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Could blogging be seen as a scholarly activity?

This are me thoughts from reading:

An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging for digital scholarship
Heap & Minocha (2012),


Fig.1. Digital Scholarship with a nod to Martin Weller‘s book of the same name. (Created in 2011)

By stripping back the paper what do I learn from this paper:

  • about blogging and digital scholarship
  • about devising the research question(s) and method of research.

This quote from Axcel Bruns is wrong in relation to blogging.

‘Were originally more popular amongst journalism and business context’ Bruns (2007)

In fact, from my experience from 1999 onwards, journalists were highly dismissive and didn’t cotton on to blogging as a valid way to share their opinions for several years. The exception being financial journalism where breaking views on markets were fed, blog like, to subscribers,

Fig.2. An excerpt from my own early blog.

I was reading blogs in 1998, did some Dreamweaver training and if I’d got my head around FTP uploads I may have been up an away in 98 rather than 99 when I heard of Diaryland and joined the platform soon after it started.

Fig.3. An excerpt from a blog created by Claire Z Warnes in 1998

Over the next 4 to 5 years I saw a massive growth and influx of what by modern terms would have been described as journals, creative writing, fantasy, role play and social networking.

Fig.4. How I saw blogging in 1999/2000

I question why bloggers are defined by the institution they are at – the blog is more personal, like the noticeboard at someone’s desk in the bedroom or study, or a diary or journal they carry about with them, whether electronic or paper.

Fig. 5. We should stop seeing blogging in isolation – forms of ‘keeping a journa’, for whatever purposes, is as old a writing itself.

Little is ever mention of a history of keeping diaries, a writer’s journal or other kind of daily record for reflection or in scholarly circles to record the iterative process of a learning journey or a piece of research. John Evelyn was a diarist. Was he scholarly? What about Pepy’s he was keeping an historic record? For whom did Lady Anne Clifford keep a diary if not for an historic, even a legal record, of her rights to her father’s estates? (Lady Anne Clifford kept at a diary late 1500s into the 17th century).

Was Virginia Woolf using herself as the subject of an internal discussion?

What did Anais Nin learn and share about her writing as well as her personal journey, a journey that was shared with Henry Miller and that a couple of decades was taken by the filmmaker Francois Truffaut. As someone who had kept a diary since he was thirteen and had been typing it up and putting on disc for nearly a decade, the move to the web was a natural one.

  • for personal reflection (e.g. Xie, Fengfeng, and Sharma 2008)
  • collaborative working (e.g. McLoughlin and Lee 2008)
  • developing writing skills (e.g. Warschauer 2010)
  • flexible usage of blogs to suit the individual blogger’s needs, such as
  • a space for reflection, to seek peer support, or both (e.g. Kerawalla et al. 2008).

I read blogs and corresponded with writers who were using the format to try out chapters of fantasy novels, to share poetry, to test webdesigns even to meet and indulge in intimate chat, role play and even cybersex. (Early blogs were the forerunners of a lot to come).

Whilst some of this activity isn’t within the parameters of ‘scholarly’ practice, certainly from a creative writing point of view self-publishing was.

From personal experience there were those exploring their personality, who were lonely, depressed or bi-polar.  Most studies in English speaking countries … yet it was presumably going on elsewhere. And where does someone who is using writing in English in a blog to learn English stand in terms of being a student and a scholar?

Defining scholarship in the digital age

Boyer (1990) developed a conceptual framework which defines ‘‘scholarship’’ as a combination of teaching and research activities. In particular, he suggests four dimensions to define scholarship: discovery, integration, application and teaching.

Fig.6. Another excerpt from a blog for young writers created by Claire Z Warnes in 1998 when she was 17 herself.  (I think she went off to study Computer Sciences)

The earliest bloggers played a teaching role, for example Claire Z Warnes set up a series of web pages to encourage and support young writers in 1998. She was teaching, they were exploring through reading, writing and sharing just as if they were meeting face to face in a classroom.

Boyer’s dimensions constitute an appropriate starting point for researching digital scholarship (Weller 2011).

Pearce et al. (2010) elaborated on Boyer’s (1990) model to theorise a form of digital/open scholarship, arguing that it is:

  • more than just using information and communication technologies to research,
  • teach and collaborate,
  • embracing the open values, ideology and potential of technologies born of peer-to-peer networking wiki ways of working in order to benefit both the academy and society.

Which is exactly what Claire Z Warnes (1998) was doing, indeed, as some remaining posts that can be viewed show, it was as if she were becoming the Dean of one of the first online creative writing classes.

In relation to the research here’s the problem that needs to be addressed:

There is a lack of empirical evidence on how the openness and sharing manifested in blogging can influence academia, research and scholarship. (Minocha, p. 178. 2012)

Discussion

‘We have found that blogs seem to occupy an intermediate space among established writing forms such as peer-reviewed academic papers, newspaper articles, diaries, blurring the private public and formal informal divide ‘. (Heap and Minocha 2011).

There is a growing awareness of blogging as a writing or communicative genre in academia and research and as a new form of scholarship (e.g. Halavais 2007).

  • to ensure validity of work through established forms of publishing,
  • to integrate blogs so that research findings reach more readers
  • to enable sharing information without time lags involved in formal publications.

The next steps in our research (according to the authors of this paper) are to validate the effectiveness of the framework (they developed) as a thinking tool about digital scholarship, and for guiding the practice of blogging in academia and research.

REFERENCE

Heap, Tania and Minocha, Shailey (2012). An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging for digital scholarship. Research in Learning Technology, 20(Supp.), pp. 176–188. (Accessed 28th February 2013 http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/19195 )

Weller, M (2011) The Digital Scholar

 

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.

Unforgettable.

Brilliant

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

Samuel Pepys : Dramatised for Radio

These are extraordinarily brilliant pieces of Radio drama.

The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Series 4

N.B. These episodes are ONLY available online for 7 days from broadcast.

It starts with an excellent script, crafted to suit the medium, engaging, witty, memorable, dramatic.

Spot on casting too, I really warm to the characters.

I find the orginal diaries (translated from Pepys’s code) are unreadable.

Truly. I have spent my life reading diaries and memories, blogging and reading blogs.

They are, unedited, like an excerpt from a phone directory. I have read collections and critiques on the diaries too and get put off by the postgraduate PhD scholarly nature of it all.

These radio dramas extract the drama and give it a serialised, ‘soap’ like quality.

A precursor to a TV Series?

Cast:

Samuel Pepys ….. Kris Marshall
Elizabeth Pepys ….. Katherine Jakeways
Captain Ferrers ….. Ewan Bailey
Mrs Sarah ….. Eiry Thomas
Man with writ ….. Lee Mengo
Lord Sandwich ….. Blake Ritson
Sir William Batten ….. Richard Mitchley

Theme music: Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May, words by Robert Herrick and music by William Lawes, sung by Bethany Hughes.

Lute, baroque guitar and theorbo played by David Miller. Violin and viol by Annika Gray, and recorders by Alice Baxter.

Historical consultant: Liza Picard
Sound by Nigel Lewis

Adapted by Hattie Naylor

A BBC/Cymru Wales production, directed by Nigel Lewis and produced by Kate McAll.

Some Links

The Diary of Samuel Pepys

27 blog posts from all that I’ve posted since 1999

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

Fingerspitzengefuegel 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?

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.

Blogging like Samuel Pepys

Episode One (Saved in BBC iPlayer for one week from broadcast)

Episode Two (10h45 Today, repeated 19h45 this evening)

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.

He’s behind with his rent, he goes out too often, and drinks too much. He lies awake worrying about work, and despite being happily married, can’t keep his hands off other women.

He gives us eyewitness accounts of some of 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.

This BBC radio drama is on every day at 10.45 and again in the evening at 19.45. Episode 2 today.

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. Pepy’s got through the restoration of the King, Plague and the Fire of London.

He so often ends is entry with, ‘and so to bed’.

For radio for boring bits have been left out; it therfore reads like a novel.

Not a recommended style for these pages, but great for an external blog in WordPress, Blogger or LiveJournal. Or my favourite, Diaryland.

Life according to Anais Nin, Samuel Pepys and Henry Miller

Life’s a Game of Pinball

I would have been the witch doctor in a tribe,

The pinball that kicks away from the small black hole,

Disappears, then comes back for more.

I’m the ball which gets flipped and flapped, which dings and dongs.

Can you hear it?

Ding, sling, ping, dong!

Whack!

Donga-donga-donga-donga .

Rumble, tumble, ping-ding-ring.

Thwack!

Ado ga-danga-donga.

El Pepys

Ping! Ding, sling, ping, dong!

Whack!

Donga-donga-donga-donga.

Rumble.

Thwack!

I’ve been fascinated by the relationship between Anais Nin and Henry Miller for two decades and wish, even if it only meant being Richard Osborne to their relationship, that I could have been their watching it unfold and hearing about it from each of them.

Is this what the celebrity tabloid press do fifty, sixty years on? At best there is commentary and interview, at worst the photographs that make it look sordid.

Can they be studied in an elective on American literature? Would it be just American? She was French/ Cuban.

She wrote about D.H.Lawrence, so I will write about her (or Henry) or both.

The relationship fascinates, how couples are the making of their work. As if taking a lover catalyses creativity.

Just pages into her first Journal I am marking down long tracts which I want to record and discuss.

What makes people despair is that they try to find a universal meaning to the whole of life, and then end up saying it is absurd, illogical, empty of meaning. There is not one big, cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person. To give as much meaning to one’s life as possible seems right to me. For example, I am not committed to any of the political movements which I find full of fanaticism and injustice, but in the face of each human being I act democratically and humanely. I give each human being his due. I disregard class and possessions. If it is the value of their spirit, of their human qualities, I pay my respect to, and to their needs as fast as I am able to fulfil them. If all of us acted in unison as I acted individually, there would be no wars and no poverty. I have made myself personally responsible for the fate of every human being who has come my way.’ (Anais Nin, Journals Vol 1)

If we see life as a novel then we deliberately set out to make it worthy of a novel.

If this novel is written on a daily basis as experiences unfold then surely the diarist goes out of their way to ensure that they experience and do things worthy of a novel?

Pepys is about to be serialised on BBC Radio.

The trailer justifies why a young person might keep a diary. Had millions been doing so in the 17th century would we be that interested in Pepys? Possibly, given that those blogs that are published are easily described as nefarious and sordid.

They take lovers, they are unfaithful to other halves, they go to places and do things they would never otherwise have done? Some would.

Is this the would-be artist’s struggle?

Is this what defines a frustrated creative?

The desire to express and share what they make of life and to have actions in their lives worth sharing.

I prefer to be the witch doctor in a tribe, the oddball.

From a diary entry of Saturday 17th October 1992. Thought over 19 years on.

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