Master of Library and Information Science (?)

I just made an inquiry re Western’s Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program, in order to introduce myself and to ask about whether they have any preliminary scheduling information for the next several semesters. I’m interested to know what they’ll say, although I expect they’ll mostly just encourage me to apply.

I explained that after my BA in Music and Applied Studies Co-op at the U. of Waterloo and my MA in Musicology at the U. of Toronto, I completed my PhD in Musicology at UCLA and then more recently also a Co-op Certificate in Computer Applications Development at Conestoga College. I also said that in addition to my background in academia (research, teaching), music (e.g., choral singing), and my current work in public music history (books, articles, and conference papers), I have had several part-time jobs involving libraries, including a recordings’ research position at UCLA’s Music Library Special Collections, serving as the choral librarian of the Elora Festival & Singers, and my current volunteering in holds shelving and missing-item traces at the Waterloo Public Library. I also let them know that I once taught a course in popular music & culture for their faculty (FIMS), have developed a number of websites, took a pair of small-business/self-employment courses, and am currently a Visiting Scholar at Conrad Grebel University College at UW.

I wondered if there is an expected schedule yet for the five required courses in Summer 2016 and/or a list of what is expected to be offered in 2016-17? I said that I’m thinking of starting the program this coming summer, doing my second term in Fall 2016 (including some courses online, as I live in Waterloo), then doing a co-op term in Winter 2017 (taking one more course, possibly online, during that term), and completing the program in Summer 2017.


“Public Musicologists” Ignore Public Musicology

Institutionally-unaffiliated PhDs in my field are routinely swept under the carpet. Amanda Sewell’s report in the August 2015 newsletter of the American Musicological Society about an early 2015 conference on the Past, Present, and Future of Public Musicology confirms this by not bothering to mention my paper.

My contribution was called: “The Untapped Doctoral Majority of Potential Public Musicologists.” The paper begins by covering such things as:

  • the over-supply of musicology PhDs for the number of academic positions
  • what some musicology PhDs actually end up doing outside of academia

It continues by covering my:

I also then explain that I created music history instructional videos and that I adapted my dissertation on the Canadian rock band Rush for a public book called Experiencing Rush: A Listener’s Companion (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). I end the paper with an example from Chapter 1 of my forthcoming book in the same series: Experiencing Peter Gabriel: A Listener’s Companion.

I have done almost all of that work outside of conventional institutional contexts, so does that mean it doesn’t qualify as “public musicology”?! The Musicology Now (blog) version of the report is only slightly better, with one, highly-misleading sentence about my work: “Durrell Bowman (independent scholar) spoke of the challenges he has faced in the decade-long search for an academic position in musicology.” Both my assigned title of “independent scholar”–which I loathe, in favour of “public music historian”–and the falsely-reported subject matter of my paper–which is actually a whole bunch of things I have done in Public Musicology–may explain why the editor of the AMS newsletter decided to exclude it. Not surprisingly, the newsletter version of the report also excludes the following sentence: “Felicia Miyakawa (academic consultant) explained why she left a tenured position and chose to pursue public musicology.”

I can’t speak for Miyakawa, but “we” are not amused.

Visiting Scholar Status

I recently asked about arranging for status as a Visiting Scholar to the Music Department of Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo. That’s my undergraduate alma mater in the city where I now live again. They just agreed to that, which will give me such Faculty/Staff/Grad library privileges as term-long book loans, access to scholarly publications and media through inter-library loans, and internet access in an office/carrel-type setting. The scenario will definitely help me work more efficiently on my current book project: Experiencing Peter Gabriel: A Listener’s Companion. So, thanks to Grebel music chair Laura Gray and librarian Laureen Harder-Gissing!

Website Downsizing?

I’m not sure if moving from self-hosted WordPress (which costs money for hosting) to (which is somewhat more limiting, but free) is “downsizing,” exactly. However, I’m now most of the way there. The URL will be until my web-hosting account expires, by which point I will have reassigned to come here. This is also a test to see if this post gets to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and/or LinkedIn.

The Future of Higher Education?

December 2113, at breakfast:

  • Dani (14): Hey, Daddums. What’s “philosophy?”
  • Dad: Something about the meaning of existence; your great-grandma studied it.
  • Dani: Where did she study it?
  • Mom: At UCLA, I think. Her blogkive has some gradeypost she wrote about this government arts and music ambassador in the 2030s, named Miley Cyrus.
  • Dani: Do you mean that people actually used to submit things mostly in words, and sometimes about the arts? My Business Economics Enabler-Bot-ing administrator, Master Baights, MBA in Seed Acquisition, Level 7, says university has been only about honing your entrepreneurial potential for at least the past sixty years.
  • Dad: That’s all true, my little stevia lozenge.
  • Dani: Can I study to be a doctor of philosophy?
  • Mom: Not anymore. Your great-uncle had his “Ph.D.,” but in sociology. It had to do with the early, post-postmodern, post-postindustrial history of manufacturing small electronic devices in other countries in the early decades of the 21st century.
  • Dani: That barely even QRs, Momsie. Do you mean that China used to make its stuff here? Where did he work?
  • Dad: At first, he taught a course or two at the State College of Eastern West Virginia. He was an “adjunct,” so he didn’t have access to the instructohub and mostly used his car as an office.
  • Mom: Smaller cities didn’t have subways and skytrains back then, and most of their LRTs failed and were torn out for additional efficipark structures by about mid-century. He was also on something called “food stamps.” After about ten years, he ended up at AmazoogleFedEx, working part-time as a gravlift drone-fleet pilot.
  • Dani: That QRs even less. OK, well I better get my visohelmet on and get started on my webdeck about some quaint, “hippie” thing from the 2010s, called “crowdsourcing.”
  • Dad: Surf safely!

Development vs. Design –, etc.

What They’re Using

I suddenly found out that my new website for Malcolm Gladwell (on which I spent around sixty hours) has been replaced visually by something virtually the same as the old site from before I worked on it.  However, the new version still uses the WordPress structure I developed for its content and data.  My contributions include:

  • article categories and dating, to organize a post-archive of New Yorker articles
  • the addition of articles to cover the past two years
  • the organization of the site’s pages for book excerpts, etc.
  • content editing & formatting for all posts and pages
  • updated and corrected purchase-links
  • a browser favicon derived from Gladwell’s new book cover

However, given the nature of website “design” vs. “development,” almost no-one (other than you) is going to know that I had anything to do with it.

What’s No Longer There

A lot of people had told me that they really liked the look and improved functionality of my new design for the website.  My version had:

  • a thin, site-wide header-image showing Gladwell, plus highlighting his latest book and listing the other four
  • below the header (i.e., also site-wide), a custom menu with book-purchase locations and info-page-links for all five books
  • a sidebar widget with links to all article-types and a dated archive (again, site-wide)
  • a way for you to share any page or post to Facebook or Twitter (or to print or email it)
  • a biography right on the home page (the new design doesn’t have one at all)
  • the book covers and book-cover icons right on the homepage
  • a page of professional photographs (again, the new design doesn’t have any)
  • the capability of doing a site-wide search from wherever you are on it

Now, however, it’s gone, and no-one will ever see it.  To see a website I developed AND designed, please visit the Grand Philharmonic Choir.

The Need for Dynamic Content & User Interaction

All of the research about modern websites and the efficacy of online presence indicates that:  (1) your content must change reasonably often and (2) your visitors have to feel empowered to be able to do certain things.


A website should include a blog, newsletter, or some other dynamic content that is updated at least a couple of times every month.  If you have a website plus Facebook, Twitter, and/or similar social-media accounts, then the content should be integrated so that your website’s new posts automatically appear on the other platforms.  An alternative would be to have things from the other platforms automatically appear on your website.  At the very least, you should provide basic links on your website to your social media pages.


Site visitors should be able to share your posts to their own accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and/or similar social-networking sites.  In most cases, they should also be able to comment on your posts and pages.  Comments can be moderated (such as by an appointed lieutenant), in order to keep out all “trolls” and the vast majority of spam.  You can also choose not to allow comments on selected posts and pages.

Without dynamic content and at least some kind of basic possibility for user interaction, a return visit to a website is not very likely.

Technology Constantly Changes

Technology–especially internet technology–constantly changes.  From 1997 to 2013 (in addition to also being a Ph.D. in musicology, writer, musician, etc.), I have used and/or formally studied the following open-source and other website development technologies:

  • HTML
  • Dreamweaver
  • Expression Web
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • PHP
  • MySQL
  • Drupal
  • Omeka
  • WordPress

I have also studied and/or used object-oriented programming (C#), object-oriented analysis & design, databases (SQL, including SQL Server) and used various additional content development tools for images, video, and so on.  Whatever the merits or outcome of my studies (GPA of 3.97 in 2009-10) and work (a number of significant web projects since 2010), I know that it is not a good idea in 2013 to design a website that looks and works almost entirely like it has for many years–and could have looked and worked in 1996.