This is the first in a series of posts about the keynote speakers coming to the SLANZA Conference, 15th–17th July 2013 in Wellington.
One of the perks of being on the planning committee for the 2013 SLANZA conference is in knowing who the keynote speakers will be before they are publically announced. So, in addition to the profiles of keynote speakers on the SLANZA website, I will also write a series of posts about each one and their particular relevance to our work with school libraries.
Tara Brabazon is Professor of Creative Media and Head of Photography and Creative Media at the University of Bolton in Greater Manchester, UK. After hearing Tara at the Librarian’s Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC) in 2008, a conference delegate wrote
“Tara Brabazon…gave one of the most outstanding performances I’ve ever seen…from her lack of PowerPoint, to Star Trek references. We need to bottle her enthusiasm for librarians and information literacy and sell it; she really has the potential to do for information literacy what Jamie Oliver did for school dinners!” Jane Secker
Information literacy is just one of the areas in which Tara talks and writes with great passion. Her other interests include:
- social media and how this has led to confusion between public and personal information
- sonic media and the way in which using sound-only media can help to encourage more complex and alternative modes of thought
- and online education, and how it can assist students to adopt better digital citizenship behaviours
A podcast of Tara’s address to a Master Data Management Summit in London last year entitled Change we need? Moving from information obesity to digital dieting discusses how popular search engines like Google not only “restricts, reduces and limits” but also encourages “sloppy thinking” and information behaviours that are “easy” but not necessarily beneficial.
Tara recommends that we start using simple interventions before moving onto more complex information scaffolding and to ask ourselves the following 10 questions when thinking about the management of information:
- What type of information is being expressed?
- How important is this information? What are the social, political, economic or intellectual imperatives of this information?
- What platform is best suited for expressing this type of information?
- Who is the intended audience?
- How committed do you want the audience to be with this information? Our commitment to a tweet is different to committing to a monograph or report.
- Is there a group that should not receive this information?
- Which platform best reaches this target audience?
- Which platform minimises the opportunities for unintended leakage and migration of information?
- Are special literacies required to manage the sensory environment of this information?
- Is there a medium with a particular communication bias that configures the correct balance between information management and risk management?
Tara says that due to a lack of information literacy, students become easily satisfied with superficial information and need to “stop snacking on crusts of knowledge and develop advanced interpretive skills” because real learning is “slow, gradual and incremental”.
I’m curious to know what kind of “digital diet” Tara might have us consider next July, but I agree with what she says about “less being more” and I like her references to Harold Innis’s work The Bias of Communication which argues that the medium is not the message but rather, as Tara emphasises, “the medium is the first moment of choice to create meaning.”