Earlier this week I was part of a really interesting discussion about the question of ‘engagement’ and what it might mean in the space of natural history and speculative imagination.
I’ve been working in the Museum sector for a little over a year and the question of engagement is an intriguing one. Having worked in community based tech and science organisations like MadLab, I guess I just expected the equivalent of citizen science – ‘engagement’ sounded like continuous reciprocal communication with visitors and participatory approaches as default but the realities of funding and organisational structures quickly made it clear it’s not nearly that simple.
The puzzle of engagement remains at every level, especially when considering putting it into practice. Even regarding the purely theoretical, we all have different understandings of ‘engagement’ – is it about getting feedback? Is it ideating with target/non-target audiences? Is it co-production? And what about the intertwined complexities of funding, accreditation and accountability?
Pretty much since I started going to Thought Bubble comic convention (so let’s put that to 2008-ish) I’ve always wanted to check out the Comics Forum. As someone who would constantly re-read Scot McCloud’s ‘Understanding Comics’ and would stay up late to watch reruns of documentaries like Comics Britannia, an event where you could sit and listen to people dig deep into comics sounded like heaven.
I mean, one only has to look at the statistics to see the social impact of the Viking community’s refusal to integrate into mainstream society. Time and time again, it seems completely obvious to me that this is a culture fundamentally different to our own that cannot adapt for the modern world, but the government clearly doesn’t want to do anything about it because they’re cowards, the lot of them – probably too scared of being accused on anti-Viking bias. Well I’m not. I’ve heard there are areas of Scotland one can’t move without bumping into one of them. It’s no wonder the average indigenous Pict feels threatened just walking out into the street. But you’ll never see this in the newspapers, oh no.
And what about those Romano-Celts, eh? Shocking really, though I supposed there’s a lesson that one drag a horse to civilisation, but you can’t make it stick. Just look at the numbers! It’s stuff like this that almost makes one yearn for the good old days of a bit of Roman imperialism – you’d’ve thought they would have been able to make some progress in almost 2,000 years but no. Usually one only has to look at their religion, but even the destruction of the druidic orders didn’t seem to make much difference overall, going by reports like these.
Throughout this country you’ll find entire counties divided by old kingdom borders. Even to this day you’ll find children in Warwick being taught tales about some mythical hero called ‘Guy’ instead of the normal, harmless fairy tales we’ve grown up with. In fact, I’d wager it’s thanks to this resurgence of ‘identity politics’ – then we wonder why things start going downhill but no one wants to use their common sense or just speak out. With these kind of cultural and sectarian differences, it’s no wonder the British people don’t have a sense of identity any more.
Overall, I must say – I’m glad there’s finally someone paying attention to what the peoples of Britain really think. It is clear that the liberal agenda has failed. The so-called ‘United Kingdom’ is nothing but a political scam and the sooner we all realise that, the better off we’ll be.
I love how it took a panel to make me break my “eh I’ll wait for Netflix” self-promise but yes I have finally watched Black Panther. Now to be clear…
Yes I loved it from the start and followed the hype like everyone else. This is not a case of me being contrarian.
No I do not think the movie is a ‘sell out’ of Afrofuturism or that making Afrofuturism more mainstream is a bad thing. I was really happy it was being made, really happy it was so overtly marketed as ‘Afrofuturistic’ (even my white friends got into it! 😄).
OK so I am a bit meh on superhero movies in general but that’s not why I didn’t watch it in the cinemas.
Honestly? It was a mix of timing, me living on my overdraft and also… well, it didn’t need my help. It broke box office record after box office record so. Yeah. It was doing just fine.
I spent much of my Saturday at the Nine Worlds convention in Hammersmith, the first time I’ve ever been actually able to make it though not the first time I’ve heard of it. It’s been touted as one of the most inclusive geek events in the UK and for myself, I think that’s definitely the case, or at least from what I saw.
So wherefore my attendance? Well, I was on a panel titled ‘Where Next for AfroFuturism’, a panel I’d been invited to by Chella Ramanan from BAME in Games who I knew from January’s Afrotech Fest. A lot of – in fact all of – my recent talks have been on tech and inclusive design so it was nice getting to chat about AfroFuturism to a new audience.
This just in from the church side of things (how ironic – I’m trying to do more posts on critical theory of tech and the first blog post I write is online church stuff), I’ve been seeing this article by Revd. Goodhew make the rounds via a couple of priest-y friends on twitter. It’s yet another of those posts that make me realise there’s a whole other world the priests/vicars/etc. are living in to those of us in the laity.
Or just me. Yeah, maybe just me.
So anyway, Goodhew’s main argument in the article is that a key factor to the CofE semi-existential crisis is what he calls a theology of decline, or at least an organised spirit of suspicion from broad (so basically any non ‘Evangelical’) Anglicanism when it comes to the issue of church growth, where one finds – according to Goodhew – ‘hostility to talking of growing churches is widely shared, at least in the Global North’.
For various reasons I stopped blogging properly a while back (not as long ago as the last entry here might suggest but… yeah it’s been some time) – partly because the ever present disdain for (and discomfort with) my online voice got a bit overwhelming, partly because I was just tired and changing jobs and realising how broke I actually was.
Maybe as result of this, maybe as a result of some other weirdness going on in my head – and goodness knows there’s plenty of it – maybe just because, I also slowed massively on my writing output. Actually, what’s interesting is that this went hand in hand with a decline in reading and that was as much because I hated being thrown into the depths of either melancholy (if it was really good) or irritation (if it was mediocre to poor).
His provocation is that capitalism is broken. Cycles of boom and bust punctuated by state bail outs is unsustainable. Soon the state will be milked so dry that it won’t have enough capital to patch up the system. Bail outs transfer money from the poor to the rich, which eventually will make our society so unequal that social conflict will become inevitable.
But from the wreckage of a system built on unsubstantiated credit, a new economy can emerge. One based on information technology which is open-sourced, home-made and shared. This sharing economy is not made of controlled platforms like Uber or Airbnb, but of co-operatives sharing non-market goods, time banks and LETS currencies. It’s an economy based on sharing of knowledge skills and information.
One of the nice things about organising events is that I get an excuse to sit down and do some design work. It’s never amazing as I’m under time constraints but it’s nice being able to experiment with photoshop and develop my style.
There are two events on the way at the moment – MancsterCon, a comic convention which will be held on 29th August and AfroFutures_UK, an Afrofuturist conference in October. I’m busy doing art for events promo, mostly for MancsterCon as that’s approaching right soon, but a little on the side for the October event – hopefully that means by the time September comes, I’ll have some truly amazing posters on the way.
As such, I haven’t been updating this blog that much, although as ever, there’s about 50 draft entries waiting to be finished up. There’s been a lot going on, from events management to coding to hackathons and I will get it all out soon… just not right now!