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ONE: Sunrise across the North Sea from the Point, Beadnell
I’m up before dawn. There are stars still in the sky as I head from Beadnell Village along the sea wall road to the fishermen’s harbour. I clamber over the rocks onto the Point to catch the sun as it appears around 8H25.
TWO: The 18th century lime kilns and the harbour, medieval in origin and heightened in the late 19th century.
THREE: Hard to pick out using a fish-eye lens across Beadnell Bay to the immediate south, but that is Dunstanburgh Castle in the distance.
FOUR: Dunstanburgh Castle
Why is the way the sun starts and ends the day such a special moment? This last week, wherever I have been up and down and across England the sunrise and sunsets have been fabulous. From the point on Beadnell Bay on the northern edge of the Northumberland coast, to the Cotswolds and home on the south Sussex coast.
The Point was used for Bronze Age burials and also for early Christian worship. Is the clear view of the sun from rise to fall part of the reason for this?
Fig.1 The pebbles on the rock beach, Beadnell, Northumberland
Head down to watch you step on slippery rocks gives you the chance to hunt for treasure. As a boy I returned home with interesting stones and fossils. Forty years on I see what could be a piece of ripening fruit, an ammonite and a stone covered in tiny balls of frozen water which won’t last ten minutes in the late December son.
Fig.1 The sea racing in along rock fissures on the easterly facing pebble and rock beaches of Beadnell
This fingers of seaweed covered rock are a short walk from the cottage where we stayed every Easter and Summer from as early as I can remember. Age seven or eight I was usually off on my own or with friends to hunt through the rock pools at low tide or to fish. I lost a rod around here and had to make a snap decision: enter the weed to try and retrieve it, or accept the lost. I accepted the loss. A boy growing up around here has considerable respect for the evil of the sea, its depth and desire to cling you in.
Fig.1 Dunstanburgh Castle from Beadnell Bay at dusk this morning
Fig.2 The tide coming in across The Point, Beadnell at sun up.
Fig.3 Something I never knew about The Point where I played as a child.
Fig.4 The sea pushing in through fissures between the rocks and pools
Fig.5. The low cliffs, fingers of rock and pools where I scrambled.
Fig.6 A drain that intrigued me age 5, or 6 or 7. In a storm the waves came up through it.
This was my playground until the age of 11 or 12. Easter, Summer and even half-term and weekends were spent here. Just two walks forty years later and the smell of wet sand in the dunes takes me back to being a boy – easy to scrambled around the dunes when you are seven. The rocks, the different textures under foot, the mesmerising waves that approached closer along the rocks as the tide came in, the birds and occasional seal, the Longstone Lighthouse always flashing its presence in the distance.
The foghorn lulled me to sleep. The noise of waves constantly crashing on the rocks changes from the loud chatting of people before the curtain goes up, to a jet coming into land … it rumbles gently, or angrily according to its mood (and yours).
Yesterday I had the briefest of conversations with someone who had a deep Northumbrian accent that sounds like Norweigian spoken with an English accent.
Somehow had left two unfinished cups of coffee and a big of a burger on the stonewall above the rocks. I carried it for 15 minutes until I found a bin. The flotsam is different to forty years ago: red bull and a body board.
Fig.1 The Point, Beadnell, Northumberland. Sunrise, 28th December 2014
This morning I set off on a tour of my childhood holiday destination, the Northumberland fishing village of Beadnell; age something to 11 this is where we spent every Easter and Summer, many half-terms and weekends too.
Fig. 2. The rocks, looking north east from Beadnell Village towards the Farnes Islands and the Longstone Lighthouse.
I grew up amongst the rocks, the pools, on the shingle and grit beaches and walking and exploring the sandy bay, dunes, 18th century lime kilns and ancient harbour. A visit once a decade brings back found memories of fishing around in pools exposed by the retreating tide, collecting fossils, clambering on low cliffs, fishing off the harbour wall, playing ‘kick the can’ in the dunes, making dams in the water outfly halfway around the bay, the ‘quick sand’ around the mouth of the river and sliding down sandy dunes.
I see our cottage, learning to ride a bike, my father’s keys locked in the car, roses up the side of the house, my grandfather in the shed making toy boats, my mother in the kitchen cooking shrimps …
Forty five years ago.
Little things come to mind: the different texture of pebbles, grit, sand, cliff-top grass to the feet. The fingers that jut into the north sea are made from volcanic rock.
Fig. 3 The ‘Point’ Beadnell.
The memories of jelly fish dead on the beach, of eating crabs being landed by fisherman very early on a summer’s morning, their net sheds, the clanking of halyards on sailing dinghies now gone – no boats in moored in the bay where once there were too long rows, many of the dune now thick with gorse designed to protect them. A noisy place now quiet.
Fig.4 The public footpath from the beach caravan park across fields to Beadnell Village.
I pass through a ‘kissing gate.’ Age six or so I was told that one also kissed when passing through such a gate, and for decades after I enforced this culture on others: kiss the person behind as you pass through the gate.
Walking through the old village I turn away from the tiny cemetery by the church under the rookery as it spooked me as a boy and it spooks me now.
Fig.5 The view to the old harbour and lime kilns, Beadnell Bay at low tide. Dusk. 28th December 2014.
Digital content, like its liquid equivalent in a digital ocean, has an extraordinary ability to leak out.
Fig.1. Gordon Bell, ready for action – lifelogging for a decade
The biggest problem with lifelogging as it is conceived of by Gordon Bell (2009) is that the camera points away from the protagonist rather than at them.
Far better the record of the person’s facial expressions as they go about their daily business as an indication of what is going on their minds – which is otherwise impossible to suggest unless a running commentary is offered. Though of course, the contribution of the running commentary, let alone the wearing of the device and its being on changes the record. This cannot therefore be an objective documentary record, as if a zoological research study. And then, what do you legally do with images you get not just outside, but inside the someone’s house.
This content is implicitly for private and singular consumption only, but it would pick up images that others could use in illicit ways.
Fig. 2. The Point, Beadnell. A memory forever for my encounters with nature on this stick of rock pointing into the North Sea.
Digital content, like its liquid equivalent in a digital ocean, has an extraordinary ability to leak out.
I don’t believe Bell’s attitudes regarding privacy are headed for extinction, but some people will choose to keep as much as possible private while others will go to great lengths to expose and disclose everything – in both situations there is for better and for worse. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 p. 213)
If 10,000 asthmatics revealed their health related lifelog in real time how soon would researchers be able to act on this? If alcoholics wore a lifelog would their drinking stop and certainly drink-driving be over forever? What a field day psychologists would have and what they would learn about all kinds of things such as depression, bipolar or ADHD.
Bell introduces us to a Speechome where a couple have turned their house in the set of the TV show Big Brother, with cameras everywhere. (Bell and Gemmel 2006. p. 114)
Their son hasn’t had a choice – there is a ‘total record’ of his development over this period. Is it right to use your own child in this way? And can a record such as this be called a ‘corpus’ ? It isn’t a scientific study, just a CCTV record. This is where Bell’s language is, throughout, skewed in favour of the system and methodologies he is expounding. He would do far greater justice to his actions if his record where the subject of academic study, the publication of peer review and therefore the release to academics of the record he has kept. Someone will volunteer this if he won’t.
Part of our era is the sharing and connectivity of information and the way it is transformed through collective experience and comment … even trailblasing many others to do the same.
Fig. 3 Stephen Gough the bloke who refused to put any clothes on – anywhere, ever. A form of obsession.
There is a character from Scotland who insists on living his life naked.
He is consequently arrested repeatedly. It strikes me, I’m afraid that Gordon Bell might be evangelical about being naked … but will keep his clothes on. Like an omnivore selling the virtues of veganism, while eating everything under the sun. Or will Bells 10/15 year lifelog be released to researchers on his death?
‘Most of us are well along the path to outsourcing our brains to some form or e-memory’. Bell says (2009. p 119).
Should we scrutinise this for some scientific value? ‘Most of us …’ meaning?
From a study of 1000, or 2000 people.
Who, where do they live, what is their educational background?
Their access to digital kit and networks? Are they representative of the 6 billion on the planet, or just a community of Silicon Valley Computer engineers? ‘Most of us … ‘ implies that this could be the self-selecting readership of the book. Who would read it if they could empathise? ‘Well along the path’ implies that already there is a groundswell, a desired adoption of these kinds of technologies.
On what basis is this to be believed?
Are there are number of ‘diffusion of innovation’ studies current in order to measure this? What is the benchmark? What are the parameters of the path?
‘Our brains’ – by what definition either ‘ours’ or even ‘brains’.
A living organ cannot be outsourced can it? This isn’t like making a donation to a sperm bank. There is no means to store any component of our brains nor has anything more that a gallery of images or a storage space for documents yet been developed. There is no electronic memory. Even if you want to call a relational database on a hard drive an e-memory it cannot be – no amount of juggling the electronic pack of cards will turn an audio file, a still image or video into the memory. Indeed, the only possible association with a memory is when someone looks at them and a memory forms in their mind – and what is more, anyone at all, looking at or hearing or viewing these records will also form memories. i.e. they are the enablers of memory recall, or thought creation, they are a catalyst, but they can never be the memory.
- Automatically Augmenting Lifelog Events Using Pervasively Generated Content from Millions of People (mymindbursts.com)
- My Self-Portrait. Now I get Van Gogh. (grandmaeileensvintage.wordpress.com)
- Can Lifelogging Devices Augment Our Memories? (techonomy.com)
- Lifelogging and Self Quantization : the good and the bad (gelnior.wordpress.com)
- “Skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.” (mymindbursts.com)
- The reality is that our digital world long ago washed over the concept of a e-memory. (mymindbursts.com)
- The memory is the mind process happening in your brain, it can never be the artefact that plays back footage of an experience. (mymindbursts.com)