From some discussions I’ve been having recently about public spaces where people can interact, and from the experience I had at Bookcamp, I’m thinking about trying to set up a wiki or blog of some kind to encourage/enable researchers to hold impromptu meetings/seminars/discussions.
There are so many people working in the British Library, it seems a shame that you might be working across from someone who’s researching similar things to you and you’d never speak to them.
What prompted this was that me and a friend were going to meet in the cafe to do a little brainstorm session on Raymond Carver – she’s developing some ideas on how he uses architecture and inside/outside in his fiction, and I said I’d like to go through his stories with her exploring this, as I kept getting little bursts of inspiration when thinking about it. I wondered if there’d be anyone else in the BL that day who would be interested in joining our discussion, but there’s no way to actually signal something like this.
How would it work?
Thinking more about it, a wiki would probably be better for this – people check in at the start of the day, put a notice up saying ‘I’d like to talk about Marxist accounts of the Boston Tea Party at 3pm in the downstairs cafe’ – others can leave a comment saying they’d like to come along, people could arrange how to recognise each other, that kind of thing.
Obviously it’d allow the potential for wider uses of this. Main concern is it depends on a net-literacy that I’m not sure many academics actually have…
Are people as interested in creating spontaneous and meaningful connections as I am? Maybe this is what comes from researching in a small field!
EDIT: new idea, thought of while wandering around the BL – to visualise the data from a potential online-diary system. To integrate the information into the fabric of the building. There is a piece of canvas just now above the Folio Society Gallery that constantly projects, well, the words “Folio Society Gallery” – this could be re-purposed to display a rolling schedule, advertising what meetings or sessions people are having and where they will be located. I am imagining this perfect harmonious union of online and real spaces, I know, but we can all dream…and surely this is the kind of place the BL should aspire to be.