Music for Deckchairs

"In shadowy, silent distance grew the iceberg too": universities, technology, work and life

About Music for Deckchairs

How do we radically reform a system while working within it?

Cornel West

There’s two kinds of scholarship today: there’s Titanic studies and there’s deckchair studies.
— McKenzie Wark
And as the smart ship grew
            In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too
— Thomas Hardy


I work at an Australian university, and I used to say that I teach online, but now I think one way and another we all do.  So, specifically, I’m interested in the mechanisms that regulate labour, profit and risk in higher education.  As someone once put it in the search that led them here, this is a blog about:

“shared governance consensus bullshit.”

I’m not writing any of this in any official capacity, obviously.

This began as a way of thinking about what higher education means to those of us who work in it, and thanks to the all people who have turned up here, it’s really about how higher education is changing.

As an educator, I’m interested in whether we can get beyond universities to make more open pedagogy amplified by hospitality rather than compliance, and for the moment I’m taken with Jesse Stommel’s proposals for a reflective hybrid pedagogy:

The intellectual bravery we need right now is to believe that we can imaginatively rebuild something valuable in digital space, something that has what we value most about education: the protections, the safety, the excitement, the moments of ecstatic learning, the epiphanies, the collaborations, the debates, the discoveries, and the moments of quiet reflection.

The banner image is an adaptation of a famous photograph originally taken by J R Eyerman in 1953;  this version is on a pencil case, photographed for this blog by my friend R J Thompson in 2011. This lovely woman, who put on her good hat to go out and meet the technological marvel of her age, keeps me thinking about what it means to show up, and watch from inside the spectacle.

Nov 2013: and in an even more surprising turn, I also have cancer, so this blog is also about what that means in relation to work, self, and the way that higher education fuels itself on all of our gifted time.

You’re welcome to leave comments here or get in touch: @KateMfD or

— Kate Bowles

4 thoughts on “About Music for Deckchairs

  1. Pingback: 10 Australian social media influencers in higher education | Social Entrepreneur Guide

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