Sunday, June 24, 2007

SecondLife Singapore Meetup (I've stopped counting how many)

Received the email notification for a SecondLife Singapore meetup in Lion City. I was about an hour late but decided to drop by anyway. But first I had to download and install yet another version of SL...

I managed to find them over at what appears to be a sound stage. Very, very nice build!
SL Singapore Meetup 24 June  2007

A whole bunch of them rezzed into view. Most were seated at the front of the stage.
SL Singapore Meetup 24 June  2007

I sat myself on the right of the stage (incidentally, turned out that the avatar next to me belonged to a Information Management student from Temasek Poly; she's part of the last batch of students for the course, as the course was being withdrawn).
SL Singapore Meetup 24 June  2007

Alvin, the host of the meetup (owner of Lion City, and organiser of SL Singapore), was asking people to introduce themselves. I worked the camera view to peer from where Alvin was standing.
SL Singapore Meetup 24 June 2007

Out of curiosity, I searched for "Singapore" under the groups in SL. The number of groups have exploded since Lion City was created. The National University of Singapore has a group too. There were two groups setup by marketing agencies (hmm... very interesting). Oh, a group into "BDSM" -- well you get all kinds.

The SL Singapore group itself has 420 members (it may not be indicative of actual number of active SL users but it's a respectable number from the days when there were only two or three members in the list).
screenshot - Singapore Groups in SL

The meetup had almost ended by then. I was about to log off when Australian Liblogarian & SecondLifer Kathryn Greenhill IMed me in SL. I offered her a teleport to Lion City. We ended up chatting in a drain. Kevin (standing over us) wondered aloud why librarians like to chat in drains, LOL
Meeting Kathryn Greenhill, in a drain!

At first I mistook Kathryn for Maeve, an Australian librarian who left this comment in an earlier post. Then I remembered Kathryn's avatar, from this post.

Kevin (who didn't know about the SL Singapore meetup until I IMed him at the closing minutes) ended up chatting with Kathryn about education in SL.
Meeting Kevin and Kathryn in SL
Which led to Kathryn sharing this Youtube video about Murdoch University Library in SL. Kevin commented that Kathryn had a beautiful voice. That made me check out the video immediately. Kevin's right!

This was the first time I've "met" Kathryn, and it was in SL. Reading Kathryn's blog, it's clear she's an advocate of librarians experimenting with new media and technology (see: Ten very good reasons why your librarians should be in Second Life). But not blindly (see: Six very bad reasons to have a library branch in Second Life).

I hope Alvin would be blogging about the meetup at the Second Life Singapore blog. I'd love to know what they discussed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Post-event blog-up: "Youtube and beyond" by Kevin Lim

I counted 60 people. My colleague counted 61.
Practically Full-house

Prior to the talk, Kevin said he'd be happy with 20. I said that's nothing. I'd expect nothing less than 50. His popularity was on the line. Guess he's got nothing to worry about now. :)

Four or five people showed up at 6pm. The rest streamed in by 6.50pm and by 7.15pm, the room was almost full.

Kevin explains his setup to the early birds
Kevin explains his setup to the early birds

Kevin's videocasting equipment (click on image to see notes)
Kevin's videocasting equipment

Siva doing his Skitch thang. I wonder what they were more interested -- the Skitch app he's showing, or curious to see what's on his Mac Book Pro desktop.
Siva doing his Skitch thang
But I digress. Skitch is a cool app. Siva's photoset has some mug-shots ala meet-up style, shot and annotated using the app. Boy, do I look ugly! (I bet that made you want to look, right? Since you're at it, check out the nicer looking librarian there, heh.)

Half the room was filled about five minutes before the talk started. You see some people raising their hands 'cos Kevin was doing a quick poll on the number of people who did videos, photos, and blogs.
5mins before the talk starts

The poll results: Videos (5 people, or 20% 4 people, or 16%); Photos (40%); Blogs (50%)
How many people...

Brennan the Video-boy! Brennan gamely helping Kevin record the event by putting on Kevin's Wearable Cam.
Brennan the Volunteer Videoman

Lots of videos being demo-ed. Here's one showing Ben. I couldn't help but take this shot, where it's almost like Ben and Kevin were singing a duet! LOL (click on image to see notes)
What's Ben doing?

Some librarians who turned up (click on image to see notes). It was nice to see colleagues attending the talk, on their own time after work.
The Librarians

One observation I had was the audience's profile. Most seemed to be in their late 20s to mid 30s. No teenagers as far as I could tell. That could be a reflection of the readership that Kevin has. Or that teens generally don't care about such topics. Where videos and photos are concerned, they just want to "shoot and scoot" rather than worry about what's out there.

The flow of Kevin's delivery was excellent, especially at the beginning. Between 7pm to 7.15pm, it felt like he'd covered almost an hour's worth of material but yet it didn't feel overwhelming.

But nearer to 8pm or so, I felt Kevin was dragging and going into "lecturer-mode". I was waiting for more things to be shown on screen but he seemed more intent on talking and reinforcing some point. I wanted to signal him to speed things up, but thought it might be rude to do so. Anyway, I tend to fall into that trap as well -- when you feel you're on a roll and you explain away, when actually brevity is best.

My colleague, Wai-"I look quite nice"-Ling, remarked that the technical section took too long, considering that not many were into video to fully appreciate the technicalities of video encoding. In those instances, I think the speaker really has to just sacrifice the minority's interest (just be prepared to incur Siva' wrath though!)

I thought the Creative Commons discussion was quite important and more time could be devoted to it. But at some point, the discussion got carried away and I think that lost the attention of some of the audience.

That part was perhaps the only thing I was "disappointed" with the talk -- that people still didn't leave with a clear understanding of what CC really is, and what it isn't.

At one point, the discussion seem to suggest that with CC, you were "giving up some of your rights". I wanted to jump in and say that wasn't necessarily true (contrary to some CC statements). I thought CC was more about informing your potential users what rights you were willing to accord to them, rather than the current implicit understanding that "All Rights Reserved" and you had to ask for permission by default.

Anyway I didn't jump in and offer my comment, since I'm not a CC or copyright expert. In any case, I doubt if more verbal deliberations would shed light on it, 'cos copyright might be poorly understood in the first place.

It might have been better to just show a video from the CC website. Like this one.

But I'm just niggling here. The flow was good, and the content was excellent. No complaints from me. There's enough new things being introduced, and in a non-technical way.

You can refer to Kevin's "presentation" here (it's a list of URLs). Watch this space for the webcast.

Oh, here's my favourite picture of the evening. A senior citizen (!) who plonked himself right at the front to listen to Kevin (click on image to see notes)
The oldest guy in the room (see top right)

Caption, anyone? : )

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Meeting Lunarin

Caught Lunarin at library@esplanade tonight.

Lunarin at library@esplanade

I was disappointed.

Yeah, that's right.

Disappointed that they only played a 30-minute set! Not enough!

At the end of their 20-minute acoustical set, I would've shouted for an encore but it seemed wrong for a librarian to break a library rule. Luckily a few people in the audience were less chicken than me. But still they sounded hesitant when they said, "More" (I suspected it was a "library thing").
Lunarin at library@esplanade

So Lunarin's vocalist/ bassist and guitarist obliged by performing 'Silverpiece'. Kinda poetic, as a final song in their last gig of the year.

At the very end, the two band members had to tell the audience to leave. Show's over folks.

I've seen quite a few performances at EPCL and this was the first time the audience had to be told the session was over.

They didn't want to leave. That much was clear.

Their lead singer turned out to be quite a joker. The dry and sardonic kind. Not that what she said was necessarily untrue. Most of the time. Must be a lawyer thing. If you manage to read this post, you'll see what I mean. Heh.

At one point, she said they didn't know where their drummer was -- whether he was dead or alive. And that the person in the audience who looked like their drummer wasn't him.

Turned out he was indeed present [click on the image to see the note in Flickr]:
Lunarin at library@esplanade

Linda said this was their last gig of the year because they were running out of money and couldn't play free gigs anymore. At that point, I thought, "Oh boy, I'm sorry the library couldn't pay for them to play at the library".
Lunarin at library@esplanade

Then she said they would have to spend their money carefully, on the more important things. Like alcohol.

Um, let me retract that earlier thought then.

Lunarin at library@esplanade

They say you cannot judge a book by its cover. The same is true for a band who says they play "gothic heavy metal rock". Don't judge the musicians by the music they play -- at least for this group.

When I introduced myself to Eng Teck and Kah Whye Wye, I was expecting either cool responses or gruff one-liners.

Didn't happen.

Those two guys were very soft-spoken. Unassuming. Polite and shy even. Man, they can't be rockers, can they? But they are.

So who says rockers can't be gentlemen?

Eng Teck's the lawyer, and Kah Whye's Wye's the engineer. I told them I thought it was the other way around. Forgive me guys, I'm an ignorant librarian. Don't write me into your next song.

And their vocalist is, well, vocal.

She did all the talking. Not that the audience minded.

I don't know her at all, other than a few emails in the course of arranging for the loan promotion, as part of their gig at the library. In fact, she did all the emailing too. She wasn't that intimidating as I thought a laywer-rocker-babe would be.

We met and shook hands, finally. She wanted to give me a hug even. Only as a thank you gesture of course (she gave hugs to some people earlier, so it's not what you think).

But being the prude that I was, I pulled back in horror. I only hug my wife and my dog. Besides, what if my wife got to hear about it?

So we only shook hands again (honest, my dear).

Once again, a big thank you again, Lunarin, for contributing your time and energy for a library event.

Two lawyers and an engineer.

Playing Gothic Rock.

Inspiring stuff.

There are five autographed copies of their CD to give away, as part of the loan promotion at the library@esplanade (5th June to 2nd July 2007). BTW, I'm not the one who was responsible for bringing in Lunarin to library@esplanade. You have to thank my other colleagues for that.

p.s. Thanks to Brennan, ModCentric, and Kevin for turning up too.
[17 June 07 update: Lunarin says "We is like librarians"]

mrbrown joins 10,000 Fathers Reading

From mrbrown's contribution to the event blog:
Reading to the kids is something my wife is better at but I am betterat the sound effects and funny faces.

We’ve always believed in inculcating a love of reading to the kids. We both grew up loving to read too.
See also: mrbrown's post at his blog.

I told a few friends about the 10,000 Fathers Reading event. One of them emailed me: "If my dad hadn't drowned me with books, I don't think I would've loved reading as I do now."

She added that her dad used to bring her to one of the public library on his scooter every 3rd Saturday morning.

Parent's influence is so very important. And the kids will know it too, when they are older.

The event is tomorrow.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

“Youtube and beyond: What you want to know but never knew who to ask”

The idea first started from a conversation at this meet-up. And now we have this talk coming up:
"Youtube and Beyond: What you want to know but never knew who to ask"

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“Youtube and beyond: What you want to know but never knew who to ask”
A public talk on the present and future of online video sharing by Kevin Lim

Tuesday, 19 Jun 2007
6:00PM - 8.30PM
(latecomers welcomed!)

Multi-purpose Room, Central Lending Library
(Basement of National Library, Victoria Street)
Click for Map

Youtubers, Videobloggers, Video podcasters, or anyone who wants to get started with sharing videos online, this interactive session is perfect for you! Here are 5 reasons why you have to join in:

  • Explore the world of free video sharing services -> going beyond Youtube
  • Learn tips to producing great video for web -> high quality, small file size
  • How to protect yourself by staying legal -> copyright, Creative Commons
  • See the future of online videos -> Lifecasting and searching within videos
  • Make friends and show your clips with fellow video bloggers!

Plus: If there’s time, learn how to videocast without spending a bomb on web hosting, by integrating Internet Archive with your blog.

Kevin Lim [of] is currently pursuing his PhD in Communication and is teaching in the Educational Technology Center at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). He studies the wide-ranging cultural affordances of technology, focusing particularly on the pedagogical aspects of social media. Being passionate about making and sharing videos, Kevin is currently challenging notions of virtuality through his modular “sousveillance” backpack. In an attempt at enhancing the usefulness of video, this unique backpack allows him to experiment with lifecasting, ambient intimacy, and video as a form of memory prosthetic (also see eyetap and wearcam).

Click to add to your calendar button

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It's fascinating to me how fast things can happen with technology as the enabler, and when fueled by passion.

Kevin and I let the idea fester for a while since the last meetup. Then we met last week, to discussed over lunch on what the talk should or shouldn't cover. We also confirmed the date, time and venue on the same day.

After that, things flew.

This part here is more for my reference. I'm interested in how this talk would be received since we're relying more on online mediums to publicise the event:
  • 2.30pm - Kevin emailed me his final draft of the outline. He might have emailed Siva as well, 'cos Siva emailed a suggestion for Kevin to put up a blurb for the talk.
  • 9:35pm - Siva was first to blog about it (even before Kevin, 'cos Kevin only finalised the first draft over email)
  • 10.30pm - Kevin blogs this post. We discussed over IM and he did some amendments to the post on the fly.
  • 11.00pm - I logged in from home and emailed to my NLB colleagues, requesting them to help create a poster for the event.
  • 11.30pm - Jullian was on IM. I asked him to take a look at Kevin's post. He replied, "Interesting... But I don't any videos to share". I realised his impression was that the session was about sharing videos. Not quite true. I IMed Kevin with the observation. More amendments on the fly on Kevin's post.
  • 11.34pm - I posted to the discussion forum and dropped email to the portal administrator, whom I've corresponded before. Around this same time, Siva alerts the folks at the Yesterday.Sg mailing list about the talk.
  • 11.45pm - Noticed an IM contact whom I know writes for a mainstream paper. Asked if she would be interested in the event (I was hoping she would be, so that she might cover the event). She replied that she's not covering that area. OK, I tried, heh. Thanked her and requested her to pass the word around, about the talk.
  • 11.55pm - Received an email notification. Someone responded to the post and I replied.
  • 12.52am - Wondered who else might be interested in the talk. So I posted to these mailing lists: Librarians-in-SG, SG Ruby Brigade, Songcraft, and Gahmen Bloggers.

BTW, from the library's viewpoint, we first have to determine a speaker's credibility. That's easily established. Kevin's lectured for the Singapore Institute of Management. I've seen a few of his lectures in videos (like this one for the last day of class).

Then the topic has to be of relevance. That's the easy part too. A talk like this would be timely and of interest to young people and older. seems to be on everyone's awareness nowadays. Many people in Singapore carry a handphone with picture/ video recording capabilities.

Besides, the talk isn't just about Youtube. One of the aim was to show that there are more video sharing sites out there. Then Kevin will also share tips on producing and formatting videos for the web, plus areas like copyright and the concept of Creative Commons.

OK, hope to see you at the talk. Updates to the talk (if any) would be at Kevin's post.

If you're helping to blog or publicise the talk, please drop Kevin an email and he'll link to your post. BTW, anyone wants to submit it to Tomorrow.SG?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Singapore band Lunarin to play at library@esplanade

Fans of the Singapore band, Lunarin, might want to drop by the library@esplanade on Saturday 16 June 2007, to catch them playing an acoustic set.

[Click to see larger image for details]
Lunarin plays at library@esplanade

As part of their gig, there's also a loan promotion from 5th June to 7th July 2007. Five autographed The Chrysalis CDs to be won! Details are in the poster.

Lunarin was one of the Singapore bands featured in the On The Record exhibition. First time I heard of the band was from this blog interview at High Browse Online.

Eh, the band is "made up of 3 working professionals (2 lawyers & a chemical engineer)" -- "don't play, play" OK! Also, their lead singer used the "B" word (and the library posted it!) so that got my attention :)

But I didn't know what sort of music they played, until I viewed the video documentary. The intro to one of their songs, "Dry" (the electric version; not the acoustic one), was used by way of featuring the band.

You ever experienced the feeling when you just feel MOVED when you hear a piece of music? And you don't necessarily know why, and you don't really care why either?

It happened to me.

So I tried to look for their CD. Went to a few retails outlets but they didn't carry it. Finally I went to their website, got the email address and asked them how I could get a copy. Their bassist and lead singer, Linda, replied that I could get a copy at the Esplanade Shop.

Which I did.

And I'm glad I bought their album. Loved every track. New Age meets Heavy Metal.

Clearly, they don't play the type of music that all would enjoy. They acknowledged as much in the video documentary. You can listen to some of their songs at their myspace page.
The official band website

Additional material & downloads

Sister Site for all Unofficial news and ramblings

I credit their song, "Dry", for inspiring me to compose my We Stand Unbroken (although my composition sounds nothing like theirs).

Their show stars at 7pm. Admission is free.

More details at their lead singer's blog here, and also the Gibson blog. Apparently, Gibson is lending two guitars to the band.

From their mailing list, I learned that their gig at the library@esplanade "could possibly be their last show for the year".

Heh, it'll be my first Lunarin show.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bernard Leong, on Two Medias

Bernard Leong posts this article about the Two Medias. He reflects and observes on some events and issues that spanned the past two years or so, that involved the "clash" of the 'new' and 'traditional media'.

It made me revisit some of the more notable posts/ events that were significant to me:

Bernard believes that (1) an informal mechanism of criticism and feedback would be established between the New Media and the Mainstream Media, (2) controversy would be unsustainable in new media, and (3) the rise of "Specialist Bloggers" in the SG media landscape. He concludes that the future relationship between the two medias would be a balance that has positive and optimistic outcomes.

I've no doubt there would be a balance between the "two medias". The question is really 'when' (I made a similar point in this iChat conversation with Kevin and Brennan in October last year).

If you understand the concept of economic equilibrium, then it's easy to view the relationship of the New Media and the Mainstream Media as one influenced by price, demand and supply, with "News and Information" as the commodity.

And as in economics, what's less easy is to be able to predict and determine how much influence one variable has over the other.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thinking Aloud: Public Service Employees are not paid to think or say otherwise?

[Update: I've no idea why some people, after reading this post, think I'm a rebel or anti-establishment. I guess they gave up reading before they reached the part "So, was I being a rebel?"]

Just thinking aloud about some loosely connected issues:

These seemingly unrelated statements got me thinking about the role of a public service employee:
  1. A friend said to me, "Wow, you are very anti-establishment". It was in response to the post where I shouldn't have blogged about (or so the title went).
  2. I also shared the same post with folks in Gahmen Bloggers (GB). One of the GBers suggested I start a blog called "RebellingLibrarian".
  3. Another GBer wrote, as part of the discussion, that unlike the academics, public servants aren't academics so we're not paid to think or say otherwise (to policies, I presume).
  4. As part of an interview for an upcoming article (the magazine shall remain unnamed), I was asked how a public service employee was to tell if what he/she blogs about is sensitive information.

What can I blog, or not blog about?

In my reply to item 4, I said the public service employee should first check the IM and the OSA. In the absence of blogging guidelines for public service employees, I follow these personal rules:
  • Is it my job or business to share this information publicly?
  • Should it be made public by my organisation's Corporate Communications department first, before I talk about it?
  • If Corp Comms isn't going to make this public, can I still do it? See point 1.
  • How much do I understand the organisation's culture?
  • How much trust do my co-workers and bosses have of me?
Sometimes the answer is a clear Yes or No. Sometimes it's a judgment call. Ultimately, I have to exercise a choice -- blog it, or don't.

If I choose to blog about it, I make sure I'm prepared to stand by what I post, and be answerable to readers, my co-workers, and bosses.

Should public service employees simply just do what their superiors tell them to do?
Let me use an extreme analogy -- say you're a mere private in the army. Your Commanding Officer asks you to summarily execute a Prisoner Of War. You know it's against the Geneva Convention. So do you do it? You're not paid to think or do otherwise, right?

Wrong. The soldier who carries the order is as guilty as the commander. This has precedents in various war tribunals.

The analogy, as I wrote, was on the extreme. Singapore public service employees aren't likely to face such ethical dilemmas. But even if ethics isn't involved, the point is whether we should simply be obedient employees and carry out what we're asked to do without question. Or raise issues to our bosses, knowing that it might put you in a tight spot (or worse, branded as a "troublemaker").

I'm not talking about cases where clear ethical issues are involved (e.g. corruption). Those has to be acted upon.

I'm referring to fairly normal situations, where the employee may have a differing view that's contrary to those of their bosses.

I'm reminded of this book "The Little Red Dot: Reflections by Singapore's Diplomats":
NLB Call No.: 327.5957 LIT (Singapore Collection)
ISBN: 981-256-414-4
Check NLB Catalogue for item availabilty

One ex-diplomat (can't remember who) observed that in the early days of Singapore's Foreign Service (now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), the culture was that a lower-ranked officer had no hesitation in telling a more senior officer that a policy or statement might be wrong. The author then remarked that the culture seemed to have changed over time, where the subordinate tended to defer to their superiors*.
[* BTW, what's with the term "superior"? What does that make the other person? An "inferior"? Bleh.]

The point, I felt, was that as public sector employees, while we may report to and carry out the instructions of senior officers, it doesn't mean we're just cogs in a machine.

We are paid to think and say otherwise!
This much is clear to me. What's important is how we say it.

Disagreeing with one's bosses doesn't mean you have to do it in a confrontational way. Do it respectfully. In the end, the conclusion (or decision) may still be the same, but personally, I'd sleep better knowing I've at least done my job.

So, was I being a rebel?
Back to the point of whether I should've blogged about it. At the end of my post, I explained why I did it:
All I really wanted to do was to share, in my usual rambling way, that such a discussion forum is being organised by a government agency, for government employees from various agencies.

So no, I'm no activist. I'm a pretty risk-adverse kind of guy. Fire and brimstone makes me choke. However, I realised it still took some small measure of courage (or stupidity, depending on how you see it) to blog about it.

After all, the MC of the policy forum said not to blog about it. The event had absolutely nothing to do with my work as a librarian. By blogging about it, all I did was to draw unnecessary attention to myself.

I told myself the policy forum wasn't a secret meeting. A policy forum isn't the same as say, a confidential cabinet meeting.

But someone could easily have spotted the post, email it to some high-level public service officer. My bosses could be informed. They might say, "This fella's a bit of a maverick. Better keep close tabs on him." As a wildcard, my chances for career advancement would be affected.

Those thoughts went through my mind.

So why did I still do it?
I still don't know. Maybe I had something to prove. Only, I'm not quite sure what it was.

Perhaps there really is an anti-establishment streak in me. If you tell me not to do it, I'm wet-wired to think and do otherwise.

Or perhaps I wanted to prove to the public-at-large that public service employees can think for themselves. That not everyone thinks along the lines of "Ours is not to question why; Ours is to do and die".

Maybe I was trying to show other public service employees that we should be confident, and transparent, enough to say that such a closed meeting was held. As explained, this isn't a confidential cabinet meeting.

Maybe in the end, all I've proved is that I'm making far too much out of a simple post!

Exercise your choice. And be prepared for the consequences.
I thought it fitting, to end my long-drawn post, with this quote from one of the Gahmen Bloggers. It was made in response about being a rebel and all that. I'm quoting it here with permission: "Shiok to be rebellious. Not cool when it comes down on you."

Spot on! I'll use it when teaching the kids about blogging.

Only, I'll add that whether one chooses to "rebel", better do it with a cause that we believe in. As in many things in life, what is "right" or "wrong" sometimes isn't easy to tell. But whatever it is, if we choose to exercise the choice to be different -- in deeds, opinions, or speech -- just be prepared for the consequences.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Highlights from Singapore LibraryBlogLand, for May 2007

Here's a wrap-up for what I've read from the Singapore LibraryBlogland in May 2007:

Tiny Digit thinks there's "dark days" ahead to being a librarian, because "our skill set make us pretty difficult to seek greener pasture elsewhere". I didn't quite agree with that sentiment though : )

A colleague alerted me to this blog by Jewelle, a former librarian (who's originally from Sabah and now resides in Brunei). She brought her kids to Singapore for a vacation and made Cheng San Community Library as one of their holiday itinerary.

Isaak the Blogging Librarian shares his thoughts about the basic traits a librarian should have.

Novelet blogs about her experience at the Bologna Children's Book Fair 2007 (photos here).

Wrkshy is seeking partners for a collaborative art project.

QQ*Librarian shares her tip on the best way to avoid library fines. It's not rocket science, btw! She also discovers a library-themed food court in Singapore.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Meeting Tan Tarn How (or, "I'm not allowed to blog about it")

The lady, the MC, who started the session rolling said, "Please do not blog about today's session". Or something to that effect.

The audience laughed.

The lady responded in good humour, "I'm not sure if I should be worried about the laughter".

She was just the messenger, obviously. I'm not sure why the need to make the remark though. Maybe it was to set the context for the discussion that was to follow.

This was a policy forum held at IPAM, relating to "new media". The flyer said it was organised by the Strategic Policy Office, Public Service Division, together with the Institute of Policy Development, Civil Service College.

I estimated about 100 participants or so, all employees of various civil service departments as well as statutory boards. Not sure how many of the participants have blogs. Even if they did, I don't think many would be blogging about it (who has the time? heh). But it was clear from the subsequent discussions that many of them read blogs at the very least.

Maybe the "no blog request" was to assure participants that they needn't worry about expressing themselves candidly, for the subsequent discussions.

A better way might be to say, "Follow the Chatham House Rules":
"When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed".
(See this and this). Incidentally, the facilitator of the panel discussion later emphasised "we'll follow the Chatham House Rules" a few times -- but alas the "no blog rule" was left as it was.

OK, being the dutiful government agency employee that I am (i.e. "Kiasi"), I'll not mention the title of the form. I'll not even mention the titles of the presentations. Not even the speakers...

... Ah, what the heck, I'll mention the panelists, 'cos I found the session really engaging:
Too bad I can't blog about some of the points resulting from the discussions. I thought all of them had smart things to say, in response to the questions and comments from the participants.

The three academics -- Dr Lim, Dr George, and Mr Arun -- responded to most of the questions and comments. Their responses were coherent and articulate (I'd have rambled instead). In particular, I was most impressed with Cherian George, from the way he latched on to the key points made by some participants (some of whom, in contrast, made lengthy statements rather than questions!) and used apt analogies to explain his views.

Some questions were also submitted via SMS, and later displayed on screen along side the "live" discussion. I thought it was a very in-thing to do, and more important, it allowed those less inclined to take the microphones to express themselves.

But alas, I can't really blog about any of that.

What I can say is that I met Tan Tarn How at the session, who was there as a participant, and who also gave a very thoughtful and interesting response during the panel discussion. I've read his blog before (he says he hasn't had time to update it). But I didn't know about his other blog for his alter-ego.

We had a chance to chat during the break. I asked him about his research interests. He shared some interesting observations about the state of the Singapore Blogosphere. Maybe he ought to put some of that observations to update his blog : )

* p.s. Actually I'm just being a smart-ass here, in writing this post. Apologies to Tarn How if he feels slighted that he's been mentioned merely as a "last resort" (not the case!)

The organisers aren't to be blamed for the lack of details in this post either.

All I really wanted to do was to share, in my usual rambling way, that such a discussion forum is being organised by a government agency, for government employees from various agencies.

This is progress, in my opinion.

Two years ago, I would not have imagined such a discussion being organised, for government employees. Back then, anything "new media" was generally seen as frivolous or merely a fad. Or little understood at best, and hence not most people's awareness.

This is hardly the first forum on "new media" for government employees. And I don't think will be the last. As one speaker said, there's no agreement on how the government should deal with new media.

In the end, I suspect the only way to manage new media is like how Singapore has managed the Internet -- you don't, because you can't.

Hmm... perhaps more on this, for a later post.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

How a baby crocodile is preserved

Interesting. So that's how a dead animal is preserved:

Read the full post here.

Incidentally, the post was by an intern that Siva is supervising. He had a hand in getting his latest interns to start blogging. And from posts like this, this and this one, it's clear he's teaching them more than just science-related stuff.

Which is important.

I believe 'research' is just one part of the science work. The other part would be to make that research accessible. Using tools like Blogs means the level and amount of content could be distributed in many different ways, depending on what aims you're trying to get.

I won't want to read the academic papers that people like Siva produce. But from time to time, I'll be keen to know what goes on in his department. To have a peek into the sort of science-related work he and his colleagues -- and interns -- perform.

It's not for any specific purpose. Just part of my own life long learning pursuit.

Friday, June 01, 2007

10,000 fathers wanted on Father's Day (on 17 June 2007)

I'm not kidding. They're really aiming to get ten-thousand fathers. You need to bring your kid(s) along though (but it seems there's no age restrictions on the ages of the dads or the kids, heh)
Celebrate Father’s Day at East Coast Park!
Poster - Ten Thousand Fathers Reading!Date: 17 June 2007 (Sunday, Father’s Day)
Time: 11am - 6pm
Venue: East Coast Park, Area E2

Free admission. No registration needed.

Take part in a mass-reading event for fathers and children; Enjoy fun & entertaining programmes and performances; Fathers get a free goodie bag(while stocks last).

Details at the website -

I met a friend for lunch earlier this week. He told me it was only recently that he realised the impact the books made on his son.

He has been borrowing children's books from the library regularly, to read to his son. This week, when he took away a bunch of books to return to the library, his son started crying and uttered, "Books! Books!"

He said that made him realise that his son actually formed an attachment to the books and the stories. He has a daughter a few months old. I'm sure he'll want to borrow more books soon.

Incidentally, this reminded me of an earlier post of mine, about the role of parents in nurturing a child's reading habits. Sometimes, all the parent needs to do is to leave interesting books around the home. That's what I feel.

I understand there'll be storytelling sessions, soccer and reading, plus some other activities for the 10,000 Fathers Reading event. Each dad will get to redeem a goodie bag as a memento. Oh, mums aren't excluded.