license, while there are charges for some images and some uses.
As if that isn’t enough, they also have galleries of selected images on specific topics, with current highlights including dirt, treasures, tattoos, high society, their 75th anniversary, and the images and results of their annual images contest.
And if that isn’t enough, they are doing this all over social media. Not just “come to our database and search”, but also via Twitter, and Flickr, and their blog. Oh, that’s right, I promised you an advent calendar.
What they are doing is simple and delightful, although I suspect it was a lot more work than it looks like. A LOT more. From their existing online collections, they have selected images that in some fashion connect to the stories or symbolism of the winter and Christmas holidays. These images are put in a blogposts with an educational and informative text full of stories and trivia and engaging witticisms. The blogpost is given a truly clever title that just begs you to click through and find out what the heck they are talking about, and this is tweeted with the link. Picture + Story + Promo. Here are a few of my favorite examples.
TEXT: Health warning! Avoid mistletoe this Christmas. Find out why here. Alternative Advent joy. (Remember that other post I did on alternative advent? That was how I found the Wellcome stream.)
You may have noticed that virtually all the post titles are puns, with sly double entendres and subtle allusions to sex, dirt, and grade school humor, however each and every one of them turns out to be scientific and educational and utterly wholesome. They really have a brilliant crew working on this. I am hugely impressed. I wish I was half so clever.
I could hardly believe it when something in their advent calendar lead me to even more Wellcome holiday goodness. Remember I said arts and crafts? Here they come!
Wellcome Images had retweeted something from Wellcome Trust about their “Tree of Life” project. For decorating the Christmas tree, they decided to make their own ornaments, an excellent idea. While many people decorate their trees with a mélange of ornaments made or gifted by family and loved ones, some folk go with a theme. Me, I have every year for decades collected animals for my tree — bears, snakes, mice, aardvarks, armadillos, flamingo, skunks, cardinals, and more. Wellcome had the idea of designing ornaments from plasticine on science themed concepts. Shown here is the swine flu ornament, but they also made a diatom, pollen grain, Weil’s disease, periodontal bacteria (with the label misspelled, but I’m also a dentistry librarian, so I knew what they meant). They gave away free packets of crafty supplies until they ran out, and offer a prize for the best ornament. How will they know what you did? Everyone is supposed to take a picture and put it in their Flickr group! I confess to being rather fond of the mitochondrian, the sundew leaf, and diffusion tensor imaging, petri dish ornaments, and the Christmas brain, but HBT was kind enough to allow embedding of his Neutrophil Undergoing Netosis, so that is the one I will show you.