On Utterance


If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and good-will. If it be accepted, if it fulfil its purpose, your object is attained. If any one should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal unkindly with him. A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding….

Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah.

Citizen Curators Unlock the Past

Old photo of fashionable woman on a boat on Sydney Harbour.

A photo from 1930 held by the Australian National Maritime Museum, part of a presentation given by the Museum’s Nicole Cama.

Everyone has a drawer full of old photos. Each photo has its own importance. The photographer used precious film to take the photo and paid to have them developed. They were kept because they were an important store of memory. But the memory has disappeared into the past. We gaze at the photos today, reluctant to dispose of them yet for us many of these images are meaningless. The person who first stored the photographs often failed to record identifying details with them.

Our cultural institutions also have these drawers of photos – hundreds and thousands of them like the one above. They were regarded as an important record of a society in the past, but today many of these images are mysteries. No museum, library or archive could dream of discarding these photos, but without knowing the context of these photos they are reduced to meaningless bits of paper.

This is where the citizen curator steps in.  Working through social media on the internet, citizen curators apply their knowledge, diligence, enthusiasm and generosity to help cultural organisations identify people, locations and the overall context of photos in their collections.  We heard about this exciting work at a History Week event, ‘From Glass-plate to Cyber-space’ hosted by the Australian National Maritime Museum. Continue reading

2013 Australian Historical Association Conference – on social media

Green grass, ferns and trees

The conference was held at the University of Wollongong. What a beautiful environment!

Social media has revolutionised reporting.  Citizen reporters flood social media with immediate observations of revolutionary events, disasters, sports matches as well as more mundane everyday moments.  This form of reporting is also changing the experience of academic conferences for many.  People who cannot attend can listen in on the conference backchannels through Twitter.  They can discuss it on Facebook and read about it on blogs during the conference and in the immediate aftermath.

Tweeps and bloggers attending the annual conference of the Australian Historical Association in Wollongong broadcast the news as it happened – or did they? Continue reading

Pause, Reflect and Share: A Busy April

DSCN3147 Front classroom Blackboard wiped CIt is important to take time to regularly pause and reflect, however when we are busy we sometimes overlook this.  Over the last month I lurched from deadline to deadline and forgot to take a step back periodically to assess how I was going.  I hadn’t realised that I was becoming rather stressed, focussing on tasks I had not completed rather than what I had achieved. Then I decided to share with you what I have done over the last few weeks and in doing so regained my perspective.

In March I started a course at TAFE, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, which will lead me to become a qualified workplace trainer.  I have plenty of experience doing workplace training as part of various jobs over the years but increasingly employers are wanting people to be qualified.  It was time to do the course in order to back up the experience.

At the same time I was asked to conduct a workshop for historians for the Professional Historians Association of NSW which is scheduled for 18th May.  It is titled Social Media for the Cautious Historian – the Basics.  Someone working in public relations asked me to provide them individual coaching to help them learn how to use twitter effectively for their work.  I am also now one of the tweeters Professional Historians Association of NSW (@pha_nsw) and look after the content management system for their website. Continue reading

Reaching Out to the Public – Australian Historical Association Conference 2012

4 people standing in front of sandstone wall

Some of the participants at the conference who reported it on twitter: Brett Holman (@Airminded), Yvonne Perkins (@perkinsy), Dave Earl (@davegearl) and Ashleigh Gilbertson (@a_gilbertson).

Sharing history with the public has been a strong theme at the Australian Historical Association Conference.  Wonderful!  There is so much to be done and so much that can be done.  It is encouraging to see that so many historians are actively addressing this in their work.

Reaching out to the public was shown in myriad ways throughout this conference.  Aside from writing a book that the public can read, historians demonstrated that they are connecting to the general public through:

  • Film;
  • Public history;
  • Digital humanities; and
  • Social media.

Use of technology is an important aspect of most, if not all these categories, however, much can be done with minimal technical skills. Continue reading