Welcome to WIDGET


We’re going to start throwing out a question every Wednesday for our community, something we can discuss amongst ourselves. Whether it’s related to our work, our play, or both! We’d love to hear from you a little bit more. If you have any ideas about a Widget Wednesday question you’d like us to put up for everyone, email info@widgetau.org! Or we’ve set up a Formspring here, both for you to suggest questions for everybody, but also if you’d like to ask us a question too. (please point out which one it is!)


This week’s question is an easy one:

What are you reading?

Our co-directors (we’re tossing up between the idea of co-directors or co-convenors, what do you think? Since we’re in a questionny mood!) will start us off!

Liah is reading: Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams. She’s really enjoying it, and says there’s lots to learn about creating a happy and effective IT work environment, despite being a little dated in parts (it talks about landlines, WHUT), and refers to office cubicles being a new thing, but it’s still very relevant in the core aspects.

Leena is reading: Understanding Popular Culture. Also a little dated in parts (it pre-dates internet but amazingly it doesn’t really matter as everything translates through to the digital age) but very relevant. She’s enjoying the discussions of power structures within popular culture, and trying to make parallels between the mediums being discussed in the book and games and modern pop culture. Here’s some quotes that rocked her socks:

“Popular culture is made by the people, not produced by the culture industry. All the culture industries can do is produce a repertoire of texts or cultural responses for the various formations of the people to use or reject in the ongoing process of producing their popular culture”.

“The creativity of popular culture lies not in the production of commodities so much as in the productive use of industrial commodities. The art of the people is the art of “making do”. The culture of everyday life lies in the creative, discriminating use of the resources that capitalism provides”.

This one is particularly interesting (regarding power and culture) from Widget’s point of view as an advocate for diversity:

“Of course capitalism requires diversity, but it requires a controlled diversity, a diversity that is determined and limited by the needs of its mode of production. It requires different forms of social control and different social institutions to reproduce itself and its subjects, so it produces class differences and fractional or sectional differences within those classes. The owners of capital can maintain their social position only because the social order in which they flourish has produced legal, political, educational and cultural systems that, in their own spheres, reproduce the social subjectivities required by the economic system”.

I interpreted this as handy for picking my battles and actually helpful in my feminist action:

“Cohen and Taylor came to wonder if the important question was not how to change the world, but rather “in what ways should one resist or yield to its demands in order to make life bearable, in order to preserve some sense of identity”. Breaking down things into what I will resist and what I will yield to is a nice frame with which to approach my reactions to things (and therefore what I’ll direct my energy toward.)

My favourite quote so far (and admittedly, I’m not that far into the book! Only 30% according to my Kindle) is this one:

“The “art of being in between” is the art of popular culture. Using their products for our purposes is the art of being in between production and consumption, speaking is the art of being in between their language system and our material experience, cooking is the art of being in between their supermarket and our unique meal.”


Have you read either of these books? Got any you’d recommend just like them?

What are you reading at the moment? Got any passages or quotes you’d like to share from them or nut out with the Widget community? Go for it! We’d love to hear from you.