21 December 2011

Another new/old bike

Latest addition. It’s a 26 year old Hillman road bike with Reynolds 531 tubes rebuilt as a single speed at Deus Cycleworks. It was my first race bike.

It is kinda an eclectic mix. The big White Industries hubs provide a lot of bling, so it isn’t all black. And they nicely match the breaking surface of the Mavic rims. I am struggling up steep hills in Sydney from a standing start, so either they have too big a gear on it or I’ve been spoilt recently by all the gears on my Bianchi & Pinarello road bikes. If I get the old Allsopp fixed I’ll almost have a different bike to ride every day of the working week. It has a gold chain because they didn’t have a decent black chain in stock. Looks OK. And it still seems like a nice fit to ride.

I just have to ride with a pump, even if it is only a few km. All those years on long rides I guess. Not that I can remember them at all really. Must have been someone else …

15 December 2011

FasterChef DEUX

I am indeed fortunate to work with a number of creative geniuses: David Litting, Jemima McDonald (who needs to go back to cinematography school), Carl Hoschke, Belinda Tiffen and Patrick Tooth.
You need to watch all the way until the end to fully enjoy David's excellent sub-titles.

14 October 2011

More images from Ironman Hawaii

These are all from the marathon run.  I still have more to add from the closing stages of the run.

03 October 2011

Dangerous ideas for libraries

Dangerous ideas for libraries: ASLA 2011
View more documents from Mal Booth

This is the keynote presentation I gave to the ASLA 2011 Conference: http://www.asla.org.au/pd/conference/ 

I had a couple of good questions that went much further than the content of this presentation, perhaps into areas that I've covered in other recent presentations (also on SlideShare). One question, however, was on how we are going to manage all of the changes indicated in this presentation. I don't think I answered that one comprehensively.  I said that for some of the new initiatives such as developing a new range of services that will be more appropriate to the role of a new Library within a world-leading university of technology (UTS's aspiration), we are already engaged in active learning programs to improve our understanding of Design Thinking processes as they apply to service design.

What I should have added, however, is that I don't think there is anything in this presentation that presents a major change for us beyond the development of a new range of services. At UTS Library we are already actively exploring or already doing most of the "dangerous ideas" covered here. So none of this really presents a major change in direction for us.

28 September 2011

Macquarie University Library

I toured the new Macquarie University Library in mid-September 2011 finding it bright, porous, welcoming, comfortable looking, spacious and not over-signed. It is already proving to be very popular with the students. I really liked the new areas devoted to post-graduates and higher degree researchers. Many of the internal design features look to be very clever and effective.

The Grove Library, WA


I visited this Library in mid-September 2011 and was really impressed with the design, sustainability features and the people who work there. It is popular, efficient and a great addition to the community.
I am very grateful to those who arranged this visit for me and those who spent some of their time showing me around.

31 August 2011

BikeTank and service design

As BikeTank approaches its third week I am really impressed with the energy and participation it enjoys as people come together at u.lab to try to encourage the use of bikes, plan better infrastructure and take shared action in ensuring a sustainable future for Sydney city.
Here are some images that hopefully tell some more of the story, i.e. what, where, who, how, when:

So apart from my personal interest in the outcomes from all of this why am I going?
There are several reasons:
  • I think it is a great initiative by several academics from across a number of faculties within UTS and I think we in UTS Library should be supportive of such steps. (Yes, that is a big hint for some of you reading this.)
  • I'd like to learn more about the whole Design Thinking process by seeing it in action. I reckon that most adults learn more about a process by being immersed in it than attending a seminar or workshop.
  • BikeTank is also about Social Innovation and a sustainable future. Those two concepts are critical to our future at UTS Library as we plan a future Library at the heart of our city campus. As well as implementing new technologies including ASRS, RFID and vastly improved online discovery (not just search but true discovery!) and building a grand new modern library that isn't primarily a book storage facility, we need to evolve as an organisation and imagine and develop a new service model. I reckon that we'd be pretty well served by a similarly inclusive and collaborative process. So here is my vision for that:

Service (re)design at UTS Library

17 August 2011

Blood Wedding

I saw Blood Wedding last night at Sydney Theatre Co.

It is a credit to Director Iain Sinclair and the cast. The staging of the final act is a superb demonstration of the power that theatre has to being the written word to life. The set design by Rufus Didwiszus just has to be seen. I was amazed. See it before it closes on 11 September.

The mad square: modernity in German art 1910-1937

I saw this exhibition yesterday at the Art Gallery of NSW and was blown away. It is a wonderful example curatorial excellence (by Dr Jacqueline Strecker) at the highest level. The works illustrate a very creative and influential period of both art and design in Germany between two world wars. They are drawn from cultural institutions and collections across Europe, the US and Australia.

I don’t think such an exhibition could easily be mounted in Germany. It is so beautifully selected and the text is superb. I cannot write highly enough about this exhibition.

21 July 2011

Media scandals & responsibility

Hmmm, so if you’re CEO & Chairman of huge media corporation, nothing is your fault. Of course it isn’t. You’re not to blame. One wonders, however, how your many media outlets would report this situation if it wasn’t about their boss.
What matters in the end is how your share value recovers. As long as your testimony saves the value of your stock all is good. You are an example to us all.

30 June 2011

Farewell to Dr Alex Byrne (Part 2, the film)

This very clever animation was produced by Belinda Tiffen and Sharlene Scobie from UTS Library and it was the final item presented in the UTS farewell last night. It can also be found on the UTS Library YouTube Channel.

Farewell to Dr Alex Byrne (Part 1)

Photo credit: Dianne Garvan, UTS Library.

Last night UTS formally farewelled Alex Byrne as outgoing University Librarian. It was a wonderful function held in the University Chancellery with attendees including former Chancellor Sir Gerard Brennan, Emeritus Professor Brian Low, former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) Robyn Kemmis, Alex's partner Sue Hearn and daughter Kate Byrne.

The function was hosted by Professor Shirley Alexander, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Teaching, Learning & Equity) and Vice President and speeches thanking Alex for his contribution to UTS were delivered by Professor Ross Milbourne, Vice-Chancellor and President of UTS and Professor Jill McKeogh, Dean of the Law Faculty. Professor Theo Van Leeuwen, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences sang an Adieu for Alex to the tune of My Favorite Things.

Given Alex's long and strong commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture it was fitting that the evening was kicked off with an acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land on which the UTS campus sits by Joan Tranter (Equity and Diversity Coordinator & Manager: Indigenous/Cultural Diversity at UTS).

I spoke on behalf of all staff of the Library and here it is, I think a fitting final post for #blogjune:

All of us in the UTS Library will miss Alex’s integrity, consultative leadership, forward thinking, his commitment to scholarship at UTS and his focus on excellence in library service.

His vision and leadership leaves behind a lasting legacy that has taken UTS Library from mediocrity to extraordinary. We are now recognised as a clear leader in service design, digital library services and e-Scholarship. His inspirational future vision will be realised by the new Library that is now being planned for the centre of the UTS campus, driven by new technologies that open up the library spaces for people and deliver fast and relevant services in both the physical and virtual worlds.

Beyond UTS, Alex is widely respected as one of the most accomplished senior librarians internationally and he has contributed much as both a Board Member and President of the International Federation of Library Associations. Alex has also had strategic leadership with a number of significant national projects such as his role in shaping the direction of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archive and earlier work on developing protocols for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library and Information Resource Network. He has also contributed substantially to the growth of cooperative/collaborative arrangements to share collections between different universities like Bonus+.

Alex is also recognised by those who have been fortunate enough to work closely with him as a man of multiple talents and wisdom in so many fields, from literature and the arts to politics, history and languages. He is into everything. He makes his own bookends and he is sketching and print-making at the moment. He meets up with someone he studied French with once a month to practice his French conversation skills. He made ‘from Russia with Love’ for our edible books day. He regularly attends plays, operas, and musical performances. He has friends from all walks of life from countries all around the world, including a best friend who is Polish. He is an intellectual who understands deep conversations about philosophy, politics, literature, religion, history, as well as someone you can sit down and have a beer with.

He is a particularly generous leader who genuinely trusts his staff and is not afraid of having some fun at work. He often told us to push our initiatives even further than we had suggested to him: he encouraged us to “push it over the edge”, unlocking our imagination and giving us the freedom to experiment and truly innovate.

His has been a very humane and consultative style of leadership and he is respected as a sound decision maker, but a fair, honest and open judge. Alex is passionately committed to equity, accessibility, fairness for all and an open form of management.

We will miss his intellect, wit and wisdom in so many fields but all of his colleagues in the Library wish him the very best as State Librarian for NSW.

23 June 2011

On Trust

Mal Booth
Image credit: Paul Hagon on Flickr

I meet with design thinkers, services designers and social innovators every week and we are starting to get them to help us prepare our library for its exciting future model. The model is fueled by the implementation of new technologies like ASRS and RFID, but we also realise that we need to change as an organisation and develop a new service model that fully realises the potential offered by these technologies. We are starting small and our first project to be facilitated by one of these designers (Grant Young from Zumio) will be an in house sustainability initiative. More on that when it gets going.

So Grant tweets the other day about a book he was given. Being the nosey parker that I am, I quickly looked it up on our catalogue and found that we had it here, so now I'm reading it too: Tim Brown's Change by Design. It is an easy read, using story-telling to get across the experience of some case studies, and a couple of things have struck me as particularly relevant so far. One was all about trust in a section of the first chapter called cultures of innovation. Here is the quote and now you'll see why I used the above image from a talk I did way back in 2009:
A culture that believes it is better to ask forgiveness afterward rather than permission before, that rewards people for success but gives them permission to fail, has removed one of the main obstacles to the formation of new ideas.
At UTS I've been lucky enough to work for Dr Alex Byrne for over two years now. That is exactly how he operates and I've enjoyed that culture and tried hard to encourage my unit to work together in the same manner. If you work somewhere that doesn't even allow you to speak up before checking with your boss first or if that is how you manage your own organisation, then something is seriously wrong with that picture.

20 June 2011

Loon Lake

Another surprise on Saturday night was the support act to Red Riders: Loon Lake. These guys are unreal. They had us from their first song. Three of them are brothers and they obviously really enjoy playing together. They're fantastic!
I downloaded their new EP Not Just Friends from iTunes Store almost as soon as I got home. It features their single In the Summer that is getting some airplay on Triple J now.

19 June 2011

The Middle East & Red Riders

I had a big weekend of music. It started with The Middle East at the Metro on Friday night and finished with Red Riders' last ever concert at the Oxford Art Factory (video above of Ordinary from that performance) on Saturday night. Both events were fantastic and well worth the money.
The Middle East were a complete surprise. I know their music from their self-titled EP and the more recent album I Want That You Are Always Happy, but in concert I think their music is much deeper, heavier and it has so much more energy. They really seem to enjoy playing and performing and right from the first note it was clear that they had a really big sound and stage presence. As with their album there was heaps of variety in the playing with most band members playing several instruments as they wandered through their amazing repertoire. To me it seemed that they had a long background in live performance and after having seen them now it seems their studio recordings, whilst beautiful, just don't capture the energy and richness they display on stage. They're brilliant.
Red Riders also really enjoyed playing their concert. They seemed to treat it all as a celebration of their musical history and they dropped a couple of hints that it isn't all completely over. They will probably do some individual work or reform in another combination. Guitarist Brad Heald is back with The Vines. I hope all that talent just isn't wasted.
I think I mostly enjoyed the music they played in the second half of this gig (from Drown in Colours) when Brad replaced Adrian Deutsch on stage. His guitar work on Tomorrow/Today and Ordinary is very special. Tomorrow/Today was probably my highlight from this performance. I'd rate Drown in Colours as one of the best albums I own. They are (or maybe were now) such an under-rated band.

17 June 2011

#blogjune Music Meme

1. The album/EP/single I'm currently addicted to:
Red Riders: Drown in Colour. I'm off to see their last ever concert at the Oxford Art Factory on Saturday night too!

2. The last live music concert I went to (date too please):
The Falling Joys at the OAF last Saturday night (10 June 2011).

3. The last album I bought (or downloaded):
The Naked & Famous: Passive Me, Aggressive You

4. The next album I want to buy:
Death Cab for Cutie: Codes and Keys. See video above.

5. The next live music concert I will be going to:
The Middle East at the Metro in Sydney tonight.

6. Most memorable live performance I've attended:
The Cure: Reflections at the Sydney Opera House.

7. I would most like to see live in concert:

16 June 2011

The top 15 reasons not to stop at a pedestrian crossing

Red projection, Circular Quay

(Completely unrelated image.)
“I saw a sad faced, slow moving elderly gentleman as he bounced off the bonnet of my car”.

1. You just don’t like to. (Fair enough really.)
2. You are too important to stop. (Of course you are.)
3. You are far to busy to stop. (Snap.)
4. You were smoking or drinking. (Quite right too.)
5. You were using your phone. (And that is O.K.)
6. This is a very busy road and people should cross elsewhere. (Why didn’t I think of that?)
7. You wear a dark suit (see #2 above).
8. You were simply following the car in front. (One must keep that traffic flowing.)
9. YOU HAVE CHILDREN IN THE CAR! (Bingo: you win this beautiful lounge suite.)
10. You have a pet on your lap. (How did that get in there?)
11. You were listening to music or the radio. (Lalalalalah)
12. You needed to adjust your hair. (I flick my hair back and forth.)
13. You really don’t like to use the clutch and the brakes. (We must all be environmentally responsible.)
14. The pedestrian wasn’t directly in front of your car. (Face palm.)
15. You don’t like pedestrians, runners, bike riders, people who don’t drive cars, etc. (Double face palm.)

14 June 2011

@flexnib's five books meme #blogjune

1. The book I’m currently reading:
Isherwood by Peter Parker

2. The last book I finished:
Beneath Hill 60 by Will Davies

3. The next book I want to read:
Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years by David Talbot

4. The last book I bought:
Rouleur Photography Annual 2010 (Vol 4) Edited by Guy Andrews (See image above.)

5. The last book I was given:
Donna Hay's Fast, Fresh Simple. Does a cook book count?

10 June 2011

Falling Joys at the Oxford Art Factory

The Falling Joys played an amazing show at the OAF last night. It followed their first live gig for 15 years earlier this year at the National Museum of Australia. It was almost a full house at the OAF and just about everyone seemed to be a dedicated and loyal fan if you can judge that by how many times they felt the need to sing the lyrics.
The indie band seemed to have lost none of their feel for their music and their talent for playing live. Age certainly hasn't wearied them. The guitar work was just as unique and recognisable as ever and they played with heaps of energy. Lock It (1990) has always been my favourite of all of their songs (image above during Lock It performance), but Jennifer (also from the 1990 album Wish List) was certainly another highlight of the show. They also played some new songs that also were received very well.
I was so glad I managed to get to this show!

What is a discovery layer?

A Vivid discovery layer at MCA

Storytime. Last year a few of us from UTS Library were invited to go and talk with students and then help to assess their augmented reality (AR) application concepts that could be applied to the UTS campus. They were advanced Visual Communications students working with some pretty clever and inspiring academics, including a visiting lecturer (Dr Keir Winesmith) who is normally the technical lead for SBS Digital Media. From memory, nearly all of the concepts they came up with were influenced in some way by the students’ use of and experience with social media. One of the concepts was tightly focussed on the Library and based on mobile service including mobile search and discovery and mobile check out.

The student library application included many features that they expected to see and use to search and discover our library’s collections: a basic item record; tags; ratings; reviews; comments; AND the item’s history of use. The history was represented graphically to show frequency and periods of use and even whether the item had been the subject of a fine for late return. We have taken their suggestions very seriously and it has confirmed our belief that we needed to add a basic social media layer to our “discovery layer” with new features such as folksonomic tags, ratings and reviews or comments. We are also looking into the feasibility of adding the item’s history of use.

This experience started me thinking about a number of things. Are we really offering true “discovery”, i.e. the chance of uncovering something accidentally or serendipitously that you may not have been specifically searching for in our online search interfaces? I don’t think so, not yet. They are mostly enhanced search, federated search or unified index based searching. Are we offering our clients, or users, or readers (or whatever you want me to call them Kathryn!) the kinds of services they are expecting to find online now based on their use of social media and various online services and applications that enable profile sharing and which deliver a more personal or shared experience online? No again I’m afraid. To do that I think we need to find out what our clients are doing, observe their behaviours and also talk to people from outside the library world to find out how we might leap ahead of what the predictable, slow-moving crowd that sells us library management systems and so-called discovery layers has to offer. In short, we need to stop walking like Egyptians and learn some new dance steps.

Now, in case you still don’t get it, here are some suggestions that might lead to enhanced serendipitous discovery. They are taken from my own experience with social media and other online services that I think are a long way ahead of our offerings. They enhance your ability to discover new things accidentally through your network of contacts or friends or through the “muddy foot prints” of others who have gone before you and altruistically shared their experience. For me I think it all comes from understanding the power of connections and sharing that is now offered by the web.

For a start, we definitely must start offering these features for our catalogues and search layers: comments (e.g. Flickr); folksonomic tagging (Flickr, Twitter); easy to use ratings (iTunes, LibraryThing); virtual browsing using Cover Flow (I know some libraries are already offering this); and reviews (Amazon, Expedia, iTunes Store).

And now a listing of the other features I like to use and would like to see some of us playing with:

  • Little icons that quickly allow you to share a link to what you are viewing on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or a blog (Flickr does this very well now). I was also going to suggest little icons to social bookmarking services like Delicious and Diigo, but maybe the toolbar icons that are now added so easily in browsers like Google’s Chrome account for that?
  • Like” icons (Facebook, Tumblr).
  • Reblog, retweet or re-post options (Twitter and Tumblr again, and yes Kathryn, I think we have much to learn from the pr0n industry online).
  • The optional ability to establish, customise and share online profiles (last.fm) for “your library” that then facilitates the use of favourites (Flickr), “following” (Tumblr, Twitter), asking (Tumblr, Twitter) and things like wishlists (Amazon) which for libraries could mean things like planned reading lists stored for later and shared with friends or colleagues. I see this kind of thing being really useful in facilitating peer-to-peer help or advice that would be helpful to those using our databases or journals.
  • Online profiles would also enable features like “scrobbling” your reading, use, borrowing history (last.fm). These profiles allow us to explore through the eyes of others. It works for music because people can easily find music they might like that is well beyond the boring and repetitive play lists of most radio stations.
  • A check-in or currently reading/viewing service that might operate something like FourSquare. So, instead of locating yourself geographically, you are sharing where your headspace currently is in the library.
  • Randomly exploring what you already know but have forgotten (Apple's Genius) related items (iTunes Store Genius recommendations).
  • "Looking within" or sampling from a catalogue entry (Amazon & iTunes: e.g. listening or getting sample of an e-book before you buy).
  • Is anyone offering an “I’m Feeling Lucky” button yet (Google)?
  • Item use history (UTS students), including the application of late fees!
  • Stumbling (StumbleUpon) another opt-in service that tracks your searching, browsing, use or borrowing history and then feeds you other items you might also find interesting or relevant.

I realise that doing all of the above isn’t feasible, nor would it be wise. We do, however, need to try a few of those features and when we set them up we must make them really easy and simple to use. I’ve probably missed a few things, so please let me know what you think.

This post also appears over here:


07 June 2011

Seven things meme


Seven Things that Scare Me

  • Sharks
  • Snakes
  • City traffic (when I'm riding my bike)
  • City traffic (when I'm driving my car)
  • Tony Abbott
  • Extreme heights
  • Speeding

Seven Things I Like

  • Plain chocolate
  • Music
  • Abstract impressionism
  • Calligraphy & illumination
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Champagne

Seven Random Facts About Me

  • I get on well with most of my ex-partners (let's not try counting them all now
  • I worked in London for a while doing intelligence analysis
  • I've rafted the Franklin River in Tasmania twice in an individual raft
  • I never miss a vampire series on TV
  • I now own a Pinarello Prince (bike)
  • I painted an Australian coat of arms that was signed by HM The Queen (and dated by the DoE)
  • I own rather a lot of shoes (maybe it is a gay thing?)

Seven Things I want to Do Before I Die

  • Visit NYC
  • Visit Italy
  • Return to Sweden & visit Norway
  • More painting, calligraphy & photography
  • Develop better bike handling skills
  • More surfing
  • Read more and see more movies and live music

Seven Things I Can Do Well

  • Swim
  • Run (well, I used to)
  • Cook fruit cakes (like Xmas cakes)
  • Coach swimmers and triathletes
  • Get on with a lot of animals
  • Quickly digest and analyse complex data or facts
  • Shop

Seven Things I Can’t Do But Wish I Could

  • Play a musical instrument
  • Fly an aircraft
  • Gymnastics
  • Ride a track bike
  • Juggle
  • Graphic design
  • Be more tolerant of idiots

Seven Phrases I’m Known to Use

  • Okay (& okey dokey)
  • Hang on . . .
  • For s*** sake!
  • What?
  • Look . . .
  • Hey . . .
  • You d*** head


03 June 2011

Future Smarts: Education for the 21st Century

Sydney Opera House: Vivid
I went to this event last night as part of Vivid Creative Sydney (#VCS). With me were: Jemima McDonald (change agent, @jemimaeve special subject: Shark Island), Sophie McDonald (Jemima's mother, @misssophiemac special subject: workplace disruption) and Dr Belinda Tiffen (intellectual, @bella1609 special subject: big words). I was invited to tag along because they felt sorry for me and because they thoight it would be good for me to hang around with some smart people.

It was an after hours event so in the spirit of "life-long learning" (the subject of one of the questions asked of the panel) we will all be submitting forms for overtime, time-in-lieu and for exposure to hazardous risks (ideas coming from outside the library and university world).

I was not expecting to get much from this event and had already thought up an excuse to leave early, but I was surprised by how stimulating some of the plainly-spoken issues raised by the panel were. We couldn't Tweet live because inside the Playhouse there was hardly any mobile phone coverage, so I took a few notes and they form the basis of this post.

After the moderator finished talking about himself the first panelist Raju Varanasi told us about what is currently happening in NSW schools. It was good to hear and see him illustrate co-creation, fun, interactive game-based learning, the use of multimedia, collaboration and cross-curricular learning. He recognised the enormous challenge in keeping teachers up to date with technology, but I don't think we had the time to fully explore any real answers.

Philip Cronin from Intel talked about the fast pace of change and showed an interesting Wordle about what mattered in education (now) in which music and video were writ large. I could see "mobile", but books and text were not readily evident. As I've said before most libraries are still locked into a text-based universe and that along with their failure to embrace technological change is probably why many are now under threat. Philip stressed the importance and growing development of connections.

Christopher Nicholls the founder of Sistema Australia was up next and spoke of the power of unlocking imagination through culture and technology. His initiative with Sistema brings to Australia a program started in Venezuela that transforms the learning and development of disadvantaged students through the power of music. He says it develops their ability to imagine and that is lacking in our current learning structures, possibly because of too many boundaries, rules, measures that do not value creativity and competition between institutions.

Finally Sharon Clerke from the Foundation for Young Australians/NAB Schools First program spoke of the benefits of deeper community involvement and partnerships in school education programs.

The discussions after their short presentations stressed the importance of social connections, sharing and a future in which personal and learning connections extend well beyond physical and institutional boundaries. The panelists saw great benefit in immersive sharing and the use of social capital if it is accessible as well as blurred boundaries between school, community, home and work. There was some talk about performance measurement and assessment in schools and how that fails to properly recognise the humanities and creative skills.

When asked to quickly sum up their key points for the future these were their final messages:

  • We must unpack all of our current assumptions about education;
  • We should embrace change now because it is only going to become more rapid;
  • We must understand our humanity; and
  • We need to increase our openness to community & our willingness to share.
For me I was reminded of the power and importance of connections and community and the importance of altruism for the future. I think that if these key points are ignored institutions will be locked into a world of isolation, defending their own selfishness.

01 June 2011

How to select a hashtag

I couple of days ago I suggested a shorter hashtag for #blogeverydayofjune to @flexnib. I suggested #bedoj for obvious reasons and so then it was on (& still is) for young and old. You see, some see this as a metadata debate and as most of us work in libraries (I resisted saying we are librarians for I am a shambrarian), it could carry on for several centuries before consensus is achieved.

So here is my suggestion for the process we should follow now, with thanks again to Perian Sully who first suggested it. It comes from a slide I used at ALIA InfoOnline in a keynote a couple of years back:

Oh, and just in case you are interested, for this month I'm going to use several different platforms (including this blog) just to add a further layer of confusion and chaos. These platforms include, but are not limited to:
So be sure to tell everyone to avoid all of this content because it will be randomly more obscene than the #RipNRoll ad.

09 May 2011

UTS Library Planning Day 2 / 2011

03 May 2011

Service Design 2011

12 April 2011

Commodore Bruce Kafer, RAN

I had the honour to meet Commodore Bruce Kafer in the Northern Arabian Gulf in late 2008. He was commanding a multi-national naval force that was protecting Iraq's off shore oil terminals. I was visiting his (Australian-staffed) headquarters and the RAN frigate that was under his command as a curator/archivist from the Australian War Memorial. Both had a mix of male and female service personnel and they successfully and happily endured a fairly stressful and dangerous environment. I recorded a decent number of oral history interviews with personnel in his command.

He struck me as a very well respected, intelligent and thoughtful leader. It would be a complete shame for his career to be destroyed and for his qualities to be lost to the Australian Defence Force as a result of the scandal at ADFA.

Wordle from tweets - UTS Library Planning Day #1 2011

A quick Wordle from the tweets in the previous post looks like this:
Wordle: #libpd11 attempt #2

11 April 2011

UTS Library Planning Day 2011

06 April 2011

UTS: Designing our Future Library

UTS Future Library - CCA Educause
View more documents from Mal Booth
I gave this presentation yesterday at CCA Educause 2011 in Sydney. We are still designing and planning, so his isn't about the result, it is more about how we are getting there. From the abstract:
The game has changed. It is no longer just about text or about us (as librarians) and how we see the world being organised or classified. To some extent we need to catch up with students and assist them, the same applies to researchers and academics though in other ways. We can only do this if we understand them, know what they want and know how they’d like us to help. We also need to understand the new landscape and environment ourselves and my guess is that most in the library and educational world do not.

In this presentation I’d like to discuss some of the elements I see as necessary in a more inclusive, participatory approach to planning our future library. I hope to illustrate an approach that isn’t just about the technologies we will use, but also the way we select them and how we will deploy them. I will cover the following points as I illustrate that approach:
  • We need to learn (again) how to be active, creative, innovative and inclusive contributors in order to fully understand and utilise fully some of the new technologies we are deploying. Most cannot fully be understood by observation alone nor by reading about them in books. We also need to re-learn how to see possibilities, not problems and to be brave enough to have a go. Any form of innovation has almost been sidelined by an obsession with risk management that has become risk avoidance at all costs.
  • We need to learn how to take responsibility for our own future and do things for ourselves, not wait for a consultant to design a matrix to contract out the risk, experience, learning, responsibility and activity. Nor should we simply wait for our masters or government to invest in our future. Yes, there are hard decisions to make, but if we were really pressed by an emergency or disaster such decisions about what really matters and what doesn’t would be made efficiently and quickly, so why not try to do it without that imperative? Do we really need adversity to inspire action?
  • We must also understand the power and benefits of randomness and chaos. Freedom from yesterday’s policy barriers, useless governance structures, risk aversion, committee bureaucracy; and freedom to explore new ways and new methods is vital. Creative innovation is almost completely ruled out and its sharp edges are dulled by a comprehensive and bureaucratic set of rules, procedures, guidelines and policies covering everything we might do. We should not rule out the unknown so completely because we fear it. Sometimes the unknown contains the answers.
  • Liaison needs to be extended both within our own communities and networks and also outside our communities because there is a great deal we can build on. There are valuable partnerships to be made from that liaison and external collaboration. Not all the answers and inspiration will come from within or the familiar.
  • Can we crowd-source and co-design better ideas, services and solutions to some of our challenges and even provide much-needed infrastructure more effectively using social media technology? Has anyone really tried? We must understand the power and influence of communities and living networks and how connections are best made and facilitated within these.
  • Do we listen to what our users are saying and how can we do that better these days? Can we set up convenient, intuitive and more engaging ways for users to communicate with us (e.g. encouraging conversations instead of complaints through the use of Wallwisher feedback software). When our users or students express interest in academic services like libraries, do we listen and respond accordingly, i.e. seriously consider taking up their ideas and making them real (examples here include our work with Designining Out Crime students, taking up student ideas for the Augmented Campus, regular displays of student art and design work in the Library, and our Digi-stories competition).
We are not modelling our future library on someone else’s blue-print. Some major technologies that we will incorporate in it (i.e. ASRS & RFID) will allow us to deliver different services and to provide new spaces within the library itself. They will also require us to incorporate enhanced search and discovery tools online and students are already indicating what else they’d like to see in that respect on portable platforms. Our solution is evolving “organically” from within and from our research, the UTS community and our networks. It has grown and changed as a result of some “experimentation” and play, even over the last 12 months. It is also being combined with encouragement from senior managers to explore the use of new web and mobile technologies and shared attitudinal change from within including a more inclusive, trusting, motivated and less hierarchical approach to strategic planning. In that respect I will discuss how are we giving library staff at UTS more autonomy, mastery and purpose.

29 March 2011

Leading in Libraries

Talk for ALIA Sydney on library leadership
View more documents from Mal Booth
A quick presentation from a short talk I did last week for ALIA in Sydney. It isn't terribly serious.

08 March 2011

In defence of weeding

Awesome interior views

This is a silly beat-up: Books get the shove as uni students go online

It is poorly written and makes a number of awful errors and assumptions:

Most libraries have weeding programs. We do at UTS. With collaborative collection sharing programs like our Bonus+, there is no longer a need to each and every library to hold at least one copy of every book. Where would we put them even if we could afford them?

In many cases books are disposed of because they are worn out, beyond repair, or we cannot maintain multiple copies of texts which have been superseded by subsequent editions.

Newspapers are not always valuable or rare just because they are old. Copies are generally held by the state and national libraries and they are busy digitising them now for improved access. They are a right pain to store and preserve as they were not produced for long term maintenance. Very few academic libraries have the resources to maintain old newspaper collections. By their very nature they are ephemeral in their original form. I disposed of a large newspaper cuttings collections in the collection of the Australian War Memorial for exactly these reasons. All were held by the National Library.

A lot of those encyclopaedias, dictionaries, journals and books contain information and knowledge that has been superseded. They become redundant. This also relates to the point attributed to Professor Miller at the end of the article.

Weeding programs are carefully managed by professional staff and books are written off only after careful determination of their continued usefulness. They are not simply dumped in skips without consultation.

It is outrageous for anyone to claim they are all extremely good books without seeing them, nor assessing them in light of other collections held.

The “former library assistant” is probably not the most reliable source to quote on whether a certain library sees its function as an archive. In fact, most academic libraries do not function as archives. (I have managed both an archive and a library.)

The Starbucks claim is a complete emotional beat up and easy mud to sling. Libraries are to be about people, not just books. Time marches on and so too should the professor. Books are no longer chained up in libraries and controlled by monks.

Serendipitous discovery is still possible without all books on the shelves and in open access. Most European academic libraries operate like this. UTS will be providing serendipitous discovery to our collections in an underground Library Retrieval System, in different ways online. They may well be more effective means of browsing for something useful than someone browsing shelves, mostly at eye height, for books that stand out because of decorations on their spines. We have been talking to academics within UTS to explore this kind of assisted and extended serendipitous online discovery since 2010 and I am going to talk to some students tomorrow afternoon regarding a project to address issues such as this.

04 March 2011

Looking beyond the metrics and towards our future (Part 1 of 2)

I'd been trying to get some thoughts together for a few presentations that I have to give soon about the future of libraries (ours in particular) and a friend (@zaana) advised me late last night to take a look at the Twitter stream (#edge2011) from the Edge 2011 conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. At least the first of the two days looked to be very library-centric. A lot of the tweets seemed to be a bit too much like navel-gazing without any helpful suggestions, but there were a couple of positive and provocative ideas thrown in from some (service) design thinkers. A few ideas really helped me with my own thinking, even though it was all very late at night. More about that in a moment.

Already in my head was a little bit of a debate about some basic metrics that a colleague at work presented us with recently relating to our use of and progress with social media and social networks. They were OK, but nothing amazing, apart from a few interesting blips where certain content had really taken off. I think there are other more useful measures we could include as well such as referrals to our more traditional web content, but essentially, the point I want to make here is that for me at least I think our experience in this academic library with social media goes beyond what any metrics can actually measure. And it is in my opinion critically and positively related to the preparations we are making for our future library. That building isn't going to be designed on metrics alone and it will just be a building. It could be all about books and transactions relating to books.

So, to explain now: before we get to designing our future library, we've decided to jump in and implement two other major technology initiatives that take the focus away from books and transactions. Currently we are busy with a large team of designers working on an underground Library Retrieval System that will store and retrieve for our clients about 80% of our collections of books and journals. That will squarely refocus the library itself on PEOPLE. (Refocusing libraries on people was something I saw that was suggested at Edge 2011.) We are also busy implementing RFID technology that will assist us to take our focus away from transactions and onto the provision of more value-added services (e.g. improved and extended services for our researchers). These two initiatives will be implemented between 2011 and 2014, but there is also much to do to reshape the library and our services so that we can maximise the potential of those technologies and that is where social media comes in.

At UTS Library we started playing around (literally playing around) with social media in 2009. Staff at all levels were encouraged to try some new platforms and to produce content for them. We also started setting up a presence and creating a sense of community in a few selected social networks. These things take a while. They don't happen overnight and I think you can make the mistake of killing it all off too soon by over analysing it before it has had the chance to grow and evolve. We've been patient.

In my view, however, the real benefit of encouraging these relatively new initiatives has been internal. Dipping our toes into social media has been a bit of a cultural fire-starter for us. We cannot hope to move into a brave new library world without some drastic changes in our own culture and our attitudes towards exploring new ideas and services. Social media has helped us with both. It has also helped reposition our "persona" from a corporate voice to a more personal voice (which is another thing I saw mentioned at Edge 2011 last night) and that is necessary because we cannot be all about people if that is just on the outside. The focus on people also has to happen on the inside.

Playing with social media has encouraged our people to learn about new platforms and about creating content for them. Those skills in both exploration of new or emerging technologies and content production are invaluable. They've also gained confidence in their writing and presentation skills and learned how to "network" more effectively (which is critical for liaison on campus). All of this has helped us promote our services and our people and now more than ever we are in demand on campus and elsewhere.

Our social media experiments have already led to the development of improved and new services for students and researchers at UTS all through establishing a culture of fun, playfulness and a willingness to try new things. They have really helped our people in the ways they use and help others to use our discovery layer and our website and that has also helped us to understand how we should improve that layer with the addition of new features and services. There is a real momentum of openness, sharing and experimentation that has developed accordingly.

Underlying this has been a strong culture of trust at all levels of management and leadership in this library. We didn't issue a 27 page set of principles and rules for the use of social media. We simply referred to the existing UTS code of conduct for all staff and explained that for practical reasons we would concentrate our efforts on an agreed set of platforms: all the usual suspects. Everyone was treated like an adult and trusted to get on with it.

That's it for Part 1. In Part 2 I will explore a few more specific ideas about how we did this and what worked for us. (Oh, this is all straight off the top of my head after a late night following #edge2011, so I reserve the right to edit, add & change the content above over the next couple of days.)

16 February 2011

Design Thinking

I took some photos at a recent (Sydney) Design Thinking Drinks event at Digital Eskimo. This Flickr set brings together a few thoughts of mine with deeper content created by many others and linked throughout the set in the text beneath the images. Take a look (on Flickr, so you can see the links and read all the text).

07 February 2011

UTS Library Research Week

31 January 2011

30 January 2011

Sufjan: so amazement!

Sufjan Stevens' music must be seen as well as heard. @MissSophieMac said I'd be blown away and I was. He had a 10 piece orchestra on stage at times including two drum kits, four keyboards (maybe more), assorted guitars, a two-man brass section and two female backing vocalists who danced all night. They played mostly new music from The Age of Adz after a beautiful supporting show from one of their own: DM Stith.

It was full-on creativity surrounding the brilliant music with images, video, dance, costume, glitter, smoke and lighting. They are truly star people. The highlights for me were probably Vesuvius and the final song of the encore, the really wonderful Chicago.

Part of the way through he revealed that he was Steiner-schooled and I doubt that this came as a surprise to anyone who was revelling in his genius. It was an amazing show and a really memorable experience.

Thanks Jemima.

15 January 2011

Spectrum by Liana Thorpe


From a new exhibition at Gaffa www.gaffa.com.au

I was taking a visitor around Sydney today and we went to one of my favourite galleries. They had a new exhibition by glass artists. Sometimes I should not walk into exhibitions like this. I just could not control myself. Who knows where I will put it!

07 January 2011

Expensive semi-freddo

Very expensive coffee semi-freddo

Making this burnt out my old Bamix. Even if the recipe destructions say you must beat over heat for 4-5 minutes and then for a further 5-6 minutes away from heat, this still doesn't over-ride the Bamix manufacturer's destructions that you must not use it continuously for over 5 minutes. If you do, the magic smoke comes out and it is impossible to get it back in (thanks @greengecko29).

06 January 2011

Peter Pan for my niece Alexis

I bought my niece Alexis an illustrated copy of Peter and Wendy for her birthday and will give it to her tonight. I've written an abridged version of this inside the book for her:

In 2006, I visited the house where J.M. Barrie wrote Peter and Wendy (image above). I was trying to borrow a dagger once owned by T. E. Lawrence that was given to Kathleen Scott who was a sculptor. Her son, Wayland Hilton Young, second Baron Kennett owned the dagger and the house and had known Barrie when he was a small boy. He told me that Barrie had looked after Kathleen and Wayland’s older brother Peter in the house after the death of their father Captain Robert Falcon Scott in the Antarctic. Baron Kennett told me that Barrie had written Peter and Wendy in the house and as I looked out towards their backyard I could almost see fairies buzzing about in their trees.

Baron Kennet didn't lend me the dagger for an exhibition in Australia as he thought it was too far away. My visit to the house and the stories I heard there I will never forget.

05 January 2011

Rouleur magazine

Rouleur issue nineteen

I mentioned buying two issues of Rouleur yesterday. I read more today and fell in love with this magazine. 

It is probably the best magazine I've bought in ages. I must have been hiding under a rock for the last several years while most of the first 20 issues became collectors' items. The features, images, typography, paper and layout are magnificent. This issue has a beautiful feature on cycling photographer Bernard Thompson


04 January 2011

Out & about


I was out a lot today. Well, not as much as the Australian cricket team, but a lot nevertheless. 

I started back at the gym. It has been closed for the last two weeks so the weights can have a rest. As someone once said, all gyms are gay, but some are yet to admit it. As soon as I went in to the change room to put my things in a locker I was confronted by a naked man who seemed to be waiting for a comment from me about how well hung he is. I didn't, it was too early for that. 

After that I just wandered around at the shops, first in the city and then in Newtown and Annandale. I did find a cover for my baby BBQ, but he still doesn't have a gas bottle as there seems to have been a run on them recently. The city seemed full of shoppers, so who knows why the retailers are complaining about people shopping online. In some parts you could not move. I tried to get some foods at Broadway after walking back to my car from the city, but it was so full I drove into the carpark and straight out again.

I'm a magazine addict and purchased three today: the November 2010 issue of Wallpaper; and issues nineteen and twenty of Rouleur, a very stylish quarterly cycling magazine. Rouleur is a truly beautiful magazine. I love the layout, images and content. Wallpaper had a feature on the top 20 reasons to be in Australia and a very cute young man on the cover (Ben Waddell from The Men's Division). The "reasons" were an odd mix: cosmetics containers (of course); designer tables; sandwiches, a bar, vintage bike hire and dessert degustation from Melbin; Tasmanian things (four in all); some fairly dull-looking clothes(!); jewellery (sadly, not designed by Ian Thorpe); modernist furniture; beers (of course); the Chrysler Valiant VG (oh FFS!); urban art projets; a Sidknee hair salon; wearehunted.com (at last a real reason!); and a fashion designer (zzzzzzzzz).


03 January 2011


Honolulu sights

So @katejf has done it again and found me another out for this 12 day blog challenge. Here is my world travels map. Doesn't look that exciting does it? There are a lot of repeat visits represented here too. Maybe I need to get out more.

create your own visited country map 

And here is my USA map. DC is in there but you can hardly see it. Lots of repeat visits here too and I'm heading back to Hawaii in mid-2011 for a holiday for about my squillionth time. I love it and would live there tomorrow if someone offered me a job there.

create your own personalized map of the USA

Movie meme

Image from the last Deus swap meet, by me.

Today a meme from @katejf.

According to IMBD the top 25 grossing films of 2010 are:

Top 25 Box Office of 2010

(as of December 13, 2010)

  1. Toy Story 3 ($415M)
  2. Alice in Wonderland ($334.2M)
  3. Iron Man 2 ($312.1M)
  4. Eclipse ($300.5M) seen (over-rated)
  5. Inception ($292.5M) not seen yet, but I will, I um, seem to have um, 'acquired' a copy on my 'puter
  6. Deathly Hallows Part 1 ($259.2M)
  7. Despicable Me ($250.3.7M)
  8. Shrek Forever After ($238.4M)
  9. How to Train Your Dragon ($217.6M)
  10. The Karate Kid ($176.6M)
  11. Clash of the Titans ($163.2M)
  12. Grown Ups ($162M)
  13. Megamind ($140.6M)
  14. The Last Airbender ($131.6M)
  15. Shutter Island ($128M)
  16. The Other Guys ($119.2M)
  17. Salt ($118.3M)
  18. Tangled ($117.2M)
  19. Jackass 3-D ($116.8M)
  20. Valentine’s Day ($110.5M)
  21. Robin Hood ($105.3M) seen, on an aircraft (OK but they tried to make the story too historically relevant)
  22. The Expendables ($103.1M)
  23. Date Night ($98.7M)
  24. Due Date ($95.4M)
  25. Sex and the City 2 ($95.3M) I would struggle to think of a worse way to waste my time than seeing this

I have seen only two and may only see another couple. How many have you seen?

Of those I have not seen, the ones I want to are: not on this awfullist. And can I just add that after seeing Hugh Jackman's annoying Lipton Ice tea ads that I probably won't ever want to see another movie with him in it. They may well be worse than the whole McOprah "tourism" to MacCafe campaign.

If you want to see the whole list of 228 titles click here

Thanks again Kate.