Monday, 7 December 2009

Ruth Rikowski's 34th News Update

Picture taken in London Zoo Aquarium, November 2009

Well, Christmas is now fast approaching, and here hopefully to brighten your days a little more in the time leading up to Christmas, is my latest newsletter. This news update includes a number of items. Firstly, information about a long article that I have written about Michael Jackson, that has been inserted on our ‘Flow of Ideas’ website. Secondly, information about the latest additions to my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog; and there are a lot of additions this time! Then, there are a number of items around the Marxism and Education theme. This is followed by information about a new addition to the ‘Contributions’ section of our website, and some feedback about our website. Also, some details about Biohealthcare Publishing (Oxford). Finally, there are some highlights from the latest issue of ‘Managing Information’ and a welcome contribution from Bob Bater about the famous quote ‘Knowledge is Power’.

Leading on from Michael Jackson’s death, I have now written a long article about Michael Jackson, which has been inserted on our ‘Flow of Ideas’ website.
I go into the whole topic in a lot of depth, approaching it from a variety of different angles; including a comparison between Jackson and Mozart. Many will probably be a little taken aback (to say the least), but in my opinion, Jackson was a musical genius on par with Mozart! Francis Brown of London, who wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph (p. 21) of 27th June 2009 (2 days after he died) agrees with me anyway, saying:

“So, the Mozart or Beethoven of the modern world has been…Michael Jackson. That about sums it up, really.”

Michael Jackson was completely unique; we will never see the likes of him again. But why did society treat him so badly? Why was everyone so greedy? These along with many other issues are considered in this article.

This is the first time that I have ever written anything about a musician. I am very pleased that I have now completed it. I started the article directly after Michael Jackson died, but have only now been able to return to it and finish it. Michael Jackson brought a lot of joy and pleasure into my life, as well as inspiring me, as he did so many other people. I also identified with him personally, in just so many ways - more than with any other famous person, in fact (see section 11 of my article). I did not want to be harbouring any thoughts or feelings that I had somehow exploited him myself, by not being brave enough to complete the piece and put it on our website. So, there it now is, for the world to see! Within it, the article also touches a little on various important social topics, including social class, religion, patriarchy, greed and capitalism itself.

There are 6 new entries on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog. The first three all include lots of digital photographs that we took recently. The first entry is about a visit that Alexander Rikowski and I paid recently to London Zoo; the second features Wanstead Flats, an area of green open-space that is very near to our home and the third is about a very special weekend in London that we had with my cousin Helen and her husband Phil.
The fourth is about a book that I read recently: ‘Hidden Talents’ by Erica James, Orion: London, 2002 The book is about a writer’s group and I thought it was quite fortuitous that I found myself reading this book at this particular point in time. The fifth is about the best-selling author Rosamunde Pilcher, focusing in particular on her book, ‘The Shell Seekers’ (New English Library, London, 1987), which I enjoyed just so much. The sixth is a short entry about the Michael Jackson piece that I have written, outlining the different sections in the article.

There is a very good review of ‘Marxism against postmodernism in educational theory’ by Gabrielle Ivinson in ‘Gender and Education’, Vol. 21, No. 3, May 2009. This is what Gabrielle Ivinson says about Glenn Rikowski’s chapter in the book, which is entitled ‘Education, Capital and the Transhuman’ (pp.111-143):

“Glenn Rikowski’s ‘Education, Capital and the Transhuman’ was for me the intellectual pinnacle of the book which pushed the notion of capital in some wonderful new directions. If you only want to read one chapter, read this one” (p.346)

Then, a little later Ivinson refers to “Rikowski’s creative work on post-human capital…” (p. 347).

Wow – praise indeed, eh! It is wonderful that Gabrielle Ivinson appreciates the intellectual depth of Glenn’s work here in this way, the fact that he is pushing forward new frontiers, breaking new ground, whilst at the same time also appreciating the creativity in his work.

Ivinson concludes this review by saying that “…it is only through the dialectical process of thesis and antithesis that theory ups it game, and this book does up the game/gain of Marxist theory for contemporary educational problems.” (p. 348)

In my last newsletter (No. 33) there were 2 items (items 10 and 11) about Mike Cole’s chapter in the book ‘Renewing Dialogues in Marxism and Education: openings’ edited by Anthony Green, Glenn Rikowski and Helen Raduntz, Palgrave Macmillan: Hampshire, 2007. All this developed from, and in response to, news item 4 in newsletter No. 32.

Mike Cole contacted me leading on from this, and asked me if I would include this reply of his in my next newsletter. Thus, Mike Cole’s reply is below:

“I have known Glenn Rikowski for a number of years, and have been very much influenced by the depth of theoretical analysis in Glenn's work. However, Glenn is not just a theoretician, but also writes a lot about educational policy. Here is a link to many of the short articles he has written on education policy (amongst other topics):

In his writing, Glenn integrates his personal life with educational theory and educational policy, in some of his writings and also on the Rikowski web site, The Flow of Ideas:

In addition, Glenn has been writing blogs for students, for example for his third year students - tying these into his lectures (details available from Glenn on request).

Many Marxists writing in the field of Education Studies miss Glenn’s major interventions into Marxist theory in refereed journals, and while not in any way underestimating the important work above, it would be nice to see Glenn back in journals like the British Journal of Sociology of Education advancing Marxist theory like he used to – or indeed to witness the development of his ideas in a full-length book. The Palgrave Macmillan Marxism and Education series would be a perfect vehicle:

Any chance Glenn?
Mike Cole
Research Professor in Education and Equality
Director of the Centre for Education for Social Justice
Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln”

NB: Glenn Rikowski will reply to this final question, as well as issues relating to the Hatcher / Cole / Rikowski situation, in a future ‘Ruth Rikowski News Update’. Glenn is heavily involved in marking undergraduate coursework at present.

Item 3 of my newsletter No. 32 contained information about the Marxism and Education: Renewing Dialogues XII seminar that was to be held at the Institute of Education, University of London on 21st November 2009. We understand that the day went well and that there were some 40 people there.

However, none of the convenors of the seminar that receive my newsletter contacted me in regard to the publicity issue that I raised in this item 3 of newsletter No. 32. Presumably, then, none of the publicity was amended to include information about the founders of the seminars (and upon a visit to the Institute after my newsletter was circulated Glenn Rikowski saw a poster up about it all, but without this addition).

If those of us that purport to want to live in a better society cannot be civil to each other within capitalism, I cannot in all honestly see what hope there is of there being civility amongst such people in socialism/communism. This is a serious issue, I think, and can discourage political action. It is no good in my view, if we put such a lot of our energies into defeating capitalism if, in the process, we cannot be civil to each other whilst we still have to live, work and breath in capitalism. Personally, I do not think a better world can be built on the back of barbarism, incivility and/or blood-shed.

Leading on from all this, now here is another surprise. Richard Hatcher (referred to in previous newsletters – see for example, item 11, in News Update No. 33) suddenly dropped an email into our inbox, with information about this new ‘Socialism and Education’ blog. Could it be that Graham Coult’s influence is spreading out from the library and information world and into the education world as well?

Anyway, here is the information that is being circulated about this new ‘Socialism and Education’ blog.

“Education is being remade at every level - from nursery to university - and the remaking has a distinct neo-liberal flavour. This blog is a space for the analysis of such change, in Britain and internationally. But we hope it will be more than that. Movements of opposition to the particular kinds of 'reform' being implemented in education are now widespread. On the blog, we hope to give to their experiences, and to the alternative programmes, visions and values that they are seeking to develop.

Current content
Patterns of conflict in education: France, Italy, England
Participation and Democratisation in the Local School System
Michael Fullan’s role in the global privatisation of education policy
Local government against local democracy
Culture and Creative Learning
Contributions welcome. Email them to . Or add a comment.

The Editors: Martin Allen, Jon Duveen, Richard Hatcher, Ken Jones”

7. ‘THE ABSURD BECOMES LOGICAL’ BY JOHN J. CROCITTI: a new addition to the ‘CONTRIBUTIONS’ section of our ‘Flow of Ideas’ website (print friendly version) OR Outcome

John Crocitti has written an interesting critical piece about Student Learning Outcomes, which has recently been inserted on our website. This was something that we looked at in some detail as part of the Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (CLTHE) that I studied for at London South Bank University in 2007/08. Universities, in general, but particularly the new universities, are becoming more and more wedded to them. This could, perhaps, be the start of an interesting debate on the topic. If anyone else would like to contribute – either to the website, of for a short piece for inclusion in this newsletter, then do get in touch.

I also particularly liked the title of John Crocitti’s piece: ‘The Absurd becomes logical’. I think there is a lot of truth in this statement in regard to what is going on today in society in general. Many crazy and absurd decisions are now suddenly deemed to be sensible and logical! I wrote an article entitled ‘The Artistic Outlook’, which is now on our website, (see (print friendly version) OR Outlook), where I consider this a little more. I ask for example, “How ‘real’ then is the real life; and…how fictitious is fiction?” John Crocitti has read the article and liked it, and he is now going to write a piece on the topic himself in response, for inclusion on our website in the New Year.


On the theme of our website, now would seem to be an opportune moment in which to insert some very complimentary comments that Sarah Amsler sent me some while ago in regard to our website. She said that our website:

“…touches on so many issues - the ideological nature of the 'work/life' tension; rejection of hierarchies of knowledge, age, gender, discipline; collaborative work; public and private; free space...and of course, situated knowledge. [there are]…real questions about the gendering and compartmentalisation of labour, education, social space, etc. Plus it seems to raise questions about and provide at least some answers for the problem of new ways of organising relationships, interests and etc. So it seems to me something definitely to pursue! Particularly given all the new knowledge/labour regimes that seek to dismantle everything it stands for.”

Quite a few other people have also said that they have found our website to be a very useful resource.

In addition, Sarah Amsler invited our middle son Victor Rikowski to speak at Kingston University on the theme of ‘Problems in Education Today’ a couple of years ago. This was also a real way in which to start to try to break down barriers, and rigid hierarchical structures, I think.

Biohealthcare Publishing (Oxford) Ltd publishes high quality books related to pharmaceutical sciences, biosciences, biotechnology and health sciences. The books are aimed at researchers and professionals worldwide. Topics included in the series include biopharmaceuticals/pharmaceuticals; proteins and other molecules; cell and tissue culture and engineering; bioinformatics; nanobiotechnology and health science, technology, policy and ethics. See

If any of you are interested in writing or know of others that might be interested in writing for this series, please contact Dr Glyn Jones –

The latest issue of Managing Information as ever, has some interesting articles in it. The articles in this particular issue are interestingly and artistically shrouded within a ‘Mushrooming’ theme, with photos of varieties of mushrooms, where as the editor Graham Coult explains:

“I’ve used the mushrooms as imagery for some of the papers in this edition of the magazine. They can be beautiful, tasty, or poisonous, and there is also the concept of mushrooming – issues in the information world, not least in the legislative framework, are proliferating at a rapid pace, and information can either nourish or poison an organisation or activity.” (p.1)

In an article by Carla Arend at European Infrastructure Software, entitled ‘Future Storage Trends: what is on the horizon?’ (pp. 14-17), for example, Arend looks at some of the storage technologies that will shape storage strategies today and in the future and it is noted that “Carla shares her expertise and helps us sort the tasty mushrooms from the poisonous storage strategy toadstools…” (p.14)

Arend notes that storage managers are “…particularly interested in expanding storage capacity as data continues to grow unabated…” (p.15). It is noted that there are many technologies out there to “…help to tame data growth and support solving the storage efficiency challenge.” (p. 16) These include data deduplication, thin provisioning and storage virtualization. Looking towards the future, Arend concludes by saying that:

“In order to architect a future-proof storage environment, good old management principles still apply. Consolidate and standardise your storage infrastructure, deploy storage virtualization software for cost effective DR and invest in a solid storage management layer to simplify and automate management. Thus, you can take advantage of new innovative technologies, which most likely will point solutions to start with, and maintain a solid management layer.” (p. 17)

All this and much more is in the issue, including sections on ‘Copyright Update’,Data Protection Update’, the ‘British Library’ and ‘Library of Congress’.

It item 12 of News Update No. 33 in referring to Glenn Rikowski’s labour-power theory, I also make reference to the famous quote ‘Knowledge is power’. Bob Bater contacted me in regard to this and made a very important point and observation. I asked him if he would like to write something briefly about this for my next newsletter – and his comments are below. I think they are very insightful, and it is something that we should all be mindful of!

“How often have you heard someone say ‘Knowledge is power?’ It’s an aphorism that’s often quoted in defence of personal power, rather than collective purpose. Some are aware that it originated with English scientist and philosopher Sir Francis Bacon in the 18th century. But it’s a crafty distortion of what Bacon actually said.

Bacon did say ‘Knowledge is power’, but he immediately qualified it by adding:

“But mere knowledge is not power; it is only possibility. Action is power; and its highest manifestation is when it is directed by knowledge.” {Francis Bacon. Meditationes Sacræ. De Hæresibus. (1597)}

So, knowledge empowers purposeful action according to Bacon. That's a remarkable insight 412 years ago, considering that Knowledge Management (KM) practitioners are only recently coming to realise that it's the sharing of knowledge in support of action towards collective goals - and all the intersubjective interpolations of intent and meaning which that implies - that is the purpose of working together. Bacon was a visionary, we should misquote him no longer.”

Many thanks for this Bob. And yes, as he says, Francis Bacon was remarkably insightful. This also, all fits in very much with Glenn Rikowski’s work on labour-power. Once we have fully grasped the fact that labour-power (that other ‘great class of commodity’) is capital’s weakest link, we can then seek to put our knowledge into ‘purposeful action’.

Best wishes

N.B. Many thanks to Richard Hatcher, Glyn Jones (who also runs Chandos Publishing) and Bob Bater for providing information for items 7, 10 and 12 respectively.

7th December 2009

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Ruth Rikowski's 33rd News Update

Another month has gone by, lots going on in my life as ever, so time for another newsletter, I have decided. I became very absorbed in writing a piece about the best-selling novelist, Douglas Kennedy, a couple or so weeks ago, which is now up on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog. The reasons for this become apparent upon reading item 1 below. The other main pre-occupation has been in regard to working on my digitisation book – very much in the final throws now, I am very pleased to say. Anyhow, more about my various happenings and interests are below.


There are 2 new entries on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog. A long entry about the best-selling novelist, Douglas Kennedy and leading on from this a short entry entitled ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover?’ The latter entry was inspired by the former. What do I mean by this?

Well, as I say on my blog, I got to read Douglas Kennedy’s books purely through spotting a captivating book cover in W.H. Smiths (with a lady sitting on the beach reading something – the picture of the cover is on my blog; along with images of some other book covers). I bought the book (‘The Pursuit of Happiness’) on impulse, and it proved to be a real page-turner; a great read. I then went on to read many of Douglas Kennedy’s other books, and nowadays I just cannot wait for his next book to come out! What I started to realise after a while was that what I found really enticing about these books, was the ability that Douglas Kennedy had to get into the mind of educated, intelligent, sophisticated but troubled women (with him writing as a female as the first person in many of his novels). It also became fairly clear to me that he was quite left-wing and critical of American society in various ways. In the piece, I also reflect on the fact that it was the enticing covers of Managing Information that largely influenced me to write for this magazine; that along with the other beautiful photographs that are contained within it. Then, in the entry ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover?’ I consider the fact that perhaps, sometimes, you actually can judge a book by its cover, and that sometimes it can be really beneficial to follow ones instincts in this regard.

I found myself re-reading some of these Douglas Kennedy books (where he writes as a woman in the first person) after my father-in-law died in February of this year. Douglas Kennedy and Michael Jackson both did so much in helping me to get over it all (which was partly why I became so upset when Michael Jackson subsequently died himself); and the music of Stevie Nicks and Dorothy L. Sayers books also really helped. Once again, all this demonstrates the power, value and importance that art can have in our lives, does it not.

N.B. The Douglas Kennedy piece has also been inserted on our website - see Kennedy: best-selling novelist

I am delighted to say that, following on from the successful completion of my Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education last year (2008), I am now officially an ‘Associate of the Higher Education Academy’. I have just received the certificate for this. Further information about the Higher Education Academy can be found at So, now I can put even more letters after my name – i.e. Ruth Rikowski, BA (Hons), PostgradDip Lib, MSc, MA(Res), CLTHE, MCLIP, AHEA! Perhaps, about time that I stopped collecting letters now, eh!

Alexander Rikowski, our eldest son, has recently been studying a course on Marx as part of his Philosophy degree at King’s College, London, University of London. I have been enjoying having some interesting intellectual discussions with him about it all.

In our discussions, I learnt some more about his degree – he is studying Analytical Philosophy (logical) rather than Continental Philosophy. I studied a little Philosophy as part of my first degree (a Social Studies degree at the University of East Anglia), but it was more Continental based, and within this framework focused on philosophers such as Descartes, Rousseau and J.S. Mill. Having these discussions recently with Alex I can now see some of the advantages and disadvantages of studying the subject from this analytical perspective. The advantage is that it really helps one to think in a very logical, rational and structured way. All education helps to develop people in this way of course, but Alex’s degree is really highly focused on this, and is very explicit, rather than being more intuitive about it all. Also, in this way, students study their topics in small bites, which can help to ensure that they do not run before they can walk. It really helps students to have a sound grasp of many philosophical thinkers. They also learn how to read, understand and digest the original works of many of the great philosophers, rather than relying on other people’s interpretations of them. Alex has read the raw text of many of the great philosophers (from Ancient Greeks through to contemporary philosophers); this has included Wittgenstein, Kant, Nietzsche, Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Berkeley, Locke, Rawls, Nozick, Spinoza, Leibniz and Marx. This should also mean that these students are not afraid to read and tackle the works of great thinkers in general, I think, in later life.

On the other hand, if taken too literally, there is a danger that this analytical approach can become too limited, and that the grander theories and broader pictures are not given full enough regard. Rather like putting the ‘cart before the horse’. Seeing whether the theories and ideas of the thinker are completely logical and rational, and whether or not all the necessary logical steps have been gone through and clearly laid out can perhaps become more important than the whole grand theory in itself. There is little to be gained from having a logical, highly coherent theory, if it is not actually saying very much! Rather, creating and developing the bigger theory is surely more important, than the smaller logical steps. The missing gaps can be gradually filled in later; or at least to the extent that it is possible to do this.

All this certainly applies to Marxism. Marxism is a conflict theory; not a functionalist, consensus theory. So, if we try to impose functionalist interpretations on to it (where all the pieces in the jigsaw can somehow or other be neatly fitted together), we are going to come up against many problems. Indeed, the over-riding aim and purpose of Marxism will be misunderstood.

Capitalism is a system that is full of contradictions and conflicts. Marx’s aim was to provide a scientific analysis of capitalism; and he did a fantastic job, I think. However, the problem is that it is not actually possible to be completely scientific and rational about capitalism, because capitalism is an irrational system, based on irreconcilable contradictions; it is in essence a madhouse. So, of course, if one approaches Marx’s philosophy from an analytical philosophical perspective, one will find numerous flaws in it – with many irrational, seemingly illogical steps in the arguments presented. But Marx was not about that of course; rather, he was about trying to expose and work through the contradictions in capitalism.

Anyway, in our discussions, we came to a very helpful understanding of each others perspectives. I also reflected on the fact that analytical philosophy seemed to be more akin to computer sciences and computer programming than the social sciences in some ways. But of course, even in computer programming, one cannot test to exhaustion; there is always a possibility (no matter how small and remote) that a programme might crash and that some logical step, somewhere, has been missed out.

If any of you would like to discuss any of these issues further with me, then I would be very interested in hearing from you.

Philip Booth
informed me about two interesting entries that he put up recently on his RuscombeGreen blog, about libraries in Gloucestershire – see:

Philip Booth is a Green party District councillor and a member of Transition Stroud.
Philip initiated the idea of ‘Energy Monitors in Gloucestershire libraries’, saying:

"I am delighted that Gloucestershire County Council and SWEA are supporting this project. Energy monitors offer people a way to become more aware of their energy use and any energy-guzzlers in their homes. Research indicates this is successful in helping people cut their electricity bills and CO2 emissions."

On September 23rd 2009 it was reported that Gloucestershire libraries were giving its users the chance to ‘go green’ by putting energy guzzlers in their homes. These monitors enable users to measure the amount of energy that their appliances use and they help to reduce energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions.Meter packs can be borrowed free of charge for up to three weeks in the same way that a book, DVD or CD can be borrowed. Users have to give a £5 deposit but this is given back upon return of the monitor. The pack includes a single appliance power saver monitor, information about the project and energy saving tips and activities.The six-month pilot project is being run by Severn Wye Energy Agency (SWEA), who supplies the monitors, in partnership with Gloucestershire County Council’s Libraries & Information. It is being funded by the Gloucestershire Environment Partnership and district councils.Five monitors will be available for loan at each of the libraries - Stroud, Nailsworth, Stonehouse, Dursley, Cirencester, Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Quedgeley and Lydney.

Launch events were held at each of the libraries in September and October 2009, with a display stand and a representative from SWEA to show users how to make the most of their energy monitors.

This seems like a very worthwhile and interesting initiative to me – placing both libraries and ecology issues higher up the agenda.

The other entry is entitled ‘People on loan in Gloucestershire’ and was posted on 19th September 2009.

This ‘Living Library’ Philip Booth says, “…is an innovative method designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage understanding.”The ‘Living Library’ is a mobile library of sorts, “…set up as a space for dialogue and interaction.” Visitors can speak informally with “people on loan” – this includes people from different age groups and cultural backgrounds etc.

Philip Booth continues on his blog, saying:

”The Living Library is about trying to break stereotypes by challenging the most common prejudices in a positive and humorous manner - a sort of “keep it simple”, “no-nonsense” contribution to social cohesion in multicultural societies. Some of the titles previously available at libraries include: Feminist / Muslim; Young Adult Gay Man / Survivor of a Brain Tumor; Ex Gang Member / Ex Prisoner / Ex Addict; Constable; Humanist / Altruist / Volunteer; Big and Beautiful Formerly Size 5 and Bulimic; Iraqi Refugee / Artist; Highly Sensitive Male / Father of a Gay Son / Jewish. See more at:

When I asked whether Gloucestershire was doing this I learnt that the Councils Community Cohesion Group is piloting it and trying it out as part of the member induction programme, where they are arranging for 'living books' from among the clients of council services to be available for members to meet with them. Great stuff.I do think listening to others is a very powerful way of creating change - indeed that was part of the philosophy behind the Coffee House discussions where people can meet and talk and listen - indeed we've had a huge range of topics including a chance to hear views that many don't in their everyday lives like 'freedom to wear the veil'. Next week we have all the political parties represented in the Green party-sponsored discussions on defence in The Space at 7.30pm.”

This is another very worthwhile initiative, I think. When I was working in public libraries, I was always keen to emphasise and promote the value and importance of the library within the wider local community, and the opportunities for critical space and thinking that the public library can offer.

I should also add (for those of you that might not already know) that Graham Coult, the editor of Managing Information went to interview Philip Booth some two and a half years ago, leading on from Philip inserting information about my globalisation book on his blog, and relating my book to proposed cuts in Painswick Library in Gloucestershire – i.e. bringing the global and the local together.

5. MANAGING INFORMATION: VOL. 16, ISS. 6 & VOL. 16, ISS. 7, 2009
The latest two hard-copy issues of Managing Information are very eye-catching and colourful as well as containing some very interesting articles of course! Volume 16, Issue 6, for example, includes articles on ‘Virtualisation and the other green computing initiative’ by Owen Cole (pp.4-7), ‘Google – don’t be evil’ by Barbara Stratton (pp.50-56) and ‘Encryption is the equivalent of a seat belt for data’ by Andy Cordial (pp. 58-62). Owen Cole looks at Green IT within organisations and the effective technologies that are now in place that can bring this about. And the good news is that, apparently, these application delivery controllers also reduce rather than increase costs (unusual that – to have green initiatives that can save money, is it not!).

Meanwhile, Barbara Stratton looks at the Google Book Search Agreement (GBS), which has been indefinitely postponed, because so many concerns have been raised about it. Google has been scanning and indexing millions of books held in U.S. and foreign partner libraries, which as Barbara Stratton says could offer great benefits to the public, and “…would provide broad access to millions of out-of-print books currently only accessible onsite in university libraries…”
(p. 56). However, in order to achieve this, the concerns about GBS (which Barbara Stratton outlines) must be addressed.

The article ‘Encryption is the equivalent of a seat belt for data’ by Andy Cordial argues that we should be protecting our data more. Cordial concludes by saying: “I find it difficult to understand how anyone can justify carrying electronic data unsecured in the public domain. People need to be educated as to the many different options available. However, in my opinion, transparent encryption of not just sensitive but all portable data reduces the risk of the individual either forgetting, or worse bypassing, this safety belt. The next time you decide to carry data out of the safe confines of the corporate environment, remember to buckle it up.” (p. 62). This article has powerful images; symbolic traffic lights in a variety of colours are strewn everywhere. This helps to convey the whole message very clearly about the importance of buckling ones seat belt not just in cars, but in regard to ones data!

There is also ‘Corridors’, compiled by Graham Coult, which “…provides a news briefing about legislative policy and practical developments in UK National and Local Government as they relate to, and impact upon, the broad areas of information and knowledge management.” (pp.63-71)

Whilst, in the opening page of Volume 16, Issue 7, we have a word ‘From the Editor’s Desk’, where as Graham Coult says “Organisations benefit most when information management is integrated into the organisation, with expert advice and input at all levels.” (p.1) On this page, there is a beautiful photograph of a bird with her chicks. The issue is heavily IT based and includes articles on Cloud Computing and Encryption. The Cloud Computing article includes powerful images of storms, reminding us that much can be gained from cloud computing, but that there are also pitfalls, which we need to try to avoid. Anne Cavoukian describes cloud computing as “a fundamental shift in how data are managed and processed. Rather than running software on a desktop computer or server, Internet users are now able to use the “cloud” – a networked collection of servers, storage systems, and devices – to combine software, data, and computing power scattered in multiple locations across the network.” (p.5)

Then, there is a piece entitled ‘Keep Software Simple’ by Nick Thompson (pp.14-17), arguing that as long as business applications are user-friendly and do the job, then users should not need to be concerned about the bits and bytes. The piece is surrounded by powerful images of gold chains, which helps to reinforce the message that security costs but is also very valuable.

This and much more is included in the latest two issues of Managing Information.

Peter McLaren (who has written and edited material with Glenn Rikowksi) sent me an interesting and quite powerful video on Critical Pedagogy, which I said I would include in my newsletter. So, here is the link:
As you can see, Peter McLaren himself is interviewed in it.

The latest issue of the ejournal ‘Information for Social Change’ is now out. It is on the theme of ‘Science and Technology for Utopias’ and is edited by Toni Samek and Martyn Lowe. It includes contributions from Amber Burtis, Cheris Carpenter, Paul Catherall, Richard Hayman, Andrew Hudson, Martyn Lowe and Michelle. The issue covers a variety of interesting topics, including indigenous knowledge and technology (Burtis) and ‘Human Rights Software: information support solutions for social justice’ (Hayman).

The latest issue of the Feminist Library Newsletter (No. 5) is now out and includes some interesting information. The Feminist Library Pamphlet Collection, for example, has now been moved and found a safe home at the Bishopsgate Institute Library. It will remain as an autonomous whole and will always be known as the ‘The Feminist Library Pamphlet Collection’. Other very positive moves are that the library is starting to be used more once again; there are more volunteers and the project for the creation of the Feminist Library Virtual Catalogue is progressing well. Furthermore, the Feminist Library have also successfully renewed their lease with Southwark Council, thereby safeguarding the future of the library for at least 3 years. If you would like to receive this newsletter yourself, and/or would like to volunteer and/or would like to make a regular donation to the Feminist Library, contact The Feminist Library website can be found at:

In my last newsletter (No. 32) I included a news item (item 5) about the fact that Deian Hopkin, the former Vice-Chancellor of London South Bank University, had been knighted – now Sir Deian Hopkin. Well, I have since discovered that he has now been appointed interim VC at the University of East London. See:

When Deian Hopkin was still VC at South Bank, I predicted that he would get into the House of Lords once he had retired. There was much emphasis placed on skills and employability at the university and an enthusiastic desire to meet the requirements of the Labour government when it came to higher education.

In my last newsletter (32nd News Update) I referred to the first book in the ‘Marxism and Education’ series, with Palgrave MacMillan (in item 4). This included some opinions I held about Mike Cole’s contribution; to his chapter in the book, which is entitled ‘Neoliberalism and Education: a Marxist Critique of New Labour’s Five Year Strategy for Education’ (pp. 103-116). Mike Cole replied to the comment, sending it to the whole newsletter list that he is on. I explained that this was not appropriate and why. I think it is important that these exchanges are shared with all those that receive my newsletter, so these comments are copied and pasted below.

Mike Cole wrote to the newsletter list that he is on:

“Dear All

I need to comment on one of Ruth's paragraphs reproduced here:

I was not so uplifted by Mike Cole’s chapter – quite the reverse, in fact! Mike Cole, Dave Hill, Peter McLaren and Glenn Rikowski have edited material together, yet in his chapter Mike Cole still hedges his bets where the Richard Hatcher and Glenn Rikowski ‘debate’ are concerned. Over the last few years, Richard Hatcher has systematically attempted to attack and to undermine Glenn’s work. Glenn responded to this, and Mike then interprets this as simply being “two differing perspectives”. Mike Cole concludes his chapter by saying that he examined “…two different perspectives from within the Marxist tradition on New Labour’s Five-Year Strategy. Only time will tell which of these differing interpretations is more accurate” (p. 113).

I'm not sure when the chapter in question actually went to press, but I need to stress that this was an interpretation of two different theoretical positions and in no way a comment on any personal disputes between the authors.
(Professor Mike Cole)

And here is the reply that I sent to the list (Ruth Rikowski’s reply):

“Dear All

As I think you all know, 'Ruth Rikowski's News Updates' is a newsletter that I send out on an irregular basis, informing interested people about my latest publications, happenings, interests etc. It goes out to over 400 people, and then goes on my blog 'Ruth Rikowski Updates Progression'.

On the other hand, it is not a forum for discussion - there are plenty of other social networking tools out there, which fulfil that purpose!

I have explained this to Mike Cole - who sent a reply to item 4 of my latest newsletter (32nd News Update) to the whole of this list. I have suggested to him that if he does want to reply to that or any other item, that he writes a paragraph and sends it to me, and I can then include it in a future newsletter. This obviously applies to anyone else that receives my newsletter as well. I am always interested in peoples’ views and comments. This can either be for me personally, or as I say, it can be something that can be shared in a future newsletter; if I think it fits in and is suitable of course.

I apologise to you all for any inconvenience caused and hope this clarifies the situation.

If necessary, I will have to make the lists 'Undisclosed', but would prefer not to have to go down this route.

Thanks and best wishes


I hope that clarifies the situation.

Leading on from point 10 above, and Mike Cole’s comment, it now seems necessary to reply briefly to this. The debate was not started through “two different theoretical positions”, in the way that Mike Cole outlines. Rather, Richard Hatcher launched an unprovoked attack on Glenn Rikowski’s work, following directly on from Glenn speaking about the Education White Paper on a Radio 4 programme (‘The World Tonight’), on 25th October 2005. The transcription of the Radio programmes can be found at: Programme Transcriptions. I also wrote an article based and following on from the programme – see White Paper.

Without wishing to go into great detail, one of the comments that Richard Hatcher made in the piece that he circulated was that Glenn had misunderstood some of the contents in the Education White Paper. However, the blog that Glenn wrote about the White Paper (which lead to him going on the radio programme) was written before the White Paper had actually been published. It was based on press leaks coupled with Glenn’s understanding of the situation – given his ability to be able to predict future likely outcomes, particularly in the education sphere. Whereas Richard Hatcher wrote his piece after the Education White Paper had been published; so he had the benefit of having the White Paper in front of him as he wrote!

All this also followed on from Glenn inviting Richard Hatcher to speak at one of the Education and Renewing Dialogues seminars (held on 26th October 2005) that he organised and that were held at the Institute of Education, University of London – see

For all this, and many other reasons, Glenn Rikowski felt compelled to reply to the piece that Richard Hatcher wrote and circulated widely. He wrote a long piece, on 31st December 2005, which he entitled ‘In the Dentist’s Chair’ and put on our website – see the Dentist[a]s Chair.

Having said all this though, nowadays I find all this type of thing quite stressful. This also perhaps helps readers to understand why I spend more time these days with novels and music, and less time with politics and academia!

Glenn and I went to the Anarchist Book Fair with our friends Elaine and Richard, on Saturday 24th October 2009, which was held at Queen Mary College, University of London – see There were lots of interesting stalls, literature and people there. In regard to speakers, we heard Dave Black talking on the topic of ‘Philosophy and Revolution’ and Paul Mason, John Holloway and William Dixon talking on the topic of ‘Capitalism’s Present Crisis’ – see

John Holloway is one of Glenn’s heroes, and he has read lots of his work, over many years. It was the first time I had heard John Holloway talk; he had a very different approach, which I both liked and found very enticing. In his book ‘Change the World without Taking Power’, Pluto Press: London, 2002, he says that we begin with ‘The Scream’.

“When we write or when we read, it is easy to forget that the beginning is not the word, but the scream. Faced with the mutilation of human lives by capitalism, a scream of sadness, a scream of horror, a scream of anger, a scream of refusal: NO.” (p.1)

Well, that is an unusual start, is it not!

On the Monday after this, 26th October, John Holloway spoke again at Queen Mary College (see, this time about his forthcoming book (which is due to be published in about 6 months time), which is entitled ‘Crack Capitalism’ (with Pluto Press) see: Glenn and I also went along to this talk, and heard John talk about the cracks in capitalism; the misfits; the weak areas that if we are smart we can chip away at, to start to make some inroads into and damage the seemingly all-powerful juggernaut – capitalism. Glenn also made a point in the questions and discussion session, where he said how much he had admired John Holloway’s work for so many years whilst also emphasising how his own work on labour-power theory demonstrates how labour-power is the weakest link in capitalism. For Glenn, not all the cracks are equal. Glenn has been very much inspired by Holloway’s work, and he developed his labour-power theory partly through Holloway’s work – i.e. he has built on it. Why is it the weakest link, one might ask? This is because with all the skills and knowledge that people now need to have today in capitalism, all this knowledge, skill and understanding can also be used to weaken and undermine capitalism, rather than to enhance it. ‘Knowledge is power’, as they say.

Finally, here is a link to a short article by Holloway, where he refers to some themes that will be explored more in ‘Crack Capitalism’, - ‘1968 and Doors to New Worlds’ (Turbulence, No.4, 2009):

Many thanks to Philip Booth, Peter McLaren and Alan Lee for providing information for items 4, 6 and 9 respectively

Best wishes


8th November 2009

Monday, 5 October 2009

Ruth Rikowski's 32nd News Update

Victorian Gardens, Norwich

So, now we are in Autumn! How quickly the time flies; can be quite scary! Some say, or at least try to persuade us, that Christmas is only just round the corner. Heavens! Anyway, here is another newsletter from me. I was prompted to send it now because of the article that Anne Welsh and I have written about the Feminist Library in London, which has just been published in ‘Managing Information’. The Feminist Library houses an important collection (material from the Feminist Movement in the 1970s) and it is something that we should very much be cherishing and preserving, in our view.

Anne Welsh (who lectures on Cataloguing at University of College London) and I have been taking a lively interest in the Feminist Library in London, which is currently facing challenging times. Anne is also engaged in a cataloguing project there, helping to ensure that the whole collection is kept together as a whole in a virtual way, as well as providing some cataloguing instruction to her students in the process.

We were very fortunate in being able to hear Gail Chester and Ruth Harris talking about their experiences of working in the library. Based on this and our own reading, thoughts and understanding, we wrote an article about the Feminist Library, which has just been published in ‘Managing Information’.

We hope that, in some small way, our article will help to draw people’s attention to the importance of the library and the wonderful and important resources that it houses there. If anyone would like to make contact with either of us, to get more involved, and to help to preserve and promote the collection, do feel free to do so. Anne’s email address is And/or if you would like to be a volunteer for the Feminist Library, email

Leading on from item 1 above, I would like to say a little something extra about the award-winning magazine, Managing Information (MI) itself.

As it says: “Managing Information is a leading and very well respected (i.e. well read) magazine for information managers, knowledge managers, librarians, web masters and anyone else who has to manage information effectively.”

MI is an Aslib (The Association for Information Management) subscription-based publication (available in both hard copy and electronic copy), with ten issues a year. It includes regulars and columnists with people such as Kevin Carey, the founder Director of humanITy, a UK based charity that focuses on eInclusion. There are also News and Briefing Regulars, including ‘Freedom of Information Update’, ‘Data Protection Update’ and ‘Product News’. In addition, there are feature articles on a wide variety of subjects, such as ‘Access to Knowledge’, ‘The College of Law’ and ‘Females and Social Networking’. And there is also, of course, information about Aslib itself. This, and much more, is in the magazine. In general, 'Managing Information' addresses many very important topics within the information profession, and is very much at the cutting edge.

The magazine is always very tastefully laid out and includes many wonderful coloured photographs, particularly scenic views (skies, flowers, the sea etc), many of which are taken by the editor, Graham Coult, himself. The use of such artistic flair and imagination can help to overcome some of the negative stereotypes of the library and information profession, I think, which we are all well-aware of (e.g. the stereotype of the female librarian with the bun and tweed skirt!) Hopefully, in time, the leading role that Graham Coult has placed in this regard will be even more fully appreciated. Significant improvements have been made over more recent years, for example, I think, in the monthly magazine for the professional body for librarians and information professionals, currently entitled ‘CILIP Update’ and was previously called the ‘LA Record’ (CILIP standing for the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and LA standing for the ‘Library Association’ of course).

Furthermore, MI set up its own website (
and newsletter, around the beginning of the new millennium and it was very much a pioneer in this field. Both Paul Pedley and myself were so inspired by it all that we started up our own newsletters. Paul Pedley’s is a Law Newsletter entitled ‘Keeping within the Law’; which is now subscription-based and is published through Facet Publishing – see
Paul Pedley, who is Head of Research at the Economist Intelligence Unit, was, at one time, a regular columnist in 'Managing Information', and it was very much Managing Information that inspired him to go down the newsletter route, whilst he was a fee-earning columnist for MI. At that time and in the early days, he provided the newsletter for free, and indeed, I was one of its recipients. We were also both inspired to set up our own blogs, through MI.

In my opinion, 'Managing Information' is a very important and valuable publication and resource within the library and information profession. Long may it continue! Further details about subscribing to the magazine can be found at:

Another MERD (Marxism and Education: renewing Dialogues) Day Seminar is to be held on Saturday, 21st November 2009, from 10.30am to 4.30pm at the Institute of Education, University of London, 20 Bedford Way, London, WC1, Committee Room One.

This is MERD XII and is on the theme ‘From Critique to Contestation’.

Speakers will include: Vincent Carpentier, Richard Hatcher, Ken Jones and Gurnam Singh

The seminar is free but places are limited. To reserve a place and receive a numbered ticket, please contact Joyce Canaan at:

A waiting list will come into operation when all the places have been allocated.

The convenors of the seminar are Joyce Canaan, Tony Green, Richard Hatcher and Alpesh Maisuria

The Marxism and Education: Renewing Dialogues (MERD) seminars were founded by Glenn Rikowski and Tony Green and were run by them both at the Institute of Education, University of London, from 2002-2007: MERDs I – X.
For more information about these events, see our website -

Whilst it is great that this initial impetus is now being very much built on by Cannan, Green, Hatcher and Maisuria, I think it is unfortunate (to say the least) that the publicity for MERD XII does not include this basic information about the founders, and where to obtain information about the first ten MERD seminars. Hopefully, this anomaly will be rectified in future publicity.

Leading on from information about MERD XII, in item 3 above, now would seem a timely moment for me to briefly reflect on the first book in the Palgrave Series, on ‘Marxism and Education’, as this series came into existence purely through the MERD seminars. It was decided that the talks that the speakers gave should be documented given their importance and a book series seemed to be the obvious solution. The series now includes both edited collections (largely from and building on the seminars) as well as monographs.

The first book in the series (bibliographical details in the heading of this item) consisted of papers from the first two MERD seminars (I and II). The contributors in the book were Paula Allman, Elizabeth Atkinson, Pat Brady, Mike Cole, Helen Colley, Rachel Gorman, Anthony Green, David Harvie, Dave Hill, Gregory Martin, Jane Mulderrig, Mark Olsen, Michael Peters, Helen Raduntz, Glenn Rikowski, Geraldine Thorpe and Paul Warmington. Unfortunately, for various complex reasons, Glenn Rikowski himself was not able to write a chapter on his own.

In the Introduction Anthony Green and Glenn Rikowski say that the book is:

“…an open form of Marxism attempting to address a multiplicity of contexts around the continuing struggles for socialism in a world in which the value form of labor and commodification are central to neoliberal globalization of capital in all its educational-dimensions.” (p. 3)

A number of different and important topics are addressed throughout the book, including chapters on Marxist-Feminism, academic labor and neoliberalism and education.

For, me, I was particularly delighted to read the chapters by Gregory Martin and David Harvie, who seemed to have a very clear understanding and appreciation of Glenn Rikowski’s work and the important and ground-breaking contribution that he has made to Marxism and Education, particularly in his work on labour-power theory. David Harvie, for example, refers to ‘subject benchmark statements’ which catalogues generic learning outcomes, and which all university degrees must now produce, he says. He points to Glenn’s work in this field, where the various skills required to meet the learning outcomes are “desirable labor power attributes” (p. 233) (cited in ‘That other great class of commodities: labour-power as spark for Marxist Educational Theory’, 2002/03. Available at Education-line

Whilst Gregory Martin draws our attention to the fact that:

“Expanding upon Marx, Rikowski notes that as a distinctly human force, labor power – which he defines as our ‘capacities’ to labor in the form of epistemological paradigms, language codes, technical skills, attitudes, dispositions and behaviours – has reality only within the human subject.” (p.253) He also rightly refers to the fact that Glenn Rikowski identifies labor power as being ‘capital’s weakest link’. Also, to the fact that Glenn says there is a need for more empirical research into ‘ “how, why and in what ways” individuals can resist their interpellation as particular subjects within the “total productive processes” they experience, interpret, and negotiate in their everyday lives.” (p.262) (Rikowski, 2002, p. 27 – in a paper entitled ‘Methods for researching the social production of labour power in capitalism’).

Meanwhile, Helen Colley notes in her chapter ‘Myths of mentoring: developing a Marxist-Feminist critique’, that Glenn refers to a social drive to recast the ‘human’ as human capital.

On the other hand, I was not so uplifted by Mike Cole’s chapter – quite the reverse, in fact! Mike Cole, Dave Hill, Peter McLaren and Glenn Rikowski have edited material together, yet in his chapter Mike Cole still hedges his bets where the Richard Hatcher and Glenn Rikowski ‘debate’ are concerned. Over the last few years, Richard Hatcher has systematically attempted to attack and to undermine Glenn’s work. Glenn responded to this, and Mike then interprets this as simply being “two differing perspectives”. Mike Cole concludes his chapter by saying that in his chapter he examined “…two different perspectives from within the Marxist tradition on New Labour’s Five-Year Strategy. Only time will tell which of these differing interpretations is more accurate” (p. 113).

As I am sure the reader can now appreciate, the whole topic of ‘Marxism and Education: Renewing Dialogues’ is not an easy one for us these days! Still, we carry on, whilst also continuing to come to terms with our bereavement earlier in the year.

Professor Deian Hopkin,
who recently retired from being the Vice-Chancellor of London South Bank University was awarded a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, 2009, on 13th June 2009. The award was for services to Higher Education and Skills, and reflects, I feel sure, the energy and enthusiasm which he put into endeavouring to meet and comply with the Labour government’s agenda for higher education whilst he was the Vice-Chancellor, with its emphasis on skills and employability.

There are 2 new entries on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog: one about our pond and one about UEA. There are digital photographs on both of the entries.

To begin with, the idea was to have a pond for wild life in our garden, but then we realised that this was not very practical. So, now we have a pump and a fountain in the pond, so that the water circulates more. We have also put a net over the pond, to stop leaves from falling into it. We have also bought more fish.

The second blog entry is about our visit to Norwich. We took our youngest son, Gregory with all his stuff up to the University in East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, to his room on campus. We had a lovely couple of days there and took lots of photos of the UEA campus, Norwich itself and the Victorian Gardens in Norwich (which we stayed nearby to).

I have been to a couple of enjoyable cultural events recently. One was about the life of Tom Paine, which was entitled ‘A New World’. The play, by Trevor Griffiths was performed at the Globe Theatre, London and it was a very powerful play. Tom Paine was just so far ahead of his time of course, with works such as ‘The Rights of Man’ and the ‘Age of Reason’. Amazing to think that at the time that he died over 1,500,000 copies of ‘The Rights of Man’ had been sold in Europe. What was also quite something was that we met Professor Peter Linebaugh there. Peter used to be a student of E.P. Thompson and has edited material with him. He told us that he has just written a ‘New Introduction to the Works of Thomas Paine’ – see He had come over from the USA specifically to see the play!

The other was an event that was organised by the Hackney Society in East London, held at Pages Bookshop, Hackney, about the life of Hackney resident Eddie Noble (1917-2007). Patrick Vernon has made a documentary film about Eddie Noble’s life, which he entitled ‘A Charmed Live: the legacy of the Windrush Generation’. He spoke to us about it all and the value to be gained from documenting the lives of those people that make a valuable contribution to their local communities. Eddie Noble was self-taught; and it became clear that he had been a very interesting and important member of the local community. Compiling documentaries like this seems like a very good idea to me, and as Patrick said, it is so much easier today, with all the technology that we now have at our disposal.

N.B. Many thanks to Patrick Ainley for providing information for item 3 and to Monica Blake for inviting us to the Eddie Noble event, outlined in item 7.

Best wishes


5th October 2009

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Ruth Rikowski's 31st News Update

I hope you have all been having a good summer. Ours was something of a ‘social summer’; having various friends staying with us; having a dinner party and a summer garden party in our home; going to a friend’s wedding etc. It was all very lovely.

Meanwhile, this news update contains, amongst other things, information about my new blog, ‘Serendipitous Moments’; Martin Hodges new blog, ‘Square Sunshine’ which focuses around his young grand-daughters; some new additions to our website; further information about my grandfather’s books; a school librarians petition which I hope some of you will feel able to sign up to and some cultural events that I have been to this summer.

I have started up a new blog, which I have called ‘Serendipitous Moments’. As I state on the Welcome Page the purpose of this blog is:
“…for when I feel moved/inspired by something that I would want to record/write down/photograph etc. Much of what I read and think about gets forgotten - having this blog will mean that some of those precious moments and experiences can be captured, and hopefully treasured. Various circumstances that we go through can help to sharpen the mind - hence this decision.”

So far, I have inserted three entries on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog – a short one about the death of Michael Jackson; one about a pond for wild life that we built this summer in our garden and one about the summer garden party that we held in our home at the end of August 2009. See:

For those of you that are interested, some insights into my artistic outlook can be read in a piece that I have written which has just been inserted on our website. It is entitled ‘The Artistic Outlook, with a particular focus on the novel and literature’. Well, I think most of my readers are now aware of my love of the novel! Anyway, this article can be viewed at: Outlook

My review of Chrisopher May’s book ‘Digital Rights Management’ is now available on our website – see Rights Management

One of my writing colleagues/friends has a new blog, focusing around his three young grand-daughters, which I think is rather lovely. See:

Here is what Martin himself says about his blog:

“Becoming a grandparent has transformed my life. Rather like getting married or becoming a parent for the first time, no one can really prepare you for the role.

I have very young children in my life once again and a different kind of responsibility from that which dictated my feelings and actions as a parent. In short, I'm enjoying it so much I thought I'd write down my thoughts and observations on a new blog. Hence, Square Sunshine was born, and is living and growing at

This was meant to be a vehicle for anything that came to mind about my being a grandfather. However, to my surprise, Susan Adcox at About.Com offered to promote my blog on hers at

Apparently blogging grandfathers are a bit rare. As a result I'm enjoying a regular band of visitors from all over the world, with new ones dropping by all the time.

Writing from the perspective of a grandfather allows me a lot of latitude. My posts can range from stories of my own grandparents to short accounts of what our grandchildren have been up to. I can share my very amateur photography or some relevant biographical episode or other.

The bottom line is that it's fun, and writing regularly is good discipline for anyone who chooses this medium for creative expression.”

It is great that so much interest has been taken in his blog already. As Martin says, ‘blogging grandfathers’ are rare. This highlighted a couple of points to me. Firstly, that you often get further in life by doing something different, and not just following the crowd; secondly, the joy to be had from seeing a male focusing on the rearing of children, rather than other more competitive pursuits. I am all for breaking through the compliancy trend. Martin is certainly doing something here to ‘make a difference’. I wish him the very best of luck with it all.

I was able to track down, and actually purchase second hand copies of my grandfather’s (Clement Augustine Vickery) two books on amazon, both of which are on nautical matters. I am sure that you can all imagine how delighted I was about this. Here are the bibliographical details of the two books:

1. 'Navigation Figure Drawing: being an introduction to navigation by means of figure drawing', by Clement Augustine Vickery, published by James Brown and & Son, Glasgow, 1922

2. 'Stability of Ships for mates, masters and extra masters' by Clement Augustine Vickery, published by Imray, Laurie, Norie and Wilson, London, 1st edition - 1926, 2nd ed - 1930.

If you saw the books, I think you would agree that both books demonstrate the depth of his thinking. They are both very well-written technical books, with mathematical formulas and detailed diagrams. Totally incomprehensible to me though, by the way!

I also discovered a little more about my grandfather. I thought that he only became a nautical instructor when he retired from being a Captain of a Ship in the Merchant Navy, but the ‘Stability of Ships’ book shows to me that this is incorrect, as it says in the book that he was a nautical instructor when the book was published, in 1926. My grandfather was born in 1883 and died in 1944. This shows that he must have pursued both activities for many years.

My grandfather wrote ‘Stability of Ships’ because of his concern about the possibility of vessels capsizing. He says in the Preface that he wrote the book:

" investigate the laws of stability and place them before his brother seamen in a manner in which they can be grasped by all, without an advanced knowledge of mathematics."

The book was compiled from notes used in preparing candidates for the Board of Trade examinations.

He also emphasises his desire to want to help and serve, saying in the ‘Preface’ to ‘Navigation Figure Drawing’:

“That this little work will be of some service to those for whom it is intended is the sincerest wish of the writer.”

I never knew my grandfather; he died 13 years before I was born. So, this makes obtaining these books even more special for me; and it is, of course, something that I am very proud of.

Two pieces about film by Gregory Rikowski (which he originally wrote for the Certificate in Higher Education, Birkbeck College, University of London, 2007-09) have now been inserted on our website.

These are:

‘Science Fiction films and horror’ - Fiction Films and Horror

‘Races in the Imperial film’ in the Imperial War

Gregory will be studying for a degree in Film and Television Studies at the University of East Anglia, starting this September 2009 – which is something that he is very much looking forward to.


I gave a talk on the topic of ‘Females and Social Networking’ at a mini-conference that took place at London South Bank University, in the Faculty of Business, Computing and Information Management, on 9th July 2009. My talk was based on an article of mine that was published in ‘Managing Information’ earlier this year (in Vol. 16, Iss. 3). Considerable interest was taken in the topic, and some useful and interesting questions and points were raised. There were quite a number of delegates there altogether, talking on a variety of topics related to teaching and learning. One delegate spoke about how she tried to get her students to blog, but unfortunately, with very limited success. Oh dear! The intention, next, is to produce a book from it all, I understand.

Carol Williams, a friend of mine who is a Schools Librarian, informed me about this School Librarians Petition. School Libraries, like so much else in life today, are under threat. I do hope that some of you will sign the petition (I have, of course, signed it). Here is the information that Carol sent me:

"Should Every School Have a Library? You might think they do already, but many don't, or at least don't fund and staff them adequately. Did you know that by law prisons must have a Library, but there is no such obligation for schools. If you feel you could support school libraries as a right for all our children, please sign the petition on the Number 10 website - 1900 people have signed already. is the website."

Terence Blacker also wrote an article in the ‘Independent’ on 9th June 2009, entitled “You can’t kill off libraries, and call it ‘creative’”, where she argues the case for School Libraries. See:

I was delighted to receive an email from Gafar Ibrahim, a Librarian & Information Officer and Translater in Doha Qatar. He said that he found my book ‘Globalisation, Information and Libraries’ very useful and that he thought it would be very good if it could be translated into Arabic in order “…to disseminate its ideas to a great number of users around the Middle East.”

Gafar is currently investigating possible publishers, and will be contacting me further about this in due course. If any of you have any thoughts in regard to this, do get in touch.

I enjoyed hearing Professor Paul Sturges talking at a CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) in London meeting on 8th September 2009, on the topic of ‘Comedy as Freedom of Expression’. Paul is very interested in the topic of freedom of expression for libraries and in this talk he focused on this in relation to comedy.

Paul Sturges, Professor Emeritus at Loughborough University, made the point that jokes are a form of intellectual property in their own right. Furthermore, that some comedians do not like people taking notes during their performances for this reason; you know, others could then ‘steal’ their jokes. After all is said and done, it is often very difficult to remember jokes if one does not write them down; it certainly is for me anyway! Paul made a number of good jokes throughout his talk, not that I can remember many of them, although I do remember the one about hardware and software. Yes, very funny, that one!
Thanks for that Paul!

Anyway, all in all, it was a very enjoyable evening and many thanks to CILIP in London for organising this successful and well-attended event, at a time when it is itself, suffering from cash cutbacks and related difficulties. Long may they continue to be able to run these events at the Sekforde Arms.

I have been to quite a number of different cultural events this summer (some with friends and some with family); all of which was very enjoyable.

In terms of music, this included going to see the wonderful Anastacia at Hammersmith Apollo on 25th June 2009. She has an incredible voice, I think, and such stage presence. She sung both some of her old numbers, and material from her new album, ‘Heavy Rotation’. The songs from the new album were so good, that I bought the CD at the end of the gig. I also went with some friends to the O2 on the night of what would have been the first of Michael Jackson’s London concerts (on 13th July 2009). Lots of fans were there (several hundreds), playing his music; dancing; putting messages up on a billboard; paying tribute to him; lighting candles etc. It was all very moving. I came away having a tremendous amount of respect for Michael Jackson’s fans. It also helped with my own personal grieving process in regard to it all (which also followed on from the death of my father-in-law earlier this year).

In addition, we went to one of the Proms concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, and heard some Mozart as well as some music by a contemporary female composer. Then there was the Dagenham Town Show at Dagenham Central Park, which included a free open-air musical extravaganza. One of the bands playing was the ‘Searchers’ (yes, they are still going!). They have, in fact, now been going for 47 years, they informed us. Frank Allen and Spencer James were both at the festival. They sang many songs including ‘Beach Baby’, ‘Young Girls’, Tambourine Man’, ‘Needles and Pins’, ‘Sugar and Spice’. We danced around and it was all very enjoyable.

In terms of plays, this included going to see an interesting political play called ‘The Observer’ by Matt Chapman at the National Theatre (which explored the problems and issues around trying to introduce democratic procedures into a country in the developing world) and Shakespeare’s ‘As you like it’ at the Globe Theatre (the Globe always being a winner for us!). Also, J.B. Priestley’s ‘Time and the Conway’s’ and a comedy entitled ‘England People, Very Nice’ directed by Nicholas Hytner. The latter was about racial integration in the East End of London from the 17th century to the present day and it was really hilarious; a laugh in nearly every line and very clever script writing, I thought. Both of these plays were also at the National Theatre.

Finally, we visited the Whitechapel Art Gallery, which was interesting and enjoyable (I also discovered that it is more or less on our doorstep – well, at least relative to other art galleries, it is!) In addition, they have some interesting artistic workshops taking place there, which are free. The workshops are entitled ‘Live Words’ and they are “A free series of spoken word, poetry and innovative writers’ evenings in the intimate environment of the Café/Bar…” I might well go along.

Best wishes,


N.B. Many thanks to Martin Hodges and Carol Williams for providing information for item 5 and 9 respectively. Also, for the help that Isaac Hunter Dunlap gave me in regard to tracking down my grandfather’s books (item 6).

12th September 2009