Whilst I was spending an hour (until 7.30pm) yesterday, putting papers into seminar packs for Monday's symposium in Glasgow, I fell to reflecting on two themes:
1) Is this what I'm being paid a senior lecturer's salary for?
2) why does a seminar on digital literacy need seminar packs?
On the first theme, suffice it to say that it seems to make sense in the odd logic of university finance that if there is not enough money in a budget to buy secretarial support then the work must be done by an academic paid at several times the same rate.
On the second theme, I think the answer is that we probably don't need seminar packs - the programme and all the papers are on the web and lots of the participants will have networked laptops with them and half of them probably prefer reading off the screen anyway. The truth is that I LIKE seminar packs and would probably have put one together for this event even if the ESRC had specifically told me not to.
What I like is the materiality of them: the shiny white cover, the feel of the A4 paper in my hand, the little inside pocket where the sheets fit, the stapling, the little cuts you get from the edges of the paper if you're not careful (well maybe not that last one). For me, the embodied nature of the literacy event (it is face-to-face after all) demands an appropriately materialised agenda. As a quote from Bolter that I found in an article on the Kairos website has it: the technology of writing = the sum of the technical and social interactions that constitute a writing system. The technical interactions constituting the 'writing system' that is our seminar (presentations, note-taking, tweets etc.) include giving each other pieces of paper (business cards, expenses forms, seminar packs) as well.
...and here is the seminar pack in question - what a pity you can't see it in all its materiality (come to the seminar!)