‘And so to bed’. Learn to blog with Samuel Pepys and this wonderful BBC dramatisation of his diaries

From the BBC

This first episode is a wonderful interplay between domestic and civil life, the prospect of joining the ship that will fetch the King from exile, while the ‘wench’ who works for them refuses to kill the turkey they’ve been feeding up because it’s her friend.

On the 1st of January 1660, the 26 year old Samuel Pepys decides to start keeping a diary.

How many of us have begun on the 1st of January never to get beyond the month? Or choose to pick it up again after an absence. Don’t let this be an excuse, start now. What did you have for breakfast? And if that’s too mundane what’s you solution to the debt crisis?

In the first episode Pepys is behind with his rent, he gets drunk and both he and his wife wish for a family. Pepys reflects on the great events of the 17th century but he also tells us what people ate, wore, what they did for fun, the tricks they played on each other, what they expected of marriage, and of love affairs.

In this episode some house guests play a game after dinner called ‘Getting Married’. By all accounts it sounds like a 17th century invitation to do some wife-swapping.

This BBC radio drama is on every day at 10.45 and again in the evening at 19.45. Episode 2 today.

You can follow Samuel Pepys on Twitter. You get regular 140 characters or less updates.

Read his diary, offered on a the basis of ‘on this day 350 years ago.’

Nothing’s changed much, the most important things in our life are loves, family and friends.

Our lives may touch on the politics and events of the time, they may not. Pepys got through the restoration of the King, Plague and the Fire of London.

He so often ends is entry with, ‘and so to bed’.

This reflects the typical keeper of a written diary, you tend to use the evening to catch up. I have to wonder if he had given up the diary he may have produced some children. I stopped keeping a diary on getting engaged after 16 years of writing – I had better things to do in bed than prop myself up on one and scribble secret notes into a hardback book. In any, there is no longer a best time to ‘blog,’ Twitter like you can post an entry whenever you like, as the events unfold or as a thought crosses your mind.

For radio for boring bits have been left out; it therefore reads like a novel.

Not a recommended style for these pages, but great for an external blog in WordPress (HERE), Blogger or LiveJournal. Or my favourite, Diaryland.

12 metaphors visualised to aid thinking about the brilliance of blogging

Why blog?

  • Old ways vs. New ways
  • Isolated vs. Connected
  • Visible vs. Invisible or rather
  • Silent or a presence or sphere of influence

____________________________________________________________

 What do you think?

  • As an academic
  • As an author (or wannabe writer)
  • As a journalist or ‘citizen journalist’
  • You have something to say
  • You want to be heard
  • It’s your job

_____________________________________________________________

You need the social media skills

  • Reputation
  • CV
  • Google your name
  • Interview on Skype

__________________________________________________________________

You want:

  • To be heard
  • To engage
  • To influence
  • To compete

_____________________________________________________________

Beware:

A)  the limitations of the metaphor
B)  imposing old constructs onto new such as:

  • a website as a brochure
  • a blog as a diary, journal or log
___________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

It is everything and anything online:

  • A digital ocean

  • A digital water-cycle

  • An ecosystem

  • Swim Lanes as a metaphor for learning design

  • Overwhelming volumes of stuff
  • It matters

____________________________________________________________

Distance Learning to Nearness Learning

No longer ‘broadcasting’ but ‘peer-to-peer’, ‘one-to-one’ or ‘group’ influencing

The value lies in the influence of the personal relationship

  • rarely synchronous
  • even more rare to be face to face
  • but as a presence or voice,

  • it is vital.

______________________________________________________________

Analogies make us think, express ideas and through simplification the clarify

  • Ring of blogs (max, ma, min and micro)
  • Ring of Social Media Activities (Linkedin, Facebook and Xing)
  • Saturn’s rings and moons
    A metaphor for collection of webpages, a vibrant, dense, sharp, insightful blogs with a mix of Social Media Networking activity in Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.
    INSERT RINGS SKETCH

The pattern that  matters to me is between people.

Which I tried to bring to life with a set of chess pieces. I need to work on this, perhaps lay the relationships out on the floor of a conference hall?

Activity systems illustrate how people solve problems are  innovation and generate influence through interaction

_________________________________________________________________________

Who reads, who comments who creates?

__________________________________________________________________________

Conversations between people, content fed in, discussed, shared, informing the website or informed by it.

BLOGGING

Individual or group/team enterprise

Author or contributor

(Guest writers)

Effort, patience, time …

  • Listen
  • Comment
  • Create

WHAT TYPE OF BLOG?

‘Everything and anything goes. You cannot do it wrong. There are no mistakes. At any time you can change your point of view, your style, your book, the pen you write with, the direction you write on the pages, the language in which you write, the subjects you include, or the audience you write to. You can misspell, write ungrammatically, enter incorrect dates, exaggerate, curse, pray, write poetically, eloquently, angrily, lovingly. You can past in photographs, newspaper clippings, cancelled checks, letters, quotes, drawings, doodles, dried flowers, business cards, or labels. You can write on lined paper or blank paper, violet paper or yellow, expensive bond or newsprint.’

Tristine Rainer, ‘The New Diary’ 1976.

CREATE

______________________________________________________________________________

RECOMMEND

  • Niche (person or team)
  • Comprehensive (an extension of the website)

Also personal, unique even quirky … Has a point of view, voice.
N.b. Consistent … Pace can change, but at least like a fire that never goes out … Or it will.

Beating writer’s block – controlled stimulation to get you going

SOCIAL MEDIA as the ‘Water-Cooler’

Two words:

‘Be Sociable’

LEARNING ONLINE

Why the groundswell?

And why now?

How, where and when do you learn?

Think about your own learning – the resources and tools you use, where and when it takes place.

Early mornings from 4.00am, weekends, mornings only ’til 10.00 or so.

Occasionally some reading in the evening.

But vicariously too, in a conversation, or going for walk, say looking at pebbles and shell washed up on the shore, or the layers of deposits in a chalk cliff.

What is your experience of being a learner?

If I’m not learning something new or building on my knowledge I am bored. I’m staggered I survived formal learning, I found the Oxford approach tedious, skipped all lectures, and relied instead on libraries and Blackwells which could between them supply every book or journal I wanted.

I failed to get far with a correspondence course on writing.

I learn best with a mixture of doing, reading/workshops and further application. I can be inspired or frustrated by my peer group. They can be a vital part of the mix, a course I did across Europe having the most refreshing mix of people.

What tools and resources do you use?

I’m slowly getting it all down to the iPad for its speed to the web, then grabbing and pasting into websites that I use as folders, eportfolios, writer’s journal as well as open blogs. I also chuck things into my email folders to collate, aggregate or check through later.

What are your views on different technologies?

I make the time to try most things and will become temporarily hooked. Currently fixated on Linkedin, WordPress blogs and Stumbleupon.

Likely to read most content as an eBook putting notes into iWriter. This is in stark contrast to printing everything off a year ago then filing it.

Forever grabbing screenshots or taking pics that go from Picasa to Picasa Web and then into blogs.

Can you think of examples where technology has made a significant difference to the way you learn?

When I started the MAODE I fell back on methods I had used during A’ levels snd quickly filled several files.

A year on and I hold the iPad in my right hand and manage a kind of touchtyping with the other. I try not to rely on harddrives and memory sticks instead putting it online, increasingly as private or password protected entries in a number of blogs hat act as themes or categories.

I would worry about learning away from The OU and finding the VLE not up to scratch or being cut-off from fellow students.

Can you think of counter examples where you had a bad experience of a particular technology?

I hate Outlook and Excel.

I both instances I feel the nerd has taken over, that my mothball of a mnd is being shoe-horned into a match-box. Worse, My unregimented, freefalling, excitable mind is being containerised, my best thoughts quaterised. It disables some minds and enables the petty. These are to me like walking in crocodiles to the school dining hall; they are overly prescriptive.

I am starting to hate Word 2011 in favour of an iPad App, iWriter which is less like trying to write while dressed as a Morris Dancer and playing the Great Whurlitzer.

Interested in the potential of computers I joined an undergraduate group in 1983 but found having to learn programming was akin to sticking stamps onto envelopes with my toes.

I used interactive DVDs successfully to learn AdobePhotoshop, FilemakerPro and Dreamweaver.

Simply a voice talking through the screen shots then getting you to do the same. The next best thing to having someone sit at your side and be your guide.

All self-paced, vital as I might prefer to do 20 intensive hours in one shot rather than nibbling at it.

What did this do to your motivation for learning?

There must be intrinsic motivation.

How did you deal with the situation?

Giving up. Which I know now was unnecessary. Thinking my mind isn’t suited to a thing instead of tackling it.

Support is vital.

Some formal training, then support at your shoulder. Time to figure it out. Understanding as you get it wrong. Those expert at these things can be unsympathetic to new comers, assuming their knowledge, rather that helping or nuturing.

Had the motivation been there could I have found my own way into the technology I do wonder.

I love the intuitive, where the learning is self-directed and incremental. Anything that needs an instruction manual or behaves like the off-side rule will put me off.

I love the Sony flip. IT just does video. Like Google ‘just does search’.

Excessive bells and whistles should be offered as Apps to add later rather than being offered up front.

Visualing metaphors I use to explain learning online:

It is like the letter a …

  • A dandelion in seed (Content online)

  • The solar system (Social Media Networks)

  • Drops of ink in water (Content online)

 

Akin to my ever changing Personal Learning Environment mindmap:

  • Lichen (How your knowledge grows/links)
  • Ball-bearings (Dependency and interaction)
  • A map (layouts, representation)
  • The water-cycle (Binary code as water molecules)
  • A Catherine-wheel (Spinning beautifully then falling of its stand!)

  • A glider riding a thermal (Personal development)
  • Delibes, Lakme. (Music as metaphor. Dance. Entanglement. Rising)
  • Learning to sight read music
  • Soaring and bound

  • Swimming pool (coaching/training)

Each might emphasise different aspects of the process: –

  • What is being learnt
  • Contexts
  • Audiences

Ways of expressing yourself

  • Empathy
  • Shared experience

What artifacts (tools, resources, etc.) are being used?

Where and when things are happening

  • IPad
  • Photoscspe
  • Picasa
  • Artpad
  • Bubbl.us
  • Wordle
  • MRI scan
  • Engestrom’s activity systems
  • Google Images
  • David Mcandless

Some thoughts on writing by Norman Mailer

From ‘The Spooky Art’

‘Over the years, I’ve found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing.

It’s a simple rule

If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time.

Count on me

You are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.

The point is that you have to maintain trustworthy relations.

If you wake up in the morning with a hangover can cannot get to literary work, your unconscious, after a few such failures appear, will withdraw.’

He continues:

‘If you are ready to look upon your unconscious as a curious and semi alienated presence in yourself with whom you have to maintain decent relations – if you are able to see yourself as some sort of careless general and picture the unconscious as your often unruly cohort of troops – then, obviously, you wouldn’t dare to keep those troops out in the rain too long; certainly not at the commencement of any serious campaign. On the contrary, you make a pact: “work for me, fight for me, and I will honour and respect you.”’

He continues:

‘To repeat: The rule is that if you say to yourself you are going to write tomorrow, then it doesn’t matter how badly you’re hungover or how promising is a sudden invitation in the morning to do something more enjoyable. No, you go in dutifully, slavishly, and you work.

This injunction is wholly anti-romantic in spirit

But if you subject yourself to this impost upon yourself, this diktat to be dependable, then after a period of time – it an take weeks, or more – the unconscious, nursing its disappointments, may begin to trust you again.’

He continues:

‘On the other hand, you can sometimes say to yourself, “I’m not going to work tomorrow,” and the unconscious may even by now be close enough in accord not to flood your mind with brilliant and all-too-perishable material.

That is also important

Because in the course of going out and having the lively day and night you’re entitled too, you don’t want to keep having ideas about the book you’re on. Indeed, if you are able on your day off to avoid the unpleasant condition of being swarmed with thoughts about a work-in-progress when there is no pen in your hand, then you’ve arrived at one of the disciplines of a real writer. ‘

He wraps it up:

‘The rule in capsule

If you fail to show up in the morning after you vowed that you would be at your desk as you went to sleep last night, then you will walk around with ants in your brain.

Rule of thumb

Restlessness of mind can be measured by the number of promises that remain unkempt.’

 

Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons – and the impact on blogging

1. Are we hard-wired to how we conceptualise ideas?

2. Does this help or hinder the way we use eLearning tools?

3. Will children, say, 50 years from now, look at paper and pen in the same way as a person does now when they take a first look at computer?

4. Are we at some ‘transition’ point, and if we are, what does this mean?

My tutor in H808 asked me this on 12th September.

I feel far better able to reply now after four months of H808 and some fortuitous reading, though I did respond at the time. My forum thread exchange then and reflection on it today will form part of my ECA.

It surprises me that I have subscribed to a magazine at all, but I find the New Scientist offers plenty on our e-world upon which to reflect and insights to all kinds of other things that tickle my brain.

It matters that you read broadly.

The French Film Director Francois Truffaut was a firm believer of reading everything and anything that caught your attention. He’d have loved the web. It matters that you follow what the web offers, then browse the shelves for magazines at the newsagent on the forecourt of your station.

My favourite button that has been crucial to the longevity of my blog (elsewhere) for the last seven years is ‘Enter@Random.’

We don’t think in chronological order.

thinking is a mess, it selects ideas and makes things up sing different sides and corners and crooks and crannies of our brains. I unplugged the calendar on my diary in year one and replaced it with 12 themes that have now grown to 37. For a period there were 37 blogs, but try managing that, to say you end up with a split personality is an understatement.

My tutor put it to me (and us) the H808 Tutor Group:

1. Are we hard-wired to how we conceptualise ideas?

Dr Vilayanur S Ramachandran thinks so. We have a unique capacity to think in metaphors. This matters. It is this ability that makes us creative, allows us to be inventive, it is what makes us human beings.

Read all about in the New Scientist.

Quoted here within the 200 word count permission for a student quote.

Added as for student reading in a non-commercial academic context having read the copyright permissions.

Ramachandran is particularly interested in metaphor because it ties in neatly with his previous work on synaesthesia – a kind of sensory hijack, where, for example, people see numbers as colours or taste words. “Metaphor is our ability to link seemingly unrelated ideas, just like synaesthesia links the senses,” he says.

After spending years working with people who have synaesthesia, he believes “pruning genes” are responsible. In the fetal brain, all parts of the brain are interconnected, but as we age, the connections are pruned. If the pruning genes get it wrong, the connections are off. “If you think of ideas as being enshrined in neural populations in the brain, if you get greater cross-connectivity you’re going to create a propensity towards metaphorical thinking,” he says.

I don’t have synaesthesia, neither does Ramachandran, but he points out to me the strangeness of asking why, say, the cheddar cheese in your sandwich is “sharp”. It’s true, cheese isn’t sharp, it’s soft, so why do I use a tactile adjective to describe a gustatory sensation? “It means our brains are already replete with synaesthetic metaphors,” he says. “Your loud shirt isn’t making any noise, it’s because the same genes that can predispose you to synaesthesia also predispose you to make links between seemingly unrelated ideas, which is the basis of creativity.”

www.NewScientist.com.

Thomson (2010)

Of the 12 photographs in this issue as many as 8, I think, are from the Getty Image bank. I wonder if one day, especially if I’m reading this on an iPad the images will move, rather as the paints are alive in the background of a Harry Potter movie. It wouldn’t take much for a photography to video as well as, or instead of taking a photograph. Indeed, the BBC now permit directors to generate HD TV footage using digital SLR cameras … the lenses are better, the creative choices wider.

Interesting.

2. Does this help or hinder the way we use eLearning tools?

How we use the web, let alone e-learning tools is in its infancy. We are still putting old ways online, still making web-pages into slide shows and calling them immersive learning. Gaming may change this, with the budget. Better, faster tools will enabled more. Collaboration on world wide wikis with like minds, and great minds, contributing will speed up the rate of change.

We’ll think in the same metaphors though, share and reinforce new metaphors and then some Leonardo da Vinci of the 21st century will come along and break it apart. Though we may not appreciate their insights at all.

Mobile learning, smart-phone learning on the move, or whatever you want to call it should shake things up. At first this will be, and is, the same old stuff sent to your phone, basic card to card Q&A even if it includes a bit if video or an animated graph.

I want learning projected onto the back of my scull, I want it in my head, not online or in a device. I want interactions with specific parts of my brain. I want my brain duplicated so that I can take more lessons at the same time, to learn multiple languages and to take several degrees simultaneously.

3. Will children, say, 50 years from now, look at paper and pen in the same way as a person does now when they take a first look at computer?

It is extraordinary the relationship between our minds and out limbs, or arms and finger tips. With training we can sight read a score and play complex musical pieces, we can scroll, cut, edit, fly and colourise images into a piece of drama that has us crying, or heads in our hands and we can type, like the clappers.

We can draw too, and sculpt, and swim and dance and do gymnastics.

Our relationship with the nerves in our body is a complex one. As for handwriting, our relationship with fountain pens, marker pens and pencils? It ought to be a skill still taught at school, there need to be handwriting competitions as there once were … even if they are tied into art classes and design.

How different is a stylus on a tablet to a piece of chalk on a slate?

I implore my children to write and draw. An illegible Christmas list is no list at all. They’d type, they do type. Yet how backwards is a QWERTY keyboard?

4. Are we at some ‘transition’ point, and if we are, what does this mean?

Yes. And I mean to be part of it.

We have reached the Tipping Point.

A book a read if I recall in 2001 when we thought we were approaching a tipping point, actually we were reaching the point at which the first e-bubble would burst. First and last? These things go in cycles, whatever the politicians do to stymie human nature. Greed and regret, progress, reflection, reinvention … then we do it all over.

We’re not even less violent than we were at the times of the Viking raids.

Meandering? A stream of consciousness? Reflection? Regurgitation?

All of this, and it all matters. You don’t have to read it, and you probably haven’t. This is here for me to find when I need it in seven months or seven years time.

It is remarkable how your views change; so it matters to have what you originally thought in front of you. There are memories I have that haven’t just been reworked over the decades, but have become different events. This isn’t simply age, though that has much to do with it, I view what I did as a child or teenager as I observe my own children today, the difference is, I can’t influence the behaviour and actions of my younger self, though I can, I hope listen to and guide my own children to actions and decisions they will feel comfortable with in the years to come

REFERENCE

Thomson, H (2010) V. S. Ramachandran: Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons 10 January 2011 by Helen Thomson Magazine issue 2794.