Leisa Gibbons is an Australian Community records management consultant, digital cultural heritage PhD student and a general tech busy body.
Currently, Gibbons serves as Director of Rhizome Digital which she founded in 2010.
Gibbons created Rhizome Digital in 2010 to support communities to document and manage their cultural heritage. This year she will complete her PhD on the digital cultural heritage potential of YouTube. The outcomes of this research indicate that records professionals should work more closely with content creators to help develop dynamic business and creative recordkeeping systems.
In 2013 Gibbons is investing in the expansion of Rhizome Digital to support the research outcomes. With an office location overlooking the arts precinct and located in Ballarat, an area rich in cultural heritage, Gibbons' vision is to help communities recognise and build their contributions to Australian culture.
In the future Gibbons aims to continue working with creative professionals and build strong partnerships with cultural heritage institutions to conduct further research into digital cultural heritage. Gibbons wants to help build resilient infrastructure and be an advocate in support of the multiverse of cultural creativity.
Here, she chats to ArtsHub about her career.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A scientist who worked in a lab.
When did you know you would work in the arts?
When I started a science degree.
How would you describe your work to a complete stranger?
Information is not knowledge until it is applied, used, shared and interpreted. I help people find ways to support that process through technology and strategy.
Is there a mission to your work?
My mission is what I wrote for my business – to support people to create, find, organise and preserve their knowledge heritage
What are you proud of?
I am happy that I have managed to create a business in something that I feel deeply passionate about.
What's your background - are there studies that prepare you for this?
My formal education has given me many skills and infrastructure to be an information professional. But how I have applied what I have learned and what I am building with it has come from a fire in my belly that evolved from a very long time ago.
What stimulates your creativity?
I am driven by the idea that knowledge is constructed by the dominant voices and consumed by the majority.
Can you describe an "average" working day for you?
Right now most of my day is taken up with thesis writing. The rest is about putting in place the right tools I need to grow my business and communicate it to the people I want to reach.
What else do you do to pay the bills?
I work as a casual academic and research assistant at Monash University.
What's the one thing - piece of equipment, toy, security blanket, – you can't work without?
What gets you fired up?
People who are ignored or unfairly treated. And people who push onto trains while you are trying to get out.
Who in the industry most inspires you?
In the archival world I am most inspired by my colleagues who support what I do and encourage my creativity.
What in the industry do you despair about?
The lack of money for research and in particular dynamic, resourceful and useful research related to cultural heritage. And an archival profession that thinks that cultural heritage is about collecting items, documenting them and putting them in vaults or on display.
What is the best thing about your job?
I am my own boss.
What’s the worst?
I am always working.
What are the top three skills you need in this industry?
1 - Reflective thought
2 - Critical analysis
3 - Ability to build relationships with people
What advice would you give anyone looking to break into the field?
Archives are not in basements. They are on everyone’s computers, their bedrooms, lounge rooms as well as offices. Don’t think you know what archives are, because it’s the people who make them that know.
How do you know when you missed the mark?
Eyes tend to glaze over and faces go blank when I get into the theory behind my work.
If you had a motto, what would it be?
Ask yourself what you think you know, then tell yourself you are wrong.
When do you know you’ve made it?
I would like to think I have made it when I have created a resilient community of people and organisations who work together to create, capture and manage cultural heritage.
Some of Leisa’s writings and research outcomes can be found on Scribd.