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Blog

Innovating Paradigms

Scott Bahlmann

My previous entry considered the implications of scarcity, and how it can limit innovations. It seems the most effective way to challenge this perception would be through a paradigm innovation. Our final presentations included a proposal for this sort of operational shift in regards to inclusive spaces on the UW campus. Even though they began by saying it was a proposal for a process, rather than a project or location, I still latched on to those specifics in their example rather than the operational suggestions they proposed. Even while in the process, the execution of an idea seems to hold more impact than the way the ideation is approached. 

The International Criminal Court had to really engage communities on a large scale in counter the traditional localized tribunals of our grandparents. With a global organization able to provide greater objectivity and resource sharing, the ICC had a long process of establishing procedures, participants, and position. I found it really interesting that some of the most involved members during the creation of this organization decided not to be member states once it was established.  

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Changing internal perspectives is essential for these paradigm shifts. I’m interested in how we can achieve an environment of inventiveness that facilitates participation from the community. 

Gurian explored the shifting role of the curator in response to community knowledge, indicating that a wide range of sources and perspectives should be included. This supports a shift from neutrality to inclusion, giving genuine representation rather than a space for personal interpretation. Though Gurian was more focused on a collection, I feel that my role is to act as a curator of my community, giving them space and voice. Open Library has shown how this opportunity for involvement generates investment. Eva was clear that being responsive to the communities suggestions was essential in order to avoid creating a feeling of betrayal. This helped generate buy in for the changes she wanted to facilitate for her users. UDelft went even further, supplying a budget for students to make proposals for. This clearly allows for direct representation of the student body in the space, and we saw the VR area that resulted from it. 

One of my weaknesses is inviting the direct contribution of others. I grew up very resourceful and independent, and have generally found it easier to take on all the tasks in a project myself. With others involved, I would have to explain my expectations and trust that they were understood, and that the other participants would be as invested in the outcome as I was. This course has shown that the best way to build that investment is to let others help develop the outcome, and then support their path to accomplishing it. I’ll certainly be more considerate of this, especially in light of one of our class discussions back at the Bicycle Hotel. When considering positive and negative leadership qualities, a few of the undergrads were disappointed in leaders who didn’t offer them satisfying roles on a project, who felt like they weren’t trusted and underutilized.  

UDelft Students created a VR zone.

UDelft Students created a VR zone.

Lucy shares a story at her local library.

Lucy shares a story at her local library.

This is often seen in the public library setting where teen volunteers, or volunteers in general, are given the same repetitive options; cleaning, cutting out items in bulk, removing old stickers, or sitting at a sign-up table. There is value in the quick list as a time saver and for volunteers that have a short time frame for their required hours. I feel it would be a more meaningful experience to find out the volunteers particular interests, and letting them work under a sort of mentorship with librarians in a way that would have particular meaning to them. This would expand the interactions, hopefully demonstrate more trust and create greater opportunities for personal growth. DOK’s Children’s Director program provides this sort of opportunity in a very expanded way. This year Lucy was able to participate in programs, meet the princess Laurentien at an event, engage and support her peers, and received compensation in the form of a free book each month.  

With the understanding that conversations and direct engagement are more important than self-reported data, I’ll use my reflection assignment to consider how my library community can be more directly engaged and represented in our decision making processes.




The Scarcity Mindset

Scott Bahlmann

We’ve seen a bit how Calvinism has influenced Dutch society, emphasising investment over indulgence during its heyday in 1500’s. Though they certainly found ways to continue indulgence, the idea was to let finances grow without frivilance. Delft was one of the first capitalist nations, emphasising thrift and hard work over monarchy, and they didn’t mind showcasing the rewards of their hard work. Vermeer clearly demonstrated this shift to thrift with his choice of subject matter. Naturalistic lighting, in contrast to Rembrandts dramatic contrasts, highlighted the everyday tasks of the people, and made them worthy of attention. 

This emphasis on personal gain very likely contributed to the aggressive colonization of the 17th and 18th centuries. With merit for effort, the more you could do the greater was your reward, resulting in the Golden Age. With the Dutch East and West Indies companies leading much of global trading, the success of these capitalist ventures was quickly implemented by all those with the power to do so, and laid the framework for our current business and social structures. The correlation between colonialism and capitalism isn’t something I’ve seen addressed, but they arise in the same century, and both were clearly implemented by the Dutch through mercantile enterprise and to a lesser extent industrialization. 


Other nations really excelled, with Britain and America using Capitalism as a means to protect individual investment through exploitation of resources and segregation. This seems to relate to the scarcity mindset that Rose mentioned on Monday’s discussion, with those who control more carrying greater fears about hypothetical loss of their products and power. Those with a scarcity mindset tend to fear change, hoard information and data, operate from a transactional mindset, feel entitled, and blame others for their failures.

Interestingly, our capitalist structure still employs colonial attributes. The United States and the United Kingdom are among the top five countries to obtain foreign land for their own profits. This is accompanied by an aggressive vetting of support for foreign countries or citizens seeking asylum, many of which were harmed by our governments involvement. It seems the scarcity mindset is pretty firmly entrenched in our policy and global interactions. 

We also saw this grab for power in the discussion surrounding Elsevier, with high costs and personal gain leading their decision making process. Fortunately, we also see resistance in this situation, with support growing for open access publications circumventing the obstacles posed through their manipulation of power. With the subscriber base resisting their monopolistic control, there’s a greater space for innovation and sharing of information. I was surprised to learn that Elsevier has been around since 1880, indicating a strong foundation in the historical Dutch perspectives previously discussed. Curiously, American and Dutch libraries have generally adapted drastically to be more open and inclusive, a sharp contrast to these scarcity principles. 

This isn’t to completely decry the usefulness or benefit these perspectives can bring to a situation. The rebranding effort for the Seattle Public Library was met with clear resistance, stemming from that idea of limited resources. With scarcity as a mindset, we need to be more conscientious of our resources and how we put them to use. In particular, those working in the public sphere have an accountability to their constituents, and should employ more transparency in decision making. Early invitation for response would help to establish the value of a proposal, as well as assuring it met the intended objectives by involving more stakeholders in the development. This attentiveness would hopefully also include more diverse perspectives, bringing a consideration to counter the limited perspective of colonialists who established some of these early mindsets.



Quick Thoughts: about kids.

Scott Bahlmann

The happiest kids in the world were perhaps not always so happy. My grandparents were raised in pre-war Netherlands and some of the parenting stories my Grandfather shared are a surprising contrast to the experience of the newly Dutch citizens Acosta and Hutchison. When my great grandfather found his son trying a cigar in the shed, he made him smoke the entire thing, resulting in severe sickness and an effective deterrent from ever smoking again. A more harsh intervention came about during an argument between my grandfather and his brother. Rather than leaving it to the kids to work things out independently, their father handed them each a hatchet and told them to ‘go at it.’ These methods were effective for de escalating the situations, after an initial hyper escalation. It makes me wonder if the attitude of the Dutch shifted after the experience of the 2nd world war, or if my great grandfather had some different parenting strategies than the culture at large.  

A quick search didn’t reveal any research done to examine parenting styles in a culture after the end of a conflict, but there is so much information about cultural comparisons in general, and parent-child conflict, etc that it would take some effort to locate these articles if they exist. 

I’ve observed the patience of parents in a few contexts during some passive observation. While waiting for a public dance performance, a mother gave her children jackets to put on. The boy was around 6, and quickly zipped his up then ran off to continue playing. The girl was maybe 3, and spent perhaps 5 minutes negotiating the intricate task of fitting the base of the zipper together. A few times the mother would bend over and offer assistance, but it was clear her daughter wanted to do it herself. She managed to dock the zipper once, but it didn’t engage the teeth and her jacket was ultimately left open. 

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Another contrast to the states was the presence of two young boys at the pub where we watched the World Cup. In Utah especially, this scene would horrify parents who are concerned about the exposure of youth to alcohol. In reality, it seemed to be a great bonding experience with the parents able to involve their children in this cultural milestone. The kids were completely disinterested in the beers their parents had, and when not engaged with the soccer match they entertained themselves with their jackets. Who knew such a simple garment would be so instrumental to the happiest kids in the world!

More Than Human

Scott Bahlmann

As we entered the Het Nieuwe Institute we worried we’d inadvertently chosen a workers entrance. We were greeted by a musky aroma from shelves of dirt, straw and gardening gloves. How did this relate to a museum of architecture and digital culture? 

The entrance to Het Nieuwe.

The entrance to Het Nieuwe.

This entryway is likely a direct connection to the institutes exterior urban garden expansion, but also connects to the immersive Neuhaus exhibit which considers dynamic possibilities of more-than-human knowledge. 

With stations exploring examples of the past guiding our future, and looking at matter beyond it’s capitalist value, there was a depth of information presented in an interactive and stimulating environment. 

I also found a collection of essays in the museum shop exploring these same topics, and will refer to the work Schemas of Uncertainty as it relates to these interconnected areas. 

Schemas of Uncertainty, contributions from a cross-departmental research group at the Sandberg Instituut, Gerrit Reitveld Academie. 2019

Schemas of Uncertainty, contributions from a cross-departmental research group at the Sandberg Instituut, Gerrit Reitveld Academie. 2019

The text opens with an exploration of algorithmic history originating from astrologer and astronomer Al-Kwarizmi in 820 ad. Schemas deliberately includes the pairing of mainstream and more esoteric areas of study as being a unification of certainty with a flexible predictive element. Ancient systems of prediction were considerate to include non-human actors in the process, where our current systems are so numerically and systematically fixed that they lack that flexibility and uncertainty of expression. Even Newton explored the esoteric alongside his developments in optics and classical mechanics, using biblical passages for divination as a form of predictive technology. Calculation requires separation and assumption for the purpose of control, but our future is always dependent on imagination. Outcomes are never certain. The contributors to Schemas of Uncertainty feel that the flexibility to develop multiple future narratives is an essential counter to the current capitalist imperative. 

In the Neuhaus exhibit Tabita Rezaire explores practical outputs for emotions and healing, drawing from ancient African archetypes. Many of our site visits have included innovations that involve countering the colonial perspectives to make room for more authentic interpretations. The divine polarity of serpents is one area Rezaire highlighted, which still carries weight in our western medical symbols, and Christian creationism. The serpent embodied the power each being carries to heal or destroy, with an undulating spine that defies stagnation, allowing authentic expression and release of emotions. 

How we choose to manifest these symbols informs our interactions with data, and each other. 

Flavia Dzodan’s contribution to Schemas made this more clear by tracing the influence of Carl Linnaeus on current classification systems. Linnaeus coined the terms mammals and homo sapiens in the 1759 publication Systema Naturae. Not only did Linnaeus categorize and create a hierarchy of races, with Europeans at the top, he also developed a binaural system of two specific genders. How he subtly contextualized them is of particular interest to the author. Of the numerous defining characteristics our class possesses, Linnaeus focused on the mammary glands, which only operate for a short period in half of the class. The female half. He could have distinguished us by the presence of hair with the Latin term Pilusa, or by our unique hollow ears with Aurecaviga, but connected us to the rest of the beasts through a uniquely female characteristic. Additionally, homo sapien distinguishes us from the beasts, classifying us as Man of Wisdom. The text traces the influence of these taxonomies through western culture, as they become cornerstones for data and information gathering. A clear contemporary example is the census which divides us into racial and gender categories, separating white from everyone else. This data is used to inform policy, distribute aid, and continues to shape our views as algorithms draw information from gender, ethnic and class profiles. 

Traditionally and in contemporary times this data is heavily used to draw profit, with a long history of Christianity and capitalism informing rational materialism. The concept of human dominion disregarding non-human contributions also has a direct impact on the natural world.  Our effectiveness at combating wildfires, for example, has created more delicate and imbalanced ecosystems. With 98% of wildfires extinguished successfully in the US, we’ve shifted the habitats from more open grasslands to congested forests, which contributes to more fierce and longer burns. Being respectful of these natural cycles, rather than trying to control them, makes a healthier balance. (Why We Should Let Raging Wildfires Burn, 2016

The increasing rate and intensity of wildfires in the US.

The increasing rate and intensity of wildfires in the US.

Kenric McDowell from Google Research was interviewed for an entry in Schemas of Uncertainty, and suggests that a radical reframing of our relationship to the earth is necessary to balance our technological advances. As the museum innovators we’ve seen during this course have demonstrated, he suggested that the involvement of women, indigenous and earth centered perspectives are critical. McDowell proposes high dimensional systems, rather than binary, to allow for a continuum of choice in algorithms. Current materialist systems leave little agency, while reinforcement learning systems can derive their own functions in pursuit of an established goal. For humans the inclusion of non-human intelligences and diverse perspectives can enhance neuroplasticity, leading to greater creativity and innovation. If we listen to and incorporate the natural world and flexible prediction systems, as ancient civilizations have, we can be more creative and innovative in crafting future solutions and possibilities.

The Impact of Place

Scott Bahlmann

The set designer wants to enhance an experience through the design of a space, and I’ll consider some of the decisions made at Efteling, which is an older but highly interactive experience, as well as the Institute of Sound and Vision in it’s more contemporary and environmental role. A key intention of set design is how it can affect emotions and efficiency, both key considerations for an amusement park. An archive/office space/museum might have less obvious needs, but Sound and Vision was very considerate in their design of space, beyond what might initially be expected.  

Waiting in line is a large part of the amusement park experience. One of the differences I notices at Efteling is the division of the line when you get close to the ride. Sometimes the attendants would direct us, but for this dragon coaster we were encouraged to choose our team, water or fire. The coasters would run at the same time, and adding these teams connected the ride with the time spent in line.

Waiting in line is a large part of the amusement park experience. One of the differences I notices at Efteling is the division of the line when you get close to the ride. Sometimes the attendants would direct us, but for this dragon coaster we were encouraged to choose our team, water or fire. The coasters would run at the same time, and adding these teams connected the ride with the time spent in line.

The Hollander boat ride had a more atmospheric wait, with many elements connecting to the pirate theme. We could peek through broken slats to see pirate treasure, and walk through a torn painting. Not all of the rides had such immersive lines, but there was always some consideration given to extend the experience of the ride through the wait.

The Hollander boat ride had a more atmospheric wait, with many elements connecting to the pirate theme. We could peek through broken slats to see pirate treasure, and walk through a torn painting. Not all of the rides had such immersive lines, but there was always some consideration given to extend the experience of the ride through the wait.

I really appreciated the way that common elements were designed to keep the magic of the experience. ATM’s were housed in over-sized treasure boxes and gramophones, rather than being placed in the side of a wall. Not only are they separate from other structures, making them clearly stand out, the ATM’s were almost secondary to the magical effect of their containers.

I really appreciated the way that common elements were designed to keep the magic of the experience. ATM’s were housed in over-sized treasure boxes and gramophones, rather than being placed in the side of a wall. Not only are they separate from other structures, making them clearly stand out, the ATM’s were almost secondary to the magical effect of their containers.

My favorite ‘hidden’ element were these trash receptacles. With a slight suction in their mouths, and a voice calling for paper, these were clearly designed to encourage a clean environment. One of our articles mentioned the visitors kids rushing around to look for trash to feed the figures. The suction wasn’t very strong and a paper cup, for example, blocked the input, but it’s very engaging.

My favorite ‘hidden’ element were these trash receptacles. With a slight suction in their mouths, and a voice calling for paper, these were clearly designed to encourage a clean environment. One of our articles mentioned the visitors kids rushing around to look for trash to feed the figures. The suction wasn’t very strong and a paper cup, for example, blocked the input, but it’s very engaging.

Efteling was fantastic at incorporating nature into the park, and used what was naturally available in their considerations. The paths in the storybook area were made of small shells, rather than pebbles. For being near the sea, this is a great way to utilize local resources.

Efteling was fantastic at incorporating nature into the park, and used what was naturally available in their considerations. The paths in the storybook area were made of small shells, rather than pebbles. For being near the sea, this is a great way to utilize local resources.

Many of the animatronics were fully constructed, but here is a sort of mask that was placed over an existing tree. Having an integration of the mechanical and nature makes the experience more magical, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy while utilizing what is already available in the park.

Many of the animatronics were fully constructed, but here is a sort of mask that was placed over an existing tree. Having an integration of the mechanical and nature makes the experience more magical, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy while utilizing what is already available in the park.

The institute of Sound and Vision used many subtle design element, which generate an emotional impact even if the details and intentions aren’t obvious to those visiting. Within the bright glass plates of the exterior are ridges of different depths, which create subtle images of archives shows. These are most easily seen in the lower part of this photo.

The institute of Sound and Vision used many subtle design element, which generate an emotional impact even if the details and intentions aren’t obvious to those visiting. Within the bright glass plates of the exterior are ridges of different depths, which create subtle images of archives shows. These are most easily seen in the lower part of this photo.

The colored glass panels connect the exterior and interior of the building, giving a cathedral effect. With subtle images on the right (the workspace) showing famous TV and radio personalities, and reflective tiles on the left for the museum, there is a clear division of space while retaining a harmonious central area.

The colored glass panels connect the exterior and interior of the building, giving a cathedral effect. With subtle images on the right (the workspace) showing famous TV and radio personalities, and reflective tiles on the left for the museum, there is a clear division of space while retaining a harmonious central area.

The archives are set deep into the structure, integrating some of the brightness from the exterior with the solid orange against traditional stone textures. This relates to the age and tradition of the materials being stored while keeping a modern element.

The archives are set deep into the structure, integrating some of the brightness from the exterior with the solid orange against traditional stone textures. This relates to the age and tradition of the materials being stored while keeping a modern element.

Solid colors were consistent through the interior spaces, with the museum centered in a deep blue, and the work spaces utilizing a rich yellow. This monochrome execution unites the interior spaces while also keeping them distinct and providing an immediate emotional impact.

Solid colors were consistent through the interior spaces, with the museum centered in a deep blue, and the work spaces utilizing a rich yellow. This monochrome execution unites the interior spaces while also keeping them distinct and providing an immediate emotional impact.


I also attended some dance performances that were meant to consider the ways body and place affect each other. Seeing how movement is designed in relation to a pre-existing space is a compelling flip on the set designers role. I’ll look at the way the ‘set design’ can be used to highlight an artistic message that wasn’t part of the architects intent. 

The first piece I attended was A Question of Ma, choreographed by Amos Ben-Tal which took place at Pontsteiger. The audience sat on a floating pier which faces a small open courtyard where the dancers performed. The ‘windmills’ were developed in collaboration with interdisciplinary artist Gosse de Kort, and it seemed that the interactivity was less about the geographic location, and more the interaction with the specially constructed pieces. Even so, the reflective background of mirrors from the hotel expanded the performance, continuing the image of the spinning rods as well as the dancers. The musical accompaniment was simple, a rhythmic pulse that complexified slightly during the performance. I wondered if the pulsing water which separated the viewers from the performers was taken into consideration, but we didn’t have an opportunity to discuss the piece afterwards. From my own interpretation the artists drew from the cultural relation to windmills, though the title refers to the Japanese term for ‘gap’ or ‘pause’, which indicates that the piece may have been pre existing, and just adapted for this performance. 

The Fool introduces us to the Post Office

The Fool introduces us to the Post Office

 Conversely, The Fool by Connor Schumacher was very integrated into the space, taking us around the building, having us touch and interact with it while he explained the way it impacted those that inhabited it. He set a context of the struggle between individuality and community, and how we draw straight rigid lines that are really made of soft curves. This metaphor was then extended to the seemingly hard surfaces of Museum Het Schip. We followed the front of the building to the integrated post office, and learned that it was a major shift for the community. Here was the first time the status symbol of sitting in public spaces was broken, and everyone was treated with equal consideration. It also took over the responsibility of dispersing paychecks, which had previously been a responsibility of taverns, and directly connected income with family and community rather than frivolity.

Drawing an even more direct connection to the community, we ended in the courtyard which hosted the Haard of Het Schip, the hearth, where the communal residents would gather for events. Their place for recovery. Here we were guided to raise our hands and walk forward mingling and shaking hands with each other. From our somewhat dispersed points of observations we ended in a solid circle around The Fool, and he highlighted how few places there are for people to just be, as we’d just done. It was an impactful reaffirmation of the importance of library spaces.



A Question of Curation

Scott Bahlmann

Museum:

“A building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited.”

-Cambridge English Dictionary


In our smaller group review of the week, Carey had us question what is the qualitative definition of a museum, particularly in regards to the Street Art Museum. 

In view of the official definition, not only is the building missing, but also the storage of artifacts. The street art is intended to be temporary, something we didn’t consider in our discussion. The temporary exhibition is something seen in other museums; the Things that Matter at Tropenmuseum will not be stored there, and The Hermitage had items on loan item from St. Petersburg. I suppose digital archiving of the pieces will count as storage, which the Street Art Museum is working to do. Will their online VR experience be an archive, or an alternate museum experience? It seems like it could serve both functions. 

In the official definition, ‘exhibited’ is the only component that relates to attendees, and we can certainly see that street art is exhibited. Something the definition does not include, which we found important, was the curation and contextualization of the objects. Tropenmuseum is possibly the clearest example of shifting their focus to deliberately add context, putting violence alongside power in their history of colonizaion. Hermitage was also considerate in addressing this with a small section specifically highlighting the presence of abducted Africans in the golden age art. I found this more effective than the plaques at the Tropenmuseum, which could easily be overlooked. 

The Hermitage highlights the harm done through the slave trade.

The Hermitage highlights the harm done through the slave trade.

Tropenmuseum includes more subtle references to the racist past.

Tropenmuseum includes more subtle references to the racist past.

At the Street Art Museum we had Jessie to contextualize the exhibit. He explained the mission of the museum as a means to collaborate with and represent the local communities while producing work in a variety of methods and with globally recruited talent. For someone walking through the neighborhood independently, these works don’t have that context. Smile, for example, was part of a theme where the artist used photos spontaneously collected during their travels. This somewhat somber expression of a girl from Vietnam was a reaction to the idea that a cheerful presentation is a solution for so many issues. Fatherhood was another image by this artist, but the link might not be intuitive for an individual encountering them.  The current ‘archiving’ for this work by Stinkfish only retains the image and a bit of the process, without any of the context we got with our guided experience. 

Jessie gives background and context to Smile, by Stinkfish.

Jessie gives background and context to Smile, by Stinkfish.

Fatherhood lacks that context in this video, a possible way to archive the collection.

An important question is if permanent contextualization would change the intent of the art. Placards to identify the artist and indicate the next piece in the collection could override the intention, such as the bunnies which are supposed to be discovered spontaneously, and the Banksy figures that were personal to Ann (the curator) and the loss of her dog. 

Amsterdam has done curated street art in their “Old Masters by New Masters” project from 2014, with placards linking pieces and giving some brief context, as we’d proposed during our discussion. 

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This seems to have been done more as a promotion than an archive, as the links mentioned are for a Netherlands Bank, and don’t directly link to the content on display. With a search I was able to locate a video, which gives some context...though in Dutch so I can’t tell how directly it relates to the work on display. After 4 years we can see that the work itself is devolved, as street art it meant to, but for those seeing it now, that transient aspect of the medium isn’t explained either. 

The tour and explanation was a much more effective way to experience this type of work, and is also closer to a museum experience. It seems that the human element is somewhat essential, though something like a geocaching app or other interactive guide might be an effective middle ground.

Quick Thoughts: Week 1

Scott Bahlmann

During the Thursday morning lecture we considered the influence cultural politics has on electoral politics, with the population generally driving change that can be adapted by politicians when it’s gained enough popularity. Politicians are generally not willing to lead a change that runs contrary to popular views of the time. One exception I considered is the Space Race, with Kennedy determined to put a man on the moon, and inspiring the nation with his conviction. This is particularly interesting because the civil rights movement was a major impact of cultural politics during the same period. Kennedy avoided taking a stance on that issue because it was so divisive to those that put him in power, so we have a parallel of both cultural and political progression. 


Snow College production of The Diary of Anne Frank - 2003

Snow College production of The Diary of Anne Frank - 2003

I came to the Anne Frank house with a deep familiarity, having grown up with stories of my grandfather’s work camp experiences, and sharing the Frank’s story in the role of Otto Frank. While appreciating the insights and sensitivity of the experience, I thought the museum had a great opportunity to highlight or mention other contemporary conflicts that relate to the Franks situation, such as Darfur, Bosnia, Cambodia and Rwanda. The unifying experience of the Tropenmuseum’s Things That Matter exhibit demonstrated the impact that shared stories can have. Though there wouldn’t be space for that in the Anne Frank House, they could perhaps do something more simple. 

Pillows in the Jewish Children’s Museum Theatre

Pillows in the Jewish Children’s Museum Theatre

The Jewish Children’s Museum opened the door to other cultures and experiences through simple quotations. Alternatively, the Anne Frank House ended with a video that seemed to bookend these types of conflicts. Among those being interviewed were childhood friends, Whoopie Goldberg, and a tourist who had finished the tour and said something to the effect of “If we aren’t careful, this sort of thing could happen again. We’ve got to remember so we can nip it in the bud before it blooms.” To me, this disregards other cultures where racial and religious genocide has not only bloomed, but gone to seed. Anne’s hopefulness and optimism is a perfect counterbalance to these horrors, and the Anne Frank house seems an optimal place to honor them alongside the Jewish Holocaust.

Community Involvement and Engagement

Scott Bahlmann

I led my first bike excursion to the Tropenmuseum!

The man on the right is not Van Gogh, …as far as I know.

The man on the right is not Van Gogh, …as far as I know.

This museum was constructed in 1926 to demonstrate the wealth of the colonies. Indonesia was no longer a Dutch colony in 54’, and soon after the focus of the museum shifted. Even in their colonial representation, the collection was imbalanced and focused on the content that the Dutch considered mystical and exotic while ignoring the prominent Muslim population. 

A Divination text, which Dutch used to cast Indonesians as strange and primitive ‘others’.

A Divination text, which Dutch used to cast Indonesians as strange and primitive ‘others’.

A more modern and inclusive display drawing on common themes.

A more modern and inclusive display drawing on common themes.

The exhibits now focus more on the commonalities, to be a museum of people through relatable stories that deconstruct boundaries. This takes the focus away from the ‘strangeness’ of others through universal topics, such as music, writing and celebrations. In order to counter the white perspective that had been prevalent for so long, the museum was considerate to including diverse curators and response from students and the community. 

There have been challenges with community connections, as culture in the Netherlands was seen as a hobby after the global bank crisis. School groups have been an effective way to engage groups, and be accountable for diverse representation to reflect the members of those groups. 

While Tropenmuseum highlights the history of the Netherlands, both historic and contemporary, OBA is looking forward, but with a similar focus of inclusion and authentic representation. The [future worlds] exhibit highlights individuals that have made a profound impact on their communities, overcoming hurdles to engage and enrich the population at large. The direct connection with the individuals is evident in the displays, through recorded videos as well as in person conversation sessions between the public and the contributors.

The Future Cities exhibit also draws on common themes, such as food, fashion and music.

The Future Cities exhibit also draws on common themes, such as food, fashion and music.

With opportunities for the public to have in person conversations with the innovators!

With opportunities for the public to have in person conversations with the innovators!

OBA is also responsive in regards to their local clientele, shifting collection spaces to study spaces and hosting Pizza Sessions to get feedback for new library locations. I was particularly thrilled to see the consideration given to young patrons. The children’s collection was organized thematically to facilitate intuitive browsing, and the website was recently redesigned in a way that is familiar to the digital platforms they might already engage with, such as Netflix. 

Mark from OBA shared a digital walk through of the library, which launched an idea for cross pollination during our lecture discussion the next morning. Bingyan was unsure what the purpose of the digital walk though was, and during our conversation we were able to expand the use beyond a way to showcase and build investment in the project. We thought this digital walk though could be useful to create a digital pathway for those who may have cognitive processing differences, or wish to find accessibility pathways in preparation for their visits. This connects to the chapter I’m preparing to share for the 10 Faces of Innovation. Caregivers want to empathetically provide clear expectations for an experience. An effective way to do this is to anticipate the needs of the user and show, rather than tell them, about the experience. Users with mobility issues would feel more confident when they arrive at a new location if they’ve had a chance to explore the area, and those on the autism spectrum are better able to function in familiar settings, and the walk through could provide that familiarity. 

We had a clear personal experience with caregiving during our visit to the Van Gogh museum, where Anne had refreshments waiting for us, and after a very brief introduction asked us to take some time to settle in before beginning the presentation. She then clearly explained what we would be doing during the session, and both she and Martin had us participate during the process, which is a key component of the caregiver. Though we were role-playing, it gave us a clear understanding of their services. Ann blindfolded part of the group, and had us describe a piece of art, which demonstrated some challenges for both the user and those designing experiences for them. Martin had us select photos from an assortment with the consideration of reaching out to people who might be potential museum patrons. 

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Their consideration for the user was also evident in their implementation process. They’d learned that traditional tours were not effective, and made the museum experience more participatory for attendees, as well as incorporating personal stories during visits, rather than focusing solely on Van Gogh’s life and art. 

Innovation and the Public Sphere

Scott Bahlmann

Our first class meetings have explored the differences of innovation in the private vs. public sectors. 

Innovations generally carries a positive connotation in culture, which can lead to over application of the term. In the Netherlands, we observed innovation in a number of ways. The layout of the city heavily favors cyclists, which stems from a cultural appreciation for that mode of transportation. Wind is harnessed and used in a number of ways, including pumping canals and generating energy. Houseboats often have planters, or are entirely covered with grasses to create a nice environment which extends living space, as well as acting as insulation for the home. Because of taxes based on the front of buildings, construction is generally narrow and high. 

Windmills off the coast of Netherlands.

Windmills off the coast of Netherlands.

Dutch houseboats with greened roofs.

Dutch houseboats with greened roofs.

After sharing our observations, we identified innovations that haven’t gone as well as hoped. My considerations were rather more old-school, such as the blimp, but I was impressed with more current issues that were mentioned. Twitter designed an AI system to generate tweets based on what was posted to it’s board, but it quickly became a hate-sharing account due to the types of posts made on the account. E-Cigarettes were intended to curb the prevalence of smoking, and help those with the habit find a healthier alternative, but became more widespread than cigarette use do to the healthier connotations, customization, more discrete operation, and unconstrained marketability. 

Tufekci’s article on Musk and his submarine ‘solution’ demonstrates the improper use of innovation, and the way in which the private sector has more freedom of creation, but is also less connected to user needs. As contrast to the Barbakoff article showcasing Ferry Tales, we can see how public sector is more responsive to the user, though it can also be more reluctant due to public perceptions.

Libraries have become a social ‘catch all’. With no clear bottom line, we are able to demonstrate flexibility in response to our populations. In the more connected world, we can see that silos aren’t advantageous or realistic for producing useful services. Fringe organizations in the States often step in and up to fill governmental service gaps, as seen in Morton’s Vancouver schools providing more social services to the students. 

America has some particular difficulties, it’s a very large country with many diverse cultures and important things are often left to chance. More successful social programs are often seen in mono-cultures with established domains of service. 

The States have a self-perception of rugged individualism, and libraries can be a low-risk community place for individuals. Innovation doesn’t require invention, often cross-pollination is a more successful way to innovate, drawing from user needs and a lived experience rather than the ‘cool idea’ that the private sector acts on. We progress incrementally, rather than revealing a big idea, providing answers rather than stories. Would we be able to share our services better, and change the public perspective of being ‘a place with things to use’ if we found an effective way to share our mission as a story? Directors reports have focused more on user in recent years, presenting them as evidence of the value of our institutions, but this doesn’t seem like a way of sharing that connects strongly to the communities. The Annual Report is more widely shared, through pamphlets at the library and a featured place on our web page slider, and also utilizes storytelling. 

Spread from the Annual Report for Salt Lake City Public Library

Spread from the Annual Report for Salt Lake City Public Library

The flexibility libraries have in considering our population  does tend to take time to implement. Urban public libraries in particular can face major challenges in meeting the needs of their populations, with librarians taking on heavy workloads that require efficient use of time and resources. This can restrict the ability to make quick adjustments. This efficiency can also limit the librarians ability to create spaces and programs that are authentic and sensitive to the needs and perspectives of the community, as connecting with and involving diverse perspectives can slow down the process. Still, this inclusion seems valuable, and gave the Ferry Tales program longevity and greater success than if Barbakoff had gone with her initial, personal opinions about how a book club for transistors would take shape.

Time for Study Abroad, daar gaan we!

Scott Bahlmann

With 4 weeks full of guest lectures, museum trips, and site visits I’m only hoping I don’t have too much to share, and time to share it all. The class focus on library innovations will help me curate the experience, though I’m certainly going to be tempted to highlight the Dutch culture as well.

dutchwinmillpapercraft.jpg

Art Afternoon

Dutch Windmills for my weekly craft, in honor of the journey!

(Adventure Time by my awesome co-worker.)

Moth + Moon

Scott Bahlmann

All moths love the moon. It is their strongest desire to reach it. They spend all day resting, so that when the night falls and the moon is risen, they can put all their efforts to lift upwards, higher and closer to it’s light.

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Not the Ugly Duckling by Scott Bahlmann

Scott Bahlmann

Once there was an ugly duckling,

but first there was an egg,
                                      in a nest,
                                           on a marsh,
                                               with a mother,

            ...who was dying.

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rialto beach

Scott Bahlmann

When our ‘guide’ said suddenly ‘We can set up anywhere we like now, but I think a little further down is nicer.” I had a sort of double take. This is where we would be spending the night?

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walk about

Scott Bahlmann

I passed under the bridge and realized we’d have to head quite a bit north to be able to access it by foot, so I plotted a path on google before we ventured forth

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