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Fig. 1. A moment to reflect
This by the by was the title of a TV screenplay I submitted to the BBC – rejected otherwise you might have seen it on the box by now and I wouldn’t be sitting here.
As the round up to my final, final MA ODE module H818: The Networked Practitioner it is suggested that we prepare a timeline drawing on possible blog entries, as well as ‘appearances’ in the OpenStudio platform we’ve been using.
I’ve posted some 80 times since H818 began. I’ve posted some, I don’t know, 1000 times here since February 2010?
The surprise is to find a dozen references to H818 from 2012 and when contemplating how I got to the ideas that I delivered for H818 where these may have emerged from. This in turn takes me as far back as a visit to the Science Museum in 2010. Then all manner of things, from the launch of Martin Weller’s book ‘The Digital Scholar’ and attending seminars in Bristol on ‘curation’ and earliest indicators that I may take an MA in First World War studies having tried to write on the subject for … well, 22 years ago another failed TV play optioned by Tyne Tees Television called ‘That’s Nothing Compared to Passchendaele’ – which is what my late grandfather said to me while we watched the local news featuring a private in the Durham Light Infantry out in Saudi Arabia. He was 96 in 1992 and had joined the DLI in his teens in late 1915.
And all of this for my very, very, very last EMA ever.
And what did I just jot down
‘Word counts in an EMA are anathema to the culture of open education’
My first draft, I haven’t ever dared look, will run to anything between 6,000 and 12,000 words.
Talking of writing … never one to say never, I have committed to a week long ‘retreat’ with a dear friend and writing tutor. My goal is to work on … ‘The Angel of the North’ a story set in the era of the First World War about a woman who flies over the Western Front.
(Actually, I’ve just thought of that. She does fly with an RFC pilot/instructor … and in the final pages is about to set off to attempt to fly the Atlantic for the first time in the wrong direction. She does, as a couple of women did, impersonate a soldier to get herself into the Front Line …)
Oh boy. And I thought I was done with writing. Thought that getting 5,000 words finished was a challenge. It is, but the OU provides the parameters and schedules, the kick up the arse and the carrot that no other kind of writing has yet provided. Except for once.
Meanwhile I must get the kids to school, must walk the dog and must prepare for an online conference I madly volunteered to do a few weeks ago as if I didn’t have enough on … which will include sitting with a veteran of the Second World War this weekend, he was in the Polish Resistance during the Warsaw Uprising. I have a Sony Flip camera and digital sound recorder in my pocket determined to interview him as I did my grandfather …
Onwards to … more of the same I should think
p.s. yes, it is my ‘brian’ – the idea of the brain is so ridiculous.
Fig.1. Bristol Fighter at the Imperial Museum
When I took a picture using my iPad a member of the museum staff politely told me that ‘the curator asked that people did not take pictures’ (and that the curator was in part to blame as he hadn’t wanted the signage saying ‘don’t take pictures’ too prominent) – 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.
Ian McGreggor of the British Museum with his History of the World in 100 objects is a curator – far more so than an amateur’s eclectic collection of e–stuff. Or am I being a 20th century snob? Craving for academic elitism that is fast vanishing down the plug–hole as the digtal ocean and equally digital–cloud washes and blows over everything? I search that externalised part of my own mind, an extensive blog 13 years in the writing, for what I’ve said or stumbled upon before regarding ‘curation’ and find three entries, one prompted by my intention to attend this session in Bath and feeding off a visit to the De le Warr, Bexhill and the rest from Martin Weller’s book ‘The Digital Scholar’ in which he lists curation as something universities will need to do. On Chapter 12 he has this list on publishing as:
- Accepted practice
- Academic respectability
- Reward and tenure
I wonder if this following quote gives a sense of Martin Weller‘s comprehension of the term ‘curation’ as used in a Web 2.0 context:
‘If Boyer’s four main scholarly functions were research, application, integration and teaching, then I would propose that those of the digital scholar are engagement, experimentation, reflection and sharing’. Weller (2011).
On a quest to become ‘digital scholars’ or ‘thought leaders’ we should, to change one word –engage, experiment, reflect and curate’? The word, used in this, come to think of it, ought also to include ‘moderate’, even to ‘chair’ or ‘host’.
In 2002 Gilly Salmon, then a lecturer at the Open University Business School, tried to coin the terms e–tivity and e–moderator.
Perhaps then, as these things go, the digital community have not picked up on these terms – instead they have hijacked ‘curation’. We are going through a rich phase of redefining and inventing words and understandably they result in carnage and debate. Academics are guilty I feel of sometimes wanting to be the first to coin a word or use a new phrase or word in a new way because citation will mean that they are then quoted for every more. This happens in academic publishing and study, unfortunately ‘curation’ can leave you wondering about the source. Is ‘jumbling together’ the content of others from multiple sources even more questionable than turning to self–monitored wikis such as wikipedia?
Weller also says:
‘If the intention is to encourage engagement then low-quality routes may be more fruitful than seeking to produce professional broadcast material’. Weller (2011) and ‘Low quality individual items because of their obvious ease of production, can be seen as an invitation to participate’. Weller (2011)
Is curation a dirty word? Is curated content reliable? What does it mean in the corporate world?
Krotovski, A (2012) The Digital Human. BBC Radio 4 (last accessed 22 October 2012)
McGreggor, I (2011) The History of the World in 100 Objects –http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/about/british-museum-objects/ + Neil McGreggor
Salmon, G. (2002). E-tivities: the key to active only learning. Sterling, VA : Stylus Publishing Inc. ISSN 0 7494 3686 7
Salmon, G (2002) e-moderation
Stodd, J (2012) https://julianstodd.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/creating-and-sustaining-high-performance-learning-cultures/
Sullivan, A (2000-2012) The Daily Beast
Weller, M (2011) The Digital Human. More from Martin Weller in his blog: http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/Wijekumar, K. J., Meyer, B. J. F., Wagoner, D., & Ferguson, L. (2006). Technology affordances: The “real story” in research with K-12 and undergraduate learners. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37(2), 191-209.
Fig.1. Apples from the Barton Orchard
First of all understand the derivation of curation from the Italian and pick not ‘caring’ for, as in caring in the medical sense for a person, but ‘curato’ – the cared for. Curation used to require a critical process – a curator in the critical sense, would decide at an intellectual level what a theme or a journey should be. Curation is also a process, a collection of choices and acts.
How does curation of art, or of artefacts in a museum compare to the way we have hijacked the term to describe what is done online where someone (are they ever a team?) make choices regarding the aggregation of content on a theme, with an audience or users in mind. At what point does this curation become marketing, or editing or re-blogging rather than this intellectual act where the value you add are the choices you make about what to put in and what to leave out?
And surely curation is diluted even further if a clever piece of software, because of feeds you suggest, words you put in or boxes you tick comes up with the content for you?
Wikipedia Definition : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curator
Digital Curation : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_curation
This is what curation means to me – a team working collaboratively to meet a brief – here to interpret ‘digital memory’ with sponsorship and a bag of crystals from Swarovski.
Ironically the curator for this gallery achieves what auto-curation tools can never do online – collaborate. While it is likely that it is the curated content online that is forvever changing while the stuff in the gallery is fixed.
Fig.3. Or does memory look like this? Unfamiliar Mass by Hye-Yeon Park
Fig.4. Or this? Hardcoded Memory by Troika
Fig.5. Or even this? Thought Cloud by Marten Baas
Collector is another word for it – weren’t the first ‘collections’ just that? Indulgent, expensive and showing off. And were they a curator or collector if they hoarded animal heads, bird’s eggs or insects? In fact, des the curation start the day a professional steps in and to warrant sponsorship or a grant to put someof this stuff on display?
Where does curation sit in all of this?
Whilst blogging implies creating content or self-publishing, curation is aggregating content by one person for others – going out with a broom to sweep autumn leaves into a pile then picking out the russet red ones. It isn’t publishing either, these leaves are literally individual pages, not entire books, and they are, in the parlance ‘bite–sized’ pieces of information.
At what point does it cease to be curation?
The London Underground Lost Property Office is not a curated space – this stuff has been pushed into the space, not pulled. Push or pull are key words when it comes to curation, especially where the curation is prompted by the desire to respond to a problem – such as engaging people to take responsibility for their own learning by providing them with a space with blurred boundaries that will contain, more often than not, objects that satisfy and pique their cursory in order that they then go on to construct their own understanding.
As the Radio ‘The Museum of Curiosity’ indicates we can curate some mighty odd things
Online, comments left by people become objects in this curated space – these are ‘items’. They have a permanence, not only that, whether or not attributed, they can be shared, duplicated and reversioned. Whilst you curate them in spaces you control, what happens once the item has been shared on? It may no longer be in such an attractive space at all?