Play, Creativity and lifelong learning – Refelctions on IFN612

Throughout this course I have been wanting to make my reflection in a  digital story format – finally managed to pull it off for the last reflection of the semester!  A big discovery for me during this course has been Flickr Commons, I absolutely love all the old photos that you can find on there, I could spend hours looking at them.  I have put together this digital story using some of these fabulous photos.  Thanks for watching!


Maker Spaces – it’s all a bit of a disappointment really

I have been surprised throughout the discussion on maker spaces to find that I am actually feeling quite resentful towards the makerspace movement, so I can’t quite leave the maker space discussion without asking the question – are they doing what they promised?

When I first heard about the maker space concept, I was so excited.  I have always been a passionate maker and one of my teenage sons is also a very talented and enthusiastic maker.  We had heard about 3D printers and were both just itching to try one.   When I heard about a maker space here in Brisbane I was quick to sign up for a few different sessions.

Over the last couple of years, I have done some workshops at the maker space, and have organised a tour there for a group of homeschooling families.  We  have seen the facilities and done a couple of activities.  We’ve been to a panel discussion there, and also used their group work spaces.   I have even spent a day behind the scenes with the staff there.  But, we have still not used a 3D printer, and the excitement is pretty much dead.

I do not believe that the  Makerspace  provides an open forum for people across the community to explore creatively, although it claims to be.  I feel it is instead,  an expensive, publicly funded playground for a limited number of people, who have made it into the ‘in crowd’.  To be part of this ‘in crowd’, you have to be one of the lucky 10 people per month who managed to get your name down for one of the equipment induction sessions (at $25 per session) before they sold out – this is not easy to do and this creates a very limited clientèle for this area.  A clientèle who I believe are largely from a particular group in society (ie. not the busy working mothers who don’t have time to sit and check every day to see if new induction sessions have been opened for booking!).

I love the maker space concept – but it has to be done right, and I believe libraries really need to think seriously about whether they have the money, expertise and time to ensure that it is done right.  Putting a 3D printer that no one knows how to use, and that will be outdated in 12 months,  in the back corner of the library is really not going to cut it.  For the maker space to work it needs people, time, funds and good managers who are experts in engaging widely and fairly in the community.  One of the speakers we had for one of our subjects – I’m sorry I can’t remember who it was – said that it’s great for libraries to try new things, but they should be ready to let them go if someone else in the community can do it better.

I think libraries need to examine if the makerspace concept in libraries is working – or is it time to let it go?


The Maker movement – it’s not so new!

I think the current ‘maker movement’ is really interesting.  Making has actually always been a thing.  If we look back to our parents or grandparents generation they were always making things, especially if they were farmers like mine.  My Dad had farm sheds full of old bit of machinery – broken down things, bits he had picked up from clearing sales and things parts he had purchased.  He also had a welder and he could make anything he needed for the farm.  Once he invented a machine which could lift hay bales onto the truck along a conveyor belt – unfortunately he never patented his machine and someone else invented it and made a lot of money from it after he did!  He also grew chestnuts, and he made a machine where the chestnuts went in to a turning barrel and were sorted through holes into containers depending on what size they were.  He didn’t invent these things because he wanted to make money, or because he was part of some ‘maker movement’ – he invented them because he needed them.  If my Dad had a problem with something he had to do on the farm, he would just make something to solve it.  I think this was the way it was for his generation.  

One of Dad's inventions - a machine for vacuuming up and dehusking the chestnuts.
One of Dad’s inventions – a machine for vacuuming up and dehusking the chestnuts.

I guess I took after my Dad because I too have always been a maker.  From a very young age I learnt to sew my own clothes and I have always loved experimenting with different arts and crafts.  Two things I love are pottery and print making.  Both of these things require expensive equipment – a printing press or a pottery kiln, but there have always been groups of artists who have got together and set up studios with these pieces of equipment for everyone to share.  These types of maker spaces have been around longer than I have.

Here is an example of a pottery studio on the Sunshine Coast that has been around for 32 years…

So now, someone has decided that they have this amazing new idea to set up a ‘maker space’ where people can get together, share expensive equipment, and invent new things!  Makerspaces Australia describes the Makerspace as,  “A place where people can come together to use, and learn to use materials as well as develop creative projects”(  Obviously, this is no different to what has always been happening.  The difference is that a different type of making is trendy at the moment, and a different type of making is in favour for receiving money from Government grants.

I think Makerspaces are a great movement.  As Makerspace Australia points out, standardized testing and more regiment in curriculum is leading to less to to play and discover in classrooms, so the makerspace can be an antedote for this, allowing for experimentation and collaboration – both essential for children’s learning (  I think this is a really interesting point as well – while the Government talks about the need for Australians to be innovative and entrepreneurial, our education system, where children spend the majority of their day, is giving children quite the opposite message and not giving them these skills.  I don’t think the small amount of time children spend in Makerspaces is not going to outweigh that.

Will it revolutionise society?  I don’t think so – no more than my Dad’s inventions or the artists studios have already been doing for years.  I think the popularity of Makerspaces is just the latest fad, their popularity will fade and Government support and money will move on to the next big thing in a few years – so let’s just make sure we enjoy it while we can!

A lesson in Kombucha.

Do you know what kombucha is?

I am going to tell you all about kombucha, because the activity that I did at The Edge maker space was a kombucha clothing workshop.

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is reported to be very good for your gut health because of all the good bacteria it contains.  You may have seen it in bottles in the fridge section of your supermarket or health food shops in flavours like lemon and ginger.

Now, if you do enjoy drinking that supermarket kombucha but you don’t know how it is made, I warn you, you may want to look away now!

Kombucha is made by brewing some sweet tea, allowing it to cool, and then sliding something called the Scoby, more affectionately known as ‘the mother’ into the jar.  The Scoby is a ‘symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast’ which ferments away in the tea for about a week, breaking down the sugar and producing bacteria and a few bubbles.(http://(

It looks like this…

'The Mother'
‘The Mother’

And this…


Mmmmm … Delicious!

You may be wondering what this has to do with the Maker Space.  Well, at The Edge, which is of course or State Library of Queensland maker space, down in the basement, you will find huge tubs of kombucha complete with the biggest scobies you will probably ever see.

The people working on this project at The Edge are not interested in drinking the kombucha; what they are interested in is drying the Scoby and experimenting with using it as a textile!

Here is some dried Scoby ready to be used…

Dried kombucha scoby
Dried kombucha scoby (the crab picture I have lino printed onto the kombucha)

It is very much like leather in its dried form and a few crafts people and designers around the World have been experimenting with using it for clothing.  You can see some here…

In the workshop that I attended at The Edge there was a suggested project of making a wallet out of kombucha or we could do our own thing.  Some people made jewellery, lampshades and bowties.  One of my arts interests is artists’ books, so I was interested to try using the kombucha in a book project.  Here is my finished creation…




I was a little bit disappointed with it – the kombucha looks so much better when it has the light shining through it, and over time it has darkened quite a lot, but it was still fun to play around with.

People often think of maker spaces as just being 3D printers, but I think this activity shows that it can really be a place for experimentation and developing of new innovations in many different fields.

If you think this sounds amazing and you’d like to try it, you can find some instructions here…

There is also a great Ted Talk about kombucha as a fabric…

Suzanne Lee – Grow your own clothes






What is an IP address?

I’m not quite sure if my first post for the week 8 play activity was correct, so I am going to post this one as well just to be on the safe side!

I had a look at this YouTube video on “What is an IP address?”

I thought it was a great little video with simple explanations and a fun way of explaining it.  I don’t know how important it is to know about IP addresses, I don’t think I’ve ever needed to use one.  However, even if I never have to actually use my IP address, I think it is good to know about these things because the more you understand the more confident you can feel about all aspects of using the Internet!

Privacy – actions speak louder than words.

Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, claims that privacy is no longer the social norm.  He said that, “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people … That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”

While a lot of people will claim that this is not true, I think an examination of people’s actions rather than their words will definitely show that privacy is not so important as everyone would have us believe.

Sure, we all want to keep our privacy, but do we want it more than we want to have Facebook?  For 1.65 billion people the answer was no.  By the first quarter of 2016, 1.65 billion people had clicked “I agree”  to the terms and conditions that state, “By using or accessing Facebook Services, you agree that we can collect and use such content and information in accordance with the Data Policy as amended from time to time.”

More than 8 million blogs exist with a new blog created every 7.4 seconds.   A huge number  of these blogs and youtube videos are people sharing aspects of their lives that in the past only people in our immediate families would have known about.  Look at the results from a simple search for “our baby blog” if you don’t believe me.


"our baby blog" search results
“our baby blog” search results


If you explore the search results you will see that there is no end to the personal information that people are willing to share in their blogs.



In fact, you can even take a little step inside of my family life in my blog here…

My personal blog featuring my gorgeous son Axel on this post.
My personal blog featuring my gorgeous son Axel on this post.

Approximately 300 hours of Youtube videos are being uploaded every minute and if you don’t think these are sharing people’s private information I dare you to do a search for ‘birth’ and see how much privacy you find there!

Isn’t this what Web 2.0 is all about?  According to, web 2.0 is ” a combination of concepts, trends, and technologies that focus on user collaboration, sharing of user-generated content, and social networking”.  That is not suggesting to me that people want their privacy – quite the opposite, people want to put more stuff out there!  

Sure, we may not be sharing our home addresses or bikini photos,  but we are certainly opening ourselves up to examination and criticism every time we share our thoughts, ideas and creations, and that, I believe shows, as Mark Zuckerberg says, people being more comfortable, sharing more information, more openly and with more people!

When was the last time you installed an app on your phone and ticked the box “I allow this app to access and make changes to my photos/location/contacts/Facebook on my behalf”?  We all do it all the time because the fact is, we want privacy, but we want the app more.

As they say, actions speak louder than words.


By the Numbers: 125+ Amazing YouTube Statistics

Seniors on the Internet – you can teach an old dog a new trick!

For this week’s play activity I thought I would spend a bit of time investigating some online resources, particularly designed for seniors, to learn more about ‘reading’ the Internet and information literacy.  It was actually a lot more difficult to find resources than I had thought it would be.  My search for ‘how to use the Internet (“older Australians” or seniors)’ resulted in a lot of articles about the importance or value for older people in using the Internet,  but very little about how to do it (although it is highly possible that an elderly person doing the same search on their computer might have found quite different results).  Changing to the ‘videos’ search for the same topic there were lots of supposedly ‘funny’ or ‘cute’ videos of older people trying the internet for the first time – groan!

Eventually, I found a resource that I think if fantastic for older people – I highly recommend that you tell any older people in your lives about this!

It is a Victorian Government site,  Seniors online…

I am really impressed with this website overall.  I think the problem with information for older people is that it can often get ‘dumbed down’ which is really patronising – old does not equal loss of intelligence!  But, older people, like all of us, find it hard to take in a lot of new things all at once, especially when there is a lot of jargon and acronyms thrown in.  The trick is then, to provide useful and intelligent information, in small chunks and normal language –  I think that is exactly what this website does.

Scrolling down on the home page takes us to Tech Savvy Seniors…

There are a variety of choices given here so that people can choose the learning method that best suits them.  The videos that are provided online are great – short, easy to understand and cover a wide range of topics.  I really like this one about planning your travel online.  I think it is a good example of teaching people to do a quite complex task, but in a simple way – and still trusting that they’ll be able to do it.  I love the presenter’s shirts and enthusiasm too!

I couldn’t help also sharing this other video I came across in my search – what a great idea for engaging seniors with new technologies!  Even though this is not about teaching people to access information, anything that makes people feel more comfortable using new technologies is going to help them move towards great digital information literacy.  Perhaps this could be something public libraries could do – what do you think?



Libraries and the homeless – make a difference.

This is a little bit off topic, but it does relate to everyone’s right to have access to information.  Have you thought about how you will  work with homeless people in your library?

In my interview with a library professional for another subject, I learnt that the introduction of free internet into libraries had also seen an increase in the number of homeless people visiting the library.  Although this can be difficult for a number of reasons, it also puts us in a fantastic position to make a real difference in the lives of individuals and to our community as a whole.

Have you thought about how you, as an information professional might help homeless people?

The Incluseum blog is all about building inclusive museums to address social justice issues and is well worth a look for anyone interested in this area.  They recently featured this interesting post with guidelines for how museums can work with homeless people, and I thought it was equally relevant for those of us in the library profession (actually even more so!)

Engaging WITH Homeless Adults

Trends watch – Museum trends focus on open data

Trendwatch is produced by the American Alliance of Museums to guide museums in future directions.  The 2015 edition has a strong focus  on open data.  I particularly like this quote,   “Open Knowledge is what open data becomes when it is useful, useable and used ”.

It makes very interesting reading.


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