37. New Ways

Often we just do the same old thing—going around in circles. When we do find a new way, we don’t always stop to appreciate how it has affected us. In this episode, I discuss some of my own new ways: mind mapping; using a horribly designed (but useful) app and a different way of using a dining table. Strangely, I also mention a chicken shop.

Notes

Rumination 70: From an [INSERT HERE] Perspective

More and more these days, I hear people using a very specific kind of phrase as they begin to offer their own opinion or take on an issue. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it is what I am now dubbing the ‘perspective-driven dependent clause’. The examples below are just some of the vague, perspective-driven dependent clauses that I have heard uttered by real people online and in person.

From a tech perspective…

From a stakeholder perspective…

From a learning perspective…

From a user-experience perspective…

From a global perspective…

From a timing perspective…

What do these actually mean? Of course, I’ve only included a select few in the list; you could replace any of the modifiers before ‘perspective’ with another word to create your own version.

From a linguistic perspective, it is useless to rail against changes in communication. New expressions, definitions, pronunciations and views on correct usage are natural. We would not have different languages and dialects without such constant iteration, creativity and error.

From a critical perspective, however, it becomes frustrating to hear others’ incessant use of the same kind of dependent clause to open sentences, particularly when what is spoken doesn’t really make any sense. It’s simply a fashionable and somewhat professional-sounding way of speaking, so everyone is mindlessly jumping on board. Take the last example above in italics: ’From a timing perspective…’. Can timing even have a perspective? Is timing a sentient being with eyes or its own mental processes and experiences, from which it can offer its own view at all or perceive three-dimensional space as we do? If it isn’t a sentient being, then what makes the perspective of timing so unique as to call it out?

From a research perspective, let’s look at a few alternatives to this kind of opening dependent clause.

With regard to timing…

On the topic of timing…

Speaking of timing…

Considering the importance of timing…

From a retrospective perspective, do you see how easy it was to find other ways to say it? We have not even explored the possibility of using a synonym for ‘timing’!

From a result-oriented perspective, my recommendation is simple: it is fine to use the word ‘perspective’, of course, but try to use it when referring to someone’s actual view on something; otherwise, mix up your use of language to avoid submitting to groupthink. Here’s an even more extreme idea: drop such an opening altogether! Just say what you have to say.

From a social perspective, you may start to make more sense and stand out with your varied vocabulary.

36. Mapping Entrepreneurial Narratives with Special Guest David Sharpe

This week, I chat with David Sharpe, who is undertaking PhD research into entrepreneurship in the creative industries in Australia (through the University of Wollongong). He is particularly interested in the journeys that entrepreneurs take and the narratives that they create about them. I ask him to explain his background, motivation and process and we compare research experiences.

Find David Online

Notes

Film Review: In My Blood It Runs

Recently with family, I had the absolute pleasure of watching In My Blood It Runs, an Australian documentary by filmmaker and director Maya Newell. The film follows the story of (then) ten-year-old Dujuan Hoosan, an Aboriginal boy who is caught between two lives (and education systems) in the Northern Territory of Australia: the predominantly English-language system, with its focus on Western values and historical perspectives; and the stories of Arrernte and Garrwa culture in the Sandy Bore Homeland and Borroloola Community.

Put simply, In My Blood It Runs is one of the most remarkable documentaries that I have ever seen. As an Australian who lives a comfortable, middle-class life on the east coast of the continent and is a product of the nation’s public-education system, I have long been troubled by the history of the nation and the ongoing effects of colonisation, paternalism and assimilation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The film employs a narrative structure and cinematographic style that very impressively combines historical footage, intimate family moments and gorgeous views of the Central Australian landscape.

What impressed me most, however, was the creators’ intention to give agency to the Arrernte and Garrwa family participants, even handing cameras to them to contribute to the recording and overall production. More detail is listed on the ‘About’ page of the documentary’s website, such as the following excerpt:

This collaborative approach used on this film is not ‘new’ but draws from a long line of First Nations initiatives, organisations, filmmakers work both within Australia and internationally who have fought for the right to have agency over their own narratives for a long time. Screen Australia has a leading guide ‘Pathways and Protocols: A Filmmakers Guide to working with Indigenous Peoples, Culture and Concepts’ that we adopted and built upon to create an approach that would work for this film.

As a brief aside, this commitment reminds me of an article that I read recently for my own research into podcasting by Day et al. (2017), called ‘The Expanding Digital Media Landscape of Qualitative and Decolonizing Research: Examining Collaborative Podcasting as a Research Method’. In this article, Day et al. (2017) explored the use of podcasting as a collaborative method to publicising the stories, ideas and knowledge of Indigenous peoples across Canada to improve water and environmental management. Based on the work of Linda Tuhiwai Smith and her text Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (1999), these researchers strived to produce new methods of sharing Indigenous peoples’ knowledge as it is—without a Western filter. The voices that you hear are the voices of the people.

The key term here, linking back to In My Blood It Runs, is ‘decolonising’. By handing cameras to the Arrernte people, by letting them speak without a non-Indigenous Australian person’s narration applied over the top, we see a beautiful representation of their very real struggles between two worlds. I was moved, for instance, by the genuine attempts of the Arrernte people to educate their children in their own language, keeping their tradition and stories of the Dreaming alive. All the same, I was troubled that the only real way to do this is in restricted circumstances at school or back at the homeland, and often in a visual way that relies on the transcription of their words in the Latin alphabet. Even with such wonderful attempts to maintain these cultures, the truly oral way of memorisation and intergenerational transmission is being lost, giving way to the visual bias of Western culture (as explored by media ecologists such as Walter J. Ong).

I believe that one of the greatest lessons that we can all learn from this film is to question the very purpose of education. Throughout the presented story, we see that Dujuan is fluent in three languages, intelligent and very charismatic. Yet, for all of this, he is seen as a failure in Australia’s more Western education system, which prioritises measurability and a path to the world of work. Dujuan is a self-proclaimed ‘bush kid’ who yearns to be with his homeland; he loves learning and connecting with his people and it just so happens not to be the kind of education that the Australian Government (and connected industries) would prefer.

I hope that as many Australians as possible will watch this documentary, not just to figure out how we can ‘close the gap’, but also to learn how we can improve—better yet, transform—our own views of what it means to be educated and live a full life, respecting our collective human stories and ensuring proper care for the natural environment.

If you are interested in watching In My Blood It Runs (within or outside of Australia), make sure to visit the documentary’s ‘Watch the Film’ webpage.


As a concluding thought, I realise that I am a white Australian who lacks specific, expert knowledge of the myriad Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on this continent. If I have misrepresented any aspect of culture, language or history in this review, please do let me know and I will correct it. I am always seeking to learn more.

Featured image source

35. Personas and Pets

For this episode, I explore the concept of persona—just how many people make up the person that is you?—and I discuss my own experience of having furry and feathered companions while working from home.

Notes

  • Marshall, P.D. and Barbour, K., 2015, ‘Making Intellectual Room for Persona Studies: a New Consciousness and a Shifted Perspective’, in Persona Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 1–12.
  • Smith, S. and Watson, J., 2014, ‘Virtually Me: A Toolbox about Online Self-Presentation’, in A. Poletti and J. Rak (eds), Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, The University of Wisconsin Press, pp. 70–95.
  • LinkedIn post about Rocky, our cockatiel