Why does the project have such an odd name (and how do you pronounce it anyway)?
Well it’s an acronym, obviously: not much point in having a computer project without one. Tayside, A Maritime History spells TAMH which is a Gaelic word (pronounced TAV) meaning rest or quiet. With very little foresight, it was chosen as this was supposed to be a relaxing project away from the usual commercial multimedia development we do. After the hours which have already gone into the project, the etymological connection between tàmh, rest, and tàimh, death, perhaps should have been heeded. There may well have been inspiration for the name from the Tav bar in Dundee which is, sadly, also a piece of history, demolished for the sake of a dual carriageway.
What and where is Tayside?
Tayside used to be an administrative region of Scotland (from 1979 until 1996 when single-tier councils were reintroduced) and, although it no longer exists as such, the name lives on in bodies such as Scottish Enterprise Tayside (though the less said about them the better).
We have taken a more literal interpretation of the word to mean anything on either side of the River Tay, which flows from Highland Perthshire, down through Perth to its estuary at Dundee. This means we have annexed parts of Fife for our purposes. In fact, where there was a good story to be told, we dipped into Kincardineshire and Aberdeenshire too.
What is the point of the project?
On the commercial side, we want to prove it is possible for small
museums or communities to produce interactive multimedia material on topics of narrow interest and then make our living helping them do this.
On a non-commercial level, we want to promote the maritime history of the area. The story is not told as well as it could be. Local museums are small, the artefacts of maritime history are large or exist outside the walls of museums (caves, for example). The stories are rich and the locations interesting. There is great potential to promote tourism to the area as the huge amount of email we receive on the subject shows. Unfortunately we have been unable to persuade Scottish Enterprise Tayside that they should invest some money in promoting tourism in this way. They see putting handbasins in bed and breakfasts as more important.
The subject is almost totally ignored in local schools. This is a pity. The internationalism of towns like Arbroath, Montrose and Dundee over the last four hundred years is both instructive and inspirational.
Who is funding the project?
Not enough people is the short answer.
Although this is very much a regional project we are delighted that in the current (1998, Winter) round of funding SCRAN, the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network, is part funding the development of a new navigation tool for teachers to use with the site and purchasing a right to use some of the digitised images associated with the project.
Given this national recognition we would have expected some local support for the project from Scottish Enterprise Tayside whose function it is to promote the area. The visitor numbers and the email we receive certainly demonstrate the effectiveness of the site in generating worldwide interest in the area. SET, however, does not believe that maritime history has a role to play in attracting tourism to the area, despite the fact that Dundee has three historic ships, two of which are stuck away by a crumbling industrial estate. Perhaps no one from the organisation has visited San Diego. Dundee has been described as having 'the finest waterfront in Europe after Naples'. Despite the elaborate plans of Scottish Enterprise it is graced by, among others, a Tesco supermarket, a home improvement centre and three speculatively built but unoccupied office buildings.
How is the site built and maintained?
DMC has developed a tool especially for museums and galleries called MusDev. This uses a common database to provide public access to collections management information through this website and in a touchscreen kiosk version of TAMH which looks quite different. A new version of the TAMH databases are published to this site on a, roughly, weekly basis.
Some of the papers published on the site describe the use of the product and it has its own pages at http://www.dmcsoft.com/dmc/services/MusDev.
We are looking for other museums and galleries to work with us in developing MusDev. If you have a project where you think MusDev could be used, please get in touch.
Are you looking for material to use in the project?
Anything associated with Tayside’s maritime past (and present):
paintings, photographs, documents, artefacts, reminiscences.
How rich can I get providing you with this material?
Not very. Well, not at all, in fact. As we have no funding for acquisition any material has to be provided free of charge. We promise not to lose or break anything you lend us and will scan or photograph it with great care and return it to you. We will of course include an acknowledgement to you in anything we produce and include a link to some sort to an advertisement if that does you any good.