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Sir Douglas Haig’s Great Push
Whilst specialist second hand book shops may from
time to time have specific books or partwork on the First World
War, today one off reprints from digitized catalogues make it
increasingly possible for the amateur hsitorian to research online
then purchase a book that interests them and have it infront of
them in a day or two. It may not have the look or feel of something
that would otherwise be over 90 years old, but its contents are
nonetheless fascinating. Reading a variety of sources has become
like switching channels. In time I have spent writing this I was
able to locate an eBook that ident is som of the combatants and
reer to it directly myself. ‘The Great Push’ makes extensive use of
stills or ‘grabs’ from film footage shot by Geoffrey Malins of the
Battle of the Somme. Partworks such as these fed an understandable
hunger for insight and news, whilst the hidden agenda of seeking
support for the conflict and its justification is obvious from the
ebullient language. With 50th, 90th and now the 100th anniversary
if these events upon us new generations of historians and amateur
sleuths are able to add yet more to the images, both still and
moving, that were captured at the time. As well as revisiting and
identifying the spot where a picture was taken, every effort is
made to identify any of those featured in the pictures. With the
power of tens of thousands via the Internet it is reasomable to
believe, that even 95 or more years on that yet more combatants
will be named and in so doing, as the relevant archives are so
readily available, to say who more of these people are – where they
were born and went to school, where they worked and where they
joined up, what service they have seen to date and how the war pans
out for them. The national habit has been to remember those who
died in combat, but of course all are now dead and the opportunity
therefore exists to remember a generation, not only those who took
a direct part, but those on ‘the home front’ who faced their own
trials and tribulations. I believe it is in this spirit that the
BBC is marking the events of 100 years ago.
Keep died on the 17th July 1917 in the Ypres,
Salient. He was 24. As we can identify him, we can surely provide the names of his platoon and in doing so might others look through newspapers as well as their own family photographs to see if more names can bedpntdtocfacesc97 or more years after the event?
Not only do you often come across images taken from the film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ that make false claims to their content, but authors try to confer their copyright to the material. Whilst it was common practice of the times to quite crudely add black or white highlights to a photograph in an attempt to improve clarity. In an era of Photoshop these efforts look clunky.
How the Open University created a hunger in a group of mature students
Sitting in a lecture hall with 20 mature students … or rather during a half hour break I am sleeping along the seats in the back row …. I learn that 7 of the 20 are recent OU graduates. This includes me. 5 Are from History enthusiastically sharing stories of their favourite modules, while a 6th is from the OU Business School and I am from the MAODE.
Two things are agree on:
Never dish the OU platform until you know what others provide. Why can’t all universities be like this. They are not.
Why isn’t there a proper, catch all, induction to set usstraight on assignment writing techniques and process, so including references. Most of us said it took two or three modules before we understood what was required.
We’re someowhere other than the OU because the OU has failed to offer a module on the First World War. How come as the centenary approaches? Or will it all be OpenLearn with the BBC and Imperial War Museum?
Does exposure in the sense of ‘open’ learning work?
Fig. 1. what collaboration online looks like? Activity theory meets neuroscience. This could be many heads knocking together, or the internal workings inside one.
I’m getting a sense of deja vu as the rhythm of H818 reveals itself. I’m doing the Open University module H818:The Networked Practitioner. It runs until Jan 2014.
Openness comes with caveats. It is not everyone’s cup of tea.
As people we adjust our behaviour in different environments. I am not saying that we necessarily behave in the same way in an Open Studio online (a virtual studio no less) than we do or would in an open studio, as in a collective in a workshop or ‘atlier’ that is ‘exposed’ to fellow artists in the physical world, but wherever we are ‘open’, in the physical or virtual worlds, we are nonetheless prone to human interaction with all the usual undercurrents.
For all those busy exposing themselves, the easiest default position, someone – ‘one’ being the key word, has the door closed and is getting on with the job without the distraction of others. Is achievement and success of necessity a lonely, not a ‘connected’ activity? You can do the networking once you have a product to sell or a well formed opinion to share … otherwise this is nothing more than ‘chatting’ in the First World War sense of the word – idol banter to pass the time between periods of conflict.
What I believe will not work is to put a gaggle of creators in the same room and expect them to collaborate. The studios of the ‘open’ type that I am aware of are either the classic Rennaisance workshop with a master artist and apprentices at various stages of their own development, or, with a similar dynamic in operation, the ‘occupants’ of a studio, or business unit cum workshop, are exposed LESS to each other and more to external commentators and contributors. This requires some formality to it .i.e. not simply ‘the person off the street’ but an educator/moderator in their own right.
It also helps if people have parricular skills sets that when combined work together – as in a team producing a film.
Is H818:The Networked Practitioner too dependent on chance? The foibles of a small cohort of postgraduate students with little in common and complete strangers … and the complex, messy, moments ‘we’ are each in. Actions differ between those who have had the course paid for by their institution, those who are doing it out of their own pocket for career advancement which requires the degree and anyone in it ‘for the love of it’ – with full-time employment, part-time employment or retirement, and any number of other commitments that colour participation and attitudes.
Over three years of this and, by chance only, surely … six of us strangers in a subgroup jelled. More often the silence and inactivity of the majority makes ‘group work’ a myth – partnerships of two or three were more likely. The only exception I have come across in the ‘real world’ have been actors working together on an improvisation – they have been trained however to disassociate their natural behaviours. The reasons why that ‘six’ worked has been a topic I have returned to often – team dynamic, spread around the globe on different time zone, all experienced practitioners and typically on our second or third OU module … digitally literate, socially networked …
Some of us study with the OU as we cringe at the ‘exposure’ of a course that requires us to meet in the flesh – distance learning suits, to some degree, the lone worker who prefers isolation.
By way of revealing contrast I am a tutor at the School of Communication Arts – a modest though pivitol role given their format and philosophy – exposure to many hundreds of kindred spirits who have been there … a sounding board and catalyst. NOT a contributor, but more an enabler.
We’ll see. My thinking is that to be effective, collaboration or exposure needs to have structure, discipline and formality. Of course this is or should be exactly what the ‘Open Studio’ platform provides. But like a restaurant, however lovely the decor, if the place is empty no one will be eating the food.
At the Brighton Arts Festival the other evening I wonder how the 80 odd exhibtors would cope if the Cornexchange was also their workshop? In certain, vulnerable environments, the only comment should be praise. Feedback is invited from those who are trusted.
A school setting is different again, as is college … people share the same space because they have to.
Open Studio apears to try to coral the feedback that comes anyway from a connected, popular and massive sites such as WordPress, Linkedin Groups, Facebook and even Amazon. Though the exposure, if you permit it, is tempered and negotiated – Facebook is gentle amongst family and friends, Linkedin is meterd and professional in a corporate way, WordPress is homespun while Amazon, probably due to the smell of money, can be catty – and in any case, the artefact is a done deal it’s not as if, to take a current example, Max Hastings is going to rewrite his book on the First World War because some in the academic community say that it is weak historicaly and strong only on journalistic anecdote. Some of the reviews read like they were posted by a PR department, not a person. Another story, but can we smell a rat as easily in the virtual as in the physical world?
The nature of learning – through travel, online, face to face … and in your head
I love to travel, not just on holiday with friends and family, but alone. Maybe this happens to you too, but I always find travel, especially new trips and destinations, are a catalyst to reflection.
All I did was take the first train out of Lewes to spend the day at the University of Birmingham.
Two things come to mind that shook my brain: St. Pancras International … and, sounding like a commercial, Virgin Trains. Although the train was quiet two people came through the train to collect rubbish … as bubbly as buttons. Four times. The toilets were spotless. All in very sharp contrast to Southern Trains out of London where everything was overflowing …
St.Pancras International reminds me of the first time I stood in Gar du Nords, Paris and looked up at destinations that included Moscow. Inside and out St.Pancras says that travel is a ‘grand adventure’.
I last studied ‘lecture style’ 31 years ago, yet I have signed up for one of these while I continue my learning journey online with the Open University through all the Master of Arts in Open and Distant Education (MA ODE) modules.
Learning is learning – it neither takes place online or off. It is in your head. It is what the brain is given a chance to do with it that counts.
I can now weigh up the two as I study in two very different ways in parallel.
There is of course ‘blended learning’ too that in a planned way mixes up both use of e-learning and face to face.
The key to successful use of elearning, offline or blended is the same of course – ‘planned’.
I met a fellow student on the MA in British First World War studies who, like me, has just completed a degree with the Open University (OU). He has a BA in History, while I now have the MA ODE. We immediately began to share notes on this ‘new’ experience of making our way to and now being physically present in the senior common room of a faculty on a traditional campus – Birmingham doesn’t look the way it sounds … (Forgive me Birmingham but you have a reputation, which isn’t for grand Victorian buildings and exciting architectural ‘super builds’).
The OU is of ourse ‘open’ to anyone – online learning makes formal learning possible for any of us who either need to stay in one place, or, by contrast, are always on the move. People who need significant flexibility in how they manage their time … and don’t want the cost in time and money to get to a place for a tutorial, seminar, lecture or conference. And people who ‘don’t get on with people’ – not just agrophobia … you know what I mean.
Nothing beats getting to know your fellow students than spending a day with them, during coffee and comfort breaks, at lunch, walking through the campus, in seminar rooms before a talk begins … and on the way home when you find part of your journey is shared. Online attempts to ‘get to know each other’ can be spurious exercises in sharing trivia about pets and holidays. Actually, you can get to know eachother by talking about what you are here to do – the subject matter.
Relationships formed online are akin to a long distance phone call, or letters to a stranger, even, oddly, having a chat with the postman or a builder … you let them into your house.
And your head?
The communismization of knowledge and Open Educational Resources
Fig.1. I like spirals. Thirty years ago this was just a photo. For me it is an expression of what learning looks like. (I think this is St.John’s College, Boat House – or is it Balliol?)
At the base are the undergraduates, the first years, as you climb the steps you find the second and third years, then the middle common room the MA and D.Phil students while at the top are the lecturers, senior lecturers and professors.
And when you die they raise a flag.
In 1983 (or was in 1982?) this was the epitome of ‘closed learning’ – the Oxford College boat house.
Not so much ‘dreaming spires’ as ‘dreaming spirals’.
- It was a privilege, but like many of these I’ve been either in denial or trying to shake them off for the best part of 25 years.
- ‘Je suis comme je suis, je suis faite comme ca’ (Jacques Prevert)
- And there’s no going back.
I was up at 4.03am. Back to bed at 6.15am. Then up again 20 minutes ago.
- My body was tired, my head continued to buzz.
Regarding ‘Open Learn’ what’s all this fretting about process for?
Have we all forgotten the purpose of research????
Not ‘how?’ but ‘why?’
Why? Why? Why?
We are seeking answers, not trying to construct a bridge across the English Channel with chopsticks and bendy-straws.
Not to get the process right, but to get answers to problems, to find better ways, to understand and share what is going on so that we can act, or not act on it?
Sometimes I read an academic paper and it is all about the process.
Too often I write an assignment and it has to be written to be marked – not to generate ideas. In fact, my finest few hours, a total End of Module Assignment rewrite was a disaster for a set of marks but is my theory and philosophy of what learning is. It was the culmination of months of work, years even. Expressed somewhere like the School of Communication Arts I would have had the attention of eyes and ears.
Fig.2. Submitted as the hypothesis for an End of Module Assignment the grade was catastrophic – it is of the module, but the examiners didn’t have a grid filled with the appropriate crumbs that would permit them to ‘tick the boxes’. (I did submit more than the image, 6ft high and drawn on a sheet of backing wallpaper).
Creativity doesn’t fair well in a process driven system, either in research or in marking assignments.
This isn’t an excuse regarding a grade or the need and value of process drive, guideline controlled, parameter set research, but rather a cry for some ‘free thinking’ the ‘parcours’ of mental agility and expression.
Fig.3 The cliffs below Roche de Mio, La Plagne
There is value in going off piste.
It isn’t even the democratisation of education and knowledge either, it is the Tim Berners-Lee rather than the Google approach to knowledge – i.e. give it away for free.
It is ‘communismization’ – which is a word, however horrible it sounds, I just looked it up.
This moves me onto dwelling on Creative Commons.
If the idea of openness is to give it away for free what is the reward for the author? Recognition as the author. However, I get the feeling that unless it is published some readers think they can help themselves to the ideas and words of others and claim them as their own.
There will always be theft, but as children aren’t we told that for someone to copy your ideas is a compliment?
We need to behave like the children we still are.
But does even that matter in an open society – theft of intellectual property I mean?
If the spreading of the word is all important should any of us give a fig?
If we have a roof over our heads, food and water, electricity to charge the iPad, the BBC … a health service like the NHS what more can we want?
- Better schools.
- Better roads.
- Better weather.
‘Peace on earth and good will to humankind’.
A better word needs to be found for what is meant by ‘communismization’.
Is is just ‘communization’?
- Is it simply ‘open’?!
- ‘Open’ might do.
As the air we breathe …
P.S. I worked the season in Val d’Isere in my gap year and returned a decade later and stayed in La Plagne from December to May researching a book and a couple of documentaries for Oxford Scientific Films. None saw the light of day, though after several weeks thinking about it I came down that cliff face. I made a big mistake by slowing down at the edge and nearly didn’t have enough distance to clear the rocks. I no longer have a death wish. And it wasn’t even fun. It focused the mind though. In fact, the best way to stop yourself thinking about other stuff is to take such risks. Racing Fireballs in the English Channel has its appeal – I have a tendency to end up in the spinnaker or under the hull though.
- Web Inventor Tim Berners Lee Shares £1m Prize (news.sky.com)
- Fostering Creativity – The Use of Open Educational Resources (classroom-aid.com)
- Tim Berners-Lee: The Web needs to stay open, and Gopher’s still not cool. (boingboing.net)
- Tim Berners-Lee: ‘You can do anything with a computer that you can imagine’ (venturebeat.com)
- Inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee says web neutrality crucial (radionz.co.nz)
- What I wish Tim Berners-Lee understood about DRM (guardian.co.uk)
Where do I stand academically? Where and what next? And the madness of being.
Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) with the Open University, UK (OU)
H800: Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates
H807: Innovations in eLearning – Learning outcomes
H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students
B822: Creativity, Innovation and Change
H808: The e-learning professional
This completes the Masters Degree. I graduate on Saturday 27th April 2013
Currently (March 2013) I am taking H809 as a bridge towards doctoral research or professional consultancy. Complete in June 2013.
H809 Practice-based research in educational technology
I joined the #H817open MOOC for one component of this module. I will register for 2014
H817: Openness and innovation in e-learning.
- Why skiing is my metphor for life and learning (mymindbursts.com)
- Martin Weller and the MOOCers (mymindbursts.com)
- Openness in Education WK1 MOOC (mymindbursts.com)
- Making swim coaching a tad easier with SwimTag (mymindbursts.com)
- How to visualise learning – think Lava Lamps! (mymindbursts.com)
- How more deeply embedded is a visual memory if you crafted the drawing or painting that is the catalyst for its recall. (mymindbursts.com)
- No. 5 aha moment: the Web as a universal standard (downes.ca)
How to tell the tragedy of two love stories – the power and construction of memorable narrative
Fig.1.Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria-Hungary – Only son of the Emperor Franz Josef
You are one of the wealthiest and privileged men in the world and likely, by all accounts, to be one of the most powerful men too some day soon, but you are deeply unhappy and married as protocol requires to another European royal.
You are Crown Prince Rudolph of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – wanting for nothing and everything. Your are also crushingly unhappy – the privilege a burden.
Then you fall in love and like royals before you the woman becomes your mistress – two years of bliss are doomed when your father the Emperor demands that it ends. Rather than give each other up you commit suicide, shooting first your 17 year old mistress, then turning the gun on yourself.
Love for a girl and hate for the Empire could only be resolved through violence. The year is 1889.
Fig.2. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, wife the Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg and their children Sophie 13, Max 10 and Ernst 8 c 1914.
Some two decades later your nephew, the heir presumptive since your own death, appears to have it all – a compromise had been found when he refused to give up the woman he wished to marry in 1890. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, stunningly wealthy, happily married to the Countess Sophie Chotek – the woman he loves, with three healthy children, and trained up through his military career to rule would expect to become the next emperor soon – his grandfather the Emperor Franz Josef is now in his 80s.
Then, on the morning of Sunday 28th June 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s misplaced ‘love’ for his subjects and his unquestioning love for his wife puts them both in an open top tourer on a formal visit to the Austro-Hungarian provincial capital of Sarajevo.
Hate looms in the form of the 19 year old Gravilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist, desperately poor, principled, prepared and determined. Under instructions and guidance from the leaders of the radical Serbian terrorist group ‘The Black Hand’ he finds himself positioned on the route the Archduke will take back and forth through Sarajevo with six others – armed and eager to kill.
In their different ways both Franz Ferdinand and Gravilo Princip disliked what the Austro-Hungarian Empire represented and how it behaved – both had ideas of how the problem could be fixed – Franz through compromise and accommodation – he tabled a federation of Austro-Hungarian states in 1906 -while both Count Rudolph at one end of the scale and Princip at the other, both felt that two bullets from a revolver were the pill that wold fix everything when others controlled your life in a way that you found intolerable.
Two world wars later, nearly 50 million dead and conflict only recently resolved in the Balkans and if there is a one word lesson to take from the 20th century it is ‘Diplomacy’.
(Born Aug 24, 1855, died Feb 12, 1944)
My goal is to find a way into this story – my quest might be over.
I’m doing this as an exercise
I’m taking known facts rather than fiction and using the 1939 book ‘Story Writing’ by Edith Ronald Mirrieless as my guide. Narrative is a powerful tool, but compare a factual account, say of the sinking of the Titanic, with the move. Compare too some botched attempts at the telling of the 1914 Sarajevo assassinations where students recall above all else that Gravilo Princip apparently went into a cafe to buy a sandwich when he say the Archduke’s car outside. There is invention and accuracy, but also responsibility to ensure that the facts that matter and can be corroborated are in the story.
The story I tell will be told by the Infant Marie Theresa of Portugal who married Archduke Karl Ludwig a month before her 18th birthday at Kleinheubach on 23 July 1873.
She would have been 32 when Crown Prince Count Rudolph killed himself. Maria Theresa then stood in for the Empress who retired from court life after her son’s death. She carried out honours at the Hofburg Imperial Palace with the Emperor until 1896 and was instrumental in helping her step-son Franz Ferdinand fulfill his desire to marry the Countess Sophie Chotek which he achieved in July 1990.
The following details I sourced from various places and will verify and alter in due course.
It was then Marie Theresa who broke the news of the couple’s death to their children Sophie, Maximilian and Ernst. She also managed to ensure the children’s financial security after telling the Emperor that if he did not grant them a yearly income, she would resign the allowance which she drew as a widow in their favour. (The majority of Franz Ferdinand’s property went to his nephew the Archduke Charles)
When the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed following its defeat in the First World War. After his abdication, Maria Theresa accompanied Karl and his wife Zita into exile in Madeira, but eventually returned to Vienna where she spent the rest of her life.
In 1929, following a decline in her finances, Maria Theresa engaged two agents to sell the Napoleon Diamond Necklace, a piece inherited from her husband, in the United States.
After a series of botched sales attempts, the pair finally sold the necklace for $60,000 with the aid of the grand-nephew of Maria Theresa, the Archduke Leopold of Austria, but he claimed nearly 90% of the sale price as “expenses”. Maria Theresa appealed to the United States courts, ultimately resulting in the recovery of the necklace, the imprisonment of her grand-nephew, and the absconding of the two agents.
Maria Theresa died in Vienna during World War II.
- The first of a million tragic love stories – the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie Chotek (mymindbursts.com)
- My fascination with the First War will only grow as we approach the 100th Anniversary – here is one day to remember (mymindbursts.com)
- World War I Centennial: Austria-Hungary Escalates, Kaiser Convenes War Council (mentalfloss.com)