Varying your Information Diet

Photo by Nevit Dilmen.  Creative Commons license.

Photo by Nevit Dilmen. Creative Commons license.

Remember that post I made a few weeks ago about Creativity in the Workplace?  Authors Rainey Tisdale and Linda Norris ran a related networking and creativity event at the USS Constitution Museum last week in cooperation with the NEMA-YEP group.

With the blood-and-attitude-shifting assistance of music and a dance circle, Tisdale and Norris led participants in a speed-networking creativity discussion, challenging each of us to consider and then share what we were passionate about, what we wanted more of from our jobs/careers, what we were good at, and how we could implement and incorporate into our daily routines elements of their steps to creative thought processes.

River tributaries, courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (public domain)

River tributaries, courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (public domain)

One of the steps they list to help prepare your mental ground for creativity is to vary your information diet.  With the easy availability of tailored information streams now (everything from RSS feeds to Twitter streams to Pandora channels), it’s easy to wrap yourself in a comfortable bubble of information you’ve essentially pre-selected.  One solution, of course, is to vary the tributaries that are feeding into your stream.  Here are a few quick and easy ways to do that:

Have a Tumblr? Freshen up your Dashboard!

A lot of museums and libraries have gotten into publishing fun stuff from their archives and collections, visitor images and videos, and even staff-created music videos on tumblr.  I recommend just poking around the museum tags until you find some that appeal.  Who doesn’t want neat and beautiful art and animals and whatever on their screen every day?

NPR has thoughtfully collected a list of their own and other public media tumblr blogs, featuring news, science, arts, politics, history, food, all of the above, and more.

The fun and passionate folks over at We Need Diverse Books are doing a summer reading series, where they recommend books by diverse authors and/or with diverse characters that share elements with better known works, ie ‘readers of Harry Potter will probably like Nnedi Okarafor’s Akata Witch.’  They’ve just started, so you have a whole summer of fun kids’ and YA lit recommendations ahead of you.

Looking for a few more ‘grown up’ reads? Try the folks at Go Book Yourself, where real live readers recommend 4 books you might like that have similar characteristics to a book you’ve read and liked.  (They also have a Twitter feed.)

Interesting Stuff in 140 Characters

I have such a love/hate relationship with Twitter.  People post all these cool links and then I end up with roughly a bajillion tabs waiting to be read.

Yes, thank you, New Scientist, exactly what I mean.  (You might want to follow that link, by the way, it leads to some really interesting book reviews!)

Aside from New Scientist, here are a few other feeds I follow that promote the kind of brain-popping curiosity experience I love:

  • Think Progress – lots of interesting and occasionally fairly terrifying news about global environmental, political, and other newsworthy news
  • Creative Nonfiction – for those of us who like our true stories to sound like stories
  • Education Week – largely, but not exclusively, an aggregator of news from all over US school systems
  • Crossed Genres – speculative fiction publishers with an emphasis on diverse story telling, in all the ways that can be interpreted
  • American Museum of Natural History – fun science facts, all the time!
  • Two Nerdy History Girls – a pair of authors who are also amateur historians.  Highlights the hilarious, wacky, and cool bits of history
  • Future of Museums – Some very museum-focused information, but also wide ranging idea pulling from other fields

There are, of course, many more, and if you have suggestions for me, feel free to add them in the comments!

Meanwhile, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by information overload, either, and remember to give yourself time to reflect and ponder and daydream and make those brain-popcorn connections between information and ideas…or in Norris and Tisdale’s term: Incubate.

 

The PEM contingent at the #creativemuseums DIY photobooth.  Yes, I'm the one with the sword.

The PEM contingent at the #creativemuseums DIY photobooth. Yes, I’m the one with the sword. Naturally. Don’t you think better with a lightsaber in hand?

 

Book of Kells Now Free to View Online

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all! In addition to this incredibly cool news from the folks at Trinity in Dublin, let me also point you at a beautiful manuscript scan of Irish poetry from the folks at Houghton’s rare books library at Harvard and something for the fasion and history minded over at ‘OMGthatdress’.

The Library of Trinity College Dublin

MS58_fol_27v As part of the general celebration of St Patrick’s Day at Trinity , we would like to announce that the Book of Kells in its entirety is now viewable in the Library’s new Digital Collections online repository, provided by the Library’s Digital Resources and Imaging Services.

Direct link to the Book of Kells online

The Book of Kells transparencies, originally captured by Faksimile Verlag, Lucerne, Switzerland in 1990, have recently been rescanned using state of the art imaging technology. These new digital images offer the most accurate high resolution images to date, providing an experience second only to viewing the book in person.

In addition, we would like to direct you to the new iPad app of the Book of Kells, with added functionality and commentary.

For those in Dublin this weekend, entry to the Book of Kells and Old Library Exhibition is free to all this Sunday 17th…

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Surfing, Tumbling, and Pinning

I run across a lot of fun stuff surfing the wilds of the internet, much of which I stash away to share with you here in an eventual Brain Popcorn post.  Sometimes it’s from an article on my reader (and blessings on the day I decided to invest in upkeeping my RSS feeds, or I’d miss so much cool and wacky content!), and sometimes it’s a neat link on Twitter, but recently there’s been a fair amount of it on tumblr and Pinterest.  I initially resisted both sites because I need more ways to fritter away time on the internet like I need a ten-ton elephant standing on my head, but between a few influential articles and blog posts from people I admire, not to mention a few sessions at the recent National Art Educators Association conference in NYC, I decided to jump straight in.

art & nature center pinboard

Museums on Pinterest

If you search Pinterest users for ‘museum’ you get a fairly large number of results, which I initially found surprising, especially the heavy concentration of children’s museums, though in a lot of ways the art museums are a perfect fit.  I haven’t looked at all their boards, but here are a few folks doing interesting things on Pinterest:

SFMOMA – Thematic collections of elements of their collection, and one cool and self-referential board that highlights where they turn up in the press.

Metropolitan Museum of Art – More thematic collections, and I’m particularly fond of the way they used a quote in the description section of their ‘cat’ board.  (also a great resource to get to other cool museum boards: check out the list of who the Met’s following! I’m particularly keen to see what ends up on the crowdsourced Future of Museums board.)

Met Teens – The museum’s teen advisory group runs this set of boards, which they use to highlight student work (both written and visual) especially in response to museum collections, draw correlations between historical fashions and modern, and advertise upcoming teen-focused events at the museum.  Very cool!

Not convinced?  Right before I was putting this post out into the world, fellow museum enthusiast Colleen Dilenschneider over on Know Your Own Bone wrote a fantastically well-researched set of arguments about why Pinterest is a useful investment for the extended museum community: 5 Reasons for Museums to get on Pinterest right now.

Museums on Tumblr

This is a bit more of a stretch: I don’t actually find Tumblr to be as easy a site to navigate or search.  Simply tracking the ‘museum’ tag gets you interesting photos from people’s vacations, but locating specific museum projects on Tumblr is harder.

Eye Spy: Fake or Real? – This was actually the project that introduced me to Tumblr, which was a game we designed to go with our “Playing with Perception” show at PEM last year.  I really liked the format that our team put together, and I haven’t seen any similar game-style Tumblr projects out there.  (But I’d love to, so if you know of any, do tell!)

SFMOMA (again) – Their general feed is interesting, but I particularly like their ArtGameLab tag, where they share visitor photos etc. from their visitor-designed game projects accessible online and in the galleries.

Have you run across any cool organizational projects on Tumblr or Pinterest?  Share them here! 

Or, of course, you could just come find me there! (fair warning, what you see there is often what happens in my brain before it makes it into a coherent Popcorn post)

Brain Popcorn on Tumblr
Brain Popcorn on Pinterest