Work is elsewhere

I was recently a guest blogger over on the government Web Toolkit and got to talk about some of the publishing work I’m involved in at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage: Multi-Channel Publishing. Like a lot of the people I work with, I’m incredibly lucky to be able to spend the working week doing something I find really interesting. It’s a privilege really, doubly so given the real commitment that the Ministry is showing to exploring new ways of publishing that connect New Zealanders with content about them.

Earlier in the year we also got some love from the Creative Commons Aotearoa, who interviewed me in December last year and profiled our approach to licensing our content. Again, work is taking small but important steps to support openness with its content.

It often feels like I’m surrounded by a lot of really smart and dedicated people both at work and in what we call the wider sector – those museums and libraries and archives that collect and store and protect the treasures that form so much of our culture. They’re people working as much for love as for money, often against the political odds and with two eyes firmly on protecting the present for the benefit of the future. It’s a great thing to be involved in.

I remember before coming back to New Zealand explaining to an American friend in the UK that New Zealand is still a small social experiment – think emigration to the far-flung corners of the Pacific or the other side of the world, depending where you started; think  social security; think the free market ideology of the 80s. New Zealand’s always been a place of experiment. That’s kind of what I feel we’re still doing, but in the culture and heritage world: playing with new forms of technology in ways that respect where we’ve come from and try to navigate to somewhere new.

I’m not trying to oversell it in some glorification of the good-old-kiwi-number-eight-fencing-wire mentality. It’s more a nod to Lauris Edmond’s wonderful lines about Wellington from ‘The Active Voice’ in Scenes from a Small City (Daphne Brasell Associates Press, 1994):

It’s true you can’t live here by chance,
you have to do and be, not simply watch
or even describe. This is the city of action,
the world headquarters of the verb –