Highlight: I’m going to wrap three GO-GN events up for this (although one took place in April). First, we ran a one day seminar prior to OERxDomains21, which saw the incomparable Bryan Mathers running a fun session on “Draw your PhD”. We used pens, and paper! In May we hosted a new member special, with Barbara Conde Gafaro, Stanislaus Agava Litsalia and Dave Cormier (who he?) presenting. I’m really pleased that even in lockdown we continue to recruit new members to GO-GN who are conducting such fascinating research. And towards the end of the month we launched not one, but two, cohorts of wiki scholars on a 6 week course run by the excellent Wiki Scholars team. The aim is to help improve the OER/OEP type articles on Wikipedia by building a community of editors who know their stuff.
Teaching: The OU runs regular StudentHub Live sessions for OU students, led by the indefatigable Karen Foley. They cover a range of topics, such as focused sessions on writing, to live panels on specific topics. They’re an excellent example of how a largely asynchronous mode of study such as the OU operates can create some of the event like experience of synchronous, and the importance of broader events beyond a specific module or qualification. This month I got an opportunity to take part in my first one. It featured a range of colleagues from the Open Programme, and we talked about a number of interdisciplinary issues arising from the pandemic (my topic was Health and Technology).
Theme: Vacillation was perhaps the theme this month – swinging between enjoying rediscovered freedoms (I can go to the pub whenever I want!) and exhaustion at contemplating all these (I can go to the pub whenever I want! Shall I go?). Flipping between pride at the successes at work and feeling unvalued (see below). Yoyo-ing between joy at the sun again and sulking depression. I’ve probably not been fun to live with.
Lowlight: I had an incident at work this month that caused a real low. While I can’t go into details, as other people’s interpretation may differ from mine, what I do own are my feelings on the matter – and I was left feeling the most dispirited and de-professionalised I have in 26 years at the OU. This brought on a bout of depression (which I’ve been managing very well over the past few years), which saw me lying in a darkened room for 3 days. So, that wasn’t good.
Vinyl highlight: I got a signed copy of Gruff Rhys’s new album Seeking New Gods from Spillers Records. It is apparently “a concept album about a volcano—Mount Paektu, a desolate stratovolcano on the North Korea-China border that’s thought to hold mythical properties”. I mean, not another concept album about Mount Paektu right? It also has catchy, belting tunes and comes in a novel, if slightly annoying for storage, cover design. And a question he asks that has some pertinence this month is “Can’t carry on, can you carry the load?”. Probably Gruff, probably.
Book: I mentioned previously that I have been rediscovering the childhood pleasures of 200AD. I read Thrill Power Overload – an account of the first 30 years this month. It’s an engaging tale of egos and infighting, but also an interesting historical record. The 2000AD artists and writers were continually undermined by management at the owners IPC, who generally didn’t understand this new comic, with its violence, punk sensibility and weird layout obsessions. The choices we make as children are often by chance, and most fade into insignificance but a few of them are telling. While it was far from perfect (for example, comics were very gendered in the 70s and this was distinctly a boys comic back then, and some of the stories were just the World War 2 “Die Englischer Pig!” type nonsense but transferred to a different setting) it gave me an appreciation for artistic style, extended narrative and an alternative British sensibility to the mainstream one that has stood me in good stead.