Wednesday 15 February 2012

More Attacks, Good-bye PhDiva, Hello Culture Concierge

Dorothy King has announced (Good-bye PhDiva, Hello Culture Concierge) that she's suspending her PhDiva blogging to concentrate on her new project "Culture Concierge" (temporarily housed here, will be moving later, the postal address is her dad's coin shop opposite the BM). "Culture Concierge" aims to provide art and antiquity collectors with "a sort of curatorial concierge service".
Someone who can come in and curate when needed, organise libraries, arrange collections, bid at auction, sort out a scholar who can teach them about art either in London or for a trip abroad whilst still knowing where the good restaurants are, keep them abreast of what's going on in the art world, advise on which groups to support, and so forth. If it's legal, we can do it. Between us we can cover Antiquity to the Contemporary, through the Renaissance - and if we ourselves can't cover an area, then we almost certainly know someone who can. The service isn't cheap - but we're worth it.
She bemoans the current state of "Cultural Property" (treated as a discipline) in its current internet-based form. She has a rather poor opinion of "cultural property fanatics" and has decided to keep as far away from them as possible, "there are only a few of them, but trust me, whichever side of the argument they believe in, they are plenty good at causing a nuisance". I am sure there are many in the collecting world and trade that find it a nuisance that not everybody who disagrees with them does so quietly, and say what they think and why. However it seems archaeologist Ms King, who has been working on a database of looted antiquities, has also been the victim of those who wish to use more direct means of trying to silence the voices of those who speak out about the trade and its problems:
This last week my credit and debit cards were reported stolen and cancelled, someone's been logging into my Gmail account from Luxembourg, and I've had a whole load of cranks phone calls and emails claiming various nonsense. [...] [this made] me realise that I need to make a few changes. I'm getting out of Cultural Property [...] I can get rid of the nonsense associated with cultural property.
There seems to be a lot of it about. This is a nasty, nasty business.

Readers of this blog will know that I have not always seen eye-to-eye with Dr King, nevertheless, nobody should have to endure such hounding for what they believe and write. I hope she finds some satisfaction and recompense in her new venture, and look forward to hearing more.

Vignette: Dorothy King (Library Thing)


Dorothy King said...

Thank you - that was very kind, and made me cry (in a good way).

I should be clear that as much as i adore my father, I have nothing to do with Coincraft, and am just using it as one of several mailing addresses.

The basic premise behind Culture Concierge was to put people who, for example, want to hire say an art historian to take them around Florence, to be able to do so - and to make sure the academic gets decently paid for it. I figure it will create a bit of extra income for scholars and grad students.

We're also hoping to launch some mini-guides - for example to cities to supplement the Blue guides with some additional and up to date things to do - and some short 101 art history guides (ie Indian Buddhas 101, max 20 pages with illustrations of 12 Indian Buddha statues that illustrate their history, with 101 facts to help people learn about them by identifying what a pose means, iconography etc). We published the mini-books, and split the profits with the author.

None of it is particularly sinister. I'd be reluctant to take on a client who wanted to collect antiquities, simply because I would only let them buy pieces with flawless provenances.

But speaking of sinister - a couple of friends in IT are pretty sure they've identified the sender of the hate mail, and he's on the pro-collecting side of the fence.

Best wishes, D

Paul Barford said...

I hope you and your IT pals solve the hacking mystery. Is Dan P. one of them?

How about taking the lead with a booklet on "collecting antiquities" starting from the issue of "flawless provenances" and the desiderata for responsible collecting?

Dorothy King said...

I didn't ask Dan - I asked people out of the field, a friend who works for Google, and a friend who does IT security for a large firm.

The sender was 'clever' and spoofed the routing details from an email my private email account to send his email to my publicly available one. But because my laptop is set up to change IP each session, it meant it was fairly easy to ID starting with the people I'd sent emails to during that time period. Or something like that (I'm not IT savvy!). They have a way to ID the person they are 99 % certain it was (I'm not so sure as I’ve known him for years), but that would involve doing something illegal so I declined. (Instead they've done something a little naughty but entirely legal to get back at him.)

That's probably a good idea for a booklet, but not for me or not right now. I want to take a break from the field, and would find it hard to keep it short so we'd end up with a ten volume tome.

Also, I find people are better at writing those sorts of booklets on an area of interest not their main area of expertise. You, for example, would be better on Japanese Prints, which I bet you could do succinctly and easily.

Paul Barford said...

Well, I am sorry to disappoint you, but at this end I can see your computer certainly does not change the IP number each session. [It does however place you somewhere in "the United Kingdom", but several others among my readers like to hide behind that blurred location...]

In your place, I would not hesitate to ask your pals to do the "other thing" (if THEY are comfortable with it) to get 99% certainty, as you never know where this kind of thing might end. Nip it decisively in the bud.

I'm not very good at "just ten pages" about anything I fear... editor's nightmare writer. No, I tell a lie, I did one book chapter last year and was very proud of myself that I was just within the word-limit by 200 words... Could be the first time ever.

Dorothy King said...

My end said I was at when I received your comment, and am now at ... Plus I've been using a PC and a laptop in different locations, so you should have at least two different IPs for me.

Nope, as tempting as it sounds, I told them not get 'proof' that way. I think it's a colleague I've known for years who's probably just unhappy with their lives right now and lashing out. Sh*t happens etc. My feeling is to just ignore. I don't think even people who dislike me seriously think I'm looting sites etc.

Word limits are a pain, she says, having been the only person on a panel stupid enough to read one student's 1000+ page PhD ... I'm trying to do just 5,000 words for a conference, and I have no idea how I will. Plus one editor said "no limit" and the second quickly retracted and said "oh yes there is" (which felt like being in a pantomine).

Paul Barford said...

well, I am not going to put your computer ISP address online, but the comments and the searches you have been doing are all consistently coming from another address entirely. [I may simply have not have identified your second computer, hundreds of people read stuff on this blog each day. I only spotted this one because of some odd activity the day all this started. Do you want me to look for the second one? When did you last use it to look at my blog?].

Dorothy King said...

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I have not looked at your blog in months. I took a look a few times on the morning of the 15th and subscribed, so I'm clicking through either from Google Reader on computer or Blackberry, or through emails in Outlook when a follow-up comment arrives.

I'm also having problems convincing your security that I'm not a robot ...

Paul Barford said...

Dorothy, you once quite specifically said on your own that you never read Barford's blog, so I am a bit surprised to see you here at all... but welcome.

We can discuss this off-list if you like, have you got my email address?

The anti-robot thing is an intelligence test to keep the tekkies out.

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