A quick Q&A with Dr Margaret Gibson


Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities at Griffith University, Dr Margaret Gibson discusses her career as well as her latest research on digital objects of the dead.

1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A lot of my childhood was filled with learning music and putting on plays with my siblings – creative pursuits. I did love old Hollywood movies (my mother’s family was obsessed with vintage Hollywood films) so suspect I had fantasies about being a glamorous actress!

2. Tell us about a previous job (work experience/volunteer work) that you’ve had.
I won a scholarship during the first year of my PhD (in 1992) to study for an academic year at the University of California, Santa Cruz. This was amazing in terms access to world- renowned academics teaching courses I got to do. I learnt a lot of difficult theory! I also got to do some teaching (TA) work in sociology while there.

3. Which 3 apps do you use the most on your mobile device?
Facebook, Snapchat, and ABC radio.

4. Which 5 celebrities would you invite to your ultimate dinner party?
I would probably want a mix of dead and living celebrities – Bette Davies, Nat King Cole, Cate Blanchett, Aaron Pedersen, and Audrey Hepburn.

5. Tell us about your favourite fictional character.
This is tricky…. I really love the Toy Story trilogy and all the characters. These are profound films about transitional objects, childhood, and mortality.

6. What’s the best thing about your current role?
I love doing my research and have always loved writing. I enjoy teaching and seeing students blossom as they start in first-year and go through to 3rd year, Honours and PhD years.

7. Tell us about your current research.
My research has shifted quite considerably into the space of digital objects of the dead and the place of media cultures in capturing and disseminating events in which human death and tragedy is unfolding.

Grief and mourning have sped up in modern media cultures and there are very interesting questions about public mourning and how people insert themselves (or not) into these mobile and other media spaces (e.g. live streaming apps, Facebook memorial pages etc.).

8. What sparked your interest in objects of the dead?
It was really when my father was dying. I started to write a diary because the reality of mortality was palpable. I was also pregnant at the time – so life and death were embodied realities in my world.

It was only then that I truly noticed my father’s things – the objects that made up his life, having a subjectivity and biography. I looked at objects as quasi-subjects that stand in the place those of who die or go missing.

This developed into my first book Objects of the Dead: mourning and memory in everyday life. Sociology has a rich history of thought on mortality and mortality is the fundamental question of human meaning and existence.

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Not sure. I like where I am for now!

10. What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
I am proud of my book Objects of the Dead because it has reached so many people. I often hear from academics, postgrads and artists in other parts of the world, and just everyday people who have read it who tell me how valuable it has been to their research, creative work or personal grief experience.

11. What wise advice do you have for new researchers?
Publish early – start publishing at Honours if possible; build and foster your mentoring and research networks early.

12. Can you give us your 3 best research tips?
1. Research in an area you care about because it will produce quality work.
2. Choose an area of research that will sustain your passion in the long term.
3. Develop/foster research collaborations with people in your chosen field.

What to do with your online accounts when you die

What will happen to your Facebook account when you die? What about Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube?

It’s not something most of us have given any thought to. But Griffith University, School of Humanities, Senior Lecturer, Dr Margaret Gibson has. And she raises one interesting option in her Know more in sixty seconds video ‘What to do with your online accounts when you die’.

Apparently, you can sign up for automated death notices. They notify all your online services and your family and friends of your passing.

When you sign up to one of these services, you’ll receive an email each week to check if you are still with us. If you fail to respond after three messages, the system automatically notifies your family and friends of your death.

There are downsides to using this automated service, of course. And we are sure you can guess what they are. But if not, check out Dr Gibson’s short, snappy video.

Want to know more about digital objects of the dead? Check out these publications by Dr Gibson:

10 ways to spot deception

Female teenager covering her mouth

Being able to understand body language is almost like reading people’s minds. And wouldn’t we all love to know what our colleagues (read: boss) are thinking.

If you want to learn how to use body language to enhance your personal and business relationships, you should read Body Language for Dummies by Elizabeth Kuhnke (2015).

Kuhnke teaches you how to interpret what people really mean by observing their posture, gestures, eye movements, and more. Body Language for Dummies is your guide to decoding body language, and adjusting your own habits to improve your interactions with others.

The Body Language for Dummies eBook is available in Books24x7 BusinessPro Collection database.

How do you know if someone is deceiving you? Here are 10 ways to spot a liar (see Chapter 17, ‘Ten ways to spot deception’, Body Language for Dummies).

  • Fleeting facial expressions
    Look for muscular twitches, dilation and contraction of the pupils, flushed cheeks and sweating. Disregard this if your suspected fibber has just returned from running an errand outside in forty degree heat!
  • Suppressed facial expressions
    Lady Gaga sang ‘he can’t read my poker face’. But you can! Concealing an expression or emotion takes effort. Look for narrowed eyes, a tense forehead and twitching lips.
  • Little or no eye contact
    Possible signs of deception include eye rubbing, and an inability to look you in the eye. There’s also a small possibility they just have something in their eye, or you have remnants of lunch stuck between your teeth and they are embarrassed for you.
  • Covering the face
    Do you typically put you hand to your mouth when you tell a porky? So do others.
  • Touching the nose
    ‘When someone lies, it releases chemicals called catecholamines, causing the nasal tissues to swell’ says Kuhnke (Chapter 17). ‘This is known as the Pinocchio Response because the nose becomes slightly enlarged…’ And this means the storyteller will touch, tug or scratch their schnoz. On the other hand, they could have allergies, a cold or a rogue nose hair…

What are the other five signs of a fibber? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Stop your iPhone from being hacked


Download the latest security patch released by Apple! On Thursday 25 August, Apple released an urgent update to its operating system due to a malware attack.

Apple issued a global update to their iOS software after a sophisticated piece of malware was found to be able to compromise any iPhone in the world.

The malware gives attackers the ability to steal information from your phone, intercept calls and SMS, view emails, contacts and other applications. After confirming the vulnerability, Apple developed a patch that is deployed with its latest iOS update (9.3.5)

After confirming the vulnerability, Apple developed a patch that is deployed with its latest iOS update (9.3.5), and are advising people to download this fix immediately.

For instructions on how to update your iOS device, please refer to the Apple website.

Indigenous rights history showcased at the Con

The Wave Hill 'walk off' commemorated at the Con in August

The Wave Hill ‘walk off’ was commemorated at the Conservatorium recently

Queensland Conservatorium (QCGU), Griffith Library and the Griffith Archive recently collaborated on a project to celebrate an important historic event.

And the project – From Little Things Big Things Grow: The 50th anniversary of the 1966 Indigenous walk-off protest at Wave Hill cattle station, NTwas a success!

Running for a week, the project team organised activities to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill ‘walk off’. Activities included a display, immersive video and music, as well as new compositions.

History buffs were treated to an archival exhibition in the Library. Organised by the Griffith Library and the Griffith Archive, the display captured how the Wave Hill ‘walk-off’ provided a rich history of reconciliation, respect, education and engagement with Australia’s First Peoples.

Staff and students also enjoyed immersive videos and music capturing the journey of Indigenous rights, and the cultural impact on image, music and understanding.

The immersive piece was kindly organised by Griffith Library and QCGU Academic, Eve Newsome.

Students who attended the event on the final day weren’t disappointed. QCGU Academic, Gerardo Dirie, in liaison with 2016 Wave Hill Freedom Day staff, organised new compositions based on Wave-Hill-inspired indigenous artworks.

The inspirational piece encouraged students to compose works based on artworks created by Wave Hill ‘walk off’ participants.

How safe is your password?


It’s pretty safe to say that it’s not safe at all.

Most of us struggle to remember the passwords for the gazillion computer accounts that we have; internet banking, Facebook, personal email, Netflix… Honestly, who can remember all the accounts, much less the password.

So we may cheat a little to make them memorable. Maybe your password is the same for all these accounts. Maybe there is a slight variation in passwords (like you change the number at the end). Maybe the password is your dog’s name and year of birth.

And all of this means your password is not safe; any ol’ hacker in the world could crack your code.

Now, we want your staff computer account to remain secure. So here are some tip-top tips to keep your password safe:

  • Ensure your password is at least 8 characters long and contains a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation.
  • Never re-use passwords, and never use a series of passwords which follow a predictable pattern (for example using the same word each time along with an incrementing number).
  • Use a different password for Griffith to what you use for banking, Facebook, and personal email.
  • Make it memorable. Longer passwords made up of several words can be easier to remember and safer.
  • Never share your password. Not even with colleagues, friends or family.
  • Never respond to any email which demands you reply to it with your username and password.
  • Griffith IT Support will NEVER ask you to give them your password via email, phone, or in person.

Visit the Secure Passwords page for techniques to choose a strong password.

It’s time to review and update your Reading Lists

Don’t worry, it’s as easy as pie. Mmmm pie…

Update your reading lists for OUA Study Period 3.

Digitised readings can now be re-requested for OUA Study Period 3. Digitised readings from OUA Study Period 2 will remain active until the end of week 2 of SP3 (Friday 9th September).

If you still require the digitised reading after this date, they should be re-requested. Not sure how to re-request a digitised reading? Ask Us!

Updating your Reading Lists ensures it remains current and that the University complies with copyright law.

Handy hint
Bookmark an eBook from the Library Catalogue and add a reading instruction for your students, eg. Read chapter 5. Using an ebook means you don’t have to request/re-request a digitised reading.