UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Pinky and Perky and Swedish Topless Model Caught in Use as Learning Objects

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 Dec 2008

I introduced Pinky and Perky in a recent blog post and I used them when I presented my paper on “Library 2.0: Balancing the Risks and Benefits to Maximise the Dividends” at the Bridging Worlds 2008 conference. And recently I used the dancing and singing pigs from the days of my youth when I gave the final invited plenary talk on “Realising The Potential of Web 2.0” at the “Nordlib 2.0 – Get Inspired by Web 2.0 for Libraries” conference held in Stockholm.

In Stockholm I used the video clip to illustrate how the dangers of an over-managed approach to popular culture wasn’t introduced in the Web era – Pinky and Perky were banned from the BBC in 1996: there was a general election about to be held and I assume the BBC were concerned about “pinko lefty” sentiments which they might try to influence young and impressionable minds (after all, where do you think the term pinko came from :-). This reference is available 47 minutes into the presentation (see Google Video or the Zentation link– where its synched to the slide on “Inappropriate Content“).

On the day before the conference I visited the Nordiska Museum where I saw a cigarette case (I think it was – I couldn’t read the Swedish description) which featured a topless model – from the 17th or 18th century. Again I felt that this provided a useful example I could use at the conference to illustrate my point that use of new technologies for ‘pornography’ is nothing new.

Now these two examples meant something to me and where likely to be new to the audience, thus avoiding reuse of cliched presentational devices. In the talk in Stockholm I also updated my slides a hour or so before delivering the talk, using a tweet and subsequent blog post from Karen Blakeman in which she commented that PageFlakes had added advertisments on its Web site overnight, without prior notice. “How would you respond if that happened to a Web 2.0 service you used in your organisation?” I asked the audience.

Non of these example made use of learning resources from a learning object repository. And for the objects I used (a YouTube video of Pinky and Perky, a photograph I had taken in a local museum and an interesting discussion point I’d came across a few hours previously) it would make little sense for me to deposit for reuse by others. Their value, I feel, comes from their relevance to me and my style of presentation, their (regional) links with the place I’m talking at and their timeliness. In fact I also made use of a Barack Obama image and the “Yes we can” slogan which again will time out very quickly.

Do we need repositories for learning objects, I might ask. Or are such repositories for the chore presentations (yet another talk on the same old subject to a large group of undergraduates), which won’t be used by speakers who want to provide fresh and relevant talks? On the other hand, perhaps this is mere indulgencies on the part of the speaker. After all, will a group of Nordic librarians ‘get’ Pinky and Perky?  Mm, maybe I should have used the Swedish chef from the Muppets? or Abba, perhaps, if I want to go for the more popular British stereotypes of Swedish culture?

5 Responses to “Pinky and Perky and Swedish Topless Model Caught in Use as Learning Objects”

  1. I’m slightly lost as to what point you are making here… but if it is about the value of shared learning resources(?), then it seems to me that the photo you took in the museum might well be of interest to other people for use in different ways (a history of graphic design for example) and therefore does fall into the set of things that might be usefully shared.

    The interesting question therefore is not, “is it usefully shared?” but, “is it better shared via Flickr (where I, for one, would be likely to find it) or in a more formal learning object repository (where I probably wouldn’t)?”.

    (Obviously I’m ignoring any potential IPR/legal issues here – like whether you were allowed to take the photo in the first place).

  2. Hi Andy – I guess the point I was trying to make wasn’t clear. For my talk I used a object from YouTube (because it had some cultural resonance for me (I’m that old), because it provided an unusual perspectiove on the issue of contriversial content and also because the song was likely to wake people up and add some variety to my hour-long talk); an object I took in the Nordiska Museum (again a slightly different take on the issue of pornography and to make the point that I had visited the museum the previous day) and an object I received (via Twitter) earlier that day (because it was relevant and timely).

    The point I was trying to make was that these learning objects would not have been found via the traditional route of searching for resources in a learning object repository via typical metadata searches).

    Note I am happy for others to reuse the objects I used – but I think the thing that is more useful to be shared is the approach taken rather than the resources themelves – and the approach taken is a very personal one.

    BTW I did check that there were no signs banning photos being taken and I did notice that other visitors to the museum were also taking photos. However if the model in question (or her agent) or other stakeholders were to object I would remove the photo.

  3. I’m interested to know what you think a “learning object repository” is.

    I think that some time ago (2007?) it was D’Arcy Norman or Brian Lamb (I forget off the top of my head) who actually decried the “learning object” as a valid term in describing items used in online education (and indeed in general).

  4. Hi Phil – Learning Object exists as far as Wikipedia is concerned, with the IEEE defining a learning object as “any entity, digital or non-digital, that may be used for learning, education or training”. And Clive on Learning feels that “The idea behind the concept of learning objects is an elegant one”.

    However as the Clive on Learning blog post goes on to say “learning objects [should] be self-contained and as context-free as possible” before adding that “And of course, it is difficult to create good content that is free of context, certainly not content that anyone would want to use”.

    And this really is the point I was making in my post. Learning Object Repositories do exist, but in many cases won’t be able to help me in providing a resource which satisfies my context of use. Or perhaps I feel that the object needs to be available, but the metadata often won’t be of use.

  5. […] a post published around the same time as the one mentioned above. And the title of that post “Pinky and Perky and Swedish Topless Model Caught in Use as Learning Objects” might give a indication for its […]

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