I haven’t been blogging regularly, so this is a news dump. I’ll preface it with a bit of commentary, though…
As a research fellow in an ARC-funded research centre I have had certain things drummed into me–not least by virtue of hanging out with actual ARC heavyweights from time to time. Especially in the lead-up to the now defunct Research Quality Framework, one of the things I had drummed into me was the difference between research outputs and research outcomes. Outputs, I have learned, are (merely) the things you make out of your research–products, publications, patents and processes. We all scramble to produce enough ‘outputs’, to the point that I am often at a loss to figure out where the time to process ‘inputs’ (like, reading books) is meant to come from.
But the productivity agenda is only half the story. Outcomes, apparently, only occur when the outputs get taken up and used for something in the ‘real world’–this is what the RQF framed as research ‘impact’. Despite the limits of ‘impact’ as a metaphor, which doesn’t really capture very well the slow and difficult to trace dynamics of diffusion that actually characterise the influence of humanities-based research, the pragmatist in me likes the idea that I might have some kind of direct usefulness, one day. Clearly, I have travelled a long way from the Oxbridge-esque imagined future in which I would be musing over great books by a cosy fire in Hobbiton, absorbing and transmitting knowledge via osmosis.
Anyway, in the last 6 months I’ve produced some ‘outputs’ that have now seen the light of day. Most exciting: some digital stories about biodiversity in Queensland backyards, and some more about the experiences of refugees who have settled in Queensland, both projects undertaken with the Queensland Museum, produced with a team run by my long-term collaborator Helen Klaebe, from QUT. I’m not sure if they’re outputs or outcomes, since they are clearly evidence that the digital storytelling idea is being taken up with a fair bit of enthusiasm around the place. There’s also some more digital stories about the history of the gold coast (during the course of which project i discovered the wonder of margarine sculptures, among other things), and some about the gay history of Brisbane, both of which I think will be launched in a few weeks.
Last: Joshua Green and I have sent the manuscript of our YouTube book off to the publisher, where it has now gone to readers. I hope to make a more celebratory announcement in the very near future. And we’ll be presenting on the major content survey that underpinned parts of the book at the ICA conference in Montreal next month–hope to catch up with some of you there!