Saturday, October 26, 2002


Friday, October 25, 2002


secret blog entry.
Naughty Blogger
I did do blogger entries yesterday but for some reason blogger chose to with hold them from the world.
Went in to RMIT- proposals are due in or there is a chance of being placed "at risk" which sounds simply awful.
I have quite a bit on at work at the moment- the new part of the site is going up on Nov 8th and I'm thinking I probably won't get my proposal written up before then.

I also really need to think about what it is that I want to do with it. It has changed considerably since this time last year when I first started thinking about it. I think originally I wanted to make a finished, resolved piece- a multi-media diary of some sort. The blog was really going to only be a way of tracking my progress. Some how the blog has taken over. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, but it does make me a little nervous. Can I really base a masters on a piece of free software? I tell myself that this is perfectly acceptable- the popularity of aps like Blogger and Moveable Type would suggest that there is something there to be explored.

I'm now more thinking that I want to create a series of small pieces and experiments. I think in the back of my mind there is the hope that the weblog could become a resource for larger, more fleshed out pieces (the shoebox/ scrapbook model) but this means, realistically, that I should probably aim to create a few more fleshed out pieces to test if this is how they could function.

I think also that I want to have a question that looks at the creation of a "self" in a weblog- that narrative voice thing, the strange relationship that must emerge for some webloggers that positions the author somewhere between fame and anonymity.

And in some way I'd also like to look at the "diary rings" that emerge with weblogging. It's interesting, I think, to notice that webloggers tend to link to other webloggers that they know personally. And the webloggers in Melbourne that I have spoken to seem to at least be very aware of other Melbourne webloggers. It's funny that even though the internet means you can have exactly the same relationship with a weblogger in the US as you might have with someone else in Australia, there seems to be a strong sense of local ties.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Another quote from Modjeska's Timepieces which caught my attention as I think it describes the mindset of many a diarist:

I think I'm a temporiser. It's a term Andre Aciman uses of himself, and of a certain sort of memorist, of whom the greatest- the incomparable- exampe, is Proust. Temporising, in Aicman's view, is an attitude of mind which develops in certain people who can find themselves engulfed, even tipped off balance, by the sadness of the present. The incurable imperfection in the very essence of the present, Proust says..... they slip into other time frames; in other words they play with time. They propel themselves into wishful thinking, fantasising, all kinds of story telling, as a way of coaxing life into more controllable possibilities. They return to a troubled present once it has passed and reconsider it from a safer vantage point. A life of imagination, lived on the page, takes on a reality that can be a powerful as the reality their body inhabits.

It goes on, but I'll stop there. It interests me, this idea of not being able to think of the present while the present is happening, but choosing to leap, cat-like, into a tree while the paint of today dries. Writing a journal allows you to fix the details that were not quite right as they were happening, and to scrub out the things you do not want to think about. It makes me think that the process of diary-writing is as much about the things you want to forget as it is about the things you want to remember.
Masters class
A Masters proposal-writing session tonight and I am scared. Scared because I have a lot of work to do to get my proposal into line. Scared because I know it has diverted dramatically from my original intent. And scared because everybody else always seems so much more on top of their masters than I am.
The Feet
Petite and I rang The Feet last night. An incredibly clear line made it hard to believe they were in the Enchanted Tower in Borneo and not still in Albert Park. It was good to speak to them. I love the emails and I am right on board with the blog, but hearing a voice is very reassuring. They said it has been very difficult to get up to date news- they didn't hear about Bali until the Monday morning, where it appeared in a scrolling text banner at the bottom of the tv financial news. Right Foot said "I think it said 16 people have been killed" and Left Foot said "I think it actually said 216."

Petite is back from Sydney at last, although she will probably be going up there a lot. It's good when she's back. I've realised that for all my reclusive ways I actually rather like having people around.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Masters- link
Accessibility and moral responsibility
This article from reports on a ruling that Southwest Airlines does not have to make its website more accessible to the blind. And it worries me.

Accessibility is of great concern when it comes to the web and I'm sure that I have been guilty many times over of making sites that pose difficulties for disabled users. But one thing that struck me about the case in Australia when Bruce McGuire sued SOCOG for having a inaccessible website was that the things that he requested were very simple. Things like putting ALT tags on images so that his screen reader could tell him what they were, especially if the images then acted as links to other pages. And it seems that this is the case with the Southwest Airlines case too.
Which is pitiful.
It is so easy to put on ALT tags and it is common politeness. To refuse to do it is pathetic and petty. It's like already having a ramp to place over stairs to enable wheelchair access to a building but refusing to do it because you don't feel like it.

The reaction amongst designers when it comes to accessibility is often "It's just ridiculous, this is a visual medium, we'll have to build an entirely separate website to accomodate special needs." But this kind of view, I am now thinking, borders on bigotry.

It's made worse by the fact that the web is potentially an invaluable tool for someone with a disability who might find getting around more of a hassle than able-bodied people. It makes me sigh to think that an airline is not prepared to make the changes necessary to help their blind or in other ways impaired customers use their website to book tickets when clearly, this would be a useful thing. It shouldn't be so much an issue of "Why should we have to do this?" as "We want to do this." And it would be easy to do the things that have been asked. It would take a designer (or the work-experience kid or the boss' kid) a few hours at most to put on the ALT tags to make those sites accessible, without requiring any additional design or hassle. Refusal to do so comes down to pig-headedness and laziness.

(ps you might note that I don't have an ALT tag on my GG header, but this is because I've yet to work out how to do it in Blogger. Ok and because I'm lazy. But I'm going to fix it, I swear.)
Whine Online
All over hip hooray. It was fine, and I came in under time at 4 minutes with no questions (largely because, I suspect, no one really had any idea what it is that I am doing.) I did have a moment of panic, however. I was sitting there smugly with my zip drive, practically looking forward to displaying my new found Power Point skills ("the refuge of scoundrels and middle management" as PM wisely observed this morning) when it dawned on me that there was no zip drive attached to the machine. No zip drive, no pc versions, no internet connection, and this, a multi-media course, but enough of that. I dashed up to AIM, displaying a remarkable degree of calmness and Sensai burned the files onto cd for me. Talk was fine, I passed (which is much better than the other option, fail). Oh well, I'm glad it's finished but I'm sorry at the way it all turned out. It's a bit of a shame as It could have been a really interesting course if the online component had actually happened, but instead it was largely a waste of time.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Got to give the second talk for the Methodology Research class today. I'm not nervous, but I'll be glad when it's done. I've made myself a cheesy little Powerpoint presentation over the weekend and somehow managed to resist animating all the text (it was a struggle.) I'm hoping I'll get in first like I did last time, but I think there are a number of us presenting today, so it's probably unlikely.
World gone mad etc
It was Jane who broke the news. Her brother called her and she came over to tell us straight away.
"Do any of you know anyone studying at Monash? Someone has opened fire on a classroom in the Menzies building. A couple of people are dead and there are a number of people wounded."
We look blankly at each other. None of us know anyone studying there, but it's still a shock.
"The world's gone mad" I say.
Dr Bob walks in the room.
"Have you heard the news from Monash? The world's gone mad."
We nod and agree.

In the evening I go into RMIT. We discuss the shootings and shake our heads.
"The world's gone mad" I say, as I haven't said it here yet.
La S looks at me. "That's exactly what I said this morning" she says, "But then, probably a lot of people have said that today."

This morning Thieu walked in with me. In between admiring the new leaves and pondering why it is that the elms seem to take so much longer than the other trees to come into foliage, we talk about the sniper in Washington and then, inevitably, the shootings at Monash.

Thew looks at me. I know what he's going to say, but I wait.
"The world's gone mad, Merri" he says and I have to agree.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Recollection of a cancelled holiday
Yesterday, walking along I had a sudden memory that made me stop in the street and exclaim out loud. For all my rantings on Friday about never having had any desire to go to Bali I had completely forgotten that Shell and I once planned to go there and had even paid for part of the flight. It was a long time ago, so long ago that it was the onset of the Gulf war that stopped us going. There was parental concern about a fundamentalist backlash against Westerners. I remember at the time thinking that everyone was over-reacting as it was impossible to imagine this kind of thing happening in Bali. Strange that I'd completely forgotten about this.
Frontier Librarians
Petite and I have been a little fretful over the absent Feet this week. At first I wasn't concerned at all as they are in Malaysia and not Indonesia, but as the Government started issuing increasingly hysterical warnings for Australians to leave all of South East Asia, we started to wonder if they were safe. I suppose the concern is that they are not receiving all of the news and are therefore unable to make a truly informed decision. It has been made harder by not having a contact number for them.

However, this morning I received an email from The Left Foot and felt a little better, although I have sent off an email requesting a phone number. I think both Petite and I will feel better once we've actually heard their voices.

They have started working on The Frontier Librarian blog and it made me feel much more reassured once I'd read it. Somehow picturing my mother eating bananas (I was actually eating a banana as I read the banana-eating entry) made me feel like things were ok.

I am also concerned about Heighty in Cambodia, but I guess I have to be confident that the Australian Government would be very quick to bring her group back if they thought they were in danger.