eM-powering eFutures

VALA 2012  was held at Jeff’s Shed in Melbourne. (officially – The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre).  The promising title was eM-powering eFutures.

Jason Griffey kicked off the proceedings telling us about Libraries in the Post PC Era. He talked about how our customers are accessing our resources, the fast adoption of mobile technologies, and the need for better metrics in measuring this change in access. He went on to show us some examples of new technologies: flip scanning devices that will scan a book at a speed of 500 frames per second; the Samsung transparent window pc; Maker-bot 3D printing machine; and others.

Eric Miller of Zepheira talked about Linked data – weaving the web of libraries, museums and archives. This was my favourite presentation of the Conference.

Eibhlin Roche who is an archivist from The Guinness Storehouse in Ireland talked to us about her job and the Guinness Archive: unlocking the potential of an iconic global brand.  She stunned us with her statistics concerning dollars generated for Guinness directly from the Guinness archives.

Many other people presented talks and information in a variety of ways on topics ranging from gaming in libraries, to big data, staff training, library makeovers, and more. The papers and presentations can be found here. Further comments and notes can be found on Twitter by searching with the tag #VALA2012.

The main streams of content from the presentations were: planning for the future; up-skilling library staff to be able to assist with new technologies; library space redesign; data management; social media applications; and finding relevancy in the community in an era when library resources and competencies are available from other sources.

#NYOR2012 Laugh

Laugh is the theme for February for the Australian National Year of Reading.

The truth is that not much makes me laugh out loud. Never has. And it’s not as though I don’t have a sense of humour because I do. So I set a challenge for anyone who reads this blog – all two of you – to recommend a book to me that is guaranteed to make me laugh out loud.

To refine the field a little I can tell you that I don’t find slapstick funny, nor humour at the misfortune of others. I don’t find expletives funny because to me they are just words and hold no power to amuse or deride. I find some amusement in the differences of people – you know the old Irish jokes? But is that more to do with discomfort than amusement? Men versus women jokes are not really funny to me because they are so often close to the truth.

I don’t find “Aussie” humour funny at all. I don’t find comedians like Judith Lucy funny. She can’t seem to get through one routine or interview without making mention of her vagina. Why she seems to think people find that funny or even worthy of mentioning is quite beyond my comprehension.

Animal humour can be slightly cute and will stir a smirk or giggle from me on occasion. Usually though this is in the form of video clips and I am not prone to read “animal” stories at all. Unlike nine year old boys, I am not amused by toilet humour.

I can tell you that I am a Monty Python fan and think that there have been no comedies to match them at all in the 40 years since they made their mark. The Life of Brian and The Holy Grail are classics. As you go through life being troubled by life’s typical problems you can always find a Monty Python quote to match the situation and lighten the mood with a sense of levity. And although their books remind you of their silliness I wouldn’t say they have made me laugh hysterically.

Brian: I’m not the Messiah!

Arthur: I say you are, lord, and I should know… I’ve followed a few.

I appreciate Fawlty Towers but it doesn’t quite do it for me the way the Monty Python team did.

The French sense of humour I understand and I don’t know why. Twice in my life I have laughed so much that tears rolled down my cheeks and both of these were at live performances. One was in Melbourne back in my art school days and I went with a friend to see a one man stand up routine by Chris Langham. He worked with the Monty Python crew and was one of the centurions in The Life of Brian. His career took a sad turn for the worst in recent years which is unfortunate. But nevertheless he did make me laugh back in the day.

The second time I laughed tears of hysteria was in Paris in 2008 at a cabaret show and one of the acts was a performance by a clown/acrobat/mime. I started laughing as soon as he came onto the stage because of his silly antics and it grew from there. I laughed all through his performance and I had sore cheeks, tears in my eyes and on my face and I was breathless by the time he finished his skit.

Perhaps I laugh at what is absurd and ridiculous. I like satire and comedy aimed at intellect.

So you see unfortunately I can’t recall one single book that has made me laugh out loud. I am sure there must have been moments in books that I sniggered at, but none stand out.

I would love a good laugh, so if you think you have something to match my narrow sense of humour then please provide your ideas in the comments section and I will definitely look it up and read it.

[The members of “The People’s Front of Judea” are sitting in the amphitheatre. Stan has just announced that he wants to be a woman and wants to be called “Loretta,” and is explaining why.]

Stan: I want to have babies.

Reg: You want to have babies?!?!

Stan: It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.

Reg: But … you can’t HAVE babies!

Stan: Don’t you oppress me!

Reg: I’m not oppressing you, Stan. You haven’t got a womb! Where’s the fetus gonna gestate? You gonna keep it in a box?