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Archive for April, 2012

Thing 3: Consider your personal brand

In an increasingly digital world where our presence and social networking is more and more online rather than in the real world, I think having a consistent personal brand and digital identity is extremely important; especially for a new professional like me who wants to establish my identity and put my name out there!

1. Googling Myself

On my initial search for ‘Marie Cannon’ on Google, I was surprised to find that only 1 of the results on the first page was related to myself.  There were many results for people with Marie as their middle name and Cannon as their surname. The 1 result that was related to me was actually a post by the London Business School, where I currently work as a library assistant, on the M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries website about the restructuring of staff – and of course my name was listed.

However, I then realised that on almost all of my online profiles, I have actually called myself Marie Grace Cannon. I have used Marie Grace Cannon throughout my life as my full name, even at school. This has been an unconcious decision, but in the digital age where there are hundreds of Marie Cannons, using my middle name is actually very useful for distinguishing myself from the crowd.

On googling ‘Marie Grace Cannon’, I was pleasantly surprised to find that 7 out of the 10 results displayed on the 1st page were related to me; featuring my facebook profile, twitter profile and tweets, my blog, and my work with the Warwick Irish Dancing Society from when I studied my BA.

2. Changing my online profiles

Firstly, the only online profile where I was known as simply ‘Marie Cannon’ was on LinkedIn, and now in keeping with my brand I have changed it to Marie Grace Cannon. Hopefully this will help potential employers find me!

Secondly, I decided to change my blog.  Although my tumblr blog had my name on it, it was called ‘The Unseen University Librarian’, which, although apt due to my personal belief that he has the hardest job in the universe, is quite a mouthful and difficult to remember if you have not read any Discworld novels! So I have changedmy blog name to mariegcannon, which is also my twitter name.

Simultaneously, I moved my blog from a tumblr account to a wordpress account, which I will write more about in my next blog post.

3. Visual Imagery

When it came to visually styling my blog, I was very lost.

My Twitter Background

My twitter account has a collage of cakes I have made (yes I am a very keen baker, as almost all of the librarians I have met seem to be!) as a background, which I chose because they are brightly coloured and evoke a happy vibe. However, as my twitter and blog are primarily about professional issues, I am now thinking I should make the imagery the same, and say goodbye to my cake collage.

I would like an image that was library/book related, but something beautiful and something  interesting that would entice people in. I googled ‘books’, ‘beautiful books’, ‘beautiful bookscases’, ‘beautiful libraries’, and only came up with a couple of things that I could consider using. However, I also decided that I wanted my image to be a header for my blog, so that my personal brand was always present. This meant finding a beautiful book-related picture that happened to be landscape. You can see that I was not making it easy for myself!

In my various google searches, I discovered the beautiful book sculptures of Su Blackwell, who I have already written about in a previous post. These were sculptures made out of books depicting some of our my most favourite and beloved stories, and bringing stories to life in the most original and fascinating way. I have cropped the Alice In Wonderland sculpture to be my blog header as you can see, and I will try and make a collage of them to use as a background for my twitter.

I am concerned that because they tend to have dark backgrounds that they may appear a little spooky, and may present me as such! But I am hoping that people will see how beautiful and magical they really are. However, if you disagree with this, then please do let me know!

Alice, A Mad Tea Party

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While browsing Google images for beautiful book-related pictures that I could use for my new blog header, I stumbled across the artist Su Blackwell and her absolutely gorgeous book sculptures – a portfolio of which can be found here: http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/portfolio-book-cut-sculpture/ 

The magical nature of books  and the idea that they can bring stories and characters to life is an old (and a very true) one. However, the way Sue Blackwell has captured the essence of the fairytales she portrays is simply beautiful.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Alice, A Mad Tea Party

Out of Narnia

The Orient Express

The Snow Queen

The Wild Swans

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CPD23: Week 1, Things 1 and 2

Firstly, I have been away from my blog for a long time, and this is due to the busyness which is the end of term and the amount of coursework that had to be done, as well as a dissertation proposal to be written!CPD23

However, now I am on my Easter holidays I have decided that for my personal professional development I would spend one day a week completing one of the CPD23 Things for Professional Development. As someone with an interest in web 2.0 and social media in libraries, this is something that will give me the opportunity to reflect on skills which I may already have, and to learn something (and hopefully many)  new things and additional skills that will aid me in my future career as a librarian. Of course, this will also force me to write at least 1 blog entry a week which is great!

So week 1 of CPD23 is:

“Blogging

  • Thing 1: Create your own blog, write about what you hope to get out of the programme. (If you already have a blog, then you’re welcome to use that.)
  • Thing 2: Explore other blogs and get to know some of the other cpd23-ers.”

Obviously I already have my own blog, and I also follow quite a lot of other blogs. All of the blogs I follow are library orientated and range from covering more indulgent topics such as the most beautiful libraries in the world, to the more serious cutting edge developments in the library and information profession. I mainly follow other blogs in order to keep myself up to date, to be aware of other’s views and opinions and to ensure that my own personal thinking remains current and innovative. The majority of these blogs I have found through twitter or through my fellow students on the MA LIS at UCL. It was actually through my fellow students @Annie_Bob and @JenniferYellin that I discovered the CPD23 course.

There were various reasons why I decided to write my own blog, and this seems to be a good opportunity to reflect on these:

  1. To create a record of what I have learnt while studying my MA and through attending library-related events, and to actively reflect on these experiences
  2. To publicise myself as a new professional and to create a digital identity to enable others in the library field to get to know me
  3. To display my passion and interest in the library and information profession as a whole, and on specific topics that particularly interest me such as web 2.0, OPACs and discovery tools and the open access movement
  4. Also, it was very strongly recommended to me by a number of library professionals from different backgrounds!

So far, I think my young fledgling blog is doing rather well on these fronts. I have had people retweet my blog entries, which recognises that there is at least some value to them that may be interesting or useful to others in the profession. This has also helped to spread my digital identity and to get my name out there in the social network of library professionals, which I think is imperative as a new professional. I have blogged exstensively on my interest in the digital humanities and the difference in user experience of the digital and the real. However, it has now come to my attention that I have not blogged much on my other special interests, and so this will get put on my ‘to do’ list! This is why reflective writing is so useful, as it brings to our attention what we have achieved so far, but also what we can improve on.

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Last Thursday I attended my first LIKE, or Library Information and Knowledge Exchange, meeting which was themed on Copyright. As any UCL LIS students will know, we had just had to write an essay on copyright and I was feeling a little copyrighted out.

Anyway, I got to the pub about 7pm, got my name label, grabbed a drink, and started chatting with who turned out to be Professor Charles Oppenheim, the guest speaker for the session. He used to be a professor at Loughborough, and now works as a consultant on copyright issues.

He was very engaging and humorous, and this was exactly how his speech was; which was surprising considering the content.

Myself and Annie watching the talk

First, Charles spoke on the problem that orphan works pose for mass digitisation projects. Orphan works are works that are still under copyright but the copyright owner cannot be found. It is often too expensive or too difficult to track the copyright owners, and as a result many precious items may not be digitised and may be lost as a result. The Hargreaves review suggests to possibly pay a fee to a central body to digitise an orphan work, and then if the copyright owner makes themselves known they they can be paid a fee from the central body. Hargreaves also recommends that this applies to all mediums and not just text. However there are issues with this solution, what if the copyright owners wants the copy to stop? The copy will presumably already be available on the internet, and it would be impossible to eradicate all of the copies made.

Charles also compared UK and US copyright law, and how restrictive the fair dealing exceptions allowed by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 is compared to the more liberal fair use equivalent in the US.

The idea of the Hargreaves Report is to make copyright law more up to date, to broaden exceptions (which is allowable by current EU Law) and to encourage entrepreneurial opportunities. Current copyright law was created by lobbying from the film and music industries to crack down on piracy, rather than being based on evidence. A humorous example Charles gave was that of Cliff Richard, who lobbied to get sound recording rights extended from 50 to 70 years, in line with the rights of lyric and music writers.

Hargreaves suggests extending possible exceptions to copyright law to include:

  • Text and data mining – where vast volumes of data are extracted to create new and interesting information
  • Parody – taking a well known music or image, etc. and parodying it
  • Copying purchased CDs and ripping the music on to a computer or MP3 player (I did not realise that this was currently illegal!)
  • Extending library prescribed copying for patrons which currently only applies to text, to apply to the copying of all media forms

Other recommendations Hargreaves makes includes:

  • That Contractual term should never overcome the exceptions stated to copyright law, as it currently does
  • That the IPO should be able to give informal legal advice
  • Copyright of unpublished works should be reduced. Currently the copyright of all works, regardless of age, has been extended to 2039. Hargreaves recommends that this should change to 70 years from the estimated date of publication of the work
  • UK copyright collection societies should be regulated with codes of conduct as they have quasi-legal status and rights

The government initially accepted all of Hargreaves’ recommendations, although Charles predicted that they will backtrack on many of them due to lobbying from the film and music industries – which again will entail that copyright law will still not be evidence-based.

The Digital Economy Act 2010 was also discussed, especially the 3 strikes and you are out provision. Once you have been found to be downloading illegally 3 times, your broadband will be cut off by your internet service provider. This legislation had been passed but not implemented yet. Charles argued that the wording of the legislation is extremely loose, and that the 3 strikes provision could apply to any place with public wifi; for example libraries, hotels, airports, even Starbucks. However, this is only a possible interpretation of the law and is in no way definitive, and will surely not be enforced for public organisations with wifi.

Charles’ closing comments include asking whether access to the internet is a human right, and whether any blocks to accessing the internet need to be justified to a fair extent in order to be reasonable. Also, is this legislation a little too late? So much information is already available online, and piracy websites can simply move to countries where copyright legislation is not so restrictive.

Despite myself being ‘copyrighted out’ before this meeting, I really enjoyed it. Not only because of the great food and meeting new people, but Charles was very engaging and he made the talk very relevant to the present day, and to the future of copyright and its revelancy to all media forms.

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Although the features of the National Gallery digital collection, including the virtual tour and multiple access points, are excellent, so much more could be done to manipulate the nature of the digital and to allow users to interact with the digital paintings in a way they never can with the original artworks. Benjamin argues that technology should be used in a new and original way to create new pieces of art, and not to try and re-create artworks likes those from the past. When representing the collection digitally, there is no need to present them with the restraints and pre-conceptions of the physical National Gallery, and as such, there is a variety of ways in which the digital collection could be presented and interacted with. A way to accomplish this would be to create digital features that allow the artworks to be manipulated and interacted with, and for the users to create their own interpretations and pieces of art. The primary difference between the digital and physical art collection of the National Gallery is the seemingly infinite possibilities for user interactivity with the digital art surrogates.

 

You can never touch an original artwork, let alone change its colours to black and white, soften its lines or even simply paint a bright red stripe across it for no reason other than you simply want to… But you can with a digital artwork and an appropriate editing application. With the spread of Web 2.0 features across the internet, users increasingly expect to be able to contribute to websites by adding comments, tags, and creations of their own, rather than passively view websites as was the only possible way to experience the very early internet. As an art institution the National Gallery should encourage creativity.

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As a philosophy graduate, I have to briefly share my thoughts on some philosophical theories of art, and how I applied them to my experience of Turner’s Dido Building Carthage. The main, and most important, difference in experiencing the painting digitally and physically is the difference in what Walter Benjamin terms the “aura” (The Work of Art in the Mechanical Age, 1935).  On viewing Turner’s masterpiece in real life, there is an experience of something that is difficult to articulate; a sense of specialness, uniqueness and history. It is unique as you experience awareness that the painting has been created by a unique human being; a human being captured in a moment of time, space and history that can never be reached again. The original Dido Building Carthage has a historic significance which provokes an emotional and intellectual response that simply does not occur when viewing the piece online. The original painting projects a sense of history which evokes a sense of fascination and emotional awe in the viewer.

There is a famous saying that ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. The digital surrogate of the painting is solely composed of code and data and not of a human being’s brush strokes; and this must surely be at the foundation of why experiencing the digital Dido Building Carthage is not as emotive as the real life work. Something is lost in translation between the physical and the digital. When the digital reproduction of the painting has been created, the historical context and unique value embedded in the very being of the physical artwork has not been successfully copied over.

Knowledge of context and one’s awareness that one is viewing a mere reproduction of an artwork may also have a greatChuck Close Self Portrait effect on the viewer’s experience. A very clear way of illustrating this is to briefly analyse this self-portrait by the artist Chuck Close. It looks very much like a photograph, but it is actually a painting. The knowledge and context that this artwork is not created by an automated machine, but has been painted by a human being, changes drastically the very way we emotionally respond to it.

The promotion of the digital as a valid format of presenting art makes the assumption that the viewing of art is a purely visual experience. But it is not, as the role of imagination is absolutely vital in our experience of art, as Benjamin observes, “A man who concentrates before a work of art is absorbed by it. He enters into this work of art” (1935, p13).  But what exactly is this interactivity that is occurring between the viewer and the original that is missing with the digital representation? Walton argues in his make-believe theory that artworks function as a prop, and prescribe fictional truth and propositions to the user, who then psychologically participates and engages with the artwork in a fictional world of a game. When we are visually observing the artwork we are using it as a prop, and as we are doing so our visual experience and our reactions to it become part of the game. The world of the painting becomes a microcosm and creates an illusory fictional world. For example, Carthage is not being built in front of me, but I am seeing the building of Carthage in the game, and I am engaging with the artwork using my imagination. When the real life painting projects its aura of specialness, uniqueness and history, the user creates a connection with the painting in their contemplation of it; whether it is an imaginary or game-like connection or simply a connection to the artist and the painting’s history.

References:

Benjamin, W., 1935. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. [Online] Available at: <http://design.wishiewashie.com/HT5/WalterBenjaminTheWorkofArt.pdf> [Accessed 23/12/2011].

Walton, K. L., 1990.  Mimesis as make-believe: on the foundations of the representational arts. London: Harvard University Press.

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This is a series of blog entries summarising my thoughts on an assignment given to me while studying the Digital Resources in Humanities module at UCL. This was to compare and evaluate my experience of a digital item with its real world surrogate; and I chose Turner’s Dido Building Carthage housed at the wonderful National Gallery.

The painting itself measures 155.5 x 230cm, and is hung at eye level. The size and scale of an artwork is intentionally decided by the artist and can be a focal point, which can be lost when viewing a digital surrogate on a screen. When viewing the Dido Building Carthage in the National Gallery, what strikes me personally is the very large size of the painting, and an experience is simulated of viewing the ancient scene of the building of Carthage as if I was standing on a balcony. It is specifically the size and scale of the painting that creates this profound impact on me. However, no similar interactivity happens when viewing the same painting digitally on a laptop screen, which is approximately seven times smaller than the original artwork. zoomThe sense of size and scale present in the real life painting is completely void in the digital representation, and as such, the viewer is not seeing the painting as the artist intended, and a great deal of the emotional impact and awe felt when viewing this masterpiece in real life is lost.

However, the digital surrogate does offer a zoomable image interface, which can enhance the user’s experience of the artwork and can reveal details that may be difficult to see on the real life artwork, particularly when the artwork is large. On the digital surrogate of Dido Building Carthage it is astonishing how much detail can be seen when zoomed in fully. This feature of the digital surrogate allows the viewer to experience the smallest details of the painting and provides them with a greater understanding in this respect than can be achieved by the original artwork, and this is extremely important when considering the qualitative difference in between the physical and digital experience.

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