Problems and success. Blogjune 17/24

blogjune

ONE PIC FROM TODAY

(Someone in the lobby of the law school building at the University of Melbourne is playing beautiful piano music while I have an hour’s down time and un-peopling before going out to dinner with 40 or so people)

The lobby of a building. There is a woman under the stairs playing a piano and a 2 metre high map of Australia on one wall

ONE THING I DID TODAY

An icebreaker.

For 40 researchers. All at the start of a new round of research infrastructure projects, some continuing projects and some brand new.

At a day where these project leads all meet and get to know about each others’ projects, learn what works and what doesn’t from each other. They think about their communications plan, Indigenous Data Governance and how they will demonstrate successful usage and uptake of what they build.

This was the first 25 minutes of the day and I wanted participants to talk to people outside of their projects. I wanted them to start thinking about how they would describe their projects in preparation for the comms workshop, think about what success looks like and possibly cross-fertilise to make new research projects.

  1. A Problem of 10 words

I started by expressing the problem I hope to solve in my work, in 10 words:

Focus areas need support so researchers learn to use infrastructure

Part of the first five minutes involved participants coming up with the problem their research infrastructure will solve. In 10 words. Written on the back of a paper napkin – signalling that this is very much first draft and speculative.

2. Title of a research article

Next, I instructed participants to imagine that three years have passed, and their research infrastructure project is a success. They were asked to write on a post it note the title of a research article someone could write using that infrastructure. That was the other part of their five minutes.

Then I divided participants into four groups (first – people born in June or before on one side of the room, those after to the other. Then- each of those two groups divided by people born before the 16th or after the 16th). I told them to find two people from other projects in their quartile.

In these groups of three, participants shared their 10 word problems. Then they were asked to come up with the title of one or more research articles using at least two pieces of successful infrastructure.

The rest of the day they worked surrounded by their potential successes on the walls.

People of the book and people of the screen. Blogjune 16/24

blogjune

TWO PICS FROM YESTERDAY

(My blog. My rules. I can fiddle faddle with them if I want)

An answer to Pharaohs or tree lights or shopping or bed. Blogjune 15/64

A queen sized bed under a painting of quirky birds. The bedding is white Broderie Anglaise. A large iPad and a couple of crossword books lie on it.

Dramatically lit trees in blues and greens

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In 2008, I described on this blog my reflections after attending a talk from neuropharmacologist Baroness Susan Greenfield where she described the ways she thought what was being offered on the internet was changing young people’s brains. She contrasted (older) people of the book to (younger) people of the screens, who she suggested are more likely to:

have shorter attention spans, are likely to be less risk adverse, emotionally shallower, less likely to be influenced by dogma and spend a lot of time responding to visual stimuli.

At the time I was, like everyone else, 16 years younger. What she was saying seemed hyperbolic. She definitely got the dogma bit wrong. The rest, I am slower to reject now. I was pretty annoyed at what I saw as a very narrow understanding of what was happening online, with far less credit being given for the deep and productive socially interactive and creative work happening in online gameplay and what we called “immersive worlds” then. I provided an example of a Sydney teacher using Second Life as a way for students to collaboratively create and explore costuming, space and meaning in Shakespeare.

I vividly remember her face as she repeated throughout that younger people are being stimulated in broad-brush ways, living in the “yuk” and “wow”. Yuk and wow. Yuk and wow. So, superficially and glibly engaging with experiences so impressive that any quest for nuance, subtlety or depth is overridden and appreciation of this is simply not developed.

So, last night at  Royal Botanic Gardens Lightscape I understood the spectacle of event, saw people with their kids pointing and saying “oooo”, and a lot of people taking photos of themselves at spots obviously designed for a great pic. I was left feeling like the natural world – which itself is wonderful, amazing, impressive, subtle, delicately interconnected – was being overwritten by Wow! so it could be consumed into a feedback loop of bright flashing and flashy stimulus.

Too much felt like a generic international arena rock performance had moved into town and set up across a landscape it was not really engaging with. Laser shows and dry ice, but performers neglected. One patch was a collection of fake plastic life-sized flowering plums, with lights where the flowers should be. That lead into a spot where ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” blared out. I do not know why. It seemed unconnected to anything else.

I loved a similar event at the Botanic Gardens in Adelaide in the last couple of years. By contrast, there it seemed the artists had analysed the landscape, layout and environment to create an experience far more in harmony with the gardens. A long corridor of Moreton bay figs became a walk into sunrise. A bamboo grove was lit with lights that ran up and down each stalk to co-ordinated Angklung music, undulating as the bamboo swayed in the wind. Real thought had been put into the placement of lights in a still pond so a large tree, and its reflection that went down forever, became the stars not backdrop to the piece.

Silhouettes of people walking toward a large semicircle of light

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A grove of bamboo lit with Criss cross pattern

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Large lit up trees over a pond at night

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Pharaohs or tree lights or shopping or bed? Blogjune 15/24

blogjune

ONE PIC FROM TODAY

The corner table in a cafe next to a window sea with blue cushions. The brick wall is exposed, the table wooden and the servingware mismatched. There is a potplant in one corner and a handbag, gloves and a newspaper on the seat.


ONE THING TO DO TODAY

I booked accommodation for the weekend, aiming to fly over Friday afternoon. I realised two weeks later that the Cabaret Festival show I had earlier booked for last night did not get automatically entered into my calendar. Only one of the three shows I bought in the same transaction had – trap for new players… Which is why I was on the last flight out for the night, and finally got to bed around 1am.

I have been flat out planning for next week’s event. Normal job-gets-extra-busy-sometimes-for-good reason busy. Not academia’s this-is-just-how-it-always-is-other-people-are-coping-and-students-will-suffer-or-be-crotchety-if-you-do-not-work-tonight-and-this-weekend-again busy. I am fine with the first, but it means I haven’t really looked up enough to work out what to do with my weekend away.

I learned a bit about myself and my priorities this morning. Should I:

  • Visit the Pharaoh exhibition on the entire lower floor of the National Gallery of Victoria, which opened yesterday?
  • Book tickets to the Royal Botanic Gardens Lightscape sound and light installation at night?
  • Explore the shops and laneways, maybe find some Fluevogs
  • Spend the day in bed, doing crosswords, journalling and dozing before a big week ahead

In other words – check out empirical looting, watch excessive energy consumption, take part in mindless consumerism, or rest?

I chose two options on the list.

First whirl. Gold chairs gold curtain. Blogjune 14/24

blogjune

ONE PIC FROM TODAY

ONE THING I DID TODAY

Washed the cat so she won’t be smelly for the housesitters.

Now sitting in a gold plastic chair about to see an improv musical, with Julia Zemiro. I was a fan waaaay back in the 1980s when she was Queen of Australian Theatresports.

It finishes at 8pm. My flight to Melbourne leaves at 9:40pm. I will let you know tomorrow whether I managed to be on it.

It’s going to be a whirly week…

Couldn’t be closer. Blogjune 12/24

blogjune

ONE PIC FROM TODAY

The front of a stage bathed in blue light. At the bottom of the image, touching the stage, white Doc Martens with red flowers can be seen.

ONE THING I DID TODAY

Cabaret-style seating had me in a bentwood chair at the front of a table, touching the stage as watched UK sisters Nichola and Rosie Dempsey, who perform as Flo and Joan.

Explore, find out more about them. I have always loved the wit, but missed the musicianship until I saw them live. Hearing them harmonise, and perform vocal gyrations perfectly in sync, reminded me of the pleasure of listening to Neil and Tim Finn. Sibling voices which blend uncannily beautifully. There is also a pretty mean recorder duet in Lady in the Woods. (Go on, go off and have a listen – laugh yourself silly on the first play through – then listen, really listen, to the harmonies in the second one).

They were the soundtrack to my three years of teaching at UniSA. I added topics on misinformation, disinformation, fake news and ex-information. (Ex-information is what is deliberately excluded and the impact of this is worth further study. [I was going to link to a definition, but Google is not my friend here. I am not divorcing anyone, so what it did retrieve was not helpful]).

Every study period I would work out whether I could still justify including the clip below. I did – and played it deep into the night as I revised topics in the Information Retrieval unit. I told students that they did not have to watch it. Not at all. I just couldn’t bring myself to keep teaching the unit without their company each time I updated that bit of the course.

The song’s refrain “better do your research”, I used as entre to get students to read Barbara Fister’s Lizard People in the Library provocation, written as part of Project Information Literacy. In it she describes how the idea of “do your own research” – the refrain of many librarians (not just Flo and Joan) was horribly subverted by conspiracy theorists in the US of the early 2020s.

Horrible Histories Fake News Song by Flo and Joan.

Back to Back. Blogjune 11/2024

blogjune

ONE PIC FROM TODAY

A screenshot from Google Calendar showing "Time insights", and that the person will spend 19.7 hours in meetings this week.

ONE THING I DID TODAY

I had 8 meetings back to back, including an online briefing about the Very Important People our office was going to lunch with, plus the lunch itself. And one and a half hours of the course about community management for science researchers.

Tomorrow is looking a bit better.. only seven meetings.

Most meetings are generated by next week’s symposium – running through sessions with speakers to finalise what and how they will deliver; finalising dietary requirements; whether all the AV equipment listed in the AV contract makes sense; talking with the MC about event aims and purposes; creating all the runsheets and stationery lists and merchandise lists and printing lists.. then allocating jobs to a very nice team and checking they have all they need.

Cabaret Festival, preparing for symposium and travelling next week are all converging. I will still do my best to try to match snail’s stellar 30 day posting record from Blogjune last year.

Changing names. Blogjune 10/24

blogjune

ONE PIC FROM TODAY

A gum tree frames a vista of a city in the distance with the sea behind

This shows the city from a ridge of a walking track that begins just behind my office. It’s a public holiday today, so I did a long bushwalk with friends before returning home to create runsheets for a symposium I am running in Melbourne next week.

ONE THING I DID TODAY

Well, a few days ago. Quietly. Soft launch.

Changed the name of this blog from Librarian Smatter to Kathrynarium.

I had changed it once before from “Librarians Matter”. My blog pre-dated the Black Lives Matter movement by a good half-decade, but keeping the name looked like I was trivialising something that needed a bit more respect. The domain name, “librariansmatter.com”, still make sense when I moved the S across.

You will hear more before the end of the month about whether, 34 years after qualifying professionally, I still think of myself as a librarian. This blog definitely is drifting away from being mainly about libraries and technology. “Kathrynarium” was the name of my second experimental blog I started using the Bloglines RSS reader (that also allowed you to write posts that could be syndicated). My first? Kathrynosaurus.

I’m no stranger to name changing. When my kids were born, their dad and I changed our different family names to a brand new one. I used to say that I took my kid’s name.

My first name changed this year too. Well, at work when I changed jobs at least. My line manager is called Kathryn. So was another employee, with a smattering of “Catherines” in the same very small organisation. So, to disambiguate, I voluntarily took the name “Kit”. Just searching my emails to try to locate anything from the person interviewing me (who had the same name) convinced me.

Public vs Academic Libraries. Blogjune 9/24

blogjune

ONE PIC FROM TODAY

It’s a tiny movie that takes a bit of time to load. The berries on the common hackberry almost touching my balcony have matured enough for me to share my space with lorikeets for a couple of weeks. You can hear at the end that I also share the space with an intrigued cat.

Last week, Graeme wrote a series of posts about the differences between academic and public libraries, based on a lighting talk he gave to Kingston Library in April.

He made a post a day where he discussed differences in:

I’d second most of what he said. Especially about different talents you nurture in each, and the relationships to money and clients.

I started as a 19 year old in academic libraries, as an after-hours library clerk, which saw me through uni over five years. I returned to work in an academic library from 2001-2009 as a reference librarian, philosophy subject librarian and then emerging technologies specialist. I did a stint in 2020 as senior librarian, copyright, for another university. I finished my time as a university lecturer last year by designing and delivering the first Australian postgraduate course in scholarly communications.

I worked in public libraries from 1992 – 1999 in systems and community information roles. I returned to publics for a year from 2009 to 2010, doing systems and young adult work. When I began my university lecturing career in 2010, a course called “Public libraries” was among the units I taught for a couple of years.

One thing missing from Graeme’s list was – what public holidays mean for each sector.

In academic libraries, busy periods tend to follow exam time and major assessments. Toward the end of the year is time to catch up on all that housekeeping and admin you missed during the year. Most universities actually shut down all buildings from about the week before Christmas until just after New Year. Apart from minimal service-desk shifts, you actually have to write an email to your supervisor justifying why you need to work during that period.

Public holidays in public libraries! Oh the shock when I moved from academic back into publics in 2009, used to the gentle, productive down period of the Christmas holidays. We used to joke that clients acted as though the library would be shut for three years, not three days, over Easter. The days before the public holiday huge numbers of clients would swarm in and clear out the stock. Then the day after the public holiday we would feel very missed – with more clients visiting than average, telling us how important we were in their lives, swamping us with returns. And- the seasonal presents in the public libraries I worked in! Grateful clients would bake, drop off crafts, and in one library somebody paid for “all the library staff to go out to dinner”. This happened in December, but I am not 100% sure that was a Christmas gift though, it may have been part of someone’s will??

Rocking an Apple Pencil. Blogjune. 8/24

blogjune

ONE PIC FROM TODAY

Large letters about a metre high spell out the word "DREAMS" in a park. They have been covered in colourful knitting and crochet.

Hurtle Square. Yarn-bombed.

ONE THING I DID TODAY

Cycled (on my working manual bike) down to the Cabaret Festival to do a life-drawing session. I expected either a lot of fun and giggles, but no serious drawing, or a chance to really take time to draw some pretty amazing costumes and poses. Neither. Ruby Chew, a local artist and educator took us through using a sighting stick to measure and check angles and sizes of key proportions in a figure. It’s not something I have done before, and I found it extremely useful. We had a single model, a local burlesque performer who started with a large velvet hat, and a negligee over her costume, but steadily disrobed piece-by-piece with each pose.

We used charcoal, both willow and as pencils, not Apple pencils at all – although last time I did lifedrawing at my local pub in Freo, I did experiment with drawing using my iPad. I found the surface a bit restrictive, and realised the expansive feeling of moving my hand across page is part of the attraction.

Why the title of the post? Genevieve mentioned in her post today Rocketing rocket books, Batman that she’s not keen to commit to an Apple Pencil because she is concerned she may lose it. I use my Apple Pencil several times a day, and it changed my life for the better. I take notes in meetings, make lists, mark up PDFs, and now have access to all those bits of my brain that process information better when movement is involved. So, maybe this cheap bit of purpose-built elastic with a little pouch that I bought from eBay when I first got my iPad may be useful for Genevieve too?

A pink iPad cover with a piece of black elastic with a pouch in it strapped to the front holding an Apple Pencil to the front.