Amplification and Resonance: the cultural laboratory, small networks and bubbles of learning

Starting my new position as research librarian at Deakin University Library has been a growth curve, both in my own knowledge practices and in working within an organisation.  This has been particularly poignant for me as I have been operating as a lone wolf and working from home for quite some time now in my professional practice as a research consultant. As a creative and autonomous worker, merging into the office environment has been a contradictory experience, however growth is always a little uncomfortable and it was definitely time for me to take things up a level.

The office environment has required modifications in my working style to fit into the be-cubicled aspect ratio of an office environment. My ducky flannelette pyjamas are no longer my outfit of inspiration and I am having to think about which socks match with what outfit before my morning coffee. As always, fluro lighting and boxes are not a comfortable fit for my pink dragon tail and fairy wings that I metaphysically traipse about in, however the trade-offs are growing on me.

Prior to this position, I had begun to use my creative brain dump drawings as a thought tool for metaphors and concepts that fast tracked and hacked the logic and blinkers in my thought processes, giving me access to my intuitive thinking and tacit knowledge. An example of me in fine form is this image I drew during a think tank for the ARC Agile Opera project at RMIT.


No one could say that this was actual drawing skill, but for me these drawings are more tools to aid thinking rather than any exhibition of skill and I often throw them away once their purpose is served. I this image, I was considering the relationships between power, voice, advocacy and amplification and resonance in the creative arts sector.  Ironically, these appear to be the same tropes that I am drawing in thinking about a training and research services support model that assists academics with digital literacy and academic profile building skills… who woulda thunk it?

Upon starting this position, I was concerned that the office environment would mean that this aspect of my expression and creativity would shut down. This drawing from day 2 shows that concern in process.


At the same time, however inspiration from my environment, the university library, as a information reef in the knowledge flows of the university that you see in the second drawing (which I wrote a short essay on that you can read here one day) is something that is very close to my heart and creative waters, so to speak, so it can’t be all bad.

Working in a quotidian manner with others has begun to expand my access to a diverse range of thinking that is both similar in some domains to my own but also more diverse. Most helpfully, I have begun to collaborate on a review of the training needs and a review of the training materials for supporting scholarly knowledge production and publication… essentially training myself up to where I need to be.

In doing so, I have been looking at how social media activity by researchers can amplify the reach of research publications into the wider environment, and engage others also surfing along these waves.  I like to think of this engagement as a form of resonance, with this nasty little sketch showing how my thinking is both evolving and linking back to the ThinkTank drawing on this topic.


I initially saw this image on my inner screen as a kind of extending and self-appropriating/adaptive fabric spilling out from a diamond in the middle.  The diamond interior form, in discussion with a colleague, possibly maps over into the four domains of knowledge management of knowledge creation, knowledge storage and retrieval, knowledge transfer and knowledge application articulated by Alavi & Lender (2001) in what is apparently a landmark paper on this topic (wonderful how you stumble blindly on to these things).

Personally I like the addition of little traction pads at the end of each be-tentacled branch of whatever those triangle composite things are supposed to represent (knowledge modules?). It makes me think of a martian landing and space pod that recompiles itself according to the environment.

In a great recent blog find putting into plain language how social change happens (from a social sciences perspective, I was inspired to think about the creative and innovative environment as a honeycomb fabric of small networks that are cultural laboratories through which learning bubbles up and influence coalesces through windows of alignment.  This notion resonates strongly with the guiding vision of the interdisciplinary salon I co-convene with Meredith Lewis and Romaine Logere, Parallel Fascinations and suggests that we are ON TRACK.

The last year (2015) for Parallel Fascinations saw four salons, all held at the amazing venue space at the Channel, Melbourne Arts Centre. To say that we are inspired to be conducting out salons in this premier cultural precinct is an understatement, as we match the tone with both the creativity and next level shit that we pull and put into these salons.

Our final salon of the year was a quiet introspective affair where we reflected on what Parallel Fascinations meant for our select participants.The future dreaming and associations that flowed during this salon where intoxicating, sensuous and totally out there, I am happy to report.  As convenors, we are still processing what this means for our future directions and what we need to do to keep this precious and untamed space alive.

I finally got around to doing the transcript of the associations that I took from this salon and I’ll give you a bit of a jumbled conglomeration of them here so you can see what the tethers are that we will be setting down as we nurture this collective cultural laboratory focused on creativity and innovation.

Convention crossing, inappropriateness, no fear, moments of the veil dropping, to be aware and alive, “If you reach the finite, you can achieve it”, the hanging gardens of Babylon, a transformative state, enlightenment through thresholds, manifesting a new reality through glitches, to enter a timeless space, moving like liquid…and my final favourite flourish that I will sign out on today, a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche

                            …when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you…

Have chew on that all you souls out there… and stay tuned for we are in a time of abundance. Now is the time to navigate, amplify and resonate until innovation bubbles up through the cultural laboratories of our hearts and minds.