A visit to GoMA

One thing I love about going to Brisbane is visiting GoMA. Last weekend I took my Mum there on Saturday morning to see the Matisse exhibition. So many elegant and beautiful drawings. I dutifully noticed the QR codes throughout the exhibition and then ignored them, preferring instead just to wander about at my leisure without being hooked to my phone. So really I didn’t fully participate in this part of this exhibition. However, I was inspired to draw something in the drawing room through which you exit (along with the cafe and the gift shop). Like David Tennant’s Doctor Who I love a little shop and I did spend some money in there on a some postcards and bits and pieces. We also drank a coffee and ate some biscotti while I made my first attempt at art of any kind since Year 8 art. I am not good at drawing. Here is what I came up with.

So in this way, the exhibition did “catch me”. It got me, the gallery user to be all participatory in a way I would never usually do. Good work GoMA.

The highlight though was the Kusama exhibit which I knew nothing about save twitter friend @KatyaHenry had recommended that I made sure I saw it. Dots, spots, colour, size. This was an immersive and participatory gallery experience and one that left me smiling and joyful. I wish I’d taken more pictures. Here is just one. Tell me, that doesn’t make you feel happy.


A visit to MONA

I jumped at the opportunity to visit MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) on my recent holiday to Tasmania. I didn’t know a great deal about this very new institution before my visit. My Mum’s cousin had told her it was a “must see”. And our Tasmanian friends had been before and were enthusiastic to take us again. Words like controversial, confronting, shocking seemed to be associated with it. MONA is a privately funded cross between a Museum and a Gallery. It also has a small reference library (no borrowing allowed) which looked like a pretty relaxing job for the librarian who was on duty we visited. The only other people in there were a man and his baby son taking a break from looking at the art and things.

So while MONA calls itself a museum, it also incorporates aspects of an art gallery in the items on display. There is indeed a mix of old (Egyptian relics, greek coins, ancient pottery, tablets etc) and new (the “poo machines”, the casts of 151 vaginas). Sex, death and religion are all very close to the surface. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it (I am still undecided) MONA is a thing of striking beauty. Before we get to the collection (of which I only managed to get to part of) there is the building itself..carved into a sandstone point with views of the Derwent. It’s built on a grand scale. Visitors enter at the top of the hill and then are transported down three floors into the ground via a lift (or stairs if you prefer). Then you lose all sense of location. So much of the MONA experience is intuitive and unexpected. Follow this corridor, walk through this door into a new room, move quickly from dark to surgically bright light, stand in shadows. Sure there’s a map but I didn’t even try to follow it. It was better just to wander about and see what was around the next corner. Surprise is built into the curation of the collection in the space.

The other delight was the iPod, satnav guide device that you wear around your neck as your wander about. Set up with MONA’s collection, at any time it tells you where you are, which artworks are nearby, a little bit about them and asks you whether you “love” or “hate” it. So the building is filled with people alternatively staring at installations and then peering at their iPod guide. You have to you use it. There are no friendly white cards next to anything to tell you the artist or the title of any work. It forces visitors to actively take part in the viewing experience. It invites your opinion. I would have liked a button that said “indifferent”…there were some things that I didn’t love or hate. Still…I felt compelled to make a decision on everything I looked at. This was perhaps the most participatory museum/gallery experience I have had.

Finally, I really liked the fact that you could get up close and personal with the pieces. You could also take photos. What a bonus! No scary security guards telling you to take your backpack off or to stand behind the line. You were allowed to touch things if you wanted to. Again, visitors are encouraged to be involved with the viewing experience. And then, if you have entered your email into your iPod guide you get home and find a virtual replication of your tour that you can return to at any time through the MONA website.

Here’s some photos I took with my phone:

Give me a “G” for Gallery

I have made a start. Congratulations to me. So far I have managed an outline and a skeleton framework. This is not my usual way of writing. Usually I just sort of start and shape the piece of writing organically. This is not always successful, but I discovered when completing my thesis that I could make all the plans in the world and then as soon as I started writing, the plan went out the window as everything went off in different directions.

With this project I am trying very hard to stick to a plan – for the first draft at least. Then, comes the part that I don’t mind as much as the first draft. I actually quite enjoying picking apart a complete piece of writing and putting in back together, filling in gaps, ruthlessly slashing and burning different sections. Perhaps that is part of being a shaper as well.

So here I am up to what is probably the crucial section of the project – where I discuss exactly what GLAMS (or LAMS depending on what you are reading) is all about. What are its key principles? How did it develop? What is the connection to Web 2.0 technologies? I have quite a number of articles and papers which talk about the points of commonality between Libraries, Archives and Museums in the world of information technology. They talk about them as collecting or memory institutions. They talk about the importance of any collaborative project (or indeed convergence of such institutions) recognising both what such institutions have in common as well as what distinguishes them from each other. This is all fine. I understand that. What I have to be able to do is justify the “G” for Galleries. Because much of what I have read has left Galleries out of the picture – so to speak!

Thinking about it, I’m not sure why this is. They all collect things. Art, records, documents, objects. Often Museums have libraries and archives as part of their operation. Or Galleries might also have an archive or library of sorts. Of course each institution does different things with what it collects. It might exhibit it, it might preserve it and either store or display it, it might document it for easy retrieval, it might place it in historical context so it can be connected to other like records in order to identify cultural themes. It might do lots of other things as well. But I guess in the first instance, each institutions collects…it’s what happens next that distinguishes the role of the institution in our collective cultural heritage.

So when we add digitisation of collections into this mix, what happens? Is there where Galleries fall off the LAM? Surely not. A gallery can produce a digital collection based around certain exhibitions, themes or items in its collections just as easily as an Library, Archive or Museum. In each case, it is important to realise that the digital collection does not replace the physical collection. It becomes a new collection in and of itself. This is where concepts such as digital curation, preservation and archiving come into their own as the digital collection will have different imperatives and strategies in its formulating to a physical collection or exhibition. The various practices of digital collections across these institutions do in some sense level out the distinctions among them that characterised their traditional contexts. It does not, however, remove those distinctions completely. What digital technology does offer is the potential for GLAMs to collaborate across their differences in producing a different form of collection that can be searched and used online, providing greater (if different) kinds of access for participants to engage with it. Done well, this has the potential to create an addition to our heritage, collecting institutions that enriches our cultural life. So with this in mind, I think that the Galleries in GLAMs is vital.

Finally a beginning….

Yes I am still enrolled in the minor research project. Yes, I have begun doing some reading on my GLAMS topic. So far I have done enough background reading to get an idea of the main ideas and themes in and around GLAMS (or LAMS as it seems to be called in much of the literature).
Here’s what I’ve discovered in terms of potential points that could be developed into a research project:
1. There is a lot of commentary, research, analysis around the need for a specific LAMs/GLAMs curriculum in higher education of information professionals. The most important point that seems to come through here is that while the convergence of Libraries, Archives and Museums is vital in the digital world of WEb 2.0 there must also be a way of maintaining the distinctive qualities of these institutions.

2. There is also writing on cultural policies (national, international, cross-institutional) regarding the possibilities for LAM institutions into the future. This is particularly interesting at the moment with regard to the Australian government’s production of a cultural policy…something that is currently in process. Feeding into this is the need to understand government resourcing of these institutions, particularly with the move to digital access. How is this to be funded? What importance is placed on it by the government and by the institutions themselves?

3. There is writing on the technical issues that spring up when LAM institutions start to collaborate. Lots of issues around metadata and information systems. While this is clearly vitally important it is WAY outside of the scope of a 12 credit pt unit for me as I am a technical dunce in this regard.

4. Any research project on LAMs needs to set itself against the contemporary background/contextual issues of Web 2.0 – for it is this that enables the possibilities of LAMs (GLAMs) as a disciplinary area.

5. The question of “collaboration” as a concept – theoretical and practical – pops up all over the place. Some writers are developing theories of collaboration. This is interesting too but I don’t know if it is a complete research project in itself.

6. A number of bits and pieces I have read highlight the need for clarity around the various concepts – like digital archiving vs digital curation vs digital preservation etc. They emphasise the importance of not collapsing these concepts into each other. This relates back to the first point I have here.

At this stage I think I am going to focus on the cultural policy issue with a specific focus on Australia. More reading and planning to come over the next week.

Term 3 is looming……

It’s the first day of my shiny new wordpress blog. Trying to save a quarter is the progeny of two other blogs: trying to save a quarter which was started in blogger, and silence in the library which was my wordpress blog during this term’s study of Information Programs. The point of this blog is to track my journey through my library studies. It is to be a space for reflection and thinking and writing. Having finished term 2 I now embark on term 3 where I have enrolled in my minor research project. I am looking at GLAMS (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). I can’t wait to get started but before then I have other writing to tackle to do with my other research on television comedy. There is a deadline of late November for that so priorities, priorities. While I am not officially starting on the GLAMS topic I do plan to do some reading to get a handle on the area and try to refine a topic.

Technology, information, knowledge, power, people – Week 13

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

“I’ve just spent the morning creating a prezi for the unit I am coordinating next year. I used Jing Pro to turn it into a screencast and uploaded it to Youtube. I used the basic editing tools Youtube now offers to trim the start and finish and then emailed the link to my colleagues”.

Now, there’s a sentence that I could not have written at the start of this unit. Well, I guess I could have written it, but I wouldn’t have known what it meant and I would have been lying. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of those things.

On hearing that I was enrolled in Information Programs my QUT mentor told me she thought I’d really enjoy this subject. I don’t know about you but whenever anyone tells me I’m going to really enjoy something I become a little bit skeptical. Still, she didn’t elaborate, so I kept my mind prised open and jumped right in. Technology and I don’t really get along. In spite of the fact that I had been blogging for some time, as well as obsessively using Twitter, I was not confident with anything technical. Sure, I could format a Word document in a basic way, enter data into spreadsheets, and databases and make a powerpoint to go with a lecture, but that was about it really. The skills I have gained (while still in their early stages of growth) have astonished me. Equally astonishing was my enthusiasm to “play” with the new ideas and concepts of gathering and communication information that were available in the world of Web 2.0. The people I work with are probably heartily sick of me by now. Every week I’ve been regaling them with tales of bundlr, or storify, or screencasting. I’ve spent the last 13 weeks or so storing up little ideas of how I’m going to use all these things not just in future LIS activities, but in my teaching as well.

As an online, part time student the learning environment of this unit spared me much of the usual isolation experienced with distance education. The key concept of the Personal Learning Network made me feel part of a community. It wasn’t just any old community either. It was a supportive, encouraging and tolerant community and I feel privileged to have encountered and engaged with my fellow classmates on Twitter, on the unit site and through our blogs. Thanks for being so wonderful 🙂

Did I have a key takeaway or lightbulb moment? Have I learned anything about myself through engaging with the content of the unit. How can I possibly narrow those questions down to just one thing.
Participating in this unit reminded me that you get out of life what you put into it.
I’ve been reminded that there are many good and wise people in the world and I will always have something to learn from everyone I meet.
I’ve been reminded that collaboration can be a rewarding experience.
I’ve been reminded that there are still people out there who are passionate about their work and their life and the world around them.
I’ve been reminded that I have perfectionist “tendencies” that I need to continually work to curb or I will drive myself round the twist.
I’ve been reminded that flexibility and compromise are not signs of weakness and that they can help you reach your goals.
I’ve been reminded that it’s okay to ask “stupid” questions because you will probably get the answer you need and learn something in the process.
I’ve been reminded that inspiration could be waiting just around the corner so follow your instinct and your heart and go for it.

What I’m really trying to say here, is that for me Information Programs has not just been about gaining some new skills. If that’s all teaching does – teach some new skills – then it hasn’t fully succeeded. In my opinion the most effective learning occurs when I am prepared to consider new ideas, when I am prepared to change my mind, when my mind is opened to new ways of thinking about the world and my place in it. As a learning experience Information Programs has made me think carefully about my place in the world of Web 2.0. It has emphasised the need for me to shape my identity in the online world and it has highlighted that the way I engage with digital information, the way we all engage with information has changed and will continual to do so. As someone who is pursuing a place in the LIS profession, it is my responsibility to explore, consider, reflect, evaluate and ride the waves of that change and the changes to come. Technology and programs are tools. How we wield them is up to us. If we are to do our job effectively we must place the communication process as central to our use of technology, and remember that in the end, everything we do is about people. The connection between knowledge and power is seen daily, in events the world over. As professionals who will disseminate information that can become knowledge, it is vital to realise the potential ramifications of our future roles in terms of the power struggles in our culture, from the local to the global.

The games of life

You know the reason I didn’t choose this week as a designated activity was because way back in Week 1, gaming conjured up images of online role playing games of which I have no interest at all. If you had asked me was I interested in games, the answer would have been an emphatic NO! But the activity, commentary and discussion around INN333 this week has changed my mind. The concept of a game as a learning or information tool had never really entered my mind (DUH!). Little did I know, that my mildly obsessive personality was perfect for engaging with a week of playing a game. And it’s been fun too. Luckily I skipped delving into any of the “ville” Facebook games or else I might have a severe addiction by now. Still, if I look back over my life until there have been some gaming highlights. Card games of 500 with my grandfathers where they played to win despite the fact that my brother and I were still in primary school are an early memory. Then there was Trouble, Snakes and Ladders, Uno (which still marks all family gatherings and is HIGHLY competitive), the Mad Magazine board game (loved so much that recently my brother bought an old copy on ebay after my mother threw ours away when we left home), Boggle, Scrabble, Monopoly (of course), Trivial Pursuit (at which I am highly competitive), Pictionary (at which I am very bad – surprise!) and a recent love of Trivia nights. So, surprise surprise, I might classify myself as a gamer after all just not really a Web 2.0 gamer. Little did I realise that these games were teaching me things! I thought I was just having fun. Who knew that we could learn stuff and have fun at the same time! Not me 😉

But then, wait a minute….what’s that Wii doing in my lounge room? Surely, I haven’t bought a game-playing console? It seems I have. It’s teaching me that I’m quite lazy and that the Wii fit DVD will gather plenty of dust if left unused. And what about Angry Birds? That’s a game. What have learned from playing it on my phone or iPad? Well frustration mainly, and a realisation that I still have no idea about the laws of physics, motion, energy or how you break those big glass contraptions with the pigs in them.

So I do have a life that has been shaped by games and gaming after all. Thank you INN333 Week 12 and all your participants for raising my awareness of the game.