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Fig. 1. Hands by Escher.
The danger is for it to become one’s modus operandi, that the act of gathering is what you become. I recall many decades ago, possibly when I started to keep a diary when I was 13, a documentary – that can no doubt now be found on the Internet – on a number of diarists. There were not the well-known authors or celebrity politicians, but the obscure keeper of the heart beat, those who would toil for two hours a day writing about what they had done, which was to edit what they’d written about the day before … if this starts to look like a drawing by Escher then perhaps this illustrates how life-logging could get out of hand, that it turns you inside out, that it causes implosion rather than explosion. It may harm, as well as do good. We are too complex for this to be a panacea or a solution for everybody. A myriad of book, TV and Film expressions of memory, its total recall, false recall, falsehoods and precisions abound. I think of the Leeloo in The Fifth Element learning about Human Kind flicking through TV Channels.
Fig. 2. Leeloo learns from TV what the human race is doing to itself
Always the shortcut for an alien to get into our collective heads and history. Daryl Hannah does it in Splash too. Digitisation of our existence, in part or total, implies that such a record can be stored (it can) and retrieved in an objective and viable way (doubtful). Bell (2009) offers his own recollections, sci-fi shorts and novels, films too that of course push the extremes of outcomes for the purposes of storytelling rather than seeking more mundane truth about what digitization of our life story may do for us.
Fig. 3. Swim Longer, Faster
There are valid and valuable alternatives – we do it anyway when we make a gallery of family photos – that is the selective archiving of digital memory, the choices over what to store, where to put it, how to share then exploit this data. I’m not personally interested in the vital signs of Gordon Bell’s heart-attack prone body, but were I a young athlete, a competitive swimmer, such a record during training and out of the pool is of value both to me and my coach. I am interested in Gordon Bell’s ideas – the value added, not a pictorial record of the 12-20 events that can be marked during a typical waking day, images grabbed as a digital camera hung around his neck snaps ever 20-30 seconds, or more so, if it senses ‘change’ – gets up, moves to another room, talks to someone, browses the web … and I assume defecates, eats a meal and lets his eyes linger on … whatever takes his human fancy.
How do we record what the mind’s eye sees?
How do we capture ideas and thoughts? How do we even edit from a digital grab in front of our eyes and pick out what the mind is concentrating on? A simple click of a digital camera doesn’t do this, indeed it does the opposite – it obscure the moment through failing to pick out what matters. Add sound and you add noise that the mind, sensibly filters out. So a digital record isn’t even what is being remembered. I hesitate as I write – I hear two clocks. No, the kitchen clock and the clicking of the transformer powering the laptop. And the wind. And the distant rumble of the fridge. This is why I get up at 4.00am. Fewer distractions. I’ve been a sound engineer and directed short films. I understand how and why we have to filter out extraneous noises to control what we understand the mind of the protagonist is registering. If the life-logger is in a trance, hypnotized, day dreaming or simply distracted the record from the device they are wearing is worse than an irrelevance, it is actually a false cue, a false record.
Fig. 4. Part of the brain and the tiniest essence of what is needed to form a memory
Mind is the product of actions within a biological entity. To capture a memory you’d have to capture an electro-chemical instance
across hundreds of millions of synapses.
Fig. 5. Diving of Beadnell Harbour, 1949. My later mother in her teens.
An automatically harvested digital record must often camouflage what might have made the moment a memory. I smell old fish heads and I see the harbour at Beadnell where as a child fisherman brought in a handful of boats every early morning. What if I smell old fish as I take rubbish to recycle? Or by a bin down the road from a fish and chip shop. What do my eyes see, and what does my mind see?
I love the messiness of the human brain – did evolution see this coming?
In ‘Delete’ Mayer-Schönberger (2009. p. 1) suggests that forgetting, until recently was the norm, whereas today, courtesy of our digital existences, forgetting has become the exception. I think we still forget – we don’t try to remember phone numbers and addresses as we think we have them in our phone – until we wipe or lose the thing. In the past we’d write them down, even make the effort to remember the things. It is this need to ‘make an effort’ to construct a memory that I fear could be discombobulated. I’m disappointed though that Mayer-Schönberger stumbles for the false-conception ‘digital natives’ – this is the mistaken impression that there exists a generation that is more predisposed and able than any other when it comes to all things digital. Kids aren’t the only ones with times on their hands, or a passion for the new, or even the budget and will to be online. The empirical evidence shows that the concept of a digital native is unsound – there aren’t any. (Jones et al, 2010., Kennedy et al, 2009., Bennet and Maton, 2010., Ituma, 2011) The internet and digital possibilities have not created the perfect memory. (Mayer-Schönberger 2009. p. 3)
To start with how do we define ‘memory’ ?
A digital record is an artefact, it isn’t what is remembered at all. Indeed, the very nature of memory is that it is different every time you recall a fact or an event. It becomes nuanced, and coloured. It cannot help itself.
Fig. 6. Ink drops as ideas in a digital ocean
A memory like drops of ink in a pond touches different molecules every time you drip, drip, drip. When I hear a family story of what I did as a child, then see the film footage I create a false memory – I think I remember that I see, but the perspective might be from my adult father holding a camera, or my mother retelling the story through ‘rose tinted glasses’.
Fig. 7. Not the first attempt at a diary, that was when I was 11 ½ .
I kept a diary from March 1973 to 1992 or so. I learnt to write enough, a few bullet points in a five year diary in the first years – enough to recall other elements of that day. I don’t need the whole day. I could keep a record of what I read as I read so little – just text books and the odd novel. How might my mind treat my revisiting any of these texts? How well and quickly would it be recalled? Can this be measured? Do I want it cluttering the front of my brain?
Eyes & Ears campaign. Encouraging corporate responsibility and reporting incidents and events. Video, Events, Regional TV & Press.
I love what I do and from every angle want to be an effective communicator blending intelligence and ideas with video and social media to get the job done. It’s become akin to live theatre: you can measure success or failings with bums on seats, their applause or otherwise, comments, feedback and participation.
If they’re with you they’ll even do the job for you, spreading the good word and generating compelling content.
My response to this? Don’t get in their way! Can this be intellectualised?
Not only can everything be taught, but cause and effect should be analysed and written up so that through reflection and sharing with colleges you learn to improve and adapt the narrative of your actions.
I have one more module to gain an MA in Open & Distance Learning too; why this? Because learning is an effect, it demonstrates an ability to pass on and develop skills, ideas and knowledge.
Because we can’t help ourselves, it’s how we humans progress.
The day job, studying and 8-12 hours online: how do I do it? It makes me tick. A decade ago I shared a thought in my blog, suggesting that I kept a diary, journal, log, blog, photo journal, scrap book, garage full of junk in order to prove that I am alive (that I was here).
If I can be harnessed to a good cause and earn a living from it too, all the better.
As a social media manager am I first flute, composer or conductor?
With direct experience working in an organisation of 4,000+ and in our faculty the only Social Media Manager and person with a social media and online communications remit I have good reason to reflect on the way the role of ‘Social Media’ is changing.
The one man band metaphor falls down when you consider the number, size, scale and volume of the ‘instruments’ this bandoliers must play. Decades ago Roy Castle set a Guinness Book of Record by playing x different instrument in a set period of time. (Done live on Blue Peter in the late 1960s or early 1970s perhaps?). It can be like that.
Is the ‘Jack of All Trades’ the answer?
That depends on the kind of results you want. To stretch the metaphor we are yet to see the full philharmonic orchestra as an in-house social media team, though this might be what the large agencies offer. Those where social media is crucial, I’ve seen it at the FT, I would say they are moving towards the ‘chamber orchestra’ model: they have to, everything is going on line and opinion, not news, is the currency.
Where does this leave education? We shall see.
How much can you learn simply by join a group, say in Linkedin?
You listen, you learn, you take guidance. You may offer some initial thoughts. Slowly and vicariously, depending on your motivation and skill set, you become more engaged, from the periphery you gravitate towards and are drawn to the centre of things. It may take two or three years (or months) and you find yourself considered to be a voice, an opinion maker, a leader. Are you?
What makes the Digital Scholar?
I’ll find out as I aim to complete an MA in Open and Distance Education and am increasingly inclined to press on with an OU MBA too, as I currently take one of the modules. Mostly online, it could all be online. I share it all, empty my head into a blog each night and thus share my progress (or lack of progress) with a broad and eclectic mix of fellow students (undergraduates and graduates) … and the occasional academic.
We live in interesting times.
You may know the story of Romulus & Remus, brought up by a she-wolf on the hills above the River Tiber, they were the founders of Rome, though only one would give the city their name.
One day, looking down at the Tiber the brother’s decided to found a great city. They agreed to build a wall encircling a piece of promising land and to do so separately, starting opposite each other, at a distance and meeting in the middle.
Romulus builds his wall low and makes quick progress laying out a great arc that heads towards his brother Remus. Remus builds as high as a man, his wall is tall, but progress away from the River is slow.
Eventually the two Walls meet. Remus cannot contain his mirth at his brother’s low wall and mockingly starts to jump over it back and forth. Unable to contain his anger Romulus picks up a shovel and knocks his brother across the head as he makes another leap.
Social media is like founding Rome; you can steadily drip, drip content and news like Romulus or you can build high and make an impact like Remus. Both approaches have their merits, on the one hand having and maintaining a presence while on the other doing something ‘big’.
If only one person is faced with the task of ‘building Rome’ what should they do? Already I see the need for two people and two roles, the first, the ‘low wall’ is the website that is a consistent presence, not simply static web pages, but blog-like where visitors contribute content and share what is there. The ‘high wall’ are the events, or highlights, from commissioned videos or iTunes, to live forums and Webinars. Neither should be seen as exclusive to the Internet, like the wall that surrounds Rome, web presence should be seen as part of the real world integrated with open days and events, mail outs by post or email, PR and traditional advertising too.
I find as I read David Waller’s biography of strongman Eugen Sandow that its relevance a century on is profound: it touches on fame, fortune and celebrity, advertising, entrepreneurship, showmanship, self-publicity, branding and networking, as well as British Empire and our relations with Europe, The US and the ‘colonies’.
No doubt Sandow would have done movies (and appears in a pre-1900clip). He is part Arnold Schwarzenegger, part Simon Cowell or Rod Hull and Emu both Michael Ballentine and Richard Branson. It’s a read not merely for those who operate leisure centres and gyms, but also successful athletes and their agents, franchisees, and soft drinks companies, ad and PR agents and events companies. You’ve got to exploit what you’ve got while you have your admirers.
It should even interest body builders, sports coaches and anyone whose lifestyle includes fitness. And add in the British Army for good measure.
Homosexuality, parenting, the state of the nation’s health and what today would be called ‘wellness’. With Waller there is always the sense of a well read mind and a well exercised pen. I happen to have read HGWell’s Tono-Bungay, but this to me suggests that David is as much an historian as an English scholar, as he does in EH Carr’s words ‘read on a period until you can hear its people speak’. The context of profound ante-German sentiment leading up to The Great War is touched upon and handled well. Indeed, there are occasional phrases or words than give the sense that the author is sitting in his study in his Edwardian smoking Jacket smoking a cigar.
This and I’ve added half a dozen new words to my vocabulary.
There’s no science behind any expression of how we learn or how we communicate – how this occurs online can be hijacked by a myriad of metaphors from leaves to digital oceans.
All I’m trying to do here is share with others my take on social media and a simple impression of how it is different from ‘old media’ in that the communications comes from within an organisation lopping off the middle men and the hierarchies that can get in the way.
Here’s another one I tried
Do please say what you think or other a sketch of your own.