The power of the passive

Typically as a Librarian, reader and book lover, I am an introvert. So I tend towards being quiet, reserved, shy, aloof, socially awkward, not fond of big groups of people, and private. I think, ponder, listen, discern, assess, appreciate, analyse, observe and evaluate: before I speak- usually.

MC900434752I like to weigh up arguments and information. Sometimes appearing wishy-washy, non-comprehending, or a fence-sitter; I can usually appreciate both sides of a situation, and without a vested interest, nor a full understanding about all of the facts of the matter, I am reluctant to side with either polarity. Life is not black and white, but yin and yang with a little bit of each in the other.

I don’t like small talk, but I admire the way extroverts so easily begin with small talk and quickly move a conversation into a more meaningful depth. I can’t do this. It’s not that I am not interested in the opinions or lives of other people; I just don’t like to pry. Over the years I have learnt to manage and overcome my fears to some degree, of course.

Lately I’ve realised that the conversations I am listening to and a part of, have taken place in a variety of ways. My conversations are virtual, online, via podcasts, in person, while involved in activity, with special groups such as Buddhists, Librarians, and local government staff.

This week I attended some presentations in Second Life. The topic was “preservation of audio-visual materials”. It was strange to be sitting at home at my desk looking at my PC, whilst also being involved as an avatar seated in a virtual room with other avatars listening, observing, taking photos, and being a part of the discussions. Two robots, a pirate, a girl with wings, and other cool guys and girls congregated – alter egos for the librarian-techie-geeks, seated in our homes across the country, enjoying a topic in which we share an interest.

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At work I gave a presentation in real life to a group of people about social media for our organisation. As a quiet listener, this does not come easily to me. But as they grapple with trying to control Facebook for work purposes, I tried to lead them deeper into the Web 2.0 world. They are only dipping in their toes (faces), while I was encouraging them to see the bigger picture. I tried to encourage them to create their own Personal Learning Network by providing them with a brief overview about how to do this. They looked at me with blank stares. These weren’t Librarians or people who work in libraries. Thankfully the library staff I work with are well up to speed with online tools.

Other conversations I am part of take place while cycling or enjoying the compulsory coffee afterwards. Also after sitting in meditation with a group of like-minded people, we chat about the meaning of life and how to be better at it.

I travel alone each day; a 50 minute trip to and from work; and I love to fill this time listening to podcasts. There are so many available now on a range of topics. So while I listen to someone speaking as if in conversation directly to me, I consider the absurdity of the situation. This person, who I don’t know, is sitting at their home alone speaking and recording into their PC, hoping that someone like me will find, listen to and appreciate their ramblings. I am currently listening to Dean Dwyer’s Make Shift Happen, Michael Hyatt’s This is Your Life, Steve Thomas’s Circulating Ideas, and others.

Feeling inferior and apologetic for most of my life for my bookish ways and failure to be extroverted, I am finally validated by the words of Susan Cain about the value of being quiet. I have read her book Quiet and enjoyed her TED talk. Thank you Susan.

Besides, all of these talkers, performers, teachers, and show-offs need an audience and who better than someone who is quiet, listens, observes, evaluates, and knows how to appreciate their efforts?

I am currently reading an eBook version of Make Shift Happen by Dean Dwyer, I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson, and The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain Ph.D. I am also reading my study materials for the subject Social Networking for Information Professionals.

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Book Well

Book Well is “evocative”.

That is the conclusion that I have come to after being immersed in the Get Into Reading training sessions held at the State Library of Victoria last week.

There are so many other descriptions I could offer telling you what I think it is and what it is not. But even then you would be no closer to knowing the importance of this work and how it affects people.

It is a unique process that has profound impact on the well being of the individual. Research continues to try to identify how this reading aloud process affects the human brain.

It is surprising to feel the effects of listening to someone read great literature aloud. It sounds simple but it is not.

Aside from learning about the process, the other benefit of this week was the bonding of the group – real friendships blossomed immediately. There was a generosity of spirit that cocooned the whole experience. The experienced trainers from the UK set the tone for this I think.

We also shared a group task that took many of us well out of our comfort zones. We were to give a performance of Romeo and Juliet. Every one of us was to contribute in some way. And we were to use the text from the play; but could shape the play however we chose. It was to be 20 minutes long.

I, who has never performed before at all, was Mercutio. We performed a brief fight scene with Romeo, Tybalt, Benvolio and Mercutio. And of course, Mercutio and Tybalt both die.

Our performance was in the heritage listed Queens Hall of the State Library of Victoria to a small invitation-only audience. We had props, lighting, backdrops, music, costumes and a new script. This was all achieved in 4 days with only 1 hour at each end of the day for preparation. It was a lot of fun and a really positive experience.

Linking this task to the Get Into Reading program is difficult. I can only assume that by reading Shakespeare plays out loud in this way it gives us the confidence to read anything aloud to groups of people.

It is exciting to have shared this experience of Book Well with this group of amazing people and to be at the cusp of something new and exciting. I feel privileged to have been involved.

A little, aloud” edited by The Reader Organisation will be available later this year.