Author Archives: grahamlarkin

About grahamlarkin

I'm a historian, curator, teacher and designer living in Ottawa. In 2003 I completed a Harvard doctoral dissertation on the 18thC origins of the catalogue raisonné. Then I taught at Stanford University in California from 2003 to 2005. For the next six years I was Curator of European & American Art at the National Gallery of Canada. These days I'm involved in a variety of research, teaching, advocacy and design projects. For more information visit my web sites, including my personal blog (grahamlarkin.info) that will take you to my other sites including Design Incubator (designincubator.info), Slow Ottawa (slowottawa.ca), Vision Zero Canada (visionzero.ca) and Love 30 Canada (love30.ca).

Seizing Canada’s Scientists: A Dissenter’s View

To the Honourable James Moore, Greg Rickford, Stephen Harper, and Industry Canada:

I see that today is the last day to hand in a response to the Harper Government™‘s quietly-released “consultation paper” on Science, Technology and Innovation. Based on an eponymous Speech from the Throne, the paper is titled “Seizing Canada’s Moment: Moving Forward in Science, Technology and Innovation.” The only other responses I’ve been able to find online are the thorough and thoughtful ones by scientists here and here. The first is from an organization of concerned scientists that “advocates for the transparent use of science and evidence in public policy and government decision-making.” The second is from a scientist/editor who wistfully notes that “I’m not naive enough to believe that anyone at Industry Canada will actually read my note, nor do I think it’ll actually make any kind of a difference, but I thought I should at least make some effort to engage.” As a defender of pure and applied research based on good libraries and an open-access information network, the beleaguered editor has good reason to feel that her government will not heed her.

The Seizing paper in question aggressively declares the Harper Government™’s intention to steer research by our federal government and institutions of higher learning in the direction of short-term “business innovation” at the expense of public interest. As one might expect from the only nation in the world to have renounced the Kyoto Protocol, the message is couched entirely in macho, platitudinous bizspeak: it’s all about seizing, competing and leveraging, or winning an imagined “global race for excellence, talent and prosperity.” In  this my own modest effort to engage, I will question three bogus and dangerous assumptions underlying this latest effort to make all federally-funded workers succumb to the Harper ideology. Continue reading

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remember your life up to this point, then forget it

Marshall Henrichs, Poster #3 for the “Blueprint for Counter Education”: Modernism as Meditative Environment / Post-modernism as participatory environment …

In honour of main man Phil Ford‘s latest spate of alt-pedagogical ramblings over at Dial M, here are some excerpts from a Norman Birnbaum review in Change, vol. 2, no. 5 (Sep. – Oct., 1970), pp. 69-74. Thanks Jeffrey Schnapp for alerting me to this. -GL

Before us is a Blueprint for Counter Education, described as “curriculum handbook, wall decoration, shooting script,” and prepared by Maurice Stein (age 44, formerly professor of sociology at Brandeis and now dean of humanities at the California Institute of the Arts) and Larry Miller (age 24, one of Stein’s students at Brandeis). Blueprint consists of a box with the following description:

Inside this box are three charts and a book, the tools for creating a new educational environment. This counter-university makes obsolete the traditional university process. Surrounded by charts, the participant will be confronted by ideas and issues that compel him to interact with everything going on around him—from movies, to riots, to political campaigns. There is no textbook, no syllabus, no final exam; and the “Faculty” includes Marcuse, McLuhan, Eldridge Cleaver and Jean-Luc Godard, The Revolution Starts Here. Continue reading

Reflections on My First Year of Blogging

My blogging career began exactly a year ago today on a hastily-assembled Tumblr page called Boring from Within. The unexpected catalyst was the tragic death of my friend Aaron Swartz, the great activist to whom I also dedicate the present post.

I ended post #1 by saying that “I feel compelled to grieve with this, my first really public pronouncement [in close to a decade]. I’m not sure what’s next, but under the circumstances being quietly bereft and outraged doesn’t feel like an adequate response.”

As it turned out I mainly used that site for agitprop that I made in an effort to learn Adobe Illustrator. The first and most popular of these quoted Philip K. Dick’s advice for surviving in a surveillance state. Most of the other posts were likewise centred around freedom of speech and consciousness.

After splitting in June between Tumblr and this WordPress site I made a lot of what I called “meta-posts” on both sites—i.e. posts pointing to content on the other site. This strategy of being in two places at once is not unrelated to the PKD quotation imploring us to evade the state by way of various ruses.

Continue reading

Elsewhere

Heading into the new year my web activity is all happening elsewhere.

Audiocasts (over at Slow Ottawa)

Audiocast #4: Living Lightly with David Chernushenko.  A talk with Ottawa city councilor David Chernushenko, a tireless local advocate for living lightly and  active transport.

Audiocast #3: Coming Home to Centretown. Graham Larkin chats for an hour with Elspeth McKay, Executive Director of the Operation Come Home youth centre in Ottawa.

Audiocast #2: Walking with Dan Rubinstein. Graham Larkin chats for an hour with award-winning journalist Dan Rubinstein about his Born to Walk project.

 Audiocast #1: The Future Isn’t what it Used to Be.  A six-minute teaser recorded on a bad microphone.

Adventures in Multimodal Design 2.0

And another season of the Adventures in Multimodal Design graduate seminar is underway at the Carleton University architecture school. Continue reading

Thank You Douglas Rushkoff

rushkoff_covers
Having learned the hard way that hater-baiting is a loser’s game I’m not going to critique or even name the author who recently made the absurd claim, in a Prominent and Respectable Middlebrow Magazine, that Douglas Rushkoff’s Present Shock (whose title said hater gets wrong) offers no solutions. For the record, I read that book with great care in August/September, and its wise advice played no small part in the germination of my website Slow Ottawa.

Launched a month ago, this is a multimedia platform providing people in my community with the resources to live happier, more financially and ecologically sustainable lives. In the spirit of Rushkoff’s maker manifesto Program or be Programmed, which I also ingested very carefully, I produced (and continue to produce) the entire Slow Ottawa site, serving as web designer, artist, photographer, researcher, journalist and audiocast host. I have no formal training in any of that, aside from general research skills. Continue reading