On the Aesthetic Education of Caregivers: Presentation Report from #GM2019 at the Parables of Care blog

This post was originally published on the Parables of Care project blog and the images are hosted there. Copying and pasting here for self-archiving purposes.

The City, University of London and Douglas College, Canada research team collaborating on comics and creativity for healthcare were present at the Graphic Medicine 2019 international conference in Brighton, UK, hosted by the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, 11-13 July 2019.

The title of this fully multidisciplinary conference this year was Queerying Graphic Medicine – Paradigms, Power and Practices.

A full report of the conference is outside the remit of this blog post. However, you can catch up with the conference hashtag on Twitter- to make that easier I created a searchable archive of the #GM2019 tweets here. There’s some excellent photos, sketches, comics, links and information that give a rich collective view of what went on.

Abi Roper (City)  Marie-Pier Caron (Douglas), Ruhina Rana (Douglas), Peter Wilkins (Douglas) and myself (City) presented in a panel in the Paradigms Panel at Room M2 on Friday 12 July 2019, from 4 to 5:30 pm. The title of the session was “On the Aesthetic Education of Caregivers. The Specificities of Form and Genre in Comics about Dementia Care”.

The presentation slides have been deposited on figshare and can be downloaded under a CC-By license as

Priego, E., Wilkins, P., Roper, A., Caron, M., et al. (2019) On the Aesthetic Education of Caregivers. The Specificities of Form and Genre in Comics about Dementia Care. Presentation. [Online]. Available from: doi: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8863448. [Accessed: 16 July 2019].

The audience included health care professionals, academics and artists also working on dementia, aphasia and mental care, with the conversation between audience and presenters extending beyond the Q&A and the session allocated time and offering a valuable networking opportunity to continuing or initiating further collaborations. We were all very grateful for the attentive and engaged audience who attended our session, and for their important questions and feedback.

The team also distributed free copies of both Parables of Care and the INCA Project‘s MakeWrite poetry booklet (in a limited and numbered edition handmade by Abi Roper specially for the conference). This happened both at the panel session itself and throughout the whole conference thanks to the generosity of the Waterstones table (Richard- if you read this, thank you!).

Table at conference panel room
Conference Waterstones table

The Brighton conference was a unique opportunity for the team to work together (for once not mediated by computers nor geographically separated by the 7,573 km distance between Vancouver and London, UK), to get to know each other better and strengthen our research ties. Though Simon Grennan was unfortunately unable to make it due to work commitments, he was in touch with us throughout and before the conference had ended he had already shared with us the proofs for the Parables of Care Spanish translation, which we will release before the end of the Summer. (We missed you, Simon!)

Priego, Roper, Caron, Rana, Wilkins at GM2019
Left to Right: Priego, Roper, Caron, Rana, Wilkins

The conference provided plenty of further evidence that our previous and ongoing work fits within a larger, fully international and multidisciplinary, dynamic and exciting network of individuals and organisations focused on advancing the case for the use of comics and other multimodal storytelling media within healthcare. I think it is fair to say that all of us had the most fantastic, nurturing, fun and thought-provoking time.

Thank you very much to all the GM2019 organisers, as well as all our fellow presenters and attendees, for an incredible conference.

The GM2019 conference organisers announced the Graphic Medicine will return to Toronto next year. See you in Toronto for GM2020 maybe?

Parables of Care can be downloaded as a PDF file, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, from

If you work in a library, hospital, GP practice or care home- or care for someone with dementia in the UK, you can order a free copy of Parables of Care here: in the UK you can request printed copies at no cost here.

#DH2018 and #DH2019 Twitter Archive Counts. A Comparison

Background

My interest in documenting the scholarly activity on Twitter using conference hashtags is not new; for the digital humanities I have been looking into it since 2010. Searching on this blog or googling related keywords may throw some results to those interested in background. I have been archiving conference hashtag archives for a while now, often depositing them as part of the scholarly record, blogging and giving workshops about my objectives and methdologies, etc.

I like sharing results in real time while conferences are taking place or shortly after. Therefore any results shared are always-already provisional, perfectible, and unfinished. I have always believed that a signal is better than no signal or having to wait 3 years for one, therefore I insist in sharing any quick insights that I can get rather than not sharing them at all or having to wait until I miraculously find the time to do it differently (which I am not likely to, so I’d rather take any opportunity I have to share something). Hopefully someone finds it helpful in some way.

Once again I have also been critical of the metrication of scholarly activitiy so the fact that I share quantitative data from the archives collected does not mean I think this metrication is always-already something to aspire to or that it means anything in particular. I see it as an ethnographic means to document the existence of scholarly activity on Twitter around academic conferences in specific fields, and perhaps as an entry point to assess academic and public engagement on Twitter with academic hashtags and the events they represent, and/or possibly any increase or decrease or transformations in this type of activity on Twitter. For example, it is possible to gain insights of Twitter user settings preferences, as in the case of the language users have set up, as I looked into this post on user_lang in #DH2018 tweets.

The Methods

The metrics compared here are the result of a double method of collection as a means to ensure the validity of the collected data. I used a Python script to collect both archives, and then set the parameters as those for archives I collected using TAGS (see Priego 2018). Even if the collected data still needs to be refined, when the counts are the same or very semilar I get a degree of certainty the data collected via TAGS from the Twitter Search API is close to being as reliable as it could be.

For 2018 and 2019 I managed to get the settings and timings right to achieve what looks like a complete set of #DH2018 and #DH2019 tweets. Below I share a comparative table where the main metrics can be compared. As indicated in the table, it must be noted that there are important differences in mainly a) the number of days before and after the conference days included in the archive and b) the number of days each conference was held on according to their respective web pages / programmes (I seem to remember the Mexico City conference had activities at least one day prior to the date indicated on the main web site but I may be misremembering- need to check).

The Basic Counts

Needless to say most interesting or useful insights from looking at these archives would be qualitative data and not necessarily quantitative data as the one presented here. The RTs and @ replies stats can give an indication of the level of interaction in between accounts, and the number of accounts tweeting with each hashtag each year could be seen as an indication of the interest in the conference or hashtag (this indication may be misguiding due to spamming or confusion due to hashtag overlap, and of course one would need to know which accounts are included and not included in each one).

There is a series of analyses that can be run with the full data collected and I hope that now that I have a more solid longitudinal dataset of yearly archives I may be able to do that with more roubstness soon. In the meanwhile then, for what they are worth here are the main archive stats compared for last year and this year.

 

#DH2018 #DH2019 Notes
First conference day according to programme 26/06/2018 08/07/2019
Last conference day according to programme 29/06/2019 12/07/2019
First Tweet Collected in Archive 24/06/2018 06:19 29/06/2019 02:13 Local conference time zone
Last Tweet Collected in Archive 30/06/2018 06:17 14/07/2019 22:56 Local conference time zone
Days collected 6 days 16 days
Number of collected tweets (includes RTs) 13858 14101 Data might require refining and deduplication
In Reply Ids 564 1091
In Reply @s 747 812
Number of links 4312 9061
Number of RTs 8656 8650 Estimate on occurrence of RTs
Number of unique accounts 2329 2157
Conference location Mexico City, Mexico Utrecht, the Netherlands
Priego, E. (2019): #DH2018 and #DH2019 Twitter Archive Counts. Summary Comparative Data Table. figshare. Dataset. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8918810

 

Insights

Even if I collected #DH2019 during a longer period (ten days more than the #DH2018 archive), there were fewer unique user accounts using #DH2019 than #DH2018. And taking into account the #DH2019 archive included more collection days and therefore more opportunity for interactions, the #DH2019 archive showed more replies, mentions and links than the #DH2018 one. The number of tweets and RTs in both archives (again, taking into account the differences in collection days) remained very close. It could be argued the Twitter activity does not indicate an increment nor reduction in engagement (as manifested through tweets or RTs) with the conference hashtag, while showing that this year fewer accounts participated. What follows is refining and deduplicating the data if required, in order to limit the archives to the same data collection timings, revise the initial insights, and then perform qualitative text and account analysis in order to determine amongst other things if any differences in unique accounts using the hashtag were relevant to the field, or were simply bots or other unrelated accounts like spam bots. That qualitative refining could give us greater certainty about any changes in the demographic engaging with the conference hashtags over the years. This needs to be done carefully and following ethical standards.

A Polite Request

If you are interested in this same topic and you read this please do not disregard this output only because it’s not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. If you get any type of inspiration or value or motivation from this post, my tweets about it or any other blog posts about Twitter archiving, please do cite these outputs- not only is it good academic practice but a way for us to know about other responses to the same issues and to continue building knowledge together.

References

Priego, E. (2018) Archiving Small Twitter Datasets for Text Analysis: A Workshop Tutorial for Beginners. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.6686798
Priego, E. (2019): #DH2018 and #DH2019 Twitter Archive Counts. Summary Comparative Data Table. figshare. Dataset. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8918810

 

Oligopolies of Knowledge, {Digital Humanities} and Open Access: Looking at Scopus from the Global South… [form the North]

Oligopolies of Knowledge, {Digital Humanities} and Open Access: Looking at Scopus from the Global South… [form the North]

 

To download and cite the slides: Priego, Ernesto (2019): Oligopolies of Knowledge, {Digital Humanities} and Open Access: Looking at Scopus from the Global South… [form the North]. figshare. Presentation. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8850863

Presentation for P-11: Society, Media, Politics, Engagement Time: Wednesday, 10/Jul/2019: 4:00pm – 5:30pm Session Chair: Amelia Sanz DH2019 Conference, Utrecht, the Netherlands. Location: Pandora Zaal Part of the panel: Twining Digital Humanities and Humanidades Digitales: A set of actual experiences from the South.

All the slides from the panel can be viewed and/or downloaded and cited from:

Fiormonte, Domenico; Numerico, Teresa; Priego, Ernesto; Rodríguez-ortega, Nuria; Sanz, Amelia; Sapiera, Eugenia (2019): Twining Digital Humanities and Humanidades Digitales: A Set of Actual Experiences from the South [Slides]. figshare. Presentation. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8874998

Thoughts on University Module Evaluation

Update: I have now deposited a slightly revised version of this text (that has already gone various versions since its original publication) at figshare as

Priego, Ernesto (2019): Recommendations for University Module Evaluation Policies. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8236607

Also available at City Research Online: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/22318/

[Frequent readers will know I have a long-standing interest in scholarly communications, metrics and research assessment. The post below fits within my academic research practice, this time focusing on teaching evaluation (“module evaluation” in UK parlance). For an older post on metrics and research asssessment, for example, see this post from June 30 2014. As all of my work here this post is shared in a personal capacity and it does not represent in any way the views of colleagues or employers. I share these ideas here as a means to contribute publicly to a larger scholarly dialogue which is not only inter-disciplinary but inter-institutional and international].

 

tl; dr

This post discusses the limitations of University Module Evaluation processes and shares a series of  recommendations that could improve their design and implementation. The post concludes that regardless of staff gender, age, academic position or ethnic background, no metric or quantitative indicator should be used without thoughtful, qualitative social and organisational context awareness and unconscious bias awareness. The post concludes there is a need to eliminate the use of Module Evaluation metrics in appointment and promotion considerations.

 

Module Evaluation

“Module evaluation” refers to the process in which students feedback, assess and rate their academic studies and the quality of teaching on the module (in other countries “modules” might be known as courses or subjects). Below I  discuss the limitations of Module Evaluation processes and sharesa series of recommendations that I hope could improve their design and implementation.

On “Potential Bias”

Research has shown how internationally “potential bias” against gender and ethnic minorities is real. Holland has described how

“different treatment of male and female staff is increasingly well evidenced: some studies have found that students may rate the same online educators significantly higher if perceived as male compared to female (MacNell, Driscoll, and Hunt 2015), while other studies have shown that students can make more requests of and expect a greater level of nurturing behaviour from females compared to males, penalising those who do not comply (El-Alayli, Hansen-Brown, and Ceynar 2018)” (Holland 2019).

Research has also suggested “that bias may decrease with better representation of minority groups in the university workforce” (Shepherd et al 2019). However, even if an institution, school or department has good staff representation of (some) minority groups in some areas, it would be important that a policy went beyond mandating support for staff from minority groups to prepare for promotion. The way to tackle bias is not necessarily by giving more guidance and support to minority staff, but by re-addressing the data collection tools and the assessment of the resulting indicators and its practical professional and psychological consequences for staff.

As discussed above the cause for lower scores might be related to the bias implicit in the evaluation exercise itself. Arguably, lower scores can in many cases be explained not by the lecturer’s lack of skills or opportunities, but by other highly influential circumstances beyond the lecturer’s control, such as cultural attitudes to specific minority groups, demographic composition of specific student cohorts, class size, state of facilities where staff teach, etc.

In my view Universities need policies that clearly state that ME scores should not to be used as unequivocal indicators of a member of staff’s performance. The fact that the scores are often perceived by staff (correctly or incorrectly) to be used as evidence of one’s performance, that those indicators will be used as evidence in promotion processes, can indeed be a deterrent for those members of staff to apply for promotion. It can also play a role in the demoralisation of staff.

 

On Student Staff Ratios (SSR), Increased Workloads and Context Awareness

University Module Evaluation policies could be improved by acknowledging that workload and Student Staff Ratios are perceived to have an effect on the student experience and therefore on ME scores.

Though there is a need for more recent and UK-based research regarding the impact of class size and SSR on ME, higher education scholars such as McDonald are clear that

“research testifies to the fact that student satisfaction is not entirely dependent on small class sizes, a view particularly popular in the 1970s and late twentieth century (Kokkelenberg et al.,2008). Having said that, recent literature (post-2000) on the issue is focused heavily on the detrimental impact raised SSRs has on students, teachers and teaching and learning in general. The Bradley Review of higher education in Australia was just one ‘voice’ amongst many in the international arena, arguing that raised SSRs are seriously damaging to students and teachers alike” (McDonald 2013).

Module Evaluation policies should take into account current settings in Higher Education in relation to student attitudes to educational practices, including expectations of students today, communication expectations established by VLEs, mobile Internet, email and social media.

Raised SSRs do create higher workload for lecturers and have required new workload models. Raised SSRs imply that lecturers may not be able to meet those expectations and demands, or be forced to stretch their personal resources to the maximum, endangering their wellbeing beyond all reasonable sustainability. As I discussed in my previous post (Priego 2019) the recent HEPI Report on Mental Health in Higher Education shows “a big increase in the number of university staff accessing counselling and occupational health services”, with “new workload models” and “more directive approaches to performance management” as the two main factors behind this rise (Morish 2019).

Module Evaluation policies could do well to recognise that time is a finite resource, and that raised SSRs mean that a single lecturer will not be able to allocate the same amount of time to each student if there were lower SSRs. Raised SSRs also mean that institutions struggle to find enough appropriate rooms for lectures, which can also lead to lower scores as they impact negatively the student experience.

 

Who is being evaluated in multi-lecturer modules?

As part of context awareness, it is essential any interpretation of ME scores takes into account that various modules are delivered by a team of lecturers and often TAs and visiting lecturers. However, in practice the ME questionnaires are standardised and often outsourced and designed with individual session leaders in mind and generic settings that may not apply to the institution, school, department, module or session which is the setting and objective of the evaluation.

Regardless of clarification in the contrary, students often evaluate the lecturer they have in front of them that specific day in which they complete the questionnaires, not necessarily the whole team, and if they do the questionnaire’s data collection design does not allow for distinguishing what member of staff students had in mind.

Hence module leaders of large modules can arguably be penalised doubly at least, first by leading complex modules taught to many students, and second by being assessed for the performance of a group of peers, not themselves alone. Any truly effective ME Policy would need to address the urgent need to periodically revise and update MEQ’s design in consultation with the academic staff that would be evaluated with those instruments. Given who mandates the evaluations and their role in other assessment exercises such as rankings or league tables, a user-centred approach to designing module evaluation questionnaires/surveys seems sadly unlikely, but who knows.

 

Module Evaluation scores are more than just about staff performance

As we all know teaching is never disconnected from its infrastructural context. Room design, location, temperature, state of the equipment, illumination, level of comfort of the seats and tables, and importantly, the timing (stage in the teaching term, day of the week, time of the day, how many MEQs students have completed before, whether examinations or coursework deadlines are imminent or not) have a potential effect on the feedback given by students. ME policies would be more effective by acknowledging that academic staff do not teach in a vacuum and that many factors that might affect negatively the evaluation scores may have in fact very little to do with a member of staff’s actual professional performance.

Module Evaluation assessment done well

Members of staff potentially benefit from discussing their evaluation scores during appraisal sessions, where they can provide qualitative self-assessments of their own performance in relation to their academic practice teaching a module, get peer review and co-design strategies for professional development with their appraiser.

When done well, module evaluation scores and their discussion can help academics learn from what went well, what could go even better, what did not go as well (or went badly), interrogate the causes, and co-design strategies for improvement.

However, any assessment of module evaluation scores should be done in a way that takes into consideration a whole set of contextual issues around the way the data is collected. How to address this issue? Better designed data collection tools could address it, but it  would also be much welcome if module evaluation policies stated that scores should never be taken verbatim as unequivocal indicators of an academic’s performance.

In Conclusion…

University Module Evaluation policies should acknowledge module evaluation scores can be potentially useful for staff personal professional development, particularly if the the data collection mechanisms have been co-designed with staff with experience in the evaluated practice within the context of a specific institution, and the discussion takes place within productive, respectful, and sensitive appraisal sessions.

Policies should acknowledge that, as indicators, the evaluation scores never tell the whole story and, depending on the way the data is collected and quantified, the numbers can present an unreliable and potentially toxic picture. The objective of the evaluation should be to be a means to improve what can be improved within a specific context, not a measure of surveillance and repression that can potentially affect more negatively those who are already more likely to be victims of both conscious and unconscious bias or working within already-difficult circumstances.

Regardless of staff gender, age, academic position or ethnic background, no metric or quantitative indicator should be used without social and organisational context awareness and unconscious bias awareness.

To paraphrase the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, I would argue there is a “need to eliminate the use of [Module Evaluation] metrics in funding, appointment, and promotion considerations” [DORA 2012-2018].

 

References

Fan Y, Shepherd LJ, Slavich E, Waters D, Stone M, et al. (2019) Gender and cultural bias in student evaluations: Why representation matters. PLOS ONE 14(2): e0209749.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0209749

Holland, E. P. (2019) Making sense of module feedback: accounting for individual behaviours in student evaluations of teaching, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 44:6, 961-972, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2018.1556777

McDonald, G. (2013). “Does size matter? The impact of student-staff ratios”. Journal of higher education policy and management (1360-080X), 35 (6), p. 652. http://0-www.tandfonline.com.wam.city.ac.uk/loi/cjhe20

Morish, L. (23 May 2019). Pressure Vessels: The epidemic of poor mental health among higher education staff , HEPI Occasional Paper 20. Available from https://www.hepi.ac.uk/2019/05/23/new-report-shows-big-increase-in-demand-for-mental-health-support-among-higher-education-staff/ [Accessed 6 June 2019].

Priego, E. (30/05/2019) Awareness, Engagement and Overload – The Roles We All Play. Available at https://epriego.blog/2019/05/30/awareness-engagement-and-overload-the-roles-we-play/ [Accessed 6 June 2019]

San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (2012-2018) https://sfdora.org/ [Accessed 6 June 2019]

 


[This post is shared in a personal capacity and does not represent in any way the views of colleagues or employers. I share these ideas here as a means to contribute publicly to a larger scholarly dialogue which is not only inter-disciplinary but inter-institutional and international].

[…and yes, if you noticed the typo in the URL, thank you, we noticed it belatedly too but cannot change it now as the link had already been publicly shared.]

 

Awareness, Engagement and Overload – The Roles We All Play

tl; dr

An increase in email traffic constitutes an increase in workload, and viceversa. But what’s key is that email per se is workload. The very awareness of email, and of a known/expected amount of email, implies a cognitive load, and excessive cognitive load is stressful.

The recent HEPI Report on Mental Health in Higher Education shows “a big increase in the number of university staff accessing counselling and occupational health services”, with “new workload models” and “more directive approaches to performance management” as the two main factors behind this rise (Morish 2019).

  • What is our own role in organisational information behaviours that are contributing to feelings of burn-out and exhaustion?
  • What do we need to do differently, and what circumstances do we need first in order to plan for that?
  • How can we foster a culture of collegial engagement with collective tasks, and what are the right technologies to help us achieve that, and which ones aren’t?

An awareness that we all play a role in creating extra workload and most likely stress for others is a good place to start. But it’s only that, a beginning. The real challenge is how to get from awareness of the problem to solutions that go beyond the individual.

 

 

Full-Length Insomniac Version

It’s that time of the year in which I can’t sleep well (or at all) thinking about work. It’s that season when I do more than 10 hours solid (lunch at desk when lucky) in the office, marking, wrangling spreadsheets, emailing, seeing students and doing everything else that I need to do as part of my life as an academic with research aspirations and teaching responsibilities. I know I’m not the only one and I know people who do more than that. I am not gloating nor complaining- it is what it is. (I don’t think this routine should be imitated if you can).

A huge challenge for us working in relatively large organisations is how to fulfill our duties successfully, employing the means provided to us to do them, within the time at our disposal.  I lead a large module taken by all the Postgraduate students from a range of different programmes in a single Department. This year 255 students were registered in the module. (This is not the only thing I do- but it’s the task that motivates this reflection).

Part of my role is to manage the marking of their final coursework, which is marked by 30 different members of staff from across the Department (including me). My challenge as I see it has been to ensure both students and colleagues are aware of what needs doing, how and when and that any essential information is not lost in the ether amongst the hundreds of daily messages and simultaneous tasks and deadline everyone has as well. How to do that briefly, when the tasks and context are complex and must be performed systematically, and how not do contribute negatively to the feeling of overload?

I think a lot about information and about the way we use information technologies in Higher Education and in the workplace. I am often vocal about how email has almost completely taken over all other tasks and modes of working, or at least has come to significantly define them.

It’s not just a question of volume but of mode: enhanced by mobile emailing apps, mobile-and-desktop multi-app integration (for example email-drive-calendar, adding to that platforms like Moodle and their messaging boards) and the multiplication of tasks and individuals and groups one single staff member needs to be in contact with, there is growing usage of email as an instant messaging service or SMS- responses and engagement is often immediate, in real time.

As a result the user experience may be that the pressure or the expectation is that email should always-already be immediate and in real time. Add flexible working and communciation with staff permanently or temporarily based overseas and the email traffic is literally 24/7, every single minute of the 24-hour day.

There are, indeed, strategies to manage expectations, for example through email signature messages (“I work flexibly; I don’t expect you to reply outside your working day”), or out of office messages (the latter also contributing to incoming email) where information is provided about a user’s working context. However, as these strategies are often implemented individually and not systematically across an organisation, they are at best personal disaster mitigation measures.

For too long email behaviour in large organisations has been self-regulated by individuals. Disparities in seniority and hierarchy play a role in who gets to set the expectations, but the whole range of potential expectations is not necessarily, to its full extent, the result of a previously agreed written policy. Essentially, almost every practically significant detail about how organisations should use email is left unsaid and individuals and groups are left most literally to their own devices.

Over time I suppose even large organisations may get to develop their own ways of working that may be more or less satisfactory for their members, but in many in today’s higher education institutions the shared experience of staff (and also students sometimes!) is that there is way too much email, too much information, it’s too easy to miss important information (with serious consequences) and it’s not clear at all how to change things for the better.

The recent Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) Report on Mental Health in Higher Education shows “a big increase in the number of university staff accessing counselling and occupational health services”, with “new workload models” and “more directive approaches to performance management” as the two main factors behind this rise (Morish 2019).

The HEPI report is alarming, not because it documents things we didn’t know, but because many of us in the sector knew those things well. The collective evidence is indicative of a sector-wide issue which is getting endemic across industries. Just three days before the HEPI report was published,  Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, published the results of a survey of over 850 members from 238 organisations revealing an “epidemic of stress related illness and massive mental health issues, among people employed by charities and NGOs.”

It is clear to me that an increase in email traffic constitutes an increase in workload, and viceversa. But what’s key is that email per se is workload. Information overload causes cognitive overload, there is not even a need to open an email, to read it or act on it, for it to already imply a load. The very awareness of email, and of a known/expected amount of email, implies a cognitive load.

Excessive cognitive load is stressful. I am not sure this is recognised most of the times. On the one hand email seems to have become, as I said above, the main way we work today (except when teaching or attending meetings, but not even then, as it’s known lecturers and even committee chairs do email from the lecture theatre or the meeting room). On the other hand, however, email is often perceived as invisible- like ideology, it appears to exist without the need to think of it. Email as an act of nature, as unquestionable status quo, not as a means to an end but as an end that never ends. It’s no longer a tool, but a way of being.

The cycle is then of higher workloads – higher email traffic – higher workload – higher stress. This is a vicious cycle, and it should not be considered to be normal. What must not be forgotten is that for most academic staff emailing is not really the main job- a considerable amount of essential tasks academics perform need to be done outside email, even if all of them will require emailing at some point.

So these are some of the things that keep me awake at night in times like this.

  • What is our own role in organisational information behaviours that are contributing to feelings of burn-out and exhaustion?
  • What do we need to do differently, and what circumstances do we need first in order to plan for that?
  • How can we foster a culture of collegial engagement with collective tasks, and what are the right technologies to help us achieve that, and which ones aren’t?

Central dashboards and project management tools are good ideas, but they don’t work unless they truly substitue email for specific pruposes and do not cause duplication of effort as they can do when they have not been set up and mandated centrally by management policy.

In my own professional experience using online project management tools, unless members go and check the tool themselves an email reminder has to be sent out- and there one of the main goals of using the tool in the first instance is lost.

As we know, the balance between being flexible and being systematic is hard to strike- it’s also really difficult to make sure everyone is on board or on the same page without appropriate organisational information behaviour cultures.

Perhaps beginning with this awareness that we all play a role in creating extra workload and most likely stress for others is a good place to start. But it’s only that, a beginning. The real challenge is how to get from awareness of the problem to solutions that go beyond the individual.


And then that feeling- have I just made it all way worse by writing a long post no one will have time to read?

References

Morish, Liz. (23 May 2019). Pressure Vessels: The epidemic of poor mental health among higher education staff , HEPI Occasional Paper 20. Available from https://www.hepi.ac.uk/2019/05/23/new-report-shows-big-increase-in-demand-for-mental-health-support-among-higher-education-staff/ [Accessed 30 May 2019].

Unite. (20 May 2019). Charity workers suffering an epidemic of mental health issues and stress, survey reveals. Available from https://unitetheunion.org/news-events/news/2019/may/charity-workers-suffering-an-epidemic-of-mental-health-issues-and-stress-survey-reveals/ [Accessed 30 May 2019].

 

 

 

 

Parables of Care at the Graphic Medicine 2019 Conference, Brighton, UK

graphic medicine conference 2019 bannerI am pleased to (slightly belatedly) announce on this blog that our multidisciplinary panel discussing Parables of Care will feature in the programme of the Graphic Medicine 2019 international conference in Brighton, UK.

Our panel will feature team members from the UK and Canada components of the Parables of Care project.

The title of the conference this year is Queerying Graphic Medicine – Paradigms, Power and Practices and will take place 11-13 July 2019 in Brighton, UK.

 

Salut, Notre-Dame (A comic)

Salut. Etymology 1.From Old Occitan salut, from Latin salūtem, accusative singular of salūs (“greeting, good health”), related to salvus (“safe”). Ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *solh₂- (“whole, completed”).

From https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/salut [Accessed 16 April 2019].

 

click on image to access
Priego, Ernesto (2019): Salut, Notre-Dame…. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7999418

 

I made another comic thingy. I deposited it on figshare:

Priego, Ernesto (2019): Salut, Notre-Dame…. figshare.

https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7999418.

 

What the Grid Reveals: An Introduction to The Strip Hay(na)ku Project

Copies of The Strip Hay(na)ku Project (2019)

Here I share with you the Introduction I wrote for The Strip Hay(na)ku Project. A collaborative experiment in sequential graphic poetics (Meritage Press & L/O/C/P, 2019). It’s been lightly reformatted for this blog.

If you can please buy the book; it’s nice to hold and reads better than on the screen. Each copy will be printed out specially for you. If you are into limited edition comics, mini-comics, fanzines or poetry chapbooks it’s the kind of printed artifact you’d like in your collection methinks.

“Hay naku” is a common Filipino expression covering a variety of contexts—like the word “Oh.” The “hay(na)ku” is a 21st century poetic form invented by Eileen R. Tabios. It is a six-word tercet with the first line being one word, the second line being two words, and the third line being three words. Poets around the world have used the form and have created text and visual variations of the form, including the “chained hay(na)ku” which strings together more than one tercet as well as the reverse hay(na)ku where the word count is reversed. I started co-creating “strip hay(na)ku” poems in 2008, inspired by examples of Slovenian “strip haiku”.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

“The hay(na)ku’s swift popularity would not have been possible without internet-based communication,” Ivy Alvarez, John Bloomberg-Rissman, Eileen R. Tabios and I wrote in the introduction to The Chained Hay(na)ku Project (Meritage Press and xPress(ed) 2010). We had posted the call for contributions to that book on the project’s blog on June 24 2007[1].

I may be misremembering, as more than a decade has now passed, but if the metadata from the media library of the Strip Hay(na)ku Project blog[2]  is correct, by February 2008 I had already co-created all the comics-poems/poems-comics in this collection. I remember first trying out one by myself, with my own images and words, and then realising the whole experiment could better be extended to become what we called on the project’s blog “a collaborative experiment on sequential graphic poetics”. It was all part of my own attempt to borrow the hay(na)ku experience, make it my own—I mexicanised it calling the form “jainakú”, to refer to the way I’d pronounce it in Spanish, and to reflect the fact that this was a poetic form that had a sense of humour and resisted the rigidity of snobbish seriousness. In fact, the original file names for all the strips contained in this book included the term “jainakú” to identify them.

The Strip Hay(na)ku Project sought to extend the collaborative, sequential/chained nature of the hay(na)ku to the realm of comics, abstract comics if you will, repurposing writing and images created by what then was a creative online community, what was a mutual, reciprocal blogroll of poets and artists who were bloggers and bloggers who were poets and artists (no one remembers what was first—did the order matter?). I have had a long-time interest in the comics grid (the array or layout of graphic panels; the specific distribution of images on a comic book page) as a poetic force, as a space for poetic revelation. It took me years to be able to formulate that the comics grid reveals, and to suggest that what the grid reveals is enabled by the spaces between images, by the quality of the presence and absence of panel borders, of what they contain and what they exclude.

As in poetry, in comics space and silence matter and communicate, express ideas, emotions, stuff. There was such richness in the materials created by the community represented in our blogrolls at the time—an intensity of creative feedback that the rise of social media dissipated and never managed to replicate. “I ask the woman”, “And then”, “The body remembers”, “A white page”, “Last night we”, “A wicked likeness” and “The things words” were indeed collaboratively submitted to The Chained Hay(na)ku Project call, with materials sourced from the contributors’ blogs, and were published in the collection (pages 30; 36; 45; 59; 77; 93; 96). That was the only printed record of this experiment until now: the present edition contains all the strip hay(na)kus we created during January and February 2008, and had never seen the light of the printed page before.

The strip hay(na)ku included here were not merely about exploring what happened when previous content was manipulated and rearranged in a specific panel layout that followed the rules of the hay(na)ku (1, 2 and 3 panels, or the other way around). The collaborative nature of the comic book (editors, writers, pencillers, inkers, colourists, etc) was definitely an inspiration to attempt a similar collective workflow, where there was not a single ‘author’ but a network of authors, each contributing an important element or process.

And indeed in the Strip Hay(na)ku Project an important goal was to focus on process, on the spaces and relationships between people located in specific -distanced- geographical and temporal points, expressing themselves in changing modes, with words or images, and in my case here, with layout design and word and image editing. If I used the term “sampling” at the time, it is because I was inspired by electronic methods of music composition and remixing, thinking of forms of digital collage and curation as poetic practice.

With the hindsight of more than ten years, I think some of these pieces were successful in what I thought they should have achieved, and that was to repurpose messages and to create new ones. I suppose the goal was to propose the hay(na)ku as a poetic theory and practice of space, and more specifically as a grid structure, a network, an infrastructure for poetic revelation.

In this sense I see the hay(na)ku, and the strip hay(na)ku in particular, as poetic expressions deeply rooted in Internet-mediated collaboration, poetry made with computers to be shared via computers (and now mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets). At the same time, and I hope this is materialised in the fact this is meant to be a print publication, my own approach to the hay(na)ku as a collaborative, multimodal poetic form is also embedded in the tradition of DIY fanzine making that, though digitally-mediated, still aims to achieve the feel and should I say “aura” of mechanical reproduction.

In creating the new pieces for the cover (also reproduced twice, in two sizes, inside) and back cover, words are missing on purpose, as an invitation to the reader to try to recreate it or augment it with their own lines. My hope, in rearranging my own work and the work of others in specific forms, was to reveal interconnections, juxtapositions, contradictions and new visions.

I would most surely do things slightly different today, but if I’m honest not drastically different, so I am still proud of what we were doing those ten years ago, at that specific time and place. I am, of course, immensely grateful for the generosity of all those who collaborated in the strips, because the work is ours and yours, because they and I and you gave it away to the page and the future. The work included in these pages still speaks, and perhaps, sometimes, even sings, even in what it does not do or fails to do, in the framed and unframed blank spaces between the ones, the twos and the threes.

November 2018

[1] Available at https://chainedhaynaku.wordpress.com/ [Accessed 18 November 2018].

[2]  Available at  https://thestripjainakuproject.wordpress.com/ [Accessed 18 November 2018].

Reference

Priego, E. (2019). The Strip Hay(na)ku Project. A collaborative experiment in sequential graphic poetics. California, USA: Meritage Press and L/O/C/P. ISBN 9781934299135. http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/21927/

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Spring has sprung: The Comics Grid Volume 9 (2019) so far

[Comics Grid Spring 2019 Newsletter text below]

Please note our 31st March deadline has now passed.

Due to the high volume of submissions, please note that we are now closed for submissions until 1st November 2019.

Below you will find a listing of the articles published so far in Volume 9 (2019).

We will continue publishing throughout the year as part of Volume 9- keep an eye on the journal’s site (https://www.comicsgrid.com/) and our Twitter account (@ComicsGrid) for new article updates.

Volume 9 (2019) so far:

Lipenga, K.J., 2019. The New Normal: Enfreakment in Saga. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.2. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.161

Davies, P.F., 2019. New Choices of the Comics Creator. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.3. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.153

Grant, P., 2019. The Board and the Body: Material Constraints and Style in Graphic Narrative. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.4. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.145

del Rey Cabero, E., 2019. Beyond Linearity: Holistic, Multidirectional, Multilinear and Translinear Reading in Comics. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.5. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.137

McGovern, M. and Eve, M.P., 2019. Information Labour and Shame in Farmer and Chevli’s Abortion Eve. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.6. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.158

Evans, J., 2019. Challenging Adaptation Studies: A Review of Comics and Adaptation. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.1. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.159

You can catch up with our Volume 8 (2018) here: https://www.comicsgrid.com/7/volume/8/issue/0/

 


We are always in need of more expert reviewers. If you are a self-defined comics scholar or scholar with an interest in comics, have a PhD or are about to get one, you can do peer review for us.

Please register here indicating your areas of expertise.

If you are an author interested in submitting an article for consideration to The Comics Grid, you can start by learning about our submission guidelines. We will re-open our call for submissions on the 1st of November 2019.

Subscribe to the Comics Grid Newsletter at http://eepurl.com/iOYAj

We will continue publishing throughout the year as part of Volume 9- keep an eye on the journal’s site (https://www.comicsgrid.com/) and our Twitter account (@ComicsGrid) for new article updates.

A decade later it’s here: The Strip Hay(na)ku Project. A collaborative experiment in sequential graphic poetics (Meritage Press & L/O/C/P, 2019)

The Strip Hay(na)ku Project book cover

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

The Strip Hay(na)ku Project.  A collaborative experiment in sequential graphic poetics

Edited by Ernesto Priego

With contributions by John Bloomberg-Rissman, Sam Bloomberg-Rissman, Amy Bernier, lola bola (Jane Ogilvie), Horacio Castillo, Ira Franco, Ernesto Priego, and Ginger Stickney.

Foreword by Eileen R. Tabios

Introduction by Ernesto Priego

ISBN 978-1-934299-13-5

Release Date: April 2019

Page Count: 48 pages, full colour.

Price: US$14.00 or equivalent

Distributor: Lulu (Laughing/Ouch/Cube/Publications account)

For more information: meritagepress@gmail.com

 

 

Meritage Press and Laughing/Ouch/Cube/Publications are pleased to announce the release of The Strip Hay(na)ku Project, a collection of hay(na)ku poems in comic strip form, edited and co-created by Ernesto Priego with contributors John Bloomberg-Rissman, Sam Bloomberg-Rissman, Amy Bernier, lola bola (Jane Ogilvie), Horacio Castillo, Ira Franco, Ernesto Priego, and Ginger Stickney.

“Hay naku” is a common Filipino expression covering a variety of contexts—like the word “Oh.” The “hay(na)ku” is a 21st century poetic form invented by Eileen R. Tabios. It is a six-word tercet with the first line being one word, the second line being two words, and the third line being three words. Poets around the world have used the form and have created text and visual variations of the form, including the “chained hay(na)ku” which strings together more than one tercet as well as the reverse hay(na)ku where the word count is reversed. Ernesto Priego started co-creating “strip hay(na)ku” poems in 2008, inspired by examples of Slovenian “strip haiku”.

 

About The Strip Hay(na)ku Project:

“Hay(na)ku, a 21st century fixed verse form, has inherited haiku-sensibility (with its caesuras or paradigm shifts) and added to it a new kind of game, with 1, 2, and 3 words, perfect for the special needs of alphabetical writings. The inventive collaborators of this book successfully transplanted hay(na)ku – not only its basic form but its spirit as well – into the field of visual writing, and what we get is new and exciting. The book contains real comic strips but almost as soon as I started reading/watching the panels I had the strong impression that instead of the usual multitude of voices, speakers, actors etc. we have only two “heroes”, so to speak, inside and outside, and even they are not so different, to say the least. There is no comic strip without a story, and this time we are told and shown (but the texts and images don’t explain each other, their connection is inspiringly dissociative), how those heroes or perspectives keep changing places. It happens gently, almost invisibly…”

-Márton Koppány

 

Bios

Ernesto Priego is a lecturer at the Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design, City, University of London. He is the founder and editor in chief of The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. He co-curated, with Ivy Alvarez, John Bloomberg-Rissman and Eileen R. Tabios, The Chained Hay(na)ku Project (Meritage Press and xPress(ed) 2010). He is also the author of Not Even Dogs. Hay(na)ku Poems (Meritage Press, 2006); the amazing adventures of Gravity & Grace (Otoliths 2008); The Present Day. The Mañana Poems (Leafe Press 2010); Ahí donde no estás. De nombres propios y otros fantasmas (Instituto Veracruzano de Cultura 2013); and, with Simon Grennan and Peter Wilkins, the non-fiction comic Parables of Care. Creative Responses to Dementia Care (City, University of London, University of Chester and Douglas College, 2017). He posts things online whenever he is able to on his blog, epriego.blog, and on Twitter @ernestopriego.

Eileen R. Tabios has released over 50 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in nine countries and cyberspace. Her books include a form-based “Selected Poems” series: The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku: Selected Tercets 1996-2019; THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL: Selected Visual Poetry (2001-2009); INVENT(ST)ORY: Selected Catalog Poems & new 1996-2015, and THE THORN ROSARY: Selected Prose Poems and New 1998-2010. Recent poetry collections include HIRAETH: Tercets From the Last Archipelago, MURDER DEATH RESURRECTION: A Poetry Generator, TANKA: Vol. 1, and ONE TWO THREE: Selected Hay(na)ku Poems which is a bilingual English-Spanish edition with translator Rebeka Lembo. Forthcoming is WITNESS IN A CONVEX MIRROR which will inaugurate Tinfish Press’s ”Pacific response to John Ashbery.” She also invented the poetry form “hay(na)ku” whose 15-year anniversary in 2018 is celebrated at the San Francisco and Saint Helena Public Libraries. More information about her works is available at http://eileenrtabios.com.

 

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

PhD studentship-Understanding UK digital comics information and publishing practices: From creation to consumption

The advert for the UK Digital Comics information and publishing practices: from creation to consumption PhD studentship opportunity is now available:

APPLY! [Click here]

Application deadline:  31 May 2019. 

DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND DEADLINE NOW EXTENDED TO 14TH JUNE 2019

[Direct link]

University Supervisors: Dr Ernesto Priego (Lecturer, Centre for Human Computer-Interaction Design) <— that’s me! and Dr Stephann Makri (Senior Lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction)

British Library Supervisors: Ian Cooke (Head of Contemporary British Publications) and Stella Wisdom (Digital curator)

[Direct link]

For more information on this and other opportunities see my previous blog post here or go to the British Library announcement at https://www.bl.uk/news/2019/february/ahrc-cdp-2019.

 

 

MakeWrite: Supporting Writing with Constrained Creativity

MakeWrite screenshot

I am pleased to announce that the INCA project has now launched MakeWrite, an iPad app that was co-designed by and for people with aphasia (a language difficulty following brain injury).

The app offers an accessible way for anyone to create and share texts in English. However, you don’t need to live with aphasia to try it out. Users can use existing text to make their own new piece of creative writing in four simple stages: choose, erase, arrange and share.

It was launched yesterday as part of UNESCO’s World Poetry Day.
This is its first release- it is a worldwide release for all iPad models, but if you are not in the UK and you experience difficulties downloading please do let us know- there should be no problems though.

Needless to say I’d personally love to see a multilingual MakeWrite, and of course one with a wider variety of source texts and an Android version too.

Link to the release on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/makewrite/id1456271313?mt=8 

Find out more about the INCA Project at https://blogs.city.ac.uk/inca/