All Things Good and Strange

I love TV, and I don’t think I watch enough of it.

I’d watch more but it’s so slow*.  You can spend weeks of your life trying to hammer through season after season of just one show.  In Douglas Coupland’s 1993 novel Microserfs, characters “blitz” movies by watching videos on fast-forward with subtitles switched on.** My friend Katie, equally impatient, listens to audiobooks on chipmunk speed, but I don’t think I could sustain either approach for a full season of TV.

I watch television to get ideas for work. TV shows and community experiences like the ones I design have a lot in common. You need a central conceit which draws people in, and on which you can hang a series of recurring episodes. Action-adventure, problem solving, and play are closely entwined. This year’s non-speaking, musical keynote was inspired by dialogue-free sequences in the TV show Legion.

The teams I work with are pretty explicit about this link between TV and the events we run. The working title for Ann Arbor’s Wondrous Strange event was ‘Weirder Things’.

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Stranger Things is a difficult one for me because I’m not super into it, and that makes me feel bad. It’s so popular, I feel like I’m missing something. Like I’m out of touch. It’s doubly bad because I grew up immersed in – and totally in love with – the late 80s/early 90s world of Stephen King novels and pirate horror movies on VHS.

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Library Island hits #nls8

My professional development roleplay Library Island visited the New Librarians Symposium at the National Library of Australia last weekend.

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Librarians old and new joined forces to explore their work with communities in new, messy, and productive ways.

Going beyond the vogue for design thinking, the safe, fictional space of “Library Island” allowed us to engage with knotty questions of office politics, limited resources, managerial edicts, and library users who are sometimes airbrushed out of “future visions” – such as homeless people or those whose behaviour might be challenging to staff. Read more

Key 23 and the Nth Degree, part III: Your words in the real world

This is the third part of a blog series giving a personal take on librarianship, archives, and the powers of words. Start here for the first post in the series.

Key 23 is something I only discovered because, working in Auckland for six months, I am using a public library like a regular reader for once – borrowing books simply because they interest or excite me.

A lot of the books I’m borrowing are comics – I love the economy of storytelling and really believe, as I was telling the State Library of New South Wales last year, that this medium might hold the future of space, word, and image. Among the comics I’ve been reading is Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, which chronicles the adventures of a secret society battling extradimensional forces in the run up to the year 2000.

In The Invisibles, there’s a drug called Key 23 which makes the user experience whatever they read as real. It’s a lovely conceit, which Morrison also flips by adding the notion of a ‘fiction suit’ which (I may have got this wrong…) allows characters to travel through the world of discourse.

Panel from Grant Morrison, The Invisibles
Dream, reality, self and other are breaking down in Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles

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