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On natural history and the anti-nostalgic

On natural history and the anti-nostalgic

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?

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Comics Forum 2018

Comics Forum 2018

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.

And now that I’ve finally been able to go?

It was!

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That took you long enough: thoughts on Black Panther

That took you long enough: thoughts on Black Panther

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.

But then I got invited to a panel on AfroFuturism in a post-Black Panther world at the Nine Worlds 2018 convention and thought… yeah I should actually watch it. And what I saw, well, it genuinely surprised me.

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Where Next for AfroFuturism? Thoughts on the Nine worlds panel et al.

Where Next for AfroFuturism? Thoughts on the Nine worlds panel et al.

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.

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But *is it* decline theology?

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’.

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Writing again

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).

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