Sunday, 19 February 2012

I was only DREaMing

Hmmmm...[ref item 17]
A few Mondays ago I was lucky enough to participate in the second LIS DREaM workshop at the British Library in old London town. Developing Research Excellence and Methods is an AHRC funded project which aims to develop a formal UK-wide network of Library and Information Science (LIS) researchers.

The workshop materials are all available online (including video of the presentations) and others have already done a fantastic job of blogging the day. So, I'm pinching Dan Slee's UK GovCamp '20 things' as a format for some reflections:

  1. User involvement in research is a hot issue and getting hotter. There is a growing canon of work and it's increasingly a funding requirement. Professor Peter Beresford's inspiring presentation (given refreshingly without any PowerPoint!) outlined the challenges - personal, ethical and methodological - that this presents for us all as service users, researchers and policy makers.
  2. It is possible to get a perfectly nice (if a little eccentric) hotel in central London for under £50 (B&B).
  3. Ella Taylor Smith (@Ellatasm) and Lauren Smith (@walkyouhome) are both embarking on very interesting PhDs that touch on digital participation, libraries and democratic engagement. Particularly relevant right now. Will be keeping a close eye on both of these.
  4. That's not to say that others are not doing interesting research as well. The proof can be found via the video of the 'unconference' half hour when some of us talked about our research interests.
  5. I can live without paper. For five days anyway. That was a bit of revelation for me - one that warrants a blog post all of its own.
  6. The cafe in the British Library serves the biggest muffins in the world. The wifi is pretty tasty as well.
  7. I have yet to be disappointed when I've met IRL people I know only from Twitter.
  8. Despite a great presentation from Dr Thomas Haigh on 'techniques from history', I will not be doing historical research any time soon. History was my best subject at school and I was advised to study it at uni. So I did. And pretty much hated every minute of those four years. During the workshop exercise, we discussed how we might apply historical methods to my research interest in the LIS profession in government. And I can see how it would be useful. But it does not inspire any passion...which leads me onto...
  9. Nick Moore made a great point in his presentation on 'research and policy' about motivation. Real interest in, and indeed, a passion for, your area of research are essential, especially if you want to inform policy. Now, I'm interested in lots of aspects of LIS...but I'm not sure what I'm passionate about. Need to give that some thought.
  10. I must have a chatelaine. Saw some beautiful ones at the V&A. I have some ideas for a modern version.
  11. Sentiment analysis seems to have come a long way since I first became aware of it a couple of years ago. Still not convinced of its usefullness though, despite the interesting stuff going on at the University of Wolverhampton's Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group, which Mike Thelwall talked about during his presentation on 'webometrics'. I'm going to have a play with SentiStrength though.
  12. Am already looking forward to the final workshop (at Edinburgh Napier University on 25 April), which will include a presentation on data mining.
  13. The Pajama Men are hilarious. Go see them.
  14. I love my iPad :) [ref item 5.] I am ever so grateful to my Mum for giving me one. Thanks Mum!
  15. There was some interest in my T-shirt - which was a Christmas pressie from t'other 'alf. You can get one from his Red Bubble site.
  16. The DREaM Project is a very slick operation. Offline and online content combine seamlessly (I was unable to attend the first workshop, but viewing the comprehensive online content was almost as good as being there in person), pre-workshop information was very thorough and the event itself went very smoothly. Kudos to Hazel Hall and Charles Oppenheim and Christine Irving, Kirsty Pipkin and others involved.
  17. However...because the online content is so comprehensive, I'd have liked the workshop to have made more of the opportunities of having us together - with a greater level of interactivity and more opportunities for discussion. Although it's nice to meet people IRL, I don't think I'd have felt that I'd missed out if I hadn't been able to attend in person.
  18. I am too old to mooch round Camden High Street of a Sunday :(
  19. Having been lucky enough to be involved with the project, I need to start thinking about how I might apply the techniques. This is very timely. And tempting...but I'm not sure that I'm ready to go back to full time study. Not just yet.