INN530 – Reflection on learning

Look! I get to write a reflection after all. Thanks Kate.

The question is “What are the most important, biggest, interesting or surprising learning you will take away from this subject?”

The most important aspect of INN530 for me was that I discovered I was capable of understanding basic html. Before this course html was something that I was a little bit frightened of. It looked very complicated and I was in awe of anyone who could “code”. Thanks to Kate’s endlessly patient tutorials and the resources on W3C I have now started on a journey into the world of html and I am enthusiastic to learn more.

The most interesting aspect of INN530 for was/is the concept of accessibility. That’s why I’m doing my second assignment on this topic. Prior to this course I was totally clueless as to accessibility guidelines and standards. It’s become a journey of discovery and one that I feel I could become quite passionate about from an equity standpoint.

I guess these two things also fit into the categories of big and surprising as well. As always, INN530 reminded me that all learning experiences are filled with unexpected lessons. And once again, as has happened all the way through this M.IT, I have found connections between the course and my “real life”.

Thanks everyone. It’s been a great term.

NLS6 and Pinspiration

I was lucky enough to be awarded a bursary from the ALIA NGAC for travel and accommodation to attend NLS6 in Brisbane in early February. My entry was a Pinterest board which you can see here.

Wendy’s NLS6 Pinterest board

I also wrote two reflective blog posts on the NLS6 website about my expectation and experience of the conference.

Before NLS6

After NLS6

Term 3 zipped by…now for Term 1

It’s really difficult to believe it’s two years since I began my LIS studies. A lot has happened in that time. While I am not moving through the course as quickly as I would like to I have had to come to the conclusion that slow and steady wins the race. I am very tempted to take two courses this term, but after last year’s (successful) attempt at two courses in Term 1 combined with full time work and other music and community commitments I am a little hesitant. I have to get stuck into my Musical Bundaberg project properly so that will be like a subject in itself. I am also enrolled in Online Information Services which I am looking forward to tremendously. But then, who knows, over the weekend I might make the snap decision to add Information Literacy. Unlikely, but possible.

Term 2 starts on Monday

It has been lovely having a break from study but there are only so many old episodes of The West Wing and Seinfeld that I can draw on to fill in my spare time. I’m looking forward to Term 2 starting on Monday. This term I am taking one subject, Information Organisation. While I managed the two subjects in Term 1 and also managed to do well in both of them, adding them to my job and my piano teaching and my life in general wasn’t the most sensible time management decision I have ever made.

During the break I attended the RAILS8 conference at UniSA on June 25. I was a little bit apprehensive about the whole thing for a few reasons. The main one was that it has been some time since I presented a “proper” conference paper. When I say “some time” I’m talking years, not months. This is why it was great to have the excellent support of my project supervisor, Katherine Howard during the lead up to the conference and at the presentation. And in the end I quite enjoyed myself. It was also inspiring to see and hear some of the work in all sorts of areas that is being done in Australia and beyond. It made me very keen to go to more conferences. This can be difficult to achieve living, as I do, in the “sticks” but I am determined. While it looks like I won’t make it to ICA in Brisbane in August, I think I will start planning now for the February double of Information Online and NLS6 in Brisbane in 2013.

in which our heroine uses QR codes at QAG

Yes that’s correct. I am a social media, Web 2.0 failure. For until Sunday morning I had not been at all bothered with QR codes. I didn’t choose that weekly activity last year during Information Programs. And I am the kind of person who keeps forgetting what the Q and R actually stand for. I think the little squares are aesthetically interesting. I have a smart phone. What was holding me back from jumping on the QR code bandwagon? Well, they seemed like a bit of a gimmick, an extra, superfluous to my information needs. Of course, that was my untried and untested opinion.

So on Sunday morning when I popped along to the Modern Woman exhibit at the Queensland Art Gallery I decided I should make a slightly more informed opinion about the codes and actually try them. Verdict?

Well it was simple enough to download the QAG app and reader after my snap decision once I was actually in the exhibition. And the technology worked beautifully. It was probably a pity that I didn’t have headphones with me though because I had to hold my phone up to my hear so I didn’t disturb the other visitors to the exhibition. That meant while I could hear the little talk that added to my knowledge of the art, I missed seeing the extra images (given that the phone was stuck to my ear). I also found that by the time I had scanned the code and started listening I had actually already seen enough of its accompanying artwork and was ready to keep moving around the exhibition. I felt that I had to stand there though until I finished listening to the extra bits before moving on or my experience of the exhibition would have been “out of synch”. This disrupted the flow of my experience of the exhibition to some degree. I don’t know that I will bother with them again in a gallery setting.

Do I need to try QR codes again in a different setting? Yes I probably do. Am I going to put that at the top of my list of things to do? Probably not. I might save that up for a rainy day.

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.

Silence in the library

Things have been a little quiet on the trying to save a quarter front. For anyone who has been glued to their computer screen waiting for a new post I apologise for my slackness. In case you were wondering I made it through the end of term 1 with a Distinction overall for Information Retrieval. Phew! I thought that I would never finish that report. And now, I am about to begin week 2 of Term 2. The subject this term is Information Programs. I am very excited about its social media/technology focus. While I love my twitter and my blogs, there is a lot about technology that I don’t understand so I am looking forward to the challenge. The first one has been setting up a blog for the subject where I will complete activities. As a fairly content blogger user, using wordpress for the first time has been an interesting experience. I can see it has a lot more to offer in terms of functions and I have been a little bit brave a few times in order to find what I am looking for. Sadly, I have come with a very ordinary name for that blog…. “adding to my collection of blogs”. Clearly, I was all out of inspiration. I may rip off the Doctor Who library episode yet. In fact! I think I will!

an auspicious Sunday afternoon

Well it certainly is an auspicious Sunday afternoon. I have just submitted my final report for INN332, Information Retrieval. I was very fortunate to be granted an extension over the long weekend because there was no way in the world I would have completed it by last Thursday. I know now a lot more about piracy in the music industry as well as the challenges involved in finding quality information about that same topic using online resources. I think for my first subject it will be okay but over the course of the term I have realised just how much I don’t know about library and information science. I have also realised just what it is like to be a distance education student in this brave new world of learning management systems. On the one hand there is so much more available for students studying by distance education than there was in 1996/97 when I last studied externally. On the other hand the reliance on information technology systems can be a real pain in the rear especially when things don’t work. I never had that problem with a paper based study guide. So you know, that’s how things go. I have one more task to do before I finish the term and that is to release my e-portfolio. If you don’t what that is, I am only very slightly ahead of you. I will explore this tomorrow as it’s been about 6 weeks since I even touched it and I really can’t remember how it is all supposed to work. Then I am done done done until next term when I undertake something called Information Programs. Perhaps I should read the course profile to see what that is about. But not today.