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The power to remember and the need to forget

Fig 1. Your life? Remembered or forgotten?

Digitally record or better to delete?


It frustrates me to try to read two complementary books e in two different formats – the first is marketed in its traditional hardback edition with a designer cover and eye-grabbing introduction from Bill Gates, while the second, an eBook I find understated – as if it is ashamed to compete. They are a pair. Twins separated at birth. They argue from opposite sides of the digital coin, one in favour of digitizing everything under the sun, the other for circumspection and deletion. Perhaps there should be a face off at the Oxford Union Debating Society. My role here is to bring them together and in doing so provide a one word conclusion: selection.


‘Total Recall’ (Bell and Gemmel, 2009) with its film-reference title and sensationalist headline ‘how the e-memory revolution will change everything’ risks ostracizing a discerning academic readership in favour of sales reputation and coining a phrase or two. It’s hero Gordon Bell might be the protagonist in the movie. The is is shame is that at the heart of what is more biography than academic presentation there is the desire to be taken seriously – a second edition could fix this – there needs to be a sequel. My copy of Total Recall arrived via trans-Atlantic snail mail in hardback, with it’s zingy dust jacket – it feels like a real book. I’m no bibliophile but I wonder if the pages are uncut and this edition has been pulled from a reject pile. It was discounted Amazon and as I’m after the words contained in the book rather than the physical artifact its state ought not to be a concern. Though the fact that it is a physical book rather pegs it to a bygone era. Total recall refers to the idea of a photographic or ‘eidetic memory’ – this needs to be stated.

Fig. 2. DELETE

‘Delete’ (2009) Viktor Mayer-Schönberger is subtitled ‘The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age’ and sounds as if it was authored by a vampire from Transylvania. It is a foil to ‘Total Recall’ with Viktor the antagonist to ‘Flash Drive’ Gordon. Delete hasn’t been – its in its fourth printing, needless to say I got mine in seconds as a Kindle version. I only ever by a book if I have to. I am too used to the affordances of the eBook to skim, search, highlight and share – and to have it on multiple devices, the Kindle, iPad, laptop and smartphone.

The copyright notice in Total Recall on ‘the scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet’ is ironic because this is what Bell does with his life – he has scanned and uploaded his life (though access is totally private). A double irony as he elects for Web 1.0 but won’t join the Semantic Web 2.0 and share.

I have been an exponent of ‘exposure’ – the release of a substantial part of who you are for others to chew over.

The online diary.

The way forward stands between the two, selective extreme gathering, storing and retrieval of your personal archive, while discretely deleting the irrelevant, possibly illegal (copyright, plagiarised, libel) and otherwise potentially reputationally damaging to kith or kin. (How can these be avoided if you wear a device around your neck that takes a digital snap every few seconds?)

They could be landform and landfill.



A fabulous radio drama – in a series of 15 minute episodes: The Diary of Sam Pepys

A fabulous, not to be missed, BBC Radio Drama

The Diaries of Samuel Pepys

Listen this morning and only for a week – the wonderfully evocative, visual radio drama – so good you can smell The Plague in the air.

Laugh out loud.



Soon to be a movie?

But nothing will beat the radio version (ditto ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

10.45am BBC Radio 4

Then on iPlayer for a week

Kris Marshall

My favourite 38 posts (give or take the other 15,962)

Trollhaten Falls, Sweden

(Where I set the final scenes of ‘The Watersprites’
I’ve done an inadequate sweep of the 600+ entries here in order to select 7 entries and have it roughly down to these 27:

If I do another sweep I’d find another 27 and be none the wiser. I have another blog with 16000+ entries and some 16 blogs. What interests me is what iWriter next.

I work in an Orchard

Emotional intelligence means more

Email is a snowball

Is education a problem or a business opportunity?

Grayson Perry and Rose Tremain on creativity


How where and when do you learn?

152 blogs I try to keep an eye on

E-learning is just like Chicken Masala

Life according to Anais Nin, Henry Miller and Samuel Pepys

100 novels personally recommended

12 Metaphors visualised to aid with the brilliance of blogging

Prensky and the concept of the Digital Native deserves to be lampooned

Love your memories in a blog

The Contents of my brain : a screenplay

We can’t help to think in metaphors it’s what makes us human

Maketh up a quote at ye beginning of thy book

Personal development planning as a thermal

What makes an e-learning forum tick?

Why Flickr on the Great War?

Social Media is knowledge sharing

Making sense of the complexities of e-learning

Social Learn (Like Open Learn but networked)

Twelve books that changed the world

Some thoughts on writing by Norman Mailer

Visualisation of the nurturing nature of education according to Vygotsky

Woe betide the Geordie linguist

Does mobile learning change everything?

The Digital Scholar. Martin Weller

The pain of writing and how the pain feeds the writing too

Digital Housekeeping and the Digital Brain

My heads like a hedgehog with its paws on a Van den Graff generator

Where’s education in technical terms compared to the car?

I haven’t the time or energy to read them, however interesting they may seem. My preference, having created an @random button for my original blog started in 1999 (and the first to do so) is to do exactly that: hit the ‘enter@random’ button 7 times and see where it takes me.

What can we learn about blogging from Samuel Pepys?

On how Pepys kept his diary

Pepys wrote his diary from notes – whether on the day, or weeks later.

What can the blogger learn from this?

I post notes and first drafts then leave them unpublished (usually). Sometimes I post notes with no intention of doing more.

Would four blogs do it?

Or one offline? Keep a notebook or voice record onto a smartphone? I find myself photographing everything.

Whilst diaries have a value in their historical immediacy they are generally far from giving the sense of the living moment. In Pepy’s ‘what is seemingly the most spontaneous and living series of entries in the diary, the long account of the Great Fire, was, as Pepy’s himself states, entered into the diary-book three months or more after the event. He has had a time to consider and reflect, to ‘contextualize’ what took place.

Our impressions change.

I was at a murder trial recently where witness statements written seven years previously were used; they had to be, the defendant had run off back to Africa and only recently extradited. Yet the defendant a huge exception to this, the facts were recalled.

What do I make of this?

Pepy’s prepared loose-leaf notes and wrote his diary upon the day or later, often leaving space to fill.

Anais Nin wrote continually, but typed up copies from the manuscript and had a hand in editing the volumes before they were published.

Henry Miller drew on his experiences in the Mid 20s to mid 30’s in New York and Paris to write his autobiographical fiction. My own diary, like some I have read, like ‘belles lettres’ or essays are (is) often a dry logbook-like record of events as they take place. They are a satisfactory record but do nothing to have ‘no sense of the moment.’

And how should I react?

Should I make, take and keep notes then write it all up at the weekend?

Pepys composed his diary in five stages:

  1. Accumulation of bills, minutes, official papers, news books and rough notes on a day’s proceedings.
  2. Gathering of these into a form which combined accounts with diary-style notes.
  3. Entering of the account and business matters into the appropriate manuscript/books, and the first revision of the general entries which were intended for the final manuscript.
  4. Entry of these notes into the diary-book (with care and over time), adapted to the space.
  5. Reading over the entries that had been made shortly before, making small corrections and stylistic improvements and inserting some further details at the ends of paragraphs and entries.’

From W. Matthews, ‘Introduction to Pepys Diaries II, ppcii

Where does this leave me?

And the blogger?

With a system?

Four books (four books as Anais Nin imagined ideal), more chosen titles being diary, dream book, notebook and scrapbook.

The diary, the ‘ivre d’or’, would be assembled on a sometimes daily, sometimes weekly (even monthly) basis

The dream book from early morning jottings put through a question and answer session on a Word Processor (an Amstrad in 1986)

A notebook (such as this), a journal of notes, extracts comment and ideas – not on the day’s events but for academic (or self-intellectual reason); and scrapbook to preserve relevant cuttings kept from the day (week or month) or world events, goings on, points and pictures of interest – possibly with the option to include my own scribblings.

Online (a decade later)  I have too many platforms:

Flickr, Tumblr, YouTube, Blip.foto, Blogger, Diaryland … Several blogs on WordPress of course and my OU Student Blog on their platform.

If these four books couldn’t preserve an accurate record of my age what could?

A camcorder strapped permanently to my shoulder?

William Matthews goes on to say what makes a good diary and what makes a bad one.

‘Almost all diaries that give genuine and protracted pleasure to an ordinary reader do so because the diarists possessed, instinctively or by training, some of the verbal, intellectual and emotional talents that characterise the novelist. Diaries are not novels; they are bound to reality, with its deplorable habit of providing excellent story situations and so artistically satisfactory ends.’

But also the man, Pepys, because of his variety of amateur interests had a passion for life which sustains a diary which requires a rich weave of activity if it is to remain interesting.

‘Pepys was a typical 17th century virtuoso, a man who justified himself by the diversity of his interests.’

W.M. Pepys VI, ‘Diary as literature, ppCxii

‘His literary instinct led Pepys to relate a story excitingly whenever the materials gave him the chance … diaries bring a reader closer to human actuality than any other form of writing. As life-records they present a natural disorder and emphasis which is artfully rearranged in biography, and so somewhat corrupted. As self-delineations they deal directly with people and events which in the novel are subjected to the stresses and conventions of art and design. And in many ways they are the most natural and instinctive product of the art of writing.’ (W.M. Pepys Vol 1, ppCXii)

152 Blogs on social media, policitics, philosophy, the arts, and e-learning that I try to keep an eye on

PRO BLOGGER – 1,000,000 page views a month

  1. Andrew Sullivan

Some of my other blogs:

  1. Fiction Writing
  2. On You Tube
  3. Swim Coaching
  4. Beyond E-learning
  5. Photos in FlickR
  6. Jonathan Jo Tumblr
  7. JV 4the Skip

OU Bloggers

  1. Nina Dunne
  2. Neil Anderson
  3. Kay


  1. Christopher Nelson H800
  2. Lesley H808
  3. Maureen H800
  4. Deborah H808
  5. Terry O’Sullivan H800
  6. Theodora H800
  7. Maureen H800
  8. Sukaina H800
  9. Amanda H800
  10. Elena H800
  11. Hjeidi H800
  12. Rosie
  13. Cathy Moore
  14. Clive Shepherd
  15. Janet
  16. Neil B
  17. Alice H809
  18. Kate H800
  19. Claire H800
  20. Carolyn H H809
  21. Carolyn E H809
  22. Stephen Heppell
  23. William Horton
  24. Yvonne H807
  25. Kate H800
  26. Steve H800


  1. Blog-a-longblog better in 2011
  2. Gráinne Conole – uber e-learning
  3. Martin Weller – e-learning professor
  4. h809
  5. James Aczel: Academic at the OU. Researching learning with new technologies.
  6. Eliz Harnett
  7. This blog is of doctoral study at the Open University Business School (OUBS)in the UK, of how public organisations work with their external third party suppliers on IT projects.
  8. Haider Ali

Blogging for a decade

  1. Invisabledon
  2. Erato
  3. Catherine Valente
  4. PhD Comic Strip
  5. Educational Blogs


  1. Letters from a Law Student


  1. Diary Junction
  2. Information is Beautiful
  3. Top Video Blogs
  4. All Things in Moderation
  5. EduBlogs Insights
  6. Learning Generalist BLOG
  7. Tall Blog
  8. Rhona Sharpe
  9. Pro Blogger

Interesting People

  1. Digital Chalkie
  2. YouTube Charlie
  3. Tamara
  4. Jan Moscowitz
  5. John Nauhgton
  6. Ian S

Online Lecture Series

  1. TED


  1. JISC Digital Media
  2. SCA 2.0
  3. Future Lab: Innovations in education
  4. Wired Sussex
  5. BAFTA
  6. IVCA
  7. Worth
  8. ISOS
  9. Getty Images
  10. Ralphs Mcinstosh
  11. HighBeam
  12. TES
  13. JISC
  14. Bell Curve


  1. Journal of Interactive Multimedia Education
  2. Alt-J
  3. E-learning Age
  4. Broadcast Freelancer
  5. New Scientist


  1. Captivate
  2. Articulate
  3. Top 100 E-Learning Tools
  4. Adobe Developer
  5. EdVantage
  7. Moving at the Speed of Creativity
  8. A vision of students today
  9. Netiquette
  10. Twitter Marketing Tricks
  11. Just JISC
  12. RSA
  13. Randy Pausch
  14. Technology Jargon Buster


  1. South African Institute for Distance Education
  2. OER Africa
  3. Neuroscience Blog
  4. Hinchcliffe on Web 2.0
  5. Hinchcliffe Consulting
  6. Technorati
  7. Web 2.0 Expo
  8. Virtual College
  9. Blogpulse

MBA Websites

  1. MBA Arms Race
  2. MBA in India
  3. MBA Reading List
  4. MBA France
  5. Nottingham SFL
  6. Sheffield MBA
  7. Geneva Business School

Insightful Sites

  1. Heavy Metal Umlaut
  2. Media Hub
  3. Social Simulations
  4. MyShowcase
  5. Tony Hirst
  6. Innovation Development in Brighton
  7. Myers Briggs
  8. Omaha EFX
  9. JFV Google Profile
  10. Top Web 2.0 Websites
  11. Top 10 Social Networking Sites
  12. Ning
  13. orkut
  14. Alexa – traffic metrix

Digital Marketing Courses

  1. Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing
  2. Digital Marketing Strategy
  3. iMedia Connections


  1. Art Pad


  1. Engestrom
  2. My Mind Bursts
  3. E-Assessment
  4. Design Models & Theories
  5. Phoebe
  6. Performance, Leadership, Learning & Knowledge
  7. EAGLEMAN on neuroscience
  8. Instructional Design Knowledge Base
  9. Sue Bennet – UOW


  1. Lewes Computer Guy
  2. Digital Chalk Face
  3. Trevor Cook
  4. John Seely Brown
  5. Doug Chow
  6. Introduction to the OU Business School
  7. Jo Salter Fighter Pilot OU Student
  8. TED Margaret Wortheim
  9. SEO Refuge







‘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.

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