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A plague on my underpants!

Playing Mercutio in ‘Romeo & Juliet’ 1983

Thirty years ago, possibly to the week, I performed in a university production of Romeo & Juliet as Mercutio. I’ve just been watching, to my horror, a digitised copy from the Betamax original.

That’s me with the spindly legs in the white tights.

Not suprisingly, more so than a diary entry, this takes me to the moment. Minutes later the large nappy pin holding up my hose (the stuffed, bulbous pants) comes undone. I complete the fight to the death having pulled up my hose more than once – laughter and awareness rather spoils the moment and more liek Franky Howard than Shakespeare I die on the line ‘A plague on my underpants’.

Fascinating that even in silhouette I would have recognised my teenage son in how I move.

My wife tells me I don’t speak like that any more.

Cruel and revealing to me that I was so dependent on the director –  in this amateur production I minch about more like Malvolio from Twelfth Night.

My fascination in memory is pricked by this.

There is value in forgetting and not having a record of past events yet wearable technology is gradually making it possible to keep a record of everything we do – both visual and audio. Our perceptions are altered by the recalling of a memory. Though of course, this particular memory is still not my visual memory as my perspective will always be caught up in this scene.

 

Life is not a game and we are more than merely players

The act of playing chess, and the process of thinking it through is the joy and the learning.

What will be the point as or once all the answers are online?

Where we let algorithms and the Web provide the answers?

Does this mean that anyone can be a doctor so long as they have a smartphone in their pocket and a good connection?

Knowledge acquired is how learning occurs.

The learning process is necessary in order for the brain to make sense of it (or to make nonsense of it)

The key is in the memory making.

We learn, each of us, in a unique way.

Less so because of when or where we were born,

But because we were made this way.

‘Je suis comme je suis, je suis faite comme ca’.

Our DNA is unique and the brain it constructs also.

Not hard considering ….

  • There are some 98 billion neurons in there.
  • And every neuron has some 10,000 connections.

It is this mass of interconnections that makes us both ridiculous and smart,

Able to think in metaphors, provide insight, solve problems, conform, deform and inform.

And fall in and out of love.

Enthusiasms bubble up like farts in the wind.

Is life  like a game of chess?

Are we  its players and pieces whether we like it or not?

It is surely the sense of participation and control that makes life worth living?

Which suggests that absolute machine power – Google-eyed algorithms – could be no better than prison.

Life is not a game,

And we are more than merely players.

There is no need to strut and fret our hour upon the stage.

Unless …

It is a story we tell, defined by our actions and responses,

A rollercoaster of our own making.

There is no need for noise and tension, where we can be cool in war and love.

 

The History of English in Ten minutes Reviewed

The story so far:

  • 250,000 on YouTube views
  • 25,000 on iTunes

Picked up by News Week in the US sent ‘History of English’ higher especially as it is so easily picked up by blogs.

The view is that he hasn’t gone viral yet. 

I asked via Twitter during a livestreamed conference this morning if the response in the US was important to make the series viral. I learned that:

  • 70% of our user base is not in UK.
  • Half of that is likely to be in the US.

Four of the videos are currently featured on the main YouTube home page under ‘Recommended by You’ and ‘Shakespeare’ is currently the top download on iTunes U.

Eight of the current Top Ten downloads on iTunes U are from the History of English collection

On News sites

The Guardian Guide/Technology

‘Internet Picks of The Week’

‘What We Learned on The Web This Week’

The Washington Post

Ezra  Klein blog

Educational sites:

British Council

Teaching English

Web2Literacy

Openculture.com

‘The best free cultural and educational media on the web’

Also tweeted it -and resulted in 134 retweets

Times Higher Educational Rankings

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