Thursday, February 07, 2008

Speaking at USF (Part 2): Planning for my talk for the Davis Forum

[From Part 1]

When David first contacted me, his course syllabus wasn't posted yet. What I knew was his students were expected to "learn about digital literacy by exercising digital literacy".

About 20 emails later, David and I settled on these points for my talk:
  • My personal reasons for blogging
  • My thoughts on the event to introduce senior citizens to blogging
  • The digital/ Web 2.0. experiments my librarian colleagues and I have experimented with in trying to reach and engage the younger generation

The third point's quite straight-forward. I share about the NLB blogs, online chat sessions for teens like this and this one, or via videoconferencing, or getting teens to express themselves via digital mediums.

For the first point, David elaborated that I could share how I used my blogs (in his words) "as a portal to [my] professional life" -- how I've used it to advertise events about the library, get feedback, and network professionally.

Here's a possible discussion topic -- I was thinking that all this "Web 2.0." stuff seems to lead us towards an inevitable meshing of our personal and professional lives. From my perspective, if we intend to use social networking platforms for professional work, it's not 100% possible (or desirable) to keep our personal lives completely removed from the professional domain. But it doesn't mean we lose total privacy either.

My main premise is that effective social networking requires us to reveal some parts of the Person, and not just the Employee. But I need to think about this further. Need to think of some concrete examples to share.

For the second point on senior citizens and blogs, David remembered a blog post on how Chun See and I introduced blogging to senior citizens in 2006. He also had an impression that that the idea of using blogs to capture the stories of senior citizens came from the prime minister of Singapore.

After some digging around, I realised David was referring to PM Lee Hsien Loong's 2006 National Day Rally speech. Specifically, on page 21, para 4:
"The young, even children, have blogs and some of the blogs are quite good. ... ... Old people also put up blogs. This one is called Bullockcartwater, ngau che soi (牛车水). So writing about the neighbourhood, festivals, food, the people, the activities, the place, the ties that bind us to Singapore."
David's main idea was to use this point to introduce the idea of "cultural differences" online.

He explained that it was difficult for a 20 year-old USF student (or anyone else) to imagine what it was like "to use Facebook as a Brazilian, or blog as a disabled person, or email as an Australian". But there were observable differences between the online
activities and comfort levels between a 20 year-old and a 70 year-old for instance.

In addition, he has hopes that his younger students might one day plan for a similar talk or workshop, using blogs or digital media to bridge the generation gap. For this part, I hope to get inputs from people like Chun See and Wee Kiat, and the folks at Yesterday.SG.

I appreciate David taking time to exchange ideas on the content of my session. There are clear goals in terms of the talk should achieve.

David has advised me to plan for a 45 minute talk and leave time for Q&A. I've chunked my content into these main segments:
  1. My perspective on using new media for personal & professional work (15% of my talk)
  2. How the Public Libraries in Singapore are using new media to target the children, teens, adults and senior adults (30%)
  3. Context of Senior Citizens in Singapore; Using digital media to reach this group; Issues, challenges, opportunities (30%)
  4. "Putting it all together" - Senior Citizens in Singapore, Digital Media, Role of Public Libraries (25%)

Maybe David's students would find their way to this post and leave comments -- on what they'd like to know, what they already know, questions or comments from what they have already heard from other speakers etc. It might help me refine the talk so that they'll get more out of it.

Anyway, my sense is that a good talk is not in the amount of information conveyed. It's how the speaker makes meaning for the audience, from all the information gathered and presented.

That is the hard part (but also the most fun, for me).

[Continued: Part 3]


  1. Ivan, When you talk about my blog, please tell them how it achieved something that I think no other media could have done; namely to bridge the gap between Sporeans of my generation and British folks like John Harper and Brian Mitchell. This is one thing that I am really proud of about GMY.

    Thanks for all your help and encouragement.

  2. Hi Chun See, I'll do that. The Harper and Mitchell posts are something pretty unique in the heritage blogs I've read so far. Thanks for the tip.!

  3. Anonymous4:59 am

    Hi Ivan,
    My name is Kelly, and I am a student in the Davies Forum "Digital Literacy" class. First of all, I (and my classmates) am so excited about your lecture. I have been reading your blog for context before your arrival, and I become more and more excited with every post. We are just starting the discussion about blogging in the class, and I'd love to hear a broad perspective from you on the topic. First, I am highly intrigued the personal/professional aspect of your blogging. Do you find that you "censor" yourself in your posts? More broadly, what does a good blog post on ramblinglibrarian look like/read like? Is it two parts professional, one part personal? Is it coherent and well thought out? Is it spontaneous? How deliberate would you say that your blogging is?

    In regards to your work around getting others (teens and seniors) to blog (or just generally digitize creative expression)--how do you teach something like this? Does one get better with practice? Is there are difference between what you are encouraging seniors and teens to do and the writing/blogging that you do?

    Finally, I'd love to hear a bit about the connection between blogs/creative expression and libraries. Libraries are so often thought of as "stale and dusty havens/vaults of only the greatest thinkers." How do you convince an average someone that their creativity and words have a place online, and that libraries are the means to doing this. The connection between libraries and bloggers, though it makes sense, might be a bit less than intuitive. I'd love to hear your ideas on that connection.

    Thanks for the ideas, Ivan. I'm looking forward to Thursday.

    Cheers, Kelly

  4. Hi Kelly, thanks for the questions! I'm tempted to answer them via a blog post, but maybe that will spoil the fun for the talk. I'll share them when I see you and your classmates. Oh, you should have a blog!

  5. hi ivan, i started reading your blog occasionally when the september project began. it's always interesting....i love libraries and art, so i enjoy your comments and occasional images of your work.
    david thought i should mention that i blog too, and am nearing that scary 70 age.
    have fun in san francisco....wish i could hear your lecture!

  6. Hi jini, thanks for letting me know! Oh, I wasn't able to find your blog; says your blogger profile isn't available. If you get this message, I hope you can activate your profile, or email your blog URL to me. I'd love to take a look at it. Cheers!

  7. ask david or sarah for the url, they'll give it to you.


Join the conversation. Leave a comment :)

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.