A recap of 2018 in numbers…..
I was honoured to be invited to present 3 open education keynotes this at the beginning of this year at OER18, the FLOSS UK Spring Conference and CELT18 at NUI Galway. Each keynote presented different challenges and learning opportunities, particularly FLOSS UK where I had to get up on stage and talk to an all male conference (there were only 3 women in the room including me) about structural discrimination in the open domain. It was pretty terrifying and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the #femedtech community. Indeed the #femedtech network has been one of of my main influences and inspirations this year and it’s been a real joy to see if go from strength to strength. My OER18 keynote also resulted in my most impactful tweet ever with 16,592 impressions to date. Predictably it wasn’t about open eduction, it was about shoes :}
To coincide with the centenary of women’s suffrage on the 6th February, I wrote a Wikipedia article about Bessie Watson the 9 year old suffragette from Edinburgh. Bessie’s story really seemed to capture the imagination and it was great to be able to bring her amazing life to wider notice.
11 Days of Industrial Action
The USS Pension strike had a huge impact on the whole Higher Education sector early in the year. I was grateful that I was in a position to be able to support the strike, which I know was much more difficult for many, many colleagues across the sector employed on part time and precarious contracts. Although the strike was nominally about a single issue it really did galvanise action around a whole host of deeply problematic issues including workloads, pay, conditions, equality, precarity and the commercialisation of higher education. It was a real inspiration to see so many staff and students getting behind the strike and to be able to join the strike rally in George Square in Glasgow.
Repeal the 8th Campaign
Once again I was hugely inspired by the people of Ireland and the way they came together to repeal the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution, to recognise womens’ right to bodily autonomy and to amend abortion legislation.
AO3 an Inspiration in Open Source
In June I was delighted to listen online to Casey Fiesler’s amazing Open Repositories keynote Growing Their Own: Building an Archive and a Community for Fanfiction. I’ve long been a fan of AO3 and have been endlessly frustrated, though not surprised, that this phenomenally successful open source initiative run on feminist principles isn’t more widely recognised and celebrated in the domain of open knowledge. Casey’s brilliant keynote showed us how much we can potentially learn from AO3.
Wikimedia UK Partnership of the Year
In July the University of Edinburgh won Wikimedia UK’s Partnership of the Year Award for the 2nd time, for embedding Wikipedia in teaching and learning and for advocating for the role of Wikimedians in Residence in Higher Education. None of this would be possible of course without the support of our own tireless Wikimedian in Residence, Ewan McAndrew.
The other significant event in July was my 50th birthday :} The day itself was lovely, lazy and lowkey and I spent most of the month catching up with friends from all over the world online and in person. It was wonderful. My partner bought me glider lessons as a gift but sadly I haven’t taken them yet as I haven’t been able to get to the air field since….
RIP Magic Bus
After 13 fabulous, and admittedly often frustrating, years our VW T25 camper van died a death, though not before taking us on one last holiday to Galloway and then home to the Hebrides where I finally got to visit Traigh Mheilein beach in North Harris. Traigh Mheilein is often described as the most beautiful beach in the Hebrides and boy does it live up to that reputation.
ALTC 25th Anniversary
In September I was back in Manchester for the 25th ALT Annual Conference. As an organisation that truly embodies its core principles of collaboration, participation, independence and openness, ALT continues to be an inspiration right across the sector and I’m honoured to be able to play a small role in supporting the organisation through the ALT Board and the ALTC social media team. The 25th conference was one of the best yet and my own personal highlights included thought provoking keynotes by Maren Deepwell and Amber Thomas, Melissa Highton‘s unflinchingly honest talk about developing and implementing a lecture recording policy at the height of the USS strikes, and Catherine Cronin and Frances Bell’s personal feminist retrospective of learning technology. Catherine and Frances’ session also inspired me to take a step back and reflect on my own career as a learning technologist.
Wiki Loves Monuments
September means Wiki Loves Monuments and this year the competition was even more fun than last year, which I wouldn’t have thought possible! Huge thanks to everyone who participated and who made the competition so much fun, particularly our Wikimedians in Scotland – Ewan, Sara and Delphine. I uploaded 383 pictures and came 15th overall in the UK. Most of these pictures were taken during our summer holiday so I really have to thank my parter and daughter for their patience :}
I haven’t been writing much Naval History recently and indeed I’ll be stepping down from the Society of Nautical Research‘s Publications & Membership next year after 5 years in the chair. However my colleague Heather and I did publish one short paper in The Trafalgar Chronicle, the journal of The 1805 Club, which this year focused on the lives of women and families at sea and on shore. Our paper “I shall be anxious to know…”: Lives of the Indefatigable women, shone a spotlight on the personal lives of some of the women we encountered while researching our book Hornblower’s Historical Shipmates.
Blogging to Build Your Professional Profile
In October I built my 1st ever SPLOT! As part of the roll out of the University of Edinburgh’s new academic blogging service I was tasked with developing a digital skills training workshop on professional blogging and what better way to do that than by practicing what we preach and building a blog! Anne-Marie Scott set up the SPLOT template for me and it was all plain sailing from there. The Blogging to Build Your Professional Profile workshop has already proved to be very popular and all the resources have been shared under Creative Commons licence so they can be reused and adapted. It was great working with LTW colleagues on this project, particularly Karen Howie, who a good friend from early CETIS days and an awesome person to work with.
In late November Gary Needham, senior lecturer in film and media at the University of Liverpool tagged me in the #QueerArt20 twitter challenge; one image a day, any medium, no credits or titles. I’ve loved seeing the images other people have been posting and it really was a challenge to choose just 20 of my own to post. It was also a timely opportunity to reconnect with queer culture. And talking of which…
120 Beats Per Minute
I didn’t see many memorable films this year but one that I did see, and which will stay with me for a long time was 120 Beats Per Minute a deeply moving and viscerally powerful film about queer activism set against the background of the AIDS crisis in Paris in the late 1980’s / early 1990’s. It’s a beautiful, painful and necessary film and I would urge you all to see it.
CETIS – The End of an Era
At the beginning of December I stepped down as a partner of CETIS LLP ending a 17 year association with the organisation in all its various incarnations. I wouldn’t be where I am today without CETIS and I wish all the partners the very best for the future
….and the lows
Brexit has cast a noxious cloud of reckless xenophobia, bigotry and intolerance over us all, with the only glimmers of hope being a 2nd referendum and the more distant promise of Indy Ref 2.
It’s been equally been horrifying to watch the rise of right wing populist movements across the world. Fascism might have a new acceptable ALT-Right face but it’s still fucking fascism.
I was heart broken by the death of Scott Hutchison in May. He was a phenomenally talented writer and his songs uniquely captured the struggles so many face with alienation, depression, isolation and addiction. Scott faced all these demons in true Scottish style; with scathing wit, self-effacing humour and heartbreaking poetry. Just a few months before his death, I was packed into the Academy with hundreds of others for 10th anniversary tour of The Midnight Organ Fight. It’s a night I won’t forget.
On an open education note, one of my frustrations this year is that, due to lack of time and focussing efforts elsewhere, I had to neglect Open Scotland. I really hope I’ll have an opportunity to revitalise the initiative next year as we still have a lot of work to do to persuade the Scottish Government of the benefits of open education. This might seem like a trivial exercise when Scot Gov is facing the catastrophic challenge of Brexit, but surely we need open and equitable access to education and educational resources now more than ever.
I think I’ve exhausted my numbers now and they all add up to quite a year (sorry, that’s terrible) it just remains for me to wish you all the very best for 2019.