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A test for anyone who is about to speak in public is when the technology fails – do they know their stuff?

Themes trend, this week it is ‘curation’ which is why I drove 168 miles to a get–together of e–learning like minds in Bath.

Some contrast to the webinar I sat through the same morning and somewhat counter culture in the era of doing everything remotely. Social media far from killing off socialising, it encourages face–to–face social interaction.

It is one thing to read about curation, even to hear disjointed voices behind a presentation online or share thoughts in messages and quite another to follow a presentation face–to–face, to hear and see the discussion, to relate to the speaker and how they come over. Before, in breaks and afterwards the variety of thoughts, ideas and views is like tipping stuff into the compost bin of my brain – dribs and drabs work for me, even in a small group of people in preference sometimes to the sell–out and packed events hosted by other groups around the country.

A test for anyone who is about to speak is when the technology fails.

If they believe in their subject and know their stuff they are better off without a screen of text, diagrams or examples to play with on the Internet – they do that online. Without any hesitation both speakers presented ‘raw’ – reflecting on how well this works I wonder if a genre of presentations where speakers go without these visual props and prompts should be encouraged. What you are left with, and all you need, is someone who has some ideas, some experiences and suggestions and a passion for what they do.

Writers, thinkers and bloggers are constantly taking common terms, the meanings of which we feel we understand, and giving them fresh, broader or nuanced meanings.

My understanding of curation is embedded in museums – I overheard the curator of the current superhuman exhibition at the Wellcome Foundation Museum being interviewed by Aleks Krotovski on Tuesday. When I took a picture using my iPad I was approached and politely told that the ‘curator’ asked that people did not take pictures – curator as stage manager and executive producer of a collection of themed objects. The term ‘object’ itself embracing stills, artefacts, video clips and activities. You curate stuff in a space and set parameters so that an audience of visitors can get their head around what, in effect, has come the curator’s mind.

In the bizarre ways that these things happen I recall, age six at most, creating a fossil museum with ammonites found in the low rocky cliffs of Beadnell, Northumberland.

I was a curator, I brought together a themed collection of rocks, set them out in a room and invited people in – no doubt in the back of my mind imagining the glass cabinets and displays in the Hancock Museum, Newcastle.

Neil McGregor of the British Museum with his 100 objects is a curator.

And we now have, from the Quite Interesting team the radio show ‘The Museum of the curious’ and its host Jimmy Carr.

 ‘Curation’ for me already means many things.

I search that externalised part of my own mind, an extensive blog 13 years in the writing, for what I’ve said or StumbleUpon before regarding ‘curation’ and find three entries, one prompted by my intention to attend this session and feeding off a visit to the De le Warr and the other two excerpts from Martin Weller‘s book ‘The Digital Scholar’.

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