The cat sat on my hat on the mat. Blogjune. 20/24



A small grey hairless x]cat sits on a brown-striped knitted beanie on a blue sheepskin.

There’s proof. Not staged.

Note the lower teeth. The only two she has left.

The vet left them when the other teeth were removed due to disease in December, hoping the top lip would settle over them and Ada would develop small calluses where the teeth rubbed a bit. Instead they have scarified her top lip, and are due to be removed next week.

The older cats get, the more their teeth fuse to the jaw, so even though they are healthy, it is best to remove them now.

Expect dispatches from a sofa, under a healing cat, next week.

Homeward bound. Blogjune. 19/24



University of Melbourne from 10th floor of Law School Building, Pelham Street.

A green city square with very yellow-leaves trees at the centre.

Today was a success too.

This has been the most incident-free event I have been associated in this job so far. The Skills Summit last month had one speaker fall off a ladder and another withdraw on the day before – and the event photographer had an awful leg injury the same day. Transmission was sometimes patchy when people were beamed in via Zoom. We learned much.

So much so, that when one of the research infrastructure partners announced that Creative Australia (formerly the Australia Council) had offered for one of their Canberra staff to remotely talk about their contribution in the last session of the day, instead of being thrown into a tailspin I could say – “yes, we can absolutely do that”.

Now, finally on a plane about to return home.

Virtual and in-person. Blogjune. 18/24



A table with a run sheet, microphone, two coffee cups, a drinking glass, iPhone, mouse glasses and MacBook.

Today was the first day of a two-day public symposium I am organising to show people the research infrastructure we are building. The first day of the symposium explains how we got here and outlines projects completed. Tomorrow looks to the future and explains where we are going. You can watch it remotely by clicking the first link.

With catering, stationery, run sheets, assigning jobs, contacting speakers all out the way last week; today was all about time keeping, chasing up slides presenters had not yet provided, running about with a mic, pushing out links on Zoom, briefing MC, meeting traditional custodian who was doing welcome to country and answering all those micro-questions with micro-decisions.

Today we have around 70 people on Zoom and 60 people in person. Nobody is remotely presenting. We are not recording remote presenters, although we are recording the whole thing. That’s a doddle.

But… about three weeks ago, at the same venue in Melbourne I was part of a team organising a Skills Summit, with far more moving parts. On the third day, a Carpentries Connect event, we had in-person satellite events in Perth and New Zealand. People presented from Melbourne, Perth and Wellington to all other locations via Zoom, at the same time as this was beamed into the physical locations. All needing careful coordination, which we did with a local AV company. People contributed via Zoom chat and we had simultaneous workshops on the same topics happening at all venues. Plus recordings. Which needed downloading and editing afterward.

If you want to see an account of the Skills Summit, check out Powering Research Through Skills: Highlights from the ARDC Digital Research Skills Summit 2024. You can even see a pic of me presenting and being called Kit.

You can see the recording of the session I co-presented about What we learned about skills needs in our co-design process (in the HASS and Indigenous Research Data Commons). In it I describe what researchers said about how they like skills delivered, who should do it and what conditions should support this. This was from a couple of thousand data points shared in 10 different workshops with around 600 registrants. Not all of it was about skills, but there were gems there.

[End of a worky worky work post].

My accommodation – it has a bath! Home does not. I nipped out at lunchtime and bought bath salts. Evening sorted.

Problems and success. Blogjune 17/24



(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


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



(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


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


A grove of bamboo lit with Criss cross pattern


Large lit up trees over a pond at night


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



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.


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




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



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.


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



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


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.