Let’s not buy the coffin just yet…

•April 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The book is dead, or so I have heard. Write a blog entry describing your habits of reading words both on screen and in print. Do you feel that there is any need for people to go on cutting down trees in order to print information that could be made available online?

 

Firstly let me just preface with I am a big supporter of environmental conservation, I mean, I sleep in a “Sea-Sheppard’ t-shirt, I was the idiot who shut down an entire household at 7:55pm on the 29th March for Earth Hour and then peaked through the curtains to see who’s lights were out in the neighborhood, I carry green bags around with me everywhere and my showers are mercilessly short, however I cannot extend my fanaticism to include the end of book production to save the trees.

Being a student of humanities subjects, I am required to do many hours of reading a week, and this reading is made so much easier when the unit provides a handbook with all the readings it, now I’m no optometrist but it can’t be hard to recognize that reading a book is much healthier for the eyes than starting at a computer screen for hours on end, it is also so much easier to retain information as you can write in the margins and highlight the parts you deem to be important. Many University students will be familiar with the ‘highlighter osmosis’ theory, that by highlighting something that information immediately gets sucked up through the pen and into your brain. This osmosis is difficult to achieve on through a computer screen, and personally once I am on the internet the likely hood of me doing the reading is slim, therefore I say more readers less digitized reading.

I don’t deny that with the increased availability of multimedia on the internet and iPod with Video capacities, many young people since the end of Generation X, often dubbed the MTV generation, Generation Y and the new technology immersed Generation Z, young people will continue to instinctively turn to the internet or television for entertainment, however I fear that this is draining young people’s ability to imagine, and constructively use their minds, instead of being told what to think and feel through the use of multi-media. As Lisa Simpson so comically commented “We are the MTV generation, we feel neither highs nor lows.” Is this the continued way for the future? In 15 years the Youth Summit is going to be very bleak!  I was telling a friend the other day about a book I am currently reading. The book is about a teenage girl who falls in love with a Vampire, I proceeded to explain to my friend that vampires are apparently extremely good looking, she shocked me by asking how I knew this and did the book have pictures. Apparently the vivid images words can create in our minds are no longer enough for my generation, we need full multimedia proof.

As I’m writing this entry on my blog I don’t pretend that I am not invested in this multi-media culture, I believe that the availability of information online is impressive, and makes necessary information easily accessible, but there is something so lovely about being able to select a book off a bookshelf and sit down and immerse yourself in it for an afternoon, or as a ritual before you go to sleep. Technology cannot offer something that’s richly steeped in history such as an old classic that has been on your book self for years, and becomes a comforting item to come back to and re-read.

What I personally enjoy about reading books is the portability of the practice, with a good book in your bag you will never be caught out waiting for a delayed train or filling in time in a waiting room. All my life I have been surrounded by books, and I was taught very earlier on ‘if you can read it, you can spell it’, it seems a shame that many young children are not getting this incidental form of education. I know for a fact that the 8 year old I babysit can spell ‘Nintendo Ds’ however I would not be surprised if I presented her with a list of words I could spell in when I was 8  and she had trouble grasping the context of words unfamiliar to her multi-media savvy vocabulary, let alone trying to spell them.

I read that Jeff Jarvis believes that books are dead because ‘they are frozen in time without the means of being updated and corrected.’ This is untrue, I recently discovered that a book series I used to read, Sweet Valley High, has recently had a facelift and references which could date the story lines have been replaced by more ‘relatable’ references, for instance, outfits that were once outlined in detail (clearly describing 80’s fashion trends) have now been watered down so that readers today will not date the plot lines and pass the characters off as old fashioned. Whilst it is debatable whether absence of identifiable detail has made the stories better, it is an example of how books of the past have become ‘unfrozen’.

Ultimately I guess it depends on how much you enjoy reading a good book and to a certain extent how much emphasis was placed on reading when you were young, but I implore people to look beyond the shallow view that the continued production of books equates to the avoidable demise of the environment. I’m signing off the internet now to curl up and continue reading my vampire book!

 

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Immigration museum

•March 19, 2008 • 1 Comment

The immigration museum surprised me in the fact that it showcased a large array of amazingly comprehensive exhibits, presenting the drastic policy changes that have occurred throughout Australia’s immigration history. I found that the museum had a very clear and easy to follow layout and I’m not sure that many people could find an area that was not covered. The almost life-sized ship in the long room showcasing the boat exhibit was particularly fascinating to look at.

I was not surprised however by the racist, pro-white European immigration history that Australia had in the past. Although as a native Australian I have never had to personally deal with the issue of immigration, I was well aware of the inflexible nature of Australia’s early immigration policy, especially the ‘white Australia policy’. In Australia restrictions on immigration preceded federation, during the goldrushes of 1850s Australia had an influx of Chinese families thus anti-chinese legislation was introduced as was the  White Australia policy with the Regulation of Chinese residents in Victoria in 1857, this particular period in Australia’s immigration policy history was very racist. This proves my suspicions of tough immigration policy to be correct. I did not know however that the term ‘white Australia policy’ was penned in 1988 by William Lane in his book Boomerang.

It was interesting to learn about the way Australian society used immigration to its advantage to help with rebuilding their economy after the depression in 1929 and the end of World War II. The depression initially halted all assisted immigration schemes simply because Australia could not afford to pay to help families possibly with low skill bases assimilate into society, and as I already stated, before the end of WWII Australia was very intent on keeping their European heritage.  However the end of WWII left millions of Europeans uprooted and in ‘displaced persons’ camps. In 1947-1955, 250,000 displaced persons arrived in Australia, their intake second only to the US. Australia hoped to rapidly increase their population for national security and to secure an instant workforce in a rapidly expanding post war economy. Australia took in almost three million people, most were unskilled migrants and worked in unpopular government jobs to help repay their costs of assisted immigration.

It seems that Australia’s immigration policy really turned around for the better with the change of immigration minister between 1945 and 1949.  The introduction of Arthur Caldwell as minister saw the continuity of large numbers of unskilled migrants coming into Australia with assisted passage including many Asians to try and dispell the negative impacts of the ‘White Australia Policy’. ‘Australia wants, and will welcome, new healthy citizens who are determined to become good Australians’. Arthur was also famously quoted as saying ‘Australia must populate or perish”.

 However, I was surprised to notice that the museum deals with immigration on a fairly personal level, with quotes such as “Immigrants to Victoria have always found ways to keep their diverse cultural traditions alive in their new home” and “To migrate is rarely as simple as leaving one place to settle down permanently in another” prominant in the “Immigrants stories and timeline” exhibit, forcing you to consider immigration on a human level. These excerpts have familiar family connotations and images of large families struggling in a new foreign country were conjured up in my head. By taking the politics out of immigration I found it difficult to look at immigrants as faceless ‘others’ which is easier to do when talking about policy. The museum did this exceptionally well with the computerised interactive test in the ‘Getting In’ exhibit.  It highlighted how difficult the immigration officers jobs are, I unsuccessfully attempted this activity twice each time being surprised with how emotionally involved I felt with the applications feeling very strongly that they either should or should not ‘get in’ to Australia. It surprised me to hear the descriptions of who the ‘perfect candidates’ were. This test showed a very real side to immigration, one that many people who like me, have never had to deal with immigration, would not immediately associate immigration policy with.

The museum did well to walk a very fine line between being very comprehensive and informative but note overtly opinionated. It managed to stay quietly apolitical whilst still providing all the information. As someone who has quite strong personal political ideals, I appreciated the neutrality of the exhibits.

  

My daily trip past ‘Kittens’

•March 6, 2008 • 1 Comment

water-lilies.jpgLuckily it wasnt particuarly sunny this morning as I made my way towards Monash. This meant that I was saved from an eyeful of skimpily clad females washing cars at ‘Kitten’s car wash’. Every afternoon I am deathly afraid of a major car pill up as men drift dangerously into the wrong lane as the ‘carwashing kittens’ steal their attention. Let’s hope for a cloudy afternoon….. apple

Hello world!

•March 6, 2008 • 1 Comment

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