Saturday, 22 September 2012

Showing the Arts and Humanities Matter

Greetings from Dublin airport. Its been a busy week - on Tuesday I hosted the first 4Humanities conference, at UCL, then jetted off to Galway, Ireland where on Thursday I keynoted at the Digital Arts and Humanities PhD Programme annual conference.

The conference at UCL, entitled Showing the Arts and Humanities Matter gathered together various initiatives who are actively promoting the arts and humanities, to allow discussion regarding what is the best way forward to ensure that the benefits and contribution that the Arts and Humanities make to society is recognised. It was a fantastic day, and I learnt a lot - I'm fairly new to this area. Ernesto Priego live blogged and tweeted the event, and there is a storify of the tweets for those who want to catch up on the discussion.

One thing we decided to do was have a practice based artist, Dr Lucy Lyons, as a conference artist in residence, sketching and note taking, using a different sort of technology (pen, pencil, paper) than the ones we usually use, in what she calls "a frenetic, haptic method of note taking and engaging with the speakers". Lucy created a wonderful set of notes and drawings of the day that capture the flavour of the event.

It is interesting to reflect that our discussions seldom wandered into talking about the practice led arts - and the fact that the immediate reaction of many speakers who saw Lucy's drawings was "great! a new avatar for me on twitter!" (how we are all addicted) rather than a discussion of what integrating this process into the conference setting would show or tell us. I'm still processing that, myself - but I loved having a conference artist in residence, and hope to feature this again at future events.

Time for me to check in, I'll tell you about #dahphdie at another time!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Just in time for term starting... Bag Lady Central

For the past few months I've been obsessing about getting a new rucksack to carry my computer around. My dear, cheaply purchased a decade ago, rucksack is finally giving up the ghost (but to tell the truth it was the best rucksack I could find at the time on a very limited budget, and Husband winds me up that it looks like I'm always going camping when I go to work). I have to have a rucksack to watch out for weight distribution over my back, but also I feel more secure with a backpack on, walking through London. Time to hit the shops!

But man, are the laptop bags out there all fugly. Most things for sale make you look like you are about to do the 10 peaks challenge, rather than be sassy academic-about-town!!!! etc etc. 

There is a serious gap in the market for smart, professional looking backpacks. I've done a trawl of the internet, and for the past day or so been chatting to various people on the twitters who wanted to know what I dug up, so here, for your "back to school special" is a roundup of the best laptop bags I have found.

Ally Capellino does lovely canvas ones. (via @rachelcoldicutt)

Sandqvist also do ones in this retro/vintage canvas style (via the power of google), and Notemaker stock a whole range of nice ones, especially the Herschel bags (via @flexnib).

Other brands worth having a look at are Knomo (via and Koyono (via @_ndrew) and Samsonite (via ) and Booq. (via ) and Tumi (via ). On the affordable end of the nicely designed spectrum, Belkin (via ) and Crumpler (via ). On the outrageously expensive end of the nicely designed spectrum, Steven Harkin (via google). Others swear by Timbuktu () or Deuter (). And you can, of course, go into the wondeful world of Etsy to see if there is anything there that takes your fancy (via ). (Thanks to anyone I missed in my twitter feed, too! I tried to keep a track...)

So there you have it. You should find something you really, really like amongst all that, right?

I've ordered something - I just need a new bag - but I'm still searching for the perfect match...