I started my RMIT Information Management course this evening.
My first subject is The Digital Information Environment. Our first assignment is to create a Google Sites website to act as a portfolio of our work and reflections for our course.
There’s a certain irony in a subject dedicated to managing digital information asking you to set up yet another website. My digital wake is strewn with the wreckage of forgotten websites and neglected social media accounts. In their proliferation is their doom. One person can only maintain so many sites.
I did ask if I could use Library 3000 instead. I was told no–we’d need to use some of the plugins offered by Google Sites later in the assignment.
This is my skeptical face.
Anyway: here’s three ideas I took away from my first class.
#1 – What is a document, anyway?
Information Management could be described as the science of storing documents in such a way that people can find them again. But what actually is a document?
The lecturer flashed up several attempts at a definition, none of which seemed all-encapsulating.
I’m okay with this. Ever since I read about fuzzy sets, I’m perfectly happy to describe something as clearly a document, document-ish, or only vaguely document-like. The core idea is that a document is a discrete physical or logical object that contains information.
The discrete bit gets messy with digital documents: a single webpage can be made up of multiple files (content, stylesheet, images) plus interactive code, live database search results, etc. etc.
Regardless, a document usually has:
- Content: the information within the document
- Structure: the way the information is organised
- Presentation: the media, format and appearance of a document, and
- Context: when, where, why, how the document was created and changed
These traits overlap: the content may only be meaningful based on the context, the presentation may subtly change the content, etc.
#2 – I could go study at RMIT Vietnam
RMIT have a Vietnam campus. And you can study abroad there as one of your Masters electives. They even have a tilt-shift marketing video.
Apparently the library there is very high-tech, but they also face a lot of censorship issues because of the Vietnamese government.
I intend to ask lots of questions about this. I’ve never been to Vietnam. I think this would be a really interesting way of exploring my Big Question in a very different context to Melbourne.
#3 – Random Study Tips
The quickest, easiest way to read and understand a handout is to go through it with a highlighter pen.
Reuse, reuse, reuse: if you’ve got a clear structure for writing an essay or building a website, reuse it mercilessly. The content is what matters. Don’t waste brainspace trying to think up how to structure it.
Talk to your lecturers and the other students. Sit in the front row. Be excited. This isn’t high school. No one cares if you’re cool or not.