Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Reflecting on @VConnecting as Digital Placemaking #MELSIG

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Wednesday, May 31st. Andrew Middleton had invited me to talk about Virtually Connecting as Digital Placemaking at #MELSIG event – so I invited a bunch of buddies who live on a similar timezone. Of those, Martin Weller, Teresa MacKinnon, Simon Ensor, Christian Friedrich, and Sarah Crowson agreed to join me. Sue Beckingham was going to participate with us onsite, but circumstances prevented her from being there.

Andrew suggested we do a regular VC hallway conversation first, to hear about the conference, and then to do a presentation about VConnecting. Both were announced on VC blog (where videos for both sessions are embedded for anyone to watch later).

One of the interesting things about he hallway conversation is that initially, the setup was using the large lecture hall, where we (virtuals) would have been on a large screen and our 3-4 onsite guests would appear as tiny dots “down there”. Given that the event was about digital placemaking, I asked if we could move the conversation to a smaller device like a laptop or iPad and the onsite folks could huddle around it… we joked about placemaking and Alex Spiers, Claire, Andrew, and later Tunde joined the conversation from someone’s tablet. It was much better and felt more intimate to see them up close and be able to talk to them that way. It was a really interesting conversation about metaphors of place/space that can be then used for digital spaces.

Right after that one was over, it was time for us to present about Virtually Connecting as Digital Placemaking. This was an interesting thing for me, because Andrew had sort of given me a title and a short blurb and asked me to speak to it 🙂 So it just sort of prompted my thinking of it as something I hadn’t particularly thought of talking or thinking about before… and amongst our team, between us we came up with really interesting points to make (watch the hangout) especially about hospitality, ownership, agency, messiness (loved Sarah’s point about VC as kitchen table!!!) and more – and I loved the points Martin made about the benefits to onsite folks and Christian about how VC can be an outlet when you are onsite at a conference is more conservative or such (I love it every time someone says that because it helps me see more clearly why our onsite buddies continue to do it).  We couldn’t see the audience, unfortunately at ALL and they had no questions for us (we couldn’t see them so we didn’t know how many were in the room!) but Tunde asked a couple of good questions which helped us expand some more on what we were talking about.

Here are the slides I used to kick off our presentation (I literally modified slides from #ICA17, using same pics but different text and adding a picture of all the buddies from the VC session right before our presentation – Just in Time slides). I used them mainly to show the pictures, more than to actually present particular things… so people watching could sort of imagine what VC is and what the spaces look like, how informal they are. I liked how Tunde noticed the front picture and how we look like we’re huddled around the phone having fun… and I loved how Christian was drinking from the VConnecting mug at the end 🙂

Here are the slides I used, with the link to the YouTube hangout embedded in them)

Side note: I’ve been to Edge Hill University – it is a beautiful beautiful campus, although it’s in a really rural and cut-off part of England (or it feels that way to “city girl” me – and I’m someone who has lived in Norwich, which is a very small city but Lancashire where Edge Hill is was a very strange experience for me, speaking of placemaking…).

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