Books,  monthly roundup,  Music

September round up

Well, this was an eventful month in this household. Maren stood down as CEO of ALT and is off to ventures new. If you’re interested in leadership coaching or consultancy on running virtual teams, then drop her a line. And then I announced that I’ll be leaving the Open University (although not until next June). All change here!

I visited the ALT-C conference just for the dinner to see Maren get an award and have her send off. I did manage to attend one talk though, which was David Kernohan’s fascinating dive into the ALTC archive. He presented the various themes that had emerged and disappeared over the years in his data wiz style. One graph he presented really brought home how funding for educational technology has fallen off a cliff since 2018. I don’t think he’s blogged the talk yet, but it’s worth having a look at when/if he does.

Speaking of change, I also decided to finally quit Twitter this month. I felt quite emotional about it, I’d made so many friends and had such good times via that platform, it felt like the end of an era. But it hasn’t been a very engaging place for a long time and increasingly felt like hanging around the old pub where you used to have a good time hoping they’ll come back again, but the pub is now owned by a neo nazi who likes doing skinhead punk nights with his mates. Probably best to find somewhere else.

We finally got all of the GO-GN arrangements sorted for the OEGlobal workshop in Edmonton next month. There will be about 40 of us in total, so it’s taken quite a lot of organising (by Beck, Kylie and Hannah, not me I hasten to add). It’s going to be quite the event. While we’re on OEGlobal, it was an honour to be one of the people shortlisted for the OER Leadership Award. I was delighted to see my colleague Patrina Law win this, for all the truly life-changing work that they have done through OpenLearn.

On the books front I didn’t have quite as much joy this month as usual and only read nine. I started a lot of books and bailed on them. I enjoyed Tarantino’s Cinema Speculation. Whatever you may think of his films, he knows 70s genre cinema like no-one else and is an entertaining writer. The speculation part of the title is particularly nerdy and fun – what would Taxi Driver have been like if De Palma had directed? Quentin has given this sort of question way too much thought. Horror wise I read a couple of fun, if not remarkable, indie-horror books – Head Like a Hole and Mr Nightmare. The latter is an example of the “kids on bikes” genre, which is a perfect name. One book I haven’t included in the ‘finished’ pile because I’ve bee dipping in and out of it, is Ghosts, Monsters and Demons of India which is described as “An illustrated guide to the folktales and real-life stories of the ghosts, monsters and demons of India, a culture famously rich in tradition and legends”. It’s fabulous, and a good counter to the US dominance of much of the horror genre, and a reminder of the universal and unifying nature of such tales. As the author Rakesh Khanna observes “When people of different faiths start debating the relative merits of their gods, there’s always a danger that they’ll end the conversation by drawing weapons; but if the same group sits down to compare their demons and devils, they’re more likely to break out the popcorn”.

I bought some interesting vinyl this month, including Rhiannon Giddens You’re The One which straddles folk, country and blues. The best record for me was the posthumous release from Sparklehorse, Bird Machine. Completed some 10 years after the death of Mark Linkous I didn’t go into it with high hopes, suspecting that it might be something for the completists only. But it is a remarkably coherent and complete album that stands with his best work.

I’m posting this round up early as we are heading off to Crete for a week’s holiday as a means of providing an underscore to Maren’s ALT tenure. Wine and good food will be had.

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