Art, writing and big issues

Update, 23 Nov: Copenhagen Museum hosted a panel debate on architecture, art and urban nature yesterday, no coverage traced. Speakers included Camilla Berner of the Oversete Nyheder installation at Kongens Nytorv, a simple idea which may/not have been effective in situ. The summer’s growth was cleared at the beginning of September – and it’s good to know that the square will one day be restored to its previous state. But when? I can barely remember it as a funtioning square without a fence.

On Sunday some blocks of Greenlandic ice were dumped on Rådhuspladsen by go-to artist Olafur Eliasson (see comments, Classic Copenhagen), Klimakunst sees five artists installed in Østerbro’s Klimakvarter during October, while the Free Word Centre’s Weather Stations project is developing a literary response to climate change. I tend to the sceptic, like group working it’s one of those things where the intention seems more effective than the execution, although there’s money in it, folkens…

Two recent events explored the theme. 23 October saw Pynt eller politik: kan kunst og arkitektur fremme den grønne omstilling? (Storify | YouTube). Watching the stream the debate on engagement stuck out, with participants highlighting the need for new forms of communication, perhaps reducing the dystopian angle on climate change in favour of something more positive. More idealistic was a call for more of the aesthetic, which in turn would emphasise the ethical in society and education (this works better på dansk), more solutions and positive stories, less of the victim, endless facts and figures – current discourse is too functional and economically driven. What is needed is collective action rather than passive individuals, a lifestyle and value system change away from consumption. After that the second debate, on investment, touching on the ethics of nudging, seemed old fashioned.

Kudos for the streaming and a decent Storify, but maybe the event could have tried out something a bit more innovative than people giving presos. And just wondering, are Danes really bæredygtige or bare dygtige? (Broadly, good at sustainable lifestyles or good at doing what they are told…we create society or vice versa.) I don’t have a problem finally! sorting my household waste, but I don’t really feel it’s going to make a huge difference towards CPH’s climate goals, which don’t inspire, but rather feel childishly idealistic.

28-29 October saw Environmental entanglements: art, technology and natures (spot the Rennie Mackintosh font), organised by ITU’s Energy Futures squad (new on on Twitter; my bolding below):

This symposium brings together an interdisciplinary group of internationally acclaimed artists and academics in order to investigate how the arts, humanities and social sciences are responding to an increasing awareness of the complex environmental entanglements we are living in. In four themed sessions, the speakers explore alternative imaginaries and creative materializations of environmental issues. The symposium aims to foster lively cross-disciplinary conversations about the role of arts and humanities in articulating the political, scientific, social and aesthetic implications of environmental change.

It is becoming clear that a major part of the environmental problems are caused by the way our (mostly western) infrastructures are designed and that the resistance to changing existing infrastructures are often related to aesthetic issues (eg NIMBYism) and to a lack of creativity when it comes to re-imagining the very nature of these infrastructures. Therefore a growing number of artists have taken up engineering and architectural challenges as they propose ideas for spectacular and functional infrastructural constructions. In this session we will discuss what it is artists and designers can do differential than engineers and architects when it comes to re-imagining environmental infrastructures.

From the programme the following were of interest:

Incidentally, once again this wasn’t as well done as one might expect – time to revitalise event amplification – and curation?

Which is where this sort of thing comes in.


Ebooks, tweeting about reading

Update: could do with updating this page, but for now here’s a link to PhDer Alastair Horne (@pressfuturist).

Digital literature offers new forms of interaction between author, work and reader:

Why ebooks:


How tos and tools:

Mainly in HE:

Free stuff:

Publishing platforms:

A post on ebook platform accessibility addresses the what is an ebook? issue.



Singles/longreads are a thing:

I have no luddite prejudice against new technology; it’s just that books look as if they contain knowledge, while e-readers look as if they contain information.

Julian Barnes, quoted by @currybet.

Anouk Lang in reading as/and performance on the micro-narratives of reading:

  • what role does Twitter play in the reading lives of individuals?
  • a presentation of self, esp in relation to books which already have high cultural value, eg via prizes, book clubs
  • in tandem with one’s reading habits as a platform to broadcast one’s own sophistication:
  • for quoting favourite excerpts
  • critical pronouncements, negative reactions providing insights into the background knowledge and expectations with which readers approach a book, using the vocabulary of creative writing classes
  • desire for discussion with others to help with one’s own processing of a book (familiar to those who study reading in offline spaces)
  • articulations of pleasure, some of which give insight into the location of reading and the immersive power of a narrative
  • (comment):  showing an unfolding relationship with the book that is not part of typical literary analysis or even less formal reviewing. It’s more viewing than re-viewing!

See also her burst analysis on #canadareads, and #1b1t: Investigating reading practices at the turn of the 21st century.

Social reading:

Two summer MOOCs

Update: see below for details of my progress on these!

Over what passes for summer I’m dipping into a number of MOOCs and summer schools. CPD for the over-educated again – it’s partly about exploring new things and partly about monitoring the evolution of MOOCery. Here’s a look at two MOOCs.

Writing MOOC

From Michigan State, Thinking like a writer (on Canvas) is using an activity based pedagogy, on the basis that no one ever learned how to write from listening to lectures. Someone asked where the videos were, so they’ve done a short podcast to explain. Update: see (or rather hear) the weekly podcasts, which give feedback on the previous week – a nice idea, but needs a slow down button…

The MOOC is not about information delivery or consumption, which is “easy to scale”, but makes use of experiential learning techniques to facilitate writing via a sequence of activities from invention/prewriting (generating ideas) through revision via language and culture activities (a community activity).

It’s all fiendishly complicated – the syllabus seems (ironically) overwritten, while up front they seem to require usage of Facebook, Twitter (see @MSUWritingMOOC and #writingmooc), Canvas forums and Eli (peer review application), all for eight hours effort per week. Too much! The peer review thing could be interesting, but it’s too formal. I’m trying to get more creative, and I can feel any juices being sucked out already.

326 people have added themselves to the Pinmap, with a handful in Europe. Maps seem to be the in thing, but I’d still like a decent directory (1915 registered, a-z only). Pretty early on people said they would rather participate on the Canvas forums than bog standard socme, which is apparently OK, but then there’s the usual n million posts issue. Interestingly, there’s a Rebelmouse page to amalgamate the lot(?).

The eight week course is structured round four episodes, with the first activity centred round stories of learning, ie how you learned something you are good at, presented as a timeline. Too tricksy. But I’ll check in on episode 2 next week.

18 July: episode 2 moves from reflective to narrative, from the individual to the community with stories of language and culture, ie  the ways you adapt your language for different communities. Bit basic.

29 July: episode 3 moves from narrative to reporting, a commonplace form of functional (!) writing made of acts such as evidence, status updates…made up of three rhetorical moves:

  • summary – capturing the substance of another’s work
  • analysis – synthesising ideas in order to clarify, expand or assess them in original ways
  • argument – proving a specific position by means of evidence found in or generated by the source text

Not easy as needs to be selective (curators take note) to reflect occasion, audience. Participants will be reporting on essays submitted in week 1 – neat! The best essays had a ‘concrete’ part followed by reflection, which is where the learning occurred. The learning process needs to be made visible to be reused. Interesting stuff.

22 August: not sure what happened to epi 4…anyway, the team are “paying attention” to the MOOC until the end of August, although it formally closes tomorrow. Completion certificates will be emailed, final survey underway.

In the final podcast the team noted that they had learned lots about teaching writing to the world – certainly from the start the whole thing seemed overwhelmingly US centric.

New Librarianship MOOC

From the School of Information Studies at Syracuse, the New Librarianship Master Class (sic; on CourseSites) is centred round the Atlas of new librarianship (and accompanying blog), offering “a new perspective on the field of librarianship”.

There’s a class roster (no map) which shows 1500+ students in. a. flat. list. This one will take 5-10 hours per week, with all comms to remain internal to the class. Gosh. On the other hand they do encourage ‘hacking the course’ and there’s ample Twitter action at #newlib. If you are doing the course for graduate credit a blog is required, but none sighted as yet. Very excited that forum posts can be sorted (chron/reverse chron), plus someone’s done a Flipboard magazine.

Each week focuses around a topic in librarianship, with materials and content  (readings from the book which you seem to have to buy, video lectures and module tests) released every MondayI’ve watched the intro vids, and it’s quite interesting if a bit American. New librarianship is “all about facilitating knowledge creation through conversations”, all very connectivist. Is social (and) learning really the only world view available?

Turns out that new librarianship has been expertly critiqued by @librarianwilk, who also posts some open questions for the MOOC – deep waters and definitely a deep time sink, but it will be interesting to follow up on the DIKW side, which hasn’t been explicitly mentioned as yet is swatted neatly away.

Week 1 is about librarians and eek! their world view, with modules on the mission of a librarian and how this influences their world view, how librarians approach knowledge and how it is acquired, and the functions librarians serve within communities.

I trained as a librarian, and feel this has affected me both personally and professionally – stifling my youthful creativity and giving me an over-service oriented approach to work (on the other hand, unlike “guess what I’m thinking” teachers, librarians let people work things out for themselves). In short. I don’t identify as a librarian, if I ever did, but I can imagine getting more involved in this MOOC. Stand by…

Update (later): scampered through a couple more lectures, all very sage on the stagey…my first reaction is that information/knowledge management theory (IKM) has much to offer here without the same level of over-thinking. The focus on libship inevitably means it’s a short hop to libraries and a focus on bricks and mortar and other ‘artefacts’, while IKM has moved beyond that and  is perhaps more at home exploring broader issues.

IKM theory has come up on the boards, plus criticism of new libship’s reliance on conversation theory. Love the bit about libraries needing to be quiet to allow users (bet we shouldn’t call them that) to have internal conversations with themselves. Anyway, I’m trying not to spend too much time over-theorising and will see what we can take from the conversation – love this tweet…

18 July:  the amount of material on this one is daunting – lengthy videos, a chapter of the book plus a long list of supplementary pages to read – don’t think so. Very librariany approach : P Still thinking about doing some analysis of the hashtag (see David Lankes’ Storify) though.

15 August: OK so #newlib wasn’t for me. Today received a wrap-up mail from David Lankes: “The course had 2,196 students that spent 9,015 hours in the course (averaging about 4 1/2 hours per student).  The course also spawned numerous blog posts and a lively Twitter stream”. Participants have until 4 September to finish the course for Continuing Education Units and a Certificate of Completion, and the course content and discussions will remain available indefinitely.