Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My Review of the Year 2013

Time to review the year. So, who inspired me this year and what recommendations - for books to read, blogs and folks to follow - should you check out?

Note: These are all my personal choices relating to my professional life and thus deeply partial with no attempt at objectivity... if you wish to add your own suggestions then please feel free to add comments.

Favourite Books I Read in 2013

  • Being Human: Historical Knowledge and the Creation of Human Nature by Roger Smith
    "We must look again at the relations between knowledge and values, the criteria according to which we say something is good, beautiful or true" - enough said, a work of great insight, I recommend you read it.
  • Agency and Embodiment: Performing Gestures / Producing Culture by Carrie Nolan
    "Fascination with the sensuous choreography of graffiti... might very well be due to the way it dramatizes the function of culture. Culture as gesture, producing always more and other than it intends" - she examines from a fascinating viewpoint the ways in which culture is both embodied and challenged through the corporeal performance of gestures.
  • Internet, Society and Culture: Communicative Practices Before and After the Internet by Tim Jordan
    Tim Jordan's insights into subjects such as hacktivism, gaming and how we communicate in the internet era provide an excellent academic discourse and overview. His aim in this book is to “focus on the ways communication is created” with the idea that pre-internet communicative practices possessed an identity stamp connected to the body to stabilise the message, whereas now "Internet-dependant communication is different because no identity-marker can be trusted on the internet and so individuals’ styles of communicating are used to stabilise the transmission of messages. Being after the internet means having to live these two contradictory forms of communication." - I am finding this a fascinating companion piece of reading to Nolan's work on agency and embodiment.
  • Strategy: A History by Lawrence Freedman
    I am still reading this one - it's a massive book exploring the vast history and consequences of strategic thinking and the very nature of strategy as a human construct. Any academic book that is bold enough to begin with a quote from Mike Tyson ("everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth") has something to offer everyone.
  • The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick
    I have been a huge fan of Gleick's popular science since reading Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman way back in 1992. The Information is a very accessible exploration of the nature, history and significance of data splattered with insightful anecdote and stories to illustrate Gleick's points often with sly wit. For many in the field this may be too much overview and not enough depth, but I find it a useful map to help see the territory more clearly.

My Most Inspiring People of 2013

  • Michael Edson
    Michael is the most inspiring individual in the field of museums and the digital domain I have met this decade, let alone this year. A kind and insightful advisor, with a wide ranging intellect and an activist who leads by doing; who shows the way by making things happen.
    Michael is Director of Web and New Media Strategy at Smithsonian Institution.
    Check out his Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/mpedson, his Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/edsonm, and his Wiki: http://smithsonian-webstrategy.wikispaces.com/michael+edson.
  • Andrew Prescott
    Andrew's work as Leadership Fellow for the AHRC’s Digital Transformations theme has been vital for the understanding of where digital humanities fits with the rest of academia in the UK; and how the sciences, the social sciences, the arts and cultural sectors, in particular, should influence digital humanities. His reflections, often expressed in his blog Digital Riffs, and his enthusiasm are inspiring me. On a very personal note he has been helping me to find my scholarly voice and is a valued mentor.
    Andrew is Head of Department of Digital Humanities at King's College London.
    Check out his Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/Ajprescott, his blog: http://digitalriffs.blogspot.co.uk/, and his Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/burgess1822.
  • Courtney Johnston and Paula Bray
    I'd like to mention so many of the speakers at the National Digital Forum conference for inspiring me, but in the end I had to choose. Courtney and Paula gave the singularly most brave and moving conference talk I have ever experienced. Themed on the caring museum and driven by deeply personal experiences they asked what the role of the museum in its community means, whether a museum can care and how do we actively improve lives. There were quite a few tears in the house after the talk, mine included. They have inspired my with their vision, talent and bravery and also given my impact research a real motivational boost by reminding me of what matters.
    Check out their Twitter feeds:
    Courtney Johnston (Director of the Dowse Art Museum) https://twitter.com/auchmill
    Paula Bray (Manager Visual & Digitisation Services at Powerhouse Museum) https://twitter.com/paulabray
  • Paul Conway
    Paul came to King's as a visiting Research Fellow in the autumn on 2013. He has been carrying out research that he presented early results of in an inspiring paper titled: "Word and Image in 19th Century Photographically Illustrated Books: Toward Enhanced eBooks". He is looking at the connections between illustration and textual narrative and how these connections can be modelled for dynamic representation. Having Paul as a colleague has taught me a lot about pedagogy, about scholarly writing and research. Sitting here, considering the mountainous terrain ahead that is writing a book, his influence will be inspiring me to reach higher.
    Paul is Associate Professor of Information, School of Information at the University of Michigan.
    Check out his profile: https://www.si.umich.edu/people/paul-conway

My 5(ish) Favourite Blogs of 2013

  • Tim Hitchcock's blog, Historyonics: http://historyonics.blogspot.co.uk/
    This is a must read blog - intensity, depth, inspiration and a new way of thinking about academic communication.
  • Musematic: http://musematic.net/
    Rants and raves on the latest trends in the world of museum informatics and technology from am eclectic group of experts.
  • Seb Chan's blog, Fresh and Newer: http://www.freshandnew.org/
    He's the man, read his blog - nuff said.
  • Dan Cohen's blog: http://www.dancohen.org/
    A must read to find out about the Digital Public Library of America and any related subjects.
  • The Library of Congress blogs, especially The Signal on digital preservation: http://blogs.loc.gov/digitalpreservation/
    Really high quality bloggage to be had here.
  • Guardian Professional: http://www.theguardian.com/guardian-professional
    Check out the sections for Higher Education, Culture, Heritage etc. for excellent debate and useful information for professionals.
  • The Maddow Blog: http://maddowblog.groups.msnbc.com/
    Not sure how this relates to my professional life, but as I spend at least 7 hours a week on the show and here then it must be in my top 5(ish) favourite blogs...

My 10 Favourite Tweeters of 2013

See everyone already mentioned but please check out and follow these folks.

My 5 Favourite Events/Things I Did of 2013

  • Keynote at the National Digital Forum, Wellington, New Zealand
    What an experience and an honour. The NDF is one of the best conferences I have ever attended - it is extremely well organised and they have a engendered a fabulous sense of community and attract really great speakers. Do go if you ever get the slightest chance to attend!
  • The Social Media and Knowledge Exchange events
    The AHRC Social Media Knowledge Exchange (SMKE) is a collaborative project that aims to give postgraduate students and early career researchers in the Arts and Humanities opportunities for knowledge exchange with social media practitioners in academia, museums, archives and libraries, and the voluntary sector. The events gave a wonderful opportunity for an eclectic group of young academics to come together and strut their very impressive stuff. I found this very uplifting and inspiring and I am so pleased to have been involved.
  • Web Archiving gains legal framework under Legal Deposit
    By law, a copy of every UK print publication must be given to the British Library by its publishers, and to five other major libraries that request it. This system is called legal deposit and has been a part of English law since 1662. From 6 April 2013, legal deposit also covers material published electronically, so that the Legal Deposit Libraries can maintain a national collection of e-journals, e-books, digitally published news, magazines and other types of content.
    I was an Independent Member of the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel and Chair of the Web Archiving sub-committee from 2003-2011. So the launch in April 2013 of regulated Web Archiving and collecting of digital content was a long time coming and it was so welcome to see the culmination of so many peoples efforts come to fruition.
  • Digitised Newspaper Launches
    I was lucky enough to be at the launch of major digitisation initiatives from the Swedish and Welsh National Libraries. I have written about these on this blog:
  • Applying and Extending the Balanced Value Impact Model
    The Model was released in October 2012 and so 2013 has been a year of seeing it being applied in various environments. The Wellcome Digital Library has gone the furthest in implementing the model and I have been grateful for their willingness to have me along for the ride to guide them. I have in turn learned a lot from them. As Chair of the Europeana Impact Taskforce we have seen how this would work in that complex context with more to do  in 2014 to finalise plans. My visit to Australia also enabled me to advise and lead workshops on the models at places such as the National Library of Australia and the State Library of New South Wales.

    I will write more about the Model and its implementation in the New Year.

It's been quite a year, thank you everyone for making it such a special one.

I couldn't do this without the fantastic support and inspiration of my friends and colleagues at the Department of Digital Humanities at King's College London. It really is a wonderful place to work and study - come join us, the water is warm...

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