The local NHS hospital is named after an inspirational local man, James Paget who was a pioneer of pathology and the inspiration for a game and garden that will begin introducing AI technologies to the people of Great Yarmouth.
James Paget in Brief
The James Paget NHS Hospital Trust is named after a local man to Great Yarmouth.
Sir James Paget became the Surgeon Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, and is now eponymous with a number of diseases, the most well known of which is Paget’s Disease. Paget had to overcome many obstacles and illnesses throughout his life, as well as financial difficulties, and was always aware of those who were suffering from misfortune. Throughout his early career Paget craved one innovation more than anything else, a microscope, the Machine Learning (ML) equivalent of that period.
From a teenager, James Paget, along with his older brothers began documenting the birds, plants and fauna of his home town and in 1834 published, Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood.
The introduction states the intention to engage residents and visitors to Great Yarmouth to become aware of their surroundings with “the idea that it might be useful’. They believed ‘persons residing in town’ may engage more fully with the manicipality and local environment if they ‘become aware of the number and excellence of the productions of their own neighbourhood are in some measure pointed out”. Fourth Portal has a similar aim, to raise awareness of the opportunities that new technologies can offer in benefiting individuals and towns like Great Yarmouth while attempting to reverse some of the environmental damage we have all caused.
Introducing Algorithms to Great Yarmouth
The Paget brothers book stimulated an exciting way to introduce Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Linked Data, Semantic technologies, image recognition and Virtual Reality (VR) to the residents and visitors of Great Yarmouth. In the process, I feel it could fulfil the central aim of the Paget publication that future researchers could complete the Sketch by filling in the gaps. It seems that time has arrived!
The idea to create a Paget Garden at the back of Portal B began simmering in late 2019, after reading Sir James Paget : Surgeon Extraordinary and His Legacies by Hugh Sturzaker. Sketch of the Natural History of Yarmouth and Its Neighbourhood was touched upon while describing the Great Yarmouth of Paget’s youth. Throughout Sturzaker’s book there are striking similarities to issues Great Yarmouth, and many other towns, are facing today, poverty, absence of adequate education, lack of curiosity and little active engagement or interest in the natural world.
Reading how the Paget brothers had listed everything they found, I decided to create a garden along the same lines using some almost dead plants that I found upon the patio at the back of St John’s Head pub, now Portal B. The garden I began creating, just as the UK went into the first national Covid-19 lockdown, is a good way to engage people who would not go into a pub or have little interest in technology, plants or the environment. In addition, I saw very few plants and kept gardens in Great Yarmouth and I thought it might work as a stimulus to others to grow flowers and food. For more read The Paget Garden and view the gallery.
Point of note: The Sir James Paget book author Hugh Sturzaker is himself a surgeon and was governor of the James Paget Hospital for 8 years from 2005, having previously worked there since 1979.
My initial idea was fairly simple, use the garden as a way of introducing algorithm based technologies. There are now numerous free plant apps for mobile devices that can be simply downloaded and used by taking a photo of the plant of interest. Usually within seconds the plant can be identified with a reasonable degree of accuracy and wealth of information is provided, from the latin name through to the origins of the species. As the use of these apps widen so the accuracy improves, a process called Machine Learning. They are impressive, and will be a simple way to begin to explain the power of some of these new technologies and hopefully stimulate ideas how these could prove useful in other contexts.
Using the interventionist approach developed with my Platform-7 network, the garden will emerge at a deliberately slow pace, allowing local people to watch plants arrive in pots, grow and change. As hoped, it has already begun to attract neighbours to ask questions with some enjoying the harvest of tomatoes, beans, courgettes and cucumbers. During the conversations about the plants, opportunity to use the plant app arises directing the discussion towards technology.
Along with colleagues from several universities, the Paget garden idea has developed, and now forms a much larger and important element of Portal B. We intend to create an open source game using various technologies to see whether the people of Great Yarmouth and beyond can fill up the Paget Sketch.
We are at the very outset. What we know for sure is that the game will be in the form of an app and open source, meaning anyone with basic coding skills can contribute. The intention is to draw in as many people as possible, by making it as collaborative as possible.
Beyond Coding | Creating Communities
The beauty of the Paget garden is there are numerous avenues to join in, even if a person has no liking or understanding of technology. The project is to inspire curiosity and develop new communities and ideas. Create interest groups and hopefully inspire some ideas that can be commercialised by individuals, for example walks around the town and local marshlands and riverbank.
The Paget garden and Paget game will serve as inspiration. They will allow people coming to Portal B, those passing through and potentially schools and local groups to engage in topics that may not be easily accessible or even considered previously. The programme will link people with people, people to technology, technology to environment, and environment and technology to people and community. It may also inspire some entrepreneurship, but that will be for another blog post.
Slow Time | Knowledge and Wisdom
A further key learning outcome to this programme is stressing how learning is lifelong, and how seemingly unimportant, insignificant or irrelevant knowledge and wisdom may have relevance and importance at some future time.
James Paget recognised this himself, a man whose career and fame did not arrive until quite late in life…
James attended lectures on anatomy and bone given by Mr Randall at the Angel Inn – it was not uncommon for inns to be used as lecture halls and for teaching purposes during this period. He later described this as being equal to anything learned from lectures heard in London during later years.
During his apprenticeship an outbreak of Asiatic cholera developed in Great Yarmouth. He saw many cases which were unsuccessfully treated using a variety of methods such as bleeding, opium and saltwater injections. He studied the disease intensively and created an orderly volume of abstracts of his readings, a skill he developed from his study of natural history.
Even when knowledge or knowhow is no longer relevant, the discipline of acquiring remains invaluable.
During his later years he wrote of the Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood “The knowledge was useless; the discipline of acquiring it was beyond price”.
It is hoped the game will provide some valuable information about the changing natural environment of Great Yarmouth and surrounding marshes. Norfolk, on England’s east coast is particularly susceptible to rising sea levels, storm surges and strong winds. How this has changed the landscape over the past 190 years might prove revealing.
This programme will begin quietly and grow and develop at its own pace, the importance is to start introducing different technologies at a level people are comfortable without feeling intimidated or overwhelmed.
Throughout the ages, technological advances share a common theme; how to apply them to everyday use and inspire new innovations and discoveries? Development of the microscope was no different and can be compared to how photographic imaging recognition needed people uploading camera phone photos to gather enough images to learn from.
It has to be said, however, that until the nineteenth century most microscopes were sold as gentleman’s toys rather than instruments for serious scientific experimentation. They were provided with expensive cases, lined with plush velvet and compartmentalised to accommodate various accessories that often went unused. To avoid disappointment the makers often supplied the purchaser with a set of pre-prepared slides.The College of Optometrists, Early microscopes: The first simple insect viewers, undated.
1793; this was the time of transition from Hunter’s teaching, which for all its greatness was hindered by want of the modern microscope, to the pathology and bacteriology of the present day. Paget’s greatest achievement was that he made pathology dependent, in everything, on the use of the microscope, especially the pathology of tumours.Wikipedia, accessed 6th Sept 2020.
Introduction to Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood
It is sincerely hope, that the name given to the present work will be interpreted literally- at nothing more than a mere open “sketch” does it aim; nor were the motives which induced its publication any but of the most unpretending description. They were founded on the idea that it might be useful first, by aiding another to the number of local history necessary to a perfect acquaintance with that of the whole kingdom, and with the particular distribution of each species; and, secondly, that other persons residing in town may, when the number and excellence of the productions of their own neighbourhood are in some measure pointed out, be led more diligently to pursue their investigation than hitherto, while those only casually visiting it maybe enabled more easily to procure specimens of the several rarities. Should these purposes be even inadequately fulfilled, its intention will be accomplished, more especially if it excite a spirit of research, by the assistance of which the Sketch may at some future period be filled up.
It may be useful at the outset, briefly to describe the characters of the localities in which the species hereafter mentioned occur, as well as to give some general directions respecting the mode in which they may be best be procured.
McCallum, Marilyn. A Biography of Sir James Paget, Paget’s Association, Online. 14th Aug 2020 (https://paget.org.uk/sites/default/files/Biography%20of%20Sir%20James%20Paget%20by%20MM%20%20for%20website%20nov%202014%20DW.pdf)
Sturzaker, Hugh. (2013), Sir James Paget : Surgeon Extraordinary and His Legacies, Great Britain
The College of Optometrists, (undated) Early microscopes: The first simple insect viewers, London, Online 6th August 2020, (https://www.college-optometrists.org/the-college/museum/online-exhibitions/virtual-microscopy-gallery/early-microscopes.html)