Wireless Experience

I have been thinking about wireless systems this week.

At the weekend I was in Tasmania using a wireless Internet connection that gave me access to email in a remote part of the state. There was latency and drop out but I was miles from anywhere delighted to have any connectivity!

On Monday I refereed a journal article on ubiquitous computing and later in the day was involved in a discussion with colleagues about ICT support for open learning spaces.

On Tuesday I followed up a link to Anthony Lincoln’s (2011) paper FYI: TMI: Toward a holistic social theory of information overload and a lead to Anders Olof Larsson and Stefan Hrastinski’s (2011) paper Blogs and blogging: Current trends and future directions.

Whenever I write or say the word ‘wireless’ I am taken back to my early childhood and the description of the radio as a wireless.

Radio National has stimulated my thoughts this week. The catalyst for writing was a recording of Bill Davidow’s discussion of Internet overload. The impetus was a most delightful interview with Annie Proulx about Bird Cloud.

Ramona Koval interviewed Annie Proulx at the Perth Writers’ Festival. It was a busy event for Ramona. She was involved in a discussion with Phillip Adams about about “some of literature’s most fascinating minds” and contemplated why “we want to hear from the writers we love and what it is that compels us to find out more about their lives and ideas.” Phillip spoke about this experience on his own Radio National program, Late Night Live.

So the week has been a wonderful convergence around different forms of wireless, our connections to information and experiences. If you do have an opportunity I recommend that you listen to:

You might find it interesting to listen to a recording of Bill Davidow’s discussion of. Internet overload and read Anthony Lincoln’s (2011) paper.

If you had time you might like to listen to a piece by Laura Tingle that brings together lots of connections, wireless and other, in her discussion of Martin Parkinson.

Photo Credit


In a Dark Wood and Out Again: Freedom

I have missed listening to Radio National’s Book Show of late. I seem to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time for over a month.

If today’s program is a guide then I have missed an enormous amount of good stuff!

Jonathan Franzen was the guest and in a repeat of an interview from November 2010 he discussed his work, including his new novel Freedom, with Ramona Koval. My attention was grabbed in his first response when asked about his championing of Paula Fox‘s work:

You know, you enter a dark wood at a certain point in your life and things start falling apart; your life is not what you expected it to be. And if you encounter a book that really speaks to where you are at that moment, it’s a life-changing encounter, and that happened to me with Desperate Characters. I just thought, ‘Why have I not heard of this book?’ I have not read a better novel written by an American since 1945. It was an incredible book, and it was out of print, so I started vacuuming up all these sort of second-hand copies, and wrote about my experience. And people paid attention to that and now of course she’s back in print; she has a new book coming out this fall.

Amongst other gems in the interview was a passing mention to Jonathan’s Ten Rules for Writing shared with The Guardian:

  1. The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.
  2. Fiction that isn’t an author’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth writing for anything but money.
  3. Never use the word “then” as a ­conjunction – we have “and” for this purpose. Substituting “then” is the lazy or tone-deaf writer’s non-solution to the problem of too many “ands” on the page.
  4. Write in the third person unless a ­really distinctive first-person voice ­offers itself irresistibly.
  5. When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.
  6. The most purely autobiographical ­fiction requires pure invention. Nobody ever wrote a more auto­biographical story than “The Meta­morphosis”.
  7. You see more sitting still than chasing after.
  8. It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.
  9. Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.
  10. You have to love before you can be relentless.

I was very interested in his discussion of observation too:

I’m not one of those writers who walks around with a little notebook and is kind of sitting in cafes studying people and taking detailed notes. I chastise myself for being too much of an amateur to do that, or not having the discipline. I did notice, I got a new glasses’ prescription a couple of weeks ago and I got these progressives, which are very good for reading and also seeing for distance, but one thing they don’t have—it’s a very narrow little part of the lens that you actually use, so much of the lens is just blurry. And I’ve noticed that I just, I can’t stand walking down a sidewalk anymore. Because I realise that all the time my eyes are kind of looking sideways at people, and I can’t do that because now they’re all blurry and you can’t… What the optician tells you is, ‘Oh you just have to turn your head and look at them,’ and I say, ‘Precisely not! I want to see them without their seeing that I’m looking at them and that requires these kind of sidelong glances.’ And I realised as soon as I put these glasses on, I must be doing that constantly when I’m walking down the sidewalk.

It was a wonderful way to spend thirty-five minutes on a road journey. Fortunately in the light of Number 8 on Jonathan’s ten writing tips I am writing a report of his interview rather than a fictional account.

Photo Credit

Visual Representation of a Reading List

Writing Lives, Telling Stories

One of the highlights of last week for me was the Radio National Book Show program (12 August) that discussed Asne Seierstad’s The Bookseller of Kabul. Ramona Koval discussed writing about life in fragile territories with Christina Asquith and Christina Lamb.

The discussion raised very important issues about journalism, new fiction and ethical behaviour. Asne Seierstad has been sued in a Norwegian Court over breaches of privacy by one of the women portrayed in the book. According to one account of the case it was stated that “Seierstad had used inaccurate information in her accounts” and did not act in good faith. In another article, Asne Seierstad is quoted as asserting that “I have acted in good faith, and have done my best to verify the statements and quotations so that they will be as accurate as possible. I have done that by asking questions on different occasions when there was any confusion, by asking someone other than the main characters in the situation.”

Christina Patterson suggests that “this was never going to be a story with a happy outcome. Extensive hospitality of the what’s-mine-is-yours Muslim variety and the warts-and-all Western memoir were never a combination likely to leave ‘honour’ intact. The bookseller probably wasn’t overly familiar with the genre. Seierstad should have known better.”
What I found particularly informative about the Radio National discussion was the expertise of Christina Asquith and Christina Lamb. In the podcast of the discussion they take different approaches to writing lives. Both have remarkable backgrounds in working in fragile territories. Anyone interested in ethnographic research will find the discussion a great resource to contemplate:
  • Overt and covert research
  • The responsibilities of a researcher
  • The ownership of intimate details and disclosures
  • The legitimacy of observing a culture from a different cultural perspective
In ethnographic study ‘being around’ is an essential characteristic of understanding cultural forms and practices. The Book Show discussion highlighted the ethical dimensions of research particularly when the researcher is a guest in the home of those about whom she will write.

The Bookseller of Kabul, Sisters in War (Christina Asquith) and Small Wars Permitting (Christina Lamb) are fascinating examples of a genre that encapsulate important issues around thick description, writing lives and telling stories.

Photo Credits

The Shop of Books

Notebook Collection