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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.


On keeping a dream diary


Creative Dreaming

Appearing as a King’s Guard Special in the Walt Disney Movie ‘King Arthur and the Spaceman’. Here with my sister, one of the casting assistants in the courtyard of Alnwick Castle.

I suspect I was introduced to the idea of keeping a dream diary by my older sister in 1976 or 1977, probably from an article in a magazine promoting the work of Patricia Garfield.

As I kept a diary and enjoy exploring what my mind came up with in my dreams I would often write the dreams down, got used to exploring even returning to the dream and have many already online.

Around 2002 I came across a set of 20+ questions to ask yourself when probing for meaning in a dream; I would quote the source if I knew it.

Rather than fill this diary I have generally kept a separate dream diary.


McKim, R.H. (1980) Experiences in Visual Thinking, Belmont, CA, PWS ( Wadworth Inc.) pp 101-3

Garfield, P. (1976) Creative Dreaming, New York, Ballantine, Chapter 8, ‘How to keep your dream diary’.

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)

Can blogging be taught? How do you get people to do it?

Can you teach someone to swim if they won’t get in the water?

What therefore will motivate, drive, persuade, cajole, convince or oblige a.n.other to blog?

I’m seeking advice and help here as I am on a mission to initiate and nurture 12 new bloggers over the next four months. It feels like cheating to go on a quest for those who blog already and call them mine but surely this is the crux of the matter. I can preach to the converted, until then my words will fall on deaf ears.

Invite people to enjoy a variety of successful bloggers to help them find their way? How many do I have listed here? 100+ but where’s the attraction in a list, you need guidance.

Define a blog?

Academics I quote and review here say you can’t. They are beyond simple definition, but ‘electronic paper’ where people spill words, images, video (though not coffee), where they aggregate other people’s content, majestic lists, dumb notes, a writer’s journal, an academic’s draft papers, a student’s e-portfolio.

Is there a role for a blog buddy or blog secretary? I believe Richard Branson has a blog and Twitter double,i.e. He doesn’t write a word of it himself. That would be cheating. I can’t write 12 blogs for other people (even if I write/produce or create some 16+ of my own).

Stuffing in things you’ve already written is fine with me. I call up content from a diary I started in my early teens as well as from 2,000 odd blog entries posted from 1999 to 2004 and the 1000 odd posted since early 2010.

Creative Content for the Web: home pages and online diaries

0nline 1999

I wrote:

Clocks Back and Web Power


1st November 1999

“Writing that is undertaken simply for the writer’s own satisfaction is often self-indulgent and rarely successful.”

I’ve currently got my head buried in “Creative Content for the Web,” by Marc Millon. Most of the notes are elsewhere, but I wanted to pick this quotation out here.

This is what most diary writers are guilty of.

Some of my most readable entries are those which for a v. short period were meant to be read by someone close. As a professional communicator who constantly tells himself and clients to understand then address the audience, am I not guilty of self-indulgence?

More from “Creative Content for the Web.”

I learn that there are over 1 million homepages. The author asks why and imagines the reason, “like Everest, because it is there. Because, quite simply it has become possible to do so. The medium itself has become an extension of our very selves and we have been changed in the process. Indeed, we probably need look no further for the raison d’être of the rise of the Homepage than the fundamental human desire to leave a mark, somewhere, anywhere, to be noticed, indeed to be an individual, not in this age of alienation, a faceless number, an employee, a nobody.

I think back to carving our names on a huge tree at prep school, Mowden Hall in Northumberland, NE England, or on desks at Sedbergh, Cumbria. Graffiti and vandalism no better than painting names on street walls, but in a rural, privileged school setting.

The author goes on to talk about diaries, what now (a few months later) we call online journals. He imagines there could be thousands. There are!

“Web Litter” is an interesting concept too.

Where sites have been left on servers, hopelessly out of date (or unfinished) eating up valuable bandwidth and attracting the attention of robot search engines.

Guided to jennicam, then to various studies of web use, which prove highly practical. There is a better way to do it. The keen online writer who is getting feedback will discover the techniques put forward here. Corporate users, limited to sharing corporate speak should follow these guidelines.

http://www.useit.com concludes that web content needs to be ‘concise, scannable and objective.” Jakob Neilsen.

So do I feel enlightened?

A little learning. Evelyn Waugh (1964)


A little learning. Evelyn Waugh (1964)

Not an e-book, but as soon as I wanted to take notes or share sentences I wish it had been.

(His less famous, though more successful popular novelist brother Alec Waugh writes a far more enjoyable satire of school-days at Shrewsbury ‘The Loom of Youth’. If I wrote about Sedbergh in the 1970s it wouldn’t be satire, it would be an act of war – my only revolution was to leave before Sixth Form at which time the bullied would have had to become the bully).

I bookmark by folding over the corners.

Although the pages were falling out I didn’t highlight or annotate the pages, though I could have pulled the pages out.

I make three notes:

Knox was known to open and oppose the same motion. The point he makes though is that ‘audiences greed for originality is the extraordinary distaste for the obvious.


(All would be downloaded as eBooks where they available. They go to the Kindle so that I can read or listen to the book on one device while taking notes onto the iPad. Is this when reading becomes a learning activity? When you take notes? Or simply when you annotate or highlight the text itself … if you dare do this to a printed book. Anyone shared highlights or notes they have made while or having read a common book? Like an asynchronous book club of the airwaves I guess).

‘You learn, in approaching any subject, to search at once for the point that is new, original, eccentric, not for the plain truth.‘ (Waugh, 1964: 129)

And a note left by a previous reader (my mother, who sent me this book a couple of weeks ago) that reads ‘pity’.

Against Waugh’s line ‘I abandoned my diary on the day I left school and have no source for the following years except inexact memory.’

I didn’t. 36 years later and several million words I wonder what I got myself trapped into.

Some keep saying they want me to stop blogging for a couple of years ‘to finish the book’. I have plenty to say on that too, though Steven Pressfield has the definitive response, ‘resistance’. I say ‘anything but,’ I will fill my life with ‘anything but’ that three-five hours a day of effort in front of a keypad or notepad.

Is memory exact?

My diary is an aide memoire, an impression of the moment that changes all the time.


Waugh, A.E. (1964) A little learning.

I cannot see the value in hereditary he gives to the first chapter, in predetermining the way some turns out, physiologically or psychologically, surely upbringing has more to do with it? He also concentrates on the male professional line. Rather selective? And from our point of view ignorant and sexist?</p

‘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.

One tip to be a successful blogger? Like brushing your teeth. Daily is good, twice a day is better, three times a day shows dedication

The original blog, a log. In this case the log book of a fledgling RAF Fighter Pilot during the First World War. My grandfather in fact. When he transferred from the Machine Gun Corps he was going to the Royal Flying Corps. His skill with a machine-gun, this time in the air, was as much in demand, as his aptitude for engines (his father was a former headcoachman/chauffeur). It helps to have something of interest to write about. Do you?

Achieving a thousand page views for a blog per day takes time if your content is all you’ve got; I’d like to get others up to 10 per day, then a 100; it grows on you.

A thousand takes a year, a decade ago it took a couple of weeks. You had to know what to write, and where to write it. What’s changed?

Here the interest is clear. How are you getting on with your course? What motivates you to keep going? And especially share when you are stumped and about to throw in the towel.

We’ve all been there.

My mistake a decade ago was to do exactly this …

Have reasons to stop, so simply cut off the water. I said nothing to The OU or anyone. I just stopped. Had I shared my dire straits I know the community would have given me a reality check and put me back on my feet.

Some of the blogs featured in my student blog here achieve 10k, even 20k a day. Though these are highly commercialised, linked to the hilt and featured in national and international press.

Andrew Sullivan is the million views a month man.

The ONE thing they all do is so, so, easy to achieve.

Every day. Something. A picture and comment will do. What’s that expression, ‘a penny for your thoughts’ that’s all they do some days. If you want tips on putting pics in here ask, it took me a few months to figure it out … then do something quicker and easier.

Other days of course these mega-bloggers come in with serious commentary and opinion, they take a stance. These are NOT academics, they are citizen journalists with an opinion, a point of view, even a political, cultural, or religious bias. But you know where they stand. That’s the point. It helps to know that you strongly agree, or strongly disagree with these people.

This is where academics stumble, or rather sit on the fence. Academics can’t debate, it is like watching toothless geriatrics argue over a chicken wing that they know neither can bite into.

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.’


On keeping a diary that became a blog

I am one of those people who began a diary age 13 and kept it up pretty much for 16 years … Picking up blogging in 1999 was a natural step used as much to paste in the more memorable events of those 16 years.


The format changed, from five year diary, to hardbook notebooks, to letters to my fiance and mercifully the diary came to an abrupt halt with marriage (going to be bed was no longer a time to take out the pen).


I’m glad I decided to catch-up with the habit when the children were born, so was ready in 1996 and 1998 to blog. And so I blog for another decade.


But was this a reflective diary?


At times it was simply filling the page (first a few lines in one of those Five Year Diary with a lock), then a minimum per day of a page of A4 in a hardback notebook … though for a while as much as I cared to write (e.g. September 1977 or 78 fills an entire arch-lever file).


But was it reflective?

Looking back at these entries (very rare), it is depressing to read about issues and problems that I never resolved, or ambitions that I couldn’t or didn’t fulfil. Perhaps by reading back regularly these diaries would have had reflective, life-adjusting qualities? Rather than the prayers of a godless teenager who was sent to boarding school age 7, escaped for 2 years for A’levels to a day school, then returning to the boarding environment of univeristy.


Was my diary a companion who could only listen?

This is all brought up as a result of reading about the Reflective Diary as a tool for students to consider what they are trying to learn and if they are succeeding. I could say that from a purist’s point of view this sullies the term ‘diary’; I can imagine how dull it would have been for Alan Clarke, Anne Frank or Pepys to have written in such a way (let alone Henry Miller or Anais Nin). But this misses the point, a reflective diary is a tool, a task, like the weekly (or fortnightly) essay.


This from Burgess (2009)

Reflective diaries


There are many ways of keeping these.


* Make a note of something you found interesting in the lecture/seminar.

* Why was it interesting?

* How does it connect with your own life/practice experience?

* How might this inform your practice as a social worker

* How might users benefit from your learning?

* How might your learning add to your understanding of ‘good’ practice


I should look through decades of diaries, some 1.6 million words of it online, and see if I am guilty of an reflection of this nature. I say ‘guilty’ as I would have felt that writing in such a way in my diary (it would have had to be in a separate book) would have sullied the format, a bit like using play acting for education, rather than just for entertainment or writing a lyric for a song that taught safe sex. I would resist the idea of ‘education’ impinging on this side of my existence.


Are we not living in a world though where the barriers between work and home, school and home, colleagues and friends is breaking down?


Where in the same breath in a social networking site you can flip between friends, families, colleagues or fellow students?


Is such an environment like the population of your ideal village?


By Burgess with material adapted from the SAPHE Project (Self Assessment in Professional and Higher Education Project) Burgess, H (n.d.)


Self and Peer Assessment (online), The Higher Education Academy: Social Work and Social Policy (SWAP).

from: http://sorubank.ege.edu.tr/~bouo/DLUE/Chapter-08/Chapter-8-makaleler/Assessment%202_%20Self%20and%20peer%20assessment.htm (accessed 6 August 2010). Tags: assessment learning blog self-assessment burgess reflective diary

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