Archive for May, 2006

How Mumbo Jumbo Assails Us

Posted in CCS-blog on May 31st, 2006

Francis Wheen makes a spirited defence of the Enlightenment explicitly and implicitly in his wonderful attack on the madness and hysteria of the new dark ages we are living through.

If you have not read “How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World” you should. Wheen covers everything from art to politics and Princess Diana in equally savage terms backed up by that bane of the fantasists- evidence! If it does not make you laugh you will certainly weep and you will learn a great deal in whatever frame of mind it induces.

In London this month, there are several exhibitions that counter the post- modernist fervour of the last 30 years and the television is full of the legacy of modernism. A small crumb of comfort in an otherwise irrational world.

My Daughter Emma

Posted in Writing, Cancer Journal on May 10th, 2006

In March 2003, Emma had her first operation; in July, the second and the cancer seemed to accelerate remorselessly from then on. In less than a year she was dead.

In February 2003 we met en famille in London for a last meal before our long journey to the southern hemisphere. She was clearly not well and could hardly eat. I felt very reluctant to leave and it came as no surprise really that almost as soon as we arrived in Sydney, we learnt that she was to have an operation. We had to leave for New Zealand almost immediately and, as luck would have it, were out of phone contact because my new Aussie mobile did not have roaming activated although I was assured it would be working. When finally we did speak she was upset not to have heard from me. I was shattered by her frantic and desperate anger with me and suddenly terrified of what was to come.

I always keep a diary when travelling but the kind of journal I wrote from July 2003 was altogether different. It was handwritten in hospital waiting rooms, on trains and planes and in the dark hours of the many wakeful long nights. Every so often I would type it up and add reflections when a little distance gave me better insight. Looking at it again I am puzzled as to how I sound so rational in what was a confused and anguished time. Even now, three years after, it is painful to read. The extracts on this blog are linked to a new web site dedicated to her memory.

Creativity Research and Practice-Based Research Presentation

Posted in CCS-blog on May 9th, 2006

Yesterday I gave a presentation called ‘Is Creativity Research Viable?’
to students and staff at the Key Centre for Design Computing and Cognition, University of Sydney

A basic assumption underlying this question is that it is far from simple to define creativity in any measurable way. Conventional research methods require well-controlled situations and this includes defining tasks in advance for subjects to carry out under close observation. However, the very idea of being creative under control may be a contradiction in terms or, at the very least, something the subjects would find too restrictive. The talk asks the question, “Is there an alternative approach?” If research is to provide understandings that take account of the complexity of creative acts, it needs to be conducted in context, preferably in naturalistic settings and involving activities that have intrinsic meaning for the people involved. This requires new approaches such as ‘practice-based research’, an emerging methodology that is becoming established in research programmes where the artefacts arising from the creative process are part of the contribution to knowledge.

PowerPoint slide presentation