I play football (soccer) every week in a recreational indoor league. While this is a pretty hectic game with no real time to breathe, I've noticed a few patterns that, in the moment, convince me that there should be a book entitles 'Strategy Metaphors in Soccer'.
Here are some of the relevant patterns I've noticed:
When attacking, you always have a little more time to set up a shot. I see less experienced players who, when the ball is at their feet and the goal is available to them, panic and shoot. The lack of preparation often means the shot is misfired, the ball goes off target and the opponent gains possession. You always have more time than you think because you know something the defender doesn't - which is precisely when you are going to shoot. Every moment you prepare improves your chances and keeps them guessing.
When defending, take time away from the attacker. I see this rather awkward movement of a defender standing their ground and moving backwards at the same speed as the attacker. You are giving the attacker that extra time. By taking the time away from the them - by aiming to take the ball aggressively - you force their hand (foot).
Own the direction of attack - you're dribbling the ball and a defender runs back to protect the goal; they are running in front of you watching the ball; you dribble left, they turn left to follow - you turn right, they turn right to follow - they will never gain ownership of the direction of attack and you simply have to decide how long to run them around before shooting.
Use your brain not your legs - the fastest thing on the pitch is the ball. It is more efficient to pass to your team than to run, run, run. Your team needs the skill of making and owning space (options). Let the other team run.
Core competencies are not optional (here I'm talking above my station) - running, trapping the ball and passing are some of the basics of football. It is surprising that some players I see have trouble with these basics, including running (running efficiently is a learned skill).
Digital Campus is back! In the inaugural episode of the 2013-2014 school year, Tom, Dan, Mills, and Amanda welcomed RRCHNM’s new director Stephen Robertson and two of the Digital History Fellows, Amanda Morton and Amanda Regan. We began with the union between Google and edX, and the potential for change in the way that MOOC platforms are chosen, a discussion that included brief thoughts on Google Apps for Education and the collection of data on education. Moving on, we looked at the launch of a new platform for iPhone called Oyster, which offers a Netflix-like service for ebooks. The discussion revolved around what this new service might mean for the current state of textbook rental, deals with publishers, and efforts to combat the rising costs of textbooks. Mills suggested the possibility of a flat fee for a subscription to a semester worth of textbooks instead of students paying individually for ebooks. We dug deeper into this topic with a discussion of the current state of ebook purchase and rental, citing the Kindle borrowing program as well as libraries’ offering ebooks through the Overdrive platform, and we wondered whether ebook subscriptions could be compared to movie and television streaming through services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.
Finally, we took a quick look at Topsy, an analytical service that allows users to search tweets from the earliest days of Twitter, an option that brings up interesting questions about how historians (and educators!) can use Twitter as a historical source. There was some suggestion that the release of this tool might be connected to Twitter’s IPO offering.
This episode concluded with a briefing on the state of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media by the new director Stephen Robertson, which marks the introduction of a new segment narcissistically titled “Reports from the Center.” Tune in two weeks from now (we promise) for more.
Running time: 45:49
Download the .mp3
Hvis nogen leder efter et godt studiejob er det her måske noget. Medicinsk Museion søger i øjeblikket 4 nye omvisere/servicemedarbejdere på museet op via KUs jobportal (søg på Medicinsk Museion). Vi bestræber os på at have en blandet flok af fagligheder repræsenteret – det vigtigste er, at vores medarbejdere har lyst til at bidrage til arbejdet på et museum, der ikke er helt almindeligt. Et kig rundt på hjemmesiden her kan give en fornemmelse af, hvilke udstillinger og aktiviteter vi har.
Opslagets fulde ordlyd kan læses herunder, men ansøgningen skal sendes ind via førnævnte hjemmeside.
Omvisere/servicemedarbejdere (4-8 timer/uge) søges til Medicinsk Museion, Institut for Folkesundhedsvidenskab
Medicinsk Museion søger fire fleksible omvisere som, i samarbejde med vores nuværende omviserteam, kan varetage museets publikumsfunktioner.
Jobbet er alsidigt og udfordrende. Du skal være omviser i vores udstillinger, fungere som museums- og kassevagt, og ad hoc varetage andre serviceopgaver. Jobbet kræver interesse og flair for mundtlig formidling samt blik for og lyst til at give vores gæster en god service.
Vi forestiller os, at du:
- Har to-tre års studier bag dig inden for fag som fx historie, etnologi, kulturstudier, arkitektur, folkesundhedsvidenskab, medicin, molekylær biomedicin, tandlæge, medtek, sundhedsfremme og sundhedsteknologi, antropologi eller lign.
- Har kendskab til eller interesse for sundhed, sygdom, forebyggelse og behandling i et kulturelt, æstetisk, teknologisk og historisk perspektiv
- Interesserer dig for museumsformidling
- Har lyst til at tage del i arbejdet på et museum, der i disse år undergår store forandringer
- Har gode mundtlige engelskkundskaber
- Er serviceminded, mødestabil og fleksibel.
Arbejdstiden er varierende og falder både som faste og ad hoc aftalte vagter, der kan ligge både i dag- og aftentimer, hverdag og weekend.
Da arbejdet som omviser kræver en vis oplæring, skal du kunne arbejde hos os i mindst ét år og gerne længere.
Løn og ansættelsesvilkår
Ansættelse sker som studerende HK. Aflønning sker i henhold til gældende overenskomst mellem Finansministeriet og HK/STAT med en anciennitetsbestemt timeløn på mellem kr. 115,96 – 121,64.
Arbejdstiden er 4-8 timer/uge med start hurtigst muligt.
Yderligere oplysninger om stillingen kan fås ved henvendelse til museumsinspektør Bente Vinge Pedersen på mail: *protected email* eller til administrator Mie Knudsen på mail: *protected email*
Send din ansøgning via hjemmesiden http://jobportal.ku.dk/tap/ under Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultetg vedlagt CV og dokumentation for uddannelse og tidligere beskæftigelse senest den 26. september 2013.
Medicinsk Museion, www.museion.ku.dk, er en enhed under Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, Københavns Universitet. Vores fagområde er studier af sundhed og sygdom, fødsel og død i et kulturelt og historisk perspektiv. Vi har fire funktioner; forskning, undervisning, samlinger og udstillinger.
Københavns Universitet ønsker at afspejle det omgivende samfund og opfordrer alle interesserede til at søge stillingen.
Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet har ca. 7500 studerende, ca. 1500 ph.d.-studerende og beskæftiger ca. 3200 medarbejdere. Fakultetet skaber ny viden og formidling gennem sine kerneaktiviteter: forskning, undervisning, videndeling og kommunikation. Med grundforskningsområder lige fra molekylære studier til samfundsstudier bidrager fakultetet til en sund fremtid gennem sine kandidater, forskningsresultater og opfindelser til gavn for patienterne og samfundet.
I recently came across a new startup product called import.io. The product provides a site wrapping tool which allows anyone to create wrappers for sites with repeated structured information and thereby access the data on the site. For example, one might wrap a business listings page, a hotel review site or a weather site and convert the data into machine readable form.
I certainly recommend visiting the site and experimenting with the tool. However, I note that in 2000, WhizBang!Labs created a product called Wrapster, in 2006 Dappit / Dapper created a similar tool. Site wrapping is not a new idea, the technology is reasonably well understood (though the UX that guides a user through wrapping and data collection is challenging), so the question is really what is the business model? and will import.io survive where others with identical technology have failed.
I'd be interested to see how a data analysis and presentation product, like Tableau, could leverage large and varied data sets to enhance their products and whether a community of wrapper creators embeded in their customer base might provide something of a data gathering social network.
In 2010, Thomas and I wrote a paper titled ’Do Things Talk?’, published in Susanne Lehmann-Brauns, Christian Sichau, Helmuth Trischler (eds.), The Exhibition as Product and Generator of Scholarship (the volume is available as a .pdf here). In the paper, we discussed the problems and pitfalls surrounding the still current ‘things that talk’ rhetoric. Our central observation in the paper was as follows:
What we suggest, then, is that the current ‘things that talk’-vocabulary may have something to do with wanting to pay attention to the thing-ness of things – their ‘bony materiality’ and yet keep one’s language- and culture-centered approach intact. To allow things become actors with an uncanny ability to speak to us, is (we suggest) a license to maintain the set of scholarly tools and languages associated with the linguistic and cultural turns in the humanities, while still appearing to do something new. By claiming that things talk, scholars today can maintain a certain set of institutionally and traditionally enshrined ideas, while seemingly engaging with a new agenda. Rather than exploring the presence and effects of things qua things, things are turned into something which we, as academics that are trained in a hermeneutical and interpretational tradition, can relate to immediately. It is business as usual on a new subject matter, which still holds out the promise of being something different.
We argued that this talk-rhetoric was a way of making things more like us, rather than making us more like things. Endowing things with anthropocentric qualities – even if done with cautious hesitation or as a metaphor for something else – ran the risk, we felt, of two problems: On the one hand, it might obstruct a possible re-examination and re-evaluation of theories and practices around objects in the humanities; and on the other, it runs the risk of diverting research on objects away from the agenda of re-examining the sort of creatures we are and how we are embedded in the world and the things around us.
Since writing the paper, a deluge of writing on objects, agency and materiality have poured forth, much which is stimulating, important and worthwhile. But it has also increasingly made us feel a need for writing a follow-up paper called ‘Do Things Act?’ building on the 2010 paper and commenting on the theoretical developments since it publication.
What we will do is to blog and tweet this new paper forth, in bits and pieces, over the coming months. Our motivations for this come from a variety of sources, from evolutionary biology to new materialist philosophy, and we will engage with these in various forms as the blogging progresses. Hopefully this will also allow us to engage, both on the blog and on twitter (@Museionist and @AdamBencard), with those of you who have an interest in matters of objects, agency and non-agency, human and non-human, and materialism as we write.
What do you make of the current talk of objects as actors and agents? Is it a theoretical dead end, a productive way forward, a useful rhetorical strategy or something that mirrors a deeper insight into our relationship with the stuff around us? Do things, in fact, act, or do we need other vocabularies to talk about things? And if, which?
7th newsletter from Medical Museion in 2013.
If you want to receive future versions sign up for our mailing list here.
Newsletter archive – click here.
Et af aldringsforskningens mere komplicerede emner er kompetence og kreativitet set i et livsperspektiv. Hvornår kan man “toppe” – og inden for hvad? Bibeholdes kreativiteten og energien til at tænke nyt gennem hele livet? Og hvad med udviklingen af modenhed og de egenskaber der beskrives med aldringens plusord?
Center for Sund Aldring afholder en debatdag om emnet:
Tirsdag 8. oktober 2013, kl. 9 – 17.
Medicinsk Museion, Bredgade 62, 1260 København K
Formålet med dagen er, at:
Debatdagen er delt i en ’unkonference’ om formiddagen, hvor målgruppen er nuværende og kommende forskere inden og udenfor ældreforskningen, og andre fra Akademia med særlig interessere i forskerens livskarriere. Om eftermiddagen et symposium som er åbent for alle interesserede.
09.00 – 12.00 Unconference
Moderator: Jesper Jørgensen
Formålet med ’unconferencen’ er, at skabe et uformelt møde mellem aktive forskere på tværs af fag med interesse i forskerens livskarriere og forskere med livserfaring fra videnskabeligt arbejde. Dette i et åbent forum hvor ideer og kommende projekter kan præsenteres og diskuteres, nye netværk udenfor den etablerede gerontologiske forskning kan opstå og som en perspektivering af eftermiddagens symposium. Eftermiddagens oplægsholdere inviteres som deltagere i unconferencen. Unconferencen er en open source symposiemodel som organiseres og styres af deltagerne selv, som et alternativ til det konventionelle symposium med forberedte præsentationer og modereret panel debat.
Ved tilmelding til unconferencen får kommende deltagere et link til hjemmeside hvor deltagerne kan uploade dokumenter, billeder, deltage i diskussion og forberede diskussioner på unconferencen.
12.00 – 13.00 Frokost for deltagere i unconferencen
13.00 – 17.00 Symposium
Moderator: Henning Kirk
13.00 – 13.05 Velkomst /Carsten Hendriksen, lektor, overlæge, dr. med. KU
13.05 – 13.30 Forsker- og livskarriere i historisk lys /Henning Kirk, aldringsforsker, dr.med.
13.30 – 13.55 Forskerens livsløb – den eksistentielle dimension. Refleksioner med udgangspunkt i nobelprismodtageren Ragnar Granits selvrefleksioner /Thomas Söderqvist, professor, dr.phil.KU
13.55 – 14.20 Kognition og forsker-livskarriere /Erik Lykke Mortensen, professor KU
14.20 – 14.40 Kaffe
14.40 – 15.05 Niels Bohr, forskning og kompleksitet /Finn Aaserud, Ph.D.,Niels Bohr Arkivet, KU
15.05 – 15.30 Ungdomsdyrkelse og aldersfascisme i Akademia/Jesper Jørgensen, ekstern lektor, RUC
15.30 – 15.55 Akademiske livsforløb: Udfordrede karriereveje i videnssamfundet /Bjarke Oxlund, ph.d., postdoc, KU
15.55 – 16.20 Organisation af forskning og forskere i et livsperspektiv /Christian Nissen, cand.scient. & phil. Adjungeret professor CBS
16.20 – 16.55 Paneldebat med oplægsholdere
16.55 – 17.00 Afslutning /Carsten Hendriksen
Deltagelse i unconference og symposium er gratis. Deltagelse i begge afdelinger kræver forudgående tilmelding. Unkonferencen foregår på dansk/engelsk og symposiet på dansk.
Tilmeldingsfristen er 1. oktober kl. 12:00
Tilmeld dig unconference og/eller symposiet her.
Featured image: Ernst Mayr (1904-2005), one of the leading evolutionary biologists in the 20th century, published his last book (What Makes Biology Unique? Cambridge University Press, 2004) at the age of 99!
How do you create a larger-than-life dress out of pills? This short film shows artist Susie Freeman of Pharmacopoeia doing just that. Knitting on her old industrial machine, comparing pill fabrics, and putting them on the dress base.
Together with Dr. Liz Lee she has weaved a dress made of ten years of prescription pills for two women, one from Denmark, the other from the UK, with metabolic syndrome, i.e., the combination of, among other diseases, type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
The artwork tries to visualize and provoke our understanding of life with this complex cluster of metabolic diseases, using the pill as a material trace and symbol of the immense impact such a diagnosis has on the everyday life of the patient.
From October 11th the finished artwork will on display in the entrance hall of Medical Museion.
Read more about Pharmacopoeia and the pill dress here.
So this piece: Who comes first, your partner or your kids? did the rounds yesterday. Go read it if you haven’t then come back…
I was struck by the negative comments to the piece – and also the fact that people clearly seem to think this is an OUTRAGEOUS thing to say. Personally, I read it and thought “er, yeah, that’s absolutely right. Of course it is. How could you possibly argue otherwise..?”
Looking back at 8 years of parenting we’ve always (not with any particular grand plan) done three things that seem to fit what Marshall says:
1) always said a firm and absolute no (apart from moments of illness where it was absolutely necessary and those first few weeks of non-sleep hell when – frankly – anything goes) to having kids in our bed.
2) Had a solid evening / bedtime routine back to very early on which still maintains to this day – thereby giving us “adult time” after the youth are in bed. No pissing about with fussing “I don’t want to go to bed” kids, no “oo, go to bed when you want” (IMO: wishy-washy bollocks that confuses the fuck out of both adults and kids alike), but a known, solid time when The World is No Longer For The Children. I should say BTW that now ours are 8 and 6 we can adapt this bed-time should we fancy a family night at the boozer or whatever – and the boys are very happy now being out and about until late every so often – but it’s only IMO by having a routine that you can break it once in a while…
3) Always been very open in our affection for each other and – more importantly – our solidarity as a married, coherent, loving unit. We spend a lot of time being supportive of each other’s parenting rather than combatative – I think we both know how hard the other works both in work (money-earning) terms and in family work. (To see the opposite of how I think this works, try reading that bullshit article recently about money being the last taboo in a relationship – there you’ll find a childish, gnarly, nit-picky way of being in a relationship which is wholly NOT how this should go if you want stuff to last IMO..)
We have – I know – been pretty lucky. We’ve got kids who (now) sleep like logs every night. They don’t come and find us in the middle of the night. They don’t fuss about bed-time. I really – REALLY – feel for people who have problems with this stuff. But….I also believe that parents are quite often walked all over by their kids, and this can quickly become a vicious circle: needy kids that always get what they want (“I won’t eat vegetables! I won’t sleep!” – er, yeah you will if you’re hungry and tired enough…) end up taking and taking – usually at the expense of increasingly tired and increasingly unable-to-cope parents – who inevitably, obviously, end up giving the kids what they want. Getting kids to eat non-crap, or into a solid sleep routine, or liking reading, or not spending 24 hours a day looking at a screen or..whatever – is bastard hard work – but you persevere, and persevere and persevere. And eventually it works.
The main thing for me, though, is this: If your solid central unit of family – (in our, traditional case, the man and woman who started it all..) – falls apart, then so does everything else. You and your partner are the hub of the whole thing, the central bit that everything else revolves around. This doesn’t mean (OBVIOUSLY – I hope) that you don’t love your children more than anything on earth – but if you don’t give yourselves time to consolidate, be together, talk about what’s working and what isn’t, be intimate, drink wine – whatever – then it’s gonna break. This central relationship needs as much – probably more – help to maintain than the relationship with the kids.
Every month I sit down to write these missives to you, the thought of finishing one seems more ridiculous. A month is forever. Each month is fuller than the last. These snippets capture a few moments of your world… which may be appropriate, actually, since I only get glimpses of what’s really going on for you.
It’s wild to think about how little you’ll remember of your early life. These windmill-tilting newsletters are better than nothing.
You continue to insist on calling all cats “Aki,” all fans “tah,” and milk “mama”—despite knowing full well the correct words. You seem to actively enjoy having your own language that is nonetheless understood by others.
You’ve learned to blow your nose, which is a huge deal, because goodbye the hated nose-sucker and hello agency.
True to toddler form, you’re full of no. Control over your own body is super important: even if you got yourself into a clearly uncomfortable position while sleeping in the big bed, you’re damn well going to get yourself out of it. Any physical help is met by betrayed wailing. This gets tricky when you’re too sleepy to fix a situation yourself.
Luckily for the adults involved, you’re also full of yeah. It means that we can mostly trust the no. More importantly, I think, it means that you trust us to believe what you say. I hope this continues.
Another new discovery: the concept of dirty. The toilet is a potty, and it’s dirty, so you shouldn’t play with it. Toilet “training” is nearing—I have no investment in its timing, but it’s fascinating to watch interests get “turned on” more or less in the sequence that they do for billions of other humans. DNA is crazy. Socialization is crazy. Put them together, and why in the world didn’t I go into early childhood development? Humans are fascinating.
(Remind me to tell you why I did go into my field. It has to do with stories, and humans being fascinating.)
Favorite games these days include hide-and-seek, in which you hide inside a curtain; figuring out the connecting construction blocks; a couple of pretty great tablet games we’ve found; and books. I can’t possibly tell you how much I love that you love books, so instead I try to show you by always agreeing to read one (or three) whenever possible. Anything by Sandra Boynton is automatically the best, but you’ve been branching out.
One of your caretakers put a temporary tattoo of a butterfly on your arm a couple of weeks ago. It made a huge impression. You kept showing it to everyone: “TA-toh!” Now, every time you see a butterfly in a book, you get all excited: “TA-toh!”
Big feelings and tears all over the place, not always predictable, and sometimes inconsolable. On the other hand, you love belly buttons and find mine comforting.
“Adaa!” for “all done!” is pretty freakin’ adorable.
You totally give kisses. To me, to other people, to stuffed toys. To books.
We have impromptu dance parties.
p.s. Pix as usual, and three new videos.
“History has been and remains a book-based discipline…” This phrase, that begins the third paragraph of the recent statement by the American Historical Association on dissertation embargoes, has been rattling around in my head for weeks, like that annoying song from high school you just can’t get out of your head.
If you followed the controversy that ensued after the AHA issued this statement [search on "#ahagate" for more], you know that much of the often heated discussion centered on two issues: was it a bad idea for recent PhDs to embargoe their dissertations, and what did the AHA’s position on the issue say about the Association’s position on open access more generally?
Both of those topics have now been pretty well beaten to death in the blogo- and twittersphere, so I’ve been at a loss to explain why that phrase won’t get the heck out of my head. Fortunately, I’m teaching my Clio Wired grad seminar, starting tonight, so I had to focus hard on all things digital history over the past couple of weeks and in that focusing I finally figured out what my problem was. (I know you’re relieved.)
You see, regardless of what we might think about open access, or dissertation embargoes, or any of the other issues that came up in the ahagate conversation this summer, if we accept that history has been and remains a book-based discipline, then we are accepting that the book is the standard by which historians should be judged for such things as jobs, promotion, tenure, raises, etc. For our professional association to make such a bold defense of the book as the gold standard is more than just counter productive, it’s really out of touch with the realities of the history job market our MA and PhD grads find themselves in.
Don’t get me wrong. I love books. Really love books. Don’t believe me? Come to my office and take a gander at the overflowing shelves. But my bookophilia doesn’t extend to my definition of what it means to be a historian in 2013. And, yes, I know the AHA doesn’t ignore the fact that lots of historians do lots of things that never involve publishing a book or even a peer reviewed article. But still.
“History has been and remains a book-based discipline…” Saying this so directly is to take a position that the book is the goal, the standard by which historians are to be measured. If that is so, those historians who choose to build their careers around museum curation, or website development, or public history, or any number of “altac” career paths just don’t quite measure up to the book (gold) standard promoted by our professional association.
And that just makes me sad. Sad for everyone who is a historian and never publishes a book and so is somehow not quite up to snuff, and sad for the AHA, because, well, emphasizing the bookishness of our discipline is just so 1990.
’The Data Body on the Dissection Table’ took place at Medical Museion on June 4th. The video recordings of the event talks are now online! See links below.
The collection of body data is a growing field. How do we grab hold of this data? How do we make sense of it and communicate it to others? See and hear Professor Albert-László Barabási, Professor and Artist François-Joseph Lapointe, Associate Professor Annamaria Carusi, and Artist and Research Director Jamie Allen talk about how contemporary artists and designers give our ‘data body’ material form through images, sound, and touch. What kind of tools are complex networks science proposing, and what kind of body do they reveal?
Click here to read more about the event.
The video talks:
Our Data Doppelgängers. What creative practice with and from data reflects and reveals by Artist and Research Director Jamie Allen
Click here for video overview
About six months ago, I was asked by the executive director of a prestigious but somewhat hidebound—I guess “venerable” would be the word—cultural heritage institution to join the next meeting of the board and provide an assessment of the organization’s digital programs. I was told not to pull any punches. This is what I said.
I’m happy to say that, aside from a few chilly looks (mainly from the staff members, rather than the board members, in the room), my no-holds-barred advice was graciously received. Time will tell if it was well received.
I recently received a copy of Numbersense by Kaiser Fung for review. Fung is the author of a blog I have a lot of respect for : Junk Charts. The current post at the top of Junk Charts is about spider charts, and I knew before reading it that Kaiser would be explaining, kindly, why these are nonsense (I would add, on the topic, that one of the real problems with these graphics is that there is an implied meaning for the area of the chart (in terms of the polygon) and that area is not independent of the order of dimensions around the centre of the diagram).
I really like the idea of the concept of NUMBERSENSE. It is what it sounds like - a set of intuitive behaviours, practices, etc. that amount to common sense for data analysts.
I also really like one of Fung's core opinions regarding 'big data' - that more data is an invitation for more and more analyses which result in an explosion of interpretations and a multiplicity of incorrect conclusions.
The book is structured essentially around a small number of case studies, or studies of characteristic areas where numerical, statistical and probabilistic analytics are employed (often in areas that we unknowingly interact with on a daily basis in our regular lives). This structure is, in my mind, part of the weakness of the book. While reference is made to NUMBERSENSE at various stages, the examples highlight more the general theme of 'don't trust everything you read in the papers' rather than a specific structured thesis. For example, the book could have enumerated, illustrated and re-enforced a small set of common misconceptions regarding statistical inference; or it could have catalogued a small number of misleading sampling scenarios. Rather, it stays more at the case study story telling level.
It concludes with a rather odd chapter detailing the trials and tribulations of Kaiser as he works through some technical details while analysing some data. This fails to provide a clean summary or visualization of the big picture.
Given the quality of communication on his blog, my expectations were high for this book, but I came away feeling that it was perhaps poorly edited and not as impactful as the topic could have been. I already do, and will continue to, evangelize NUMBERSENSE to my team, but would like to do so with a more potent reference.
And on an unrelated note - the title of the book strongly reminded me of that most challenging game show 'Numberwang' which I include here for your enjoyment:
For a long, long time, The Bone People was my favourite work of fiction. I haven’t been back to it for a long while, but found a battered copy again recently and have started it again. As I started it I was wondering whether it’d fit into that “I enjoyed it when I was a teenager but I’ve grown up now” thing – but instead I’m being reminded what a blindingly original, beautifully deep roller-coaster of a story it is.
I did a quick Google search for the author, Keri Hulme – and landed on this page which describes in some detail the astonishing journey behind the novel. Hulme won the Booker Prize with The Bone People in 1985, and also published a selection of short stories which I’ve also read (and recommend) but apart from that her literary career has been somewhat sparse. It seems amazing in some ways that an author who writes with the extraordinary scope and creativity represented in The Bone People hasn’t been more prolific, but this is explained perhaps by the obsession which obviously drove her to write it in the first place. According to the piece on the New Zealand Book Council site, one of the three characters of the novel, Simon Peter, a mute boy of unknown age and origin, began haunting Hulme’s dreams an incredible 17 years before she wrote and found success with the novel. The article describes the journey she took – and in particular how this character kept appearing in some form in her short stories, being slowly moulded into the person he is in the final work. It also explains how Hulme had to fight to keep the original text as various editors and publishers tried to cull it.
I found this stuff very interesting from a budding writers’ perspective – not only does it make me feel better about the long time it seems to be taking me to pull together a chunky piece of fiction, but also that this strange, ongoing, intimate relationship with the characters you’re writing about seems to be quite common amongst those of us trying to write a novel. I think a lot about my main protagonist, Palmer while I’m out and about – and find I’m very often coming back to ask: “what would he do here? how would he react now? can I use this somehow?”. Hulme’s obsession with this lost boy character was obviously hugely intense and drove her through nearly two decades of writing before arriving at some kind of end-point. I don’t dream about my characters (yet..!) but find it fascinating that they occupy large chunks of my thinking time. As a reasonably new arrival in the land of fiction writing, I also find it reassuring that this process of writing can go on over a long period of time and still reach some kind of satisfying and rounding conclusion.
In fact, as the ever-spot-on Oatmeal says: Printers were sent from Hell to make us miserable.
I own a printer. I’d rather not, and I run a mostly paper-free life, but there are still occasions when I need to print stuff – end of year stuff, the odd invoice, a letter or two.
Every single time I dust off my printer, these things happen:
We all just accept this as the norm, and it’s obscene.
I refuse to believe that printers are SO complicated they need official inks, or can’t have replacement parts. I refuse to believe that in this year of our lord 2013, we can’t build a device that’ll print out one page of text without performing complicated origami techniques on the next 14 pages in the tray. I refuse to believe that I absolutely MUST download that fucking printer application, edit suite, Chrome toolbar, desktop helper and new OS in order to PRINT A FUCKING LETTER.
I’d much rather pay £100 upfront for a decent, open-sourced printer. One where I could buy spare parts and £5 replacement cartridges.
If it were on Kickstarter, I’d fund that shit.