First, a spot of news.
For two weeks starting Monday, I will finally be at the Science Museum in London, learning the ropes and hopefully doing some preliminary work ahead of my fieldwork. I will attempt to do a daily journal podcast entry, which will mostly be for my own benefit, but you are welcome to join the ride.
Secondly, working with science communication in museums, and despite not being directly linked to Wellcome (for now at least – one is allowed future aims), I take an active interest in the connections between arts and sciences, and how these can encourage more peoples’ interest in the sciences. Alejandro Guijarro has, since 2010, been photographing the blackboards of quantum physicists from around the world. Here are some of the photographs, borrowed from his website.
As an exercise in communicating research – the process of creating science – these boards provide the following at face value:
- dents from years in service/chalk marks deep enough to not rub out completely – showing that science is a process aiming for gains in the long term
- parts that are rubbed out and re-started – even professionals get it wrong sometimes
- doodles – we all get restless
- pristine work – the final QED moment
Exhibited together, perhaps they can counteract the idea that science is still an elitist domain only for a certain type of mind, while demonstrating that perseverance to undertake the trial-and-improvement work will go the furthest.
Det hände här is a documentary series that I severely recommend to everybody. It is in Swedish, but in the 21st Century, surely there is a way to work around that little foible?
Before you start complaining, I shall explain its greatness.
The concept: Three historians travel to small places to find big history. Every place, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, will have, at some point, witnessed dramatic fates and life-changing events.
The premise: Three historians, and a television presenter, travel to small, lesser known settlements/towns/villages around Sweden in search of local history. The historians are pitted against each other, and have three days to do research, at the end of which the local population vote for which of the newly unearthed histories they like the best.
The (hypothetical – as everybody responds differently) result: Short term, the winning piece of history will have the honour of giving its name to a local landmark; in this first series there is a roundabout, a bridge, a promenade path and a water tower in the pot. In the long term, the programme wishes to show audiences that there are interesting and dramatic histories everywhere, provided one is willing to search for them.
Personally, I think this is a great idea (apologies for being idiosyncratic). It could be treated as a geography-based version of Who Do You Think You Are? with the benefit of being in the public interest, and engage more people in history. Failing that, perhaps it could at the very least prevent the following map, or at least manage to attribute more meaningful tags to the conurbations of our fair isles.
It is this old nugget about self-presentation again. Whilst browsing for contact details for an academic, I passed by this intro on an “official website” of a colleague of theirs. Never mind that further down the page was an extensive publishing record and many scholarship awards – and I know, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” – but, batmanfly?
Well, I wrote this when the actual news was topical, but the underlying reasons will probably always be in season, so!…
Live-blog of the University of Leicester press conference of their unearthing of Dick the Third (said affectionately).
Around the 11.10am mark there is a print-screen of a twitter-conversation between Mary Beard and some other followers of the news-story. Prof Beard says that she does not understand how this is important or contributes to scholarship. Personally, I thought that the whole event contributed a rise in profile as well as a certain amount of trust in the fields of history, archaeology, and forensics. Academic pursuits aside, it was a good piece of research communication, which is often valued by scholars of all levels of seniority these days. Anyhoo, each to their own…
…or is it the aforementioned sour grapes talking?
On another note, Financial Times now has a tumblr! It has been interesting to see different media organisations taking up the what-I-call tumblr challenge of using the platform to their own means, as opposed to the now-stereotypical “fangirls, cats, and sarcy comments”-blogs (which I unashamedly love). FT’s tumblr does, as one might expect, feature quite a hefty dose of self-propaganda, but the odd historical (“vintage”) clippings are charming, and could be useful for those who want to read just-a-little-bit, without paying for archival access.
Speaking of tumblrs, here are two blogs that will sympathise with your research-based traumas, trials, and tribulations, and another “special” one for us TAs.
I will finish on a question: I am about to embark on a serious piece of fieldwork for the first time ever – i.e. it involves an ethics form – which I was going to document: might people be interested in that?
… for concert tickets to a particularly popular artist to go on sale, where there will definitely be fewer tickets than prospective concert-goers, and you are anxiously refreshing the website of the box office just before the release? Well today has been such a day. Only it’s not a concert, it’s a conference; and they’re not tickets, they’re free accommodation and attendance packs. And sadly, I am no longer an excited teenybopper, but a regularly obtuse research student.
Filed under Life, Thoughts