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I’ve contributed many of my photos to the Wikimedia Commons, and I’m pleased to see that some of them have spread beyond the Wikimedia world.

But the fact that someone turned something mundane like this:

into something like this:

blows me away. It reminds me why I contribute: to add to the global commons, the global cultural melting pot where others can express themselves, by using and re-using, free from concerns about intellectual property rights.

Original work | Derivative work (search for Enoch Lau about halfway down)

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If you’ve ever been to the old law school building in the city at St James, you’ll probably agree that while it may have had great location, location, location, it was most definitely a renovator’s choice find. Cockroaches, temperature variations never thought possible on planet Earth and utterly-frustrating swivel chairs will thankfully be a thing of the past (mostly anyway – some classes will still be taught at St James). So rejoice, and explore the new law building with me.

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Redfern. The name probably evokes memory of the 2004 Redfern riots and the Aboriginal enclave in the Block. As with other uni students who use Redfern station, I’m fairly familiar with the part to the west of the station. But what lies to the east? With a camera, I set out to investigate.

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The ABC – providing you with quality news everyday.

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Ah yes, The Mind Gap.

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The Darlington side of main campus of the University of Sydney was a renovator’s dream. Its endless array of concrete slabs might lay claim to coherence in some kind of brutalist architecture, but I suspect the university pretty much built the Engineering and Architecture faculties out of whatever spare cash they could find at the time.

The USyd Central building adjacent to the Union’s Wentworth building is part of the Campus 2010 plan to reverse the years of neglect that have rendered other universities with substantially more attractive (and marketable) campuses. The first part of the USyd Central to open, the SciTech Library, has now been delivered, and it sure was a delivery from heaven.

When you first walk into SciTech, the thing that strikes you is how different it is from any other library that you’ve been to. With your first steps past the stylishly glassy entrance, you are presented with a large, welcoming atrium that envelops you and draws you in; the splendour and the interesting topology of the library makes you feel like you are viewing spectacular scenery from the top of a mountain. To the right is a lounge-like area, with playful, lime-green chairs that wouldn’t look out of place in an Ikea store. To the left are the book stands, and in front is a sunken valley of study cubicles. At night, the entrance area is tastefully lit up with small spotlights that cast small pools of light on the soft carpet, and during the day, there is ample natural sunlight from the wall of glass.

SciTech Library

As I intimated above, the furniture is one thing that sets SciTech apart from any other library I’ve seen. Colourful, distinctive, modern and definitely playful – as I write, some people are stacking up the lime-green chairs in various configurations, possible as the chairs are made up of three conjoined cylinders – the furniture is fitting for a science and technology library. From the jelly-coloured red and orange stools to the Ikea-like chairs, they are all inviting and very comfortable.

SciTech Library

The library, from the ground up, has been designed to be more than just a repository of books. It appears to have been designed for students to learn, to study and to collaborate. The “study valley” that I alluded to before encases you as a cocoon encases a caterpillar, drawing you away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world into a study world of your own. The hours melt away as you study in one of the the plush, multicoloured pods, or the seats that line the green river-like divider that separates the study valley from one of the computer access areas. As you meander between the mellow-coloured bookshelves, you come across islands of tranquillity, where you can sit down and enjoy a book or two. If you prefer electronic learning, power points are abundant, and there are multiple computer rooms, with desktop computers and laptops – now that is something I haven’t seen before anywhere in the university. The only minor complaint is that the wireless connection here isn’t as stable as it could be.

Ultimately, a library isn’t much of a library unless it stores books. Although I find it disappointing that in the move to the new library, a large portion of the Engineering collection was moved into archival storage, because there just isn’t room at SciTech, there is something that they have done that is quite interesting; some shelves hold the book so that the front is displayed, much like special book displays at book stores.

SciTech Library

If the rest of the Campus 2010 improvements are of the quality and thoughtfulness of the SciTech Library, the university is onto a winner. The design of the SciTech library shows a thoughtfulness to the needs of students and staff at the university. I look forward to the new law library with much anticipation – and to spending many days and nights at SciTech.

SciTech LibrarySciTech LibrarySciTech Library

More photos here.

The SciTech Library: Level 1, Jane Foss Russell Building, on City Road

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Protesters at Railway Square

Protesters protesting about something at Railway Square: passers-by (like me) seemed to treat them as a curious spectacle with all our camera phones instead of pondering whatever message they were trying to get through. (I tried to work out what they were trying to say, but I couldn’t work it out. Probably “Bush Sucks” or some paraphrasing thereof.)

An insane number of police – everyone was well behaved though. I saw an officer recording the entire thing on tape – probably not for funniest home videos. I was going to take a photo of him but I remembered the lady from Redfern Legal Centre at the SULS APEC talk – “there’s only one crime, and that’s pissing off a police officer.”

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I’m blogging this as I sit just inside the glass wall of the Eastern Avenue complex, watching the constant stream of people walking past, both inside the building, and outside in the wintry conditions, hands in pockets, clutching a folder tightly, heads together, intensely gossiping. I’m like a fly in the corner, observing the movements of people as they go about their business at the university. If only they’d just look up slightly…

I suspect that the location of the SUITS Computer Artwork Exhibition 2007, as part of the University of Sydney Union’s Verge Arts Festival, while not disastrous, could be better. We had originally intended for them to be hung up with fishing wire from the air conditioning grate in the ceiling, but the building manager told the festival conveners that that wasn’t allowed (despite their earlier assurances). We settled for sticky-taping it to the glass wall instead, which also meant that we had to have them higher up to deter vandals and thieves.

View of exhibition from outside

So far, I’d say about 1 person in every 50 who walks past takes a glance upwards, pauses in momentary reflection, and then continues on their way. Part of the problem is that because of the glare from the glass, if you’re walking from the direction of Fisher, you won’t actually notice that there’s anything coming up. But of course, as the exhibition coordinator, I am liable to over-estimate the beauty of the thing that I have created.

Finally, I’d like to publicly thank Edmund for his assistance in the preparation of the artworks, and Balint for his contribution of his stunning particle simulation works.

Here are the PDF versions of the files, if you’re too lazy to head over to see it for yourself 🙂 (warning: some of these files are BIG)

  1. Inside: title, Outside: automata
  2. Inside: balint-2, Outside: dielectric
  3. Inside: internet, Outside: balint-3
  4. Inside: apophysis-2, Outside: apophysis-1
  5. Inside: balint-1, Outside: lorenz

The Microsoft Publisher files can also be found here.

Update: I’ve uploaded them to my gallery as well.

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I’ve been meaning to blog more regularly, but I’ve just been too busy to write stuff up for your enjoyment. Sorry, I lie. I’ve just been too lazy, and there’s just so much going on in my head recently, it’s hard to concentrate on writing a coherent piece of prose.

Aiya, UNSW Law Revue 2007 (entitled Poll Fiction) was a load of shit. A complete waste of a Thursday, the leaden acting, lame jokes that lacked even the concept of a punch-line and the bright spotlights that seemed intent on burning my retinas out made the night a memorable event for all the wrong reasons. I won’t be going back any time soon la~ Fine, there were some enjoyable skits, but the drive home (thanks Tommy!) was a more interesting experience than the revue itself. Yeah, what he said. Daniel and I were youtube-ing before heading off, and we noticed a video (now deleted? can’t find it now) from someone at Usyd blasting the UNSW revue for making fun of our quad and having the UNSW Galactica joke – well, there wasn’t a Usyd quad in sight, but the Galactica got a mention. With the Galactica joke, I think it’s more likely that there’s a mole on the UNSW team that allowed Usyd to score a hit against UNSW before their revue even started.

Over the weekend, I went to Malaysia Fest 2007 (photos) and got myself a dose of Malaysian culture. I can see why it’s true that Malaysians are said to live to eat… the food, having Malay, Chinese and Indian influences, was quite interesting and tasty =) Of course, it helped that I had a guide who lives to eat, so Ru Jih, if you actually read this, many thanks for a great day out, wouldn’t have been the same without you 😛 … hope it didn’t make you too homesick~

The other thing that’s happened recently is, of course, the lunar eclipse. Conclusion: I need a tripod. These black rectangles are awful – you really can’t do a shutter speed longer than 1/60s if you’re holding the camera with your hand, and when the moon’s that dim, you’d need at least a few seconds of exposure. Still, it was a very beautiful thing to watch, and literally out of this world.

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I was going with Ru Jih to Darling Harbour last week (she hasn’t been there before!) when we ran into the Earth from Above exhibition, a series of breathtaking aerial photographs displayed alongside the pathway from Haymarket to Darling Harbour (adjacent to the so-called “Urban Stream”). Photographed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the idea behind the exhibition is to focus attention on sustainable development, and short factoids about the impact of human development accompanied the photographs.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that at Darling Harbour, or for that matter, in Sydney – I was nicely surprised to come by it. Given my recent comments on how Sydney feels like a doughnut, hollow in the centre, compared with Melbourne, I’d have to say this is a positive step forward, in bringing some sense of “culture” back into the city. Danielle didn’t seem to think so; on hearing about it, he commented, “this would be high culture… what about the culture that develops naturally. the vibe of a city”.

I guess you can’t please everyone. I just wished that I had known about it before – but it’s there till 26 December if you’re interested in seeing it.

In any case, Darling Harbour will have to wait another day; we used up all our time looking at the pictures.

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