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Category Archives: 070 ~ News media, journalism & publishing

Let’s talk about racist jokes

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Chris Lilley’s latest offering has been aired on television and the result has been a backlash on social media with the hashtags #MyNameIsNOTJonah  #ChangeStartsHere and #ProudPoly. See the the following article for a background ~ Chris Lilley facing social media backlash over ‘racist’ Jonah From Tonga.

Firstly, I need to state, I support the challenge being made by people questioning the representation presented by Chris Lilley. Australia has a long history of comedy where people from a class of privilege are making fun of people from backgrounds of which they do not come from. Think of the Comedy Company, for instance, on air from 1988 to 1990 and the infamous character of Con the Fruiterer.

The polemics around this issue are important and further discussion around issues of representation, who creates representation and what meanings are imbued in these representations are pivotal to understanding how power and racism are intertwined and reinforced with stereotypes as represented by people who are not from these backgrounds.

Not being from the background is a crucial point in this discussion. You see, when I’m sitting around having a yarn with my cousins and joking about ‘our wog life’, this is very different to when a ‘whitefella’ uses the term ‘wog’ in his/her jokes. My cousins and I are proud of our backgrounds and our jokes are not imbued with a malice or derision of our ways. Instead there is an affectionate understanding of what it means to grow up in this country from a specific vantage point.

The invocation of stereotypes, by people who are not of that background, comes with a derision and malice. The tone of these representations is a put-down. Essentially, it is a position that looks down on the ‘other’, something to be ridiculed and laughed at. It comes from a position of superiority, by the class representing the ‘other’, and reinforces concepts of erasure of cultural identity whilst preferencing ideas of integration. Racist jokes end up being statements to the ‘other’ that we should become more like the dominant class and culture because they are better.

…ok so this is a start. Let’s begin… let’s talk about race and racism in all it’s manifestations because talking about it is better than pretending it doesn’t exist…

 

 

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A break from social media ~ reflection

After I took a week off from social media, one of the first posts I came across on Facebook contained this video. The post was followed with a series of comments about the use of phones and our loss of connection with being ‘in the moment’. Prior to my break from social media, I would have agreed that the phone is the issue but after my self-imposed break, I discovered that without the lure of social media, I rarely reached for the phone. Instead, the phone lay dormant on the table attached to the charger for hours. My break from social media, indicated it was the lure of social connection and interaction that kept that phone close at hand.

I have come across a few articles recently, debating the negatives and positives of social media. One article highlight’s narcissism, and self PR campaigns, in the individual use of social media as a misconstrued need to display a sense of constant awesomeness. On the other hand, this debate in the New York Times points to the virtues of access to an audience, self publishing and instant interaction as presenting opportunities for individual growth.

Interestingly, being without social media is not all positive, just as being constantly connected is not all positive. A friend (from my social media world) joined me in my mission to abstain from social media for a week and we shared insights about the experience via SMS. He shared this article ‘I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet’. What is interesting in this article is how the writer chronicles his personal experience of taking a year off the internet concluding that the positive/negative divide is not straight forward.

I decided to switch off social media for a week, beginning just two days before New Years Eve 2013. Celebratory times often attract increased posting, so it was going to be a challenge. The decision was spontaneous and partly based around my perception that my contributions were tired and felt somewhat laboured in the month of December. You see, I had been online since the end of 2011 diving into many social media apps including; Instagram, Facebook, Momentage, Backspaces, Twitter, Vine, Picyou, Eyeem, taada, Streamzoo, Wattpad, lightt, Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger, Pheed, Scoop.it…

and the list goes on…..

The majority of these apps were a process of trialling for evaluation purposes, so my presence was short lived. However, my presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Vine have been constant. I’m not certain how much time I spent online with my phone, but it was definitely daily and on all four platforms. I would check each app every morning and participate in conversations, contribute content, check events, click on posted links and read/view content shared, read collated stories from Zite, share to targeted and appropriate social networks and so on and so forth… I’m pretty sure that was just two hours in the morning. I haven’t calculated time throughout the day nor the relax time after the evening meal when the kids are in bed… To say the least, four hours of online engagement may be an underestimate….. if I was being honest… (jaw dropping to the floor in realisation!)

I was feeling socially exhausted and needed to retreat, to think and refresh. The need to question the value of my contributions, the purpose, my connections and interactions seemed quite strong both online and in real life. Even with interactions IRL (in real life) I often feel the need to retreat and gather strength so that I can be social again. I suppose the virtual world had reached that point too.

Without social media, it became apparent quickly how few my connections are. SMS, email and phone are definitely much less active and interactions come from fewer people. The world felt somewhat silent. On a positive note, I relaxed more and just took time out. I even finished a novel in one night (it was a short novel). My time with my kids was less interrupted and seemed more positive. More than anything, my kids loved how unhurried I appeared. As a qualifier, this was the holiday time so relaxation was on the menu regardless. I actually started to feel relaxed and recharged too.

I found my thought processes seemed less hurried and distracted. I could think about what ‘it’ is about social media that is positive and consider the benefits of social networks online. I certainly missed my interactions and conversations with people that I connected with online and was looking forward to the time I could interact again. I discovered finding articles of interest, with no-one to share, made the conversation and knowledge construction seem far less interesting and rewarding without the social media platforms.

Without social media, the web is very static. Just reading articles and not contributing to conversation and adding to knowledge is something I tire from quickly. I suppose, knowledge is constructive and involves conversation. Social media has enabled this. With the networks that are formed, based around communities of interest, we are able to obtain various insights and access to information that is pertinent to specific interest areas. This helps to build on our thoughts, triggering connections with ideas we have come across and prompting further sharing and knowledge construction. In my social media networks, my communities of interest have developed around street art, writing, information access, arts, filmmaking and activism. With these areas I’ve connected with groups and conversations specific to these areas. Not all the people I connect with are connected with each other. Instead communities exist as various circles of interest that sometimes intersect but mostly remain distinct. Ultimately, this is what I view as a positive aspect of social media alongside the possibility of extending online relationships to real life relationships and vice versa.

So in 2014, one of my key resolutions is to increase my collaborative creative efforts with people from my social media world with a focus on improving both online and ‘in real life’ interactions. It is this aspect of social media, over the past couple of years, that has provided the most rewarding experiences. Clearly, this is the ultimate positive enablement of virtual communities.

Another resolution is to take breaks from social media. After a week’s break, I came back feeling refreshed, filled with ideas and wanting to contribute again. I’ve identified social interaction in the virtual world as no different to social interaction IRL, in terms of the need for retreat to replenish… in my case anyway. Just as I need a break to recharge IRL I also need this in the virtual world. Otherwise, I start feeling exhausted and unable to contribute.

 

 

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app review of Stop Motion Studio for iPad

I came across the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Stories on Screen competition and forwarded the details to the Early Years Leading Teacher, also the early years ICT leader. She expressed an interest in participating this year with the younger students creating stop-motion animations  inspired by children’s books.

In the past couple of years the school has been purchasing iPads to be used at school. At this stage, the younger years are using the iPads and grade five/six students have helped with reviewing some apps for education. However, they havent been satisfied with any of the stop motion apps. As a consequence I decided to investigate apps for iPads with a focus on creating animations and films. I located a few stopmotion apps and identified Stop Motion Studio to investigate along with the iMovie app.

The aim was to determine:

  1. Key features of the app and how to use it.
  2. How easy the app was to use by younger children

In this activity I downloaded Stop Motion Studio, iMovie and Extras4iMovie to my iPad. I then asked two children (my daughters) if they would like to create animations with paper cut-outs. They were both very keen on the idea of creating animations. The process of planning and animating happened over a weekend. My involvement in their planning stage was minimal. Basically they showed me their cut-outs and asked me what I thought. Sometimes I suggested some more elements may be needed.

On the second day, my involvement was geared towards setting up the iPad to capture the stop motion clips. We did not have a iPad mount to firmly position the iPad to a tripod. Consequently, gaffer tape was used to hold the iPad in place on top of a silver case, on top of a table. The paper elements were on a black cloth on the floor. Little LED lights provided the lighting source.

Once this was set up, each child continued without any assistance. They were able to work out how to use the app without many instructions and even taught me some of the features such as the scrolling back and forth to see the overlay of the animation image.

The animation process took a while involving constant movement between the iPad to shoot frames and the paper elements to change them as part of the frame by frame capture process. They completed the animation with Stop Motion Studio but are yet to edit the final animations in iMovie. They photographed close ups of elements that will need to be edited into the the animation along with the final sound and titles sequence.

During the process, I documented with my iPhone by filming and photographing. I then edited the documented photos and clips with the animations the children made using the iMovie app on an iPad. The titles were created with Extras4iMovie. This video forms the app review that was exported to Youtube and subsequently embedded in this post. By creating this video I was able to test the iMovie app in the process.

This week I will be sharing this review with the school in support of the initiative to use iPads to create animations and films for the CBCA competition and for future projects. Being able to identify the information, curriculum and technology needs is an incredibly important function of a librarian in a school. With this activity, I have been able to provide curriculum resource ideas and support with technology to enable successful outcomes. By working with the children to assess ease of use, I am focussing the needs to the target group and this is very important.

What I learnt is that you definitely need an iPad mount to enable an effective and steady support for the iPad. This will make filming and animation easier. I discovered the app is a fantastic app for the targeted age group and feel confident in transferring these ideas to the teaching and learning community. In working with children to assess the app, it is much easier to demonstrate the ease of use by the target audience.

The next stage involves working through the editing process with the iMovie app and assessing how easy post-production is for the target audience.

 

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13 Project ~ Cyber Safety for Global Citizenship

Click on the image to go to the website and explore the cyber smart initiatives

Click on the image to go to the website and explore cyber smart initiatives

The primary school, where I currently work, is in the midst of investigating safe social networking sites for children. There is an acceptance that children are connected to technology on a daily basis, using it for educational and recreational purposes and in support of global citizenship. As a consequence, cyber safety is a significant focus. Currently, our students participate in many online environments including blogs, and posting to Vimeo.

The release of national statistics in 2012 by the minister for education, Peter Garrett point to disturbing figures of the prevalence of cyber bullying in his Be Bold Stop Bullying Facebook Campaign Launch. This is a major concern for the school community highlighting the need for constant revision of cyber safety practices. This has contributed to a greater focus by the school in assessing our current efforts and discovering where we can improve.

As part of this school-wide initiative, I investigated library based initiatives in support of schools’ efforts to promote cyber safety. I discovered the 13 project via a thread on the OZTLnet list serve and then investigated further. 13 Project was launched on 1st March 2013 by school library associations across Australia in recognition of the important role of school libraries and participation of school library staff in schools’ efforts to help keep their students safe online.

As a librarian, in a school based environment, being able to locate resources and provide access to these resources is of primary importance. This professional learning activity enabled a connection with the information needs of the school community and the library in resourcing those needs. Via the 13 project, some of the resources mentioned were areas our school identified for investigation, namely social networking sites that are safe environments for children in this age group. I evaluated the suggested social networking site Skooville. After the initial evaluation I shared the online resources from 13 project with teachers in our school and provided a recommendation of the Skooville program to be considered for implementation across the school. I attended the morning briefing during Cyber safety week and discussed this resource with staff thus saving them time in investigation of this important area.

Discovering a national library-based advocacy initiative, with a focus on cyber safety, was the most significant learning from this activity. With the networks to library professionals accessed via OZTLnet I can transfer the learning and extend the library into the school. This affirms the importance of the library for school based initiatives with a focus on curriculum and community needs. One of the tools particularly useful to school administration is the Safe Schools toolkit  as it provides an online audit tool to help with school prioritisation in this area. This information was shared with the leading teachers.

At this stage, I can see there is more that can be done by the library and staff in this area. Prior to this, our library had no knowledge of 13 project and the Skooville site. This activity has enabled the beginning of this knowledge and connecting with the wider school as a result.

The next step in this professional learning will be to involve the school in some of the other suggested initiatives as part of the National Cyber Security Awareness week. This will be explored for the next year.

Cybersafety is an ongoing learning curve needing constant evaluation and awareness raising. 13 project is a great starting place and resource.

 

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Book Review ~ The Promise: The Town That Never Forgets

The Promise: The Town That Never Forgets/Noublions jamais lAustralie by Derek Guille, illustrated by Kaff-eine, translated by Anne-Sophie Biguet, ISBN 9780987313959, One Day Hill. Hardback $24.99

The Promise

This non-fiction book depicts a century old relationship formed between a town in France, Villers-Bretonneux and Australia. The commitment to never forget the help provided by Australians, who saved them in World War I is expressed. Australia helped rebuild the town by providing some funds raised by school children in Victoria. Almost a century later, the people of Villers-Bretonneux returned help to Victorians after the bushfires that ravaged country towns. The article, ‘Bound by history, French children honour their debt’ in the Australian, provides information of the children from Villers-Bretonneux raising money to help rebuild the Strathewen primary school, and this is the event that forms part of the book.

Nelson Ferguson, a cornet player and artist, was a stretcher-bearer from Australia in Villers-Bretonneux, during World War I and suffered injuries. His grandson was inspired to travel on this journey and learn more about the town and the history. He invited musicians, from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) to form a brass band to play a private memorial at the Australian War Memorial, located just outside the village. Geoff Payne was amongst the musicians on this journey. Beyond the historical basis, of the connection between the two places, the book conveys a personal and emotional journey by Musicians from the MSO during a 2007 tour accompanied by the journalist and author of the book Derek Guille. It is the personal story of Geoff Payne that resonates with emotion in this journey. Whilst there, he discovers a photograph in the Memorial depicting his great uncles grave. The emotional impact of this discovery transfers to his ability to perform later that same day at the memorial.

I came to this book via a passion for the street art by the Artist Kaff-Eine. The artwork beautifully conveys the emotions depicted in the true story of the journey by musicians from the MSO in 2007 and it is the emotional connection that resonates. When Geoff Payne discovers a photograph a sense of feeling the shattering moment is captured in the artwork. The actual playing at the memorial heightens the emotional moment and affirms the enduring connection of the two countries. The artwork, by Kaff-Eine, is poignant in depicting the moments of emotion. The beautiful water-colour illustrations convey the story with a gentleness and contribute to the humanisation of this story about the harsh realities of tragedies and how they extend to affect people today.

This book was acquired for the school library and was placed on the display shelf as part of the lead up to ANZAC day. It is a bi-lingual book with the English story written on the top half of the page and the French translation written directly beneath. This contributes to relevance for Languages other than English (LOTE) programs in school, particularly if French is a subject studied. It is a great inclusion when exploring diversity and world connections with other cultures too.

Most non-fiction books, about history and war, in our collection depict prosaic iterations of history and its events. There aren’t many resources providing personalised perspectives, nor mapping a connection between Australia and another country over a significant period of time.

The Promise: The Town that Never Forgets, does not depict actual war experiences in detail, however moments are intertwined within the story of a modern day journey of musicians revisiting a town in France to play music at a private memorial. In the end it is a celebration of a connection formed during times of extreme situations. It’s a celebration of human bonding across borders and helps to make the world a somewhat smaller and friendlier place. It provides a faith in human capacity to provide support at times of greatest need.

Being able to review books, whilst working in a school library, contributes to greater knowledge of the library collection and assists in ability to provide recommendations to the school community about specific resources that are relevant to the curriculum. This book provides a fantastic avenue to explore the historical events mentioned by connecting with other available sources. Considering, History is now compulsory in the Australian Curriculum from Year 3 upwards, an evaluation of resources available in the library to support the curriculum is vital.

 

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Happy World Puppetry day

March 21st is world puppetry day. Following is a video that provides information about World puppetry day as well as the launch of the website Puppetry News last year on this day.

 

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Will Coles: an appreciation

I first stumbled upon the street sculptures of Will Coles in Sydney, in the May Lane area of St Peters. The first work I noticed was the balaclava clad face. It looked familiar and I was somewhat sure I had seen it in Melbourne, though I didn’t feel certain. Then on the opposite side of May lane I noticed the baby doll, ‘context’.

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‘Context’, May Lane St Peters, Sydney.

‘Context’ was new to me, making me pause and stop for quite some time. I looked at this doll and wondered why it was there and what it meant. It was lying on the ground with mangled body looking as if it had been left by a child who no longer wanted to play with the doll. Maybe it had fallen out of a pram whilst in motion, and parent and child didn’t notice. There it was near the gutter in a laneway, looking unloved, out of context and even disturbing. Of course, I had to move closer and discover the word ‘context’ written on it as well as some paint marks over its face. The paint marks on its face were additions and yet they reminded me of how my children would draw on their dolls faces. I knelt closer and had to touch it. I had become curious. What was it made of?… It was cold hard concrete and the coldness seemed to emanate another dimension to the meaning it seemed to evoke within me. This work seemed to elicit a few responses from me yet, what resonated was the memory I had of my childhood when I accidentally left my doll that could sing (as it had a little record player in its back) out in the backyard. That night a heavy storm started with thunderclaps and rained heavy drops all night. The next day my doll could no longer sing. She was broken and I was sad. After crying for some time she was then discarded by my mother, who has never been a hoarder. I somehow loved my doll less once she was broken. As if voiceless she was no longer alive. That became one ‘context’ of the meaning for me. How easily the doll was discarded when she seemingly had no use, was broken and then lifeless. This mangled doll on the ground before me looked lifeless.

Leaving this work behind me I suddenly started to notice other Will Coles works. I stumbled on what appeared to be a crushed can that had the word ‘work’ inscribed on it and then some more…

At this stage I did not know who Will Coles was or the body of work on the streets and in the galleries. However, it did not take long to find out. With the help of the virtual sphere and the benefits of the hashtag I could seek out more information. Posting photographs of the sculptures to instagram, it wasn’t long before someone popped into my feed and informed me that this is the work of Will Coles… and so the discovery began.

Looking at the #willcoles on Instagram I was able to see photos that others had posted in Melbourne and Sydney. Since then, finding a Will Coles work has always been exciting. Researching and reading about the works of Will Coles has added further insight. Seemingly, there is no end to the layers and meaning and I discover more and more all the time.

Back in Melbourne, I started to look out for the works of Will Coles on the street and in laneways. What I discovered about his work is the placement often appears hidden. Sometimes, I have spent hours just trying to locate a work so I can take a photograph, as I did in Canberra. I knew Will Coles had some works left around the gallery and other places in Canberra. However, they were not easy to spot and I walked for two hours trying to find them. Luckily, just as I was about to give up the work appeared before me…

The works seemingly become part of the environment. With so much detritus strewn around the streets and in lanes, a sculpture of a crushed can with a word on it becomes hidden or seemingly part of the detritus. As a concrete sculpture it often melds with the concrete surrounds and yet taking on the form of our discarded lives it seems to be part of the rubbish just lying around. However, I learnt to look in gaps in walls, on little ledges, on the ground near poles, up high, over and under places and with time the works start to materialise. Once you start seeing a Will Coles sculpture, they just start to appear everywhere you look.

Following are some links that provide more information about Will Coles and his work.

Will Coles | Sculptor and Freelance European the artist’s website.

Interview with Will Coles by Invurt

Will Coles at Brenda May Gallery

Mr Will Coles’ photostream on Flickr

Artist spotlight: Interview with Will Coles by The Flying Room

Will Coles as documented by Dean Sunshine on Land of Sunshine

If in Melbourne, you can see the works of Will Coles in his first solo exhibition in Melbourne that is currently on. This was the first time I saw the works of Will Coles in a gallery context and I have been four times already. The last time I had the pleasure of perusuing through a document with statements on the works by Will Coles. This added further insight into the works, the thinking behind the works and the intentions.
Details of the exhibition are in the poster that follows:

aposter

Finally, here are some photos I have snapped of Will Coles works on the streets of Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

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