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Ideas on putting the First World War on Film

1) iTunes U. 45-90 seconds “It could have been you …”


Putting you In the picture – my great-grandfather – in his shoes.

Duration: 45-90 seconds.

Use motion capture to place four or five men of the appropriate age into the ‘Battle of the Somme’ footage.

Pre-shoot, or, with permissions, from ticket holders, ideally for the event, picking this/these people out on the ‘KissCam’ ala Baseball USA.

Point: ‘A hundred years ago it would have been you in there’.

A 15-32 year old put in the picture, literally.

For example:

Satisfying the brief:

Suitable for cinemas and music festivals

Secondary audience: 16 to 24

Motivation to investigate further.

Enjoyment and inspiration for history and its contemporary relevance.

DOES NOT – give causes and conseuquences, nor the course.


1/2/3) 45-90 seconds, x12 one minute, 10-15 minutes

A set of 12 ‘The history of the First World War in One Minute’ Then cover causes, course, consequences, challenge myths with moment for enjoyment, appreciation and reflection.


Parts to include:


  1. Putting you in the picture

  2. In their footsteps

  3. Might have been you 100 years ago

  4. Before – preparations

  5. During

  6. After – prisoners and the aftermath

  7. The ambulance service

  8. Who else: French, Commonwealth, Germans, Nurses (Women).

  9. Animals in war

  10. What else is missing – actual combat and night time movement and action

  11. Myths

  12. Relevance


Meeting the brief


Primary and Secondary audience

Covers deeper understanding of the causes, course and consequence.

Challenges myths about the era.

Reflect on reonance and significance of their current lives and the world around them.

Find enjoyment and inspiration for history and its contemporary relevance

Aware of the IWM as the main lead.

1-2)  iTunes U. 45-90 seconds /< 3 Mins Song – ‘One in a Million’


As Schindler’s List  (1993) pick out occasional characters in colour and tell their story before, during and after 1916.

Duration: 10-15 minutes picking out 3-5 stories of plausible, if not actual recognition.

As Schindler’s list but adding through motion capture people from the 21st century …  your brother, your father … also like a single poppy in a field of wheat.

< 3mins as part of BBC Places.

The relatives or one or two of the identifiable people from the Battle of the Somme footage.

Satisfying the brief:

Suitable for cinemas and music festivals (extended version in break-out venues)

Primary audience: Independent adults 25 to 40.

Motivation to investigate further.

Enjoyment and inspiration for history and its contemporary relevance.

Course of the First World War on the Western Front using the Battle of the Somme as some kind of ‘tipping point’ or key event.

DOES NOT – cover causes and consequences which would require extended coverage before and after the footage unless part of x12 one minutes.


2) < 3 Mins Song: “It could have been you …”


Duration: 3 mins. Longer if pre-shot and edited.

Pop Video using a variety of techniques to put a contemporary audience into the picture.

Place barriers and other obstacles at an outdoors musical festival so that a crowd moves and behaves as footage, intercut.

End line. In their shoes, in your shoes … when a generation went to war. Your kid brother, your father.


For example, shots of:

  • Marching

  • Eating

  • Resting

Satisfying the brief:

Suitable for cinemas and music festivals (extended version in break-out venues)

Primary audience: Independent adults 25 to 40 … pick the right festival, there’s classical music events too.

Motivation to investigate further.

2) < 3 Mins Song / Music Video – not ‘two tribes go to war’

A singer songwriter moved by this exposure and experience and the song that results. Anachronisms of rock in history – think Baz Lurman and ‘Romeo & Juliet’ or ‘Moulin Rouge’ with the songs of Elton John.


A ballad, or anthem. May be ante-war, would be controversial, could get huge views.


Metallica have had nearly 64 million views and the comments run to over 63,000 since they posted ‘One’ on YouTube on 9th May 2009.


Satisfying the brief:

Suitable for cinemas and music festivals

Secondary audience: 16 to 24

Motivation to investigate further.

Enjoyment and inspiration for history and its contemporary relevance.

3) 10 – 15 minutes.

Three to Five ‘Places’ news reports.

People with a relationship to this footage.

Release as an Open Educational Resource (OER). Include sound effects track.


Expect copyright infringements with mash-ups.

See ‘My Boy, Jack’ and the YouTube Harry Patch mash-up. Possibly watermark or box the content somehow. Probably impossible.

Invite a billion people, of whom a few hundred, or a few thousand, will do something of their own with the content, for classes, but also set to music or to make a statement.

Expect controversy, debate and significant activity online and in the regular press.

Satisfying the brief:

Suitable for cinemas and music festivals and live screen venues

Any of the ‘your story’ or ‘in their shoes’ pieces as 1-3 minutes duration, as single items or a compilation. Mix in live (or as live) interviess from the venue. What do you think?

Primary and Secondary audience

Motivation to investigate further.

Enjoyment and inspiration for history and its contemporary relevance.

Offered as a set of 3 minute reports so that promoters can play them as they see fit.


4) TV Documentary  < 45 minutes


Two to three part special:


i) “The bigger picture”.


Duration: 45 mins (first of two parts)

Drama reconstruction with the footage, actors in key roles,

possibly interviwed as if it were 1916.


May include archive voice over from veterans.


What’s going on around the cinematographer? Put them in context.

Becomes the one in a series on ‘shooting war’ – the opportunity afforded by the technology and skills of the personnel, then what to put in or leave out and the politicization of war footage.


Satisfying the brief:

Less suitable for cinemas, at music festivals in break-out venues. Series offered to show on at different times.


Secondary audience: 16 to 24

Motivation to investigate further.

Enjoyment and inspiration for history and its contemporary relevance.

Covers causes, curse and consequences of war.

Likely to require additional material.


4) TV Documentary  < 45 minutes


Two to three, even a six part special

ii) Audience Response


Duration; 45 minutes (Part two of two). Drama resconstruction picking three to five people, say mother and daughter, son and younger brother … some of the 20 million who saw the film. Putting it in context, their story, circumstances and response. Not least to dead combatants, especially to recognition.  May use a cinema from the period with actors, re-enactors and the public.


(or one of two programmes, ‘the bigger picture’ then the audience story.


In 1916, audience of non-combatants and future recruits having queued, then the impact of the footage and how it would make them feel – horrified, in the picture, worried, brutalised, heart broken, determined … and impact on recruitment into army, ambulance, nursing and other services.

4) TV Documentary < 45 mins

iii) The history of shooting war.



From the Crimea to Syria via the Somme.

What price authenticity?

What to show and what to leave out?

Risk to life and limb.

Why does Ypres look less authentic?

We know it is faked and the ‘acting’ is worse than the gurning in ‘the Somme’.

Hexacopter drones with a GoPro cam on a gimbal.

Shooting HD via remote control. POV cams on helmets and drones.

Authenticity over narrative (myth, legend). History over fiction.

UK Forces Afghanistan


Further parts:


  1. The ambulance service

  2. Preparations

  3. Prisoners and the aftermath

  4. Who’s missing: French, Commonwealth, Germans, Nurses (Women).

  5. Animals in war

  6. What’s missing – actual combat and night time movement and action

5) TV Event: A hundred and one questions for the 100th anniversary.


Duration: 45-90 minutes. A live TV special or well prompted online event hosted by the IWM as a webcast/seminar.

Shown as reels or excerpts with opportunities to take questions from the panel, floor and Twitter feed.

Draw in questions posed in real time from Twitter @WW1 fast paced, unpredictable, controversial.  As excerpts and stills. Link to IWM social media campaign.

Where are the French? Where are the women? Where are the dead? Where is the battle? These are rushes, not a narrative.


Satisfying the brief:

Suitable for cinemas and live screen venues – as an event piece screened at venues to interested audiences with opportunities to tie local and regional links and associations with the national story.


Primary and Secondary audience


Covers causes, course and consequence.

Challenges myths about the era.

Find enjoyment and inspiration for history and its contemporary relevance.

5) < 75 minutes


100th Anniversary Release


Sound additions. If the filmmakers had recorded sound what would they have heard?

In fact, fill the blanks, actual battle, with BBC Radio drama standard SFX to ‘create a picture’. Even present ‘The Somme’ as a Radio programme or drama. Re-release the enhanced 2006 Battle of Somme Film with superior sound effects.


Potentially available on a Creative Commons License as an Open Education Resource – like given people access to a National Park, rather than them only being allowed to look over the fence.


Add a Rock track, just as for the 90th there is a classical rendition.

5) Comprehensive TV Event Series

‘A century of conflict coverage’  – BBC, Open University and IWM joint production


Duration: Six x 45 minutes. A series on the history of War Coverage from the Crimea to Syria

Gripping TV documentary, live event and Q&A, OpenLearn content, OU/IWM product, OU and other courses with support for GCSE, A’Level, Undergraduate and Graduate study. As 50th Anniversary ‘The Great War’ with Michael Redgrave brought into the 21st century.

  • Trailed using much of what has already been considered.

  • Short clips for Social Media

  • Long length for OER and YouTube

  • Series of compelling documentaries

  • Debate forming a live debate

  • Follow up with release of Battle of the Somme footage with sound effects track

  • Open Learn modules

  • Actual undergraduate and graduate courses

  • Actual resources for school students – possibly tied in to the national curriculum.


9) Feature Length Movie or TV Film of the characters who took the film



Malins and McDowell … or just Malins.


A 90 minute TV movie as:

Birdsong (2012) Sebastian Faulks

Regeneration (1997) Pat Barker – influence her to take an interest in these characters as a novel, then see that the BBC buy the rights and make it into a TV movie.


Including audience, press and official response.

What else …


Connected world.


“Blended’ – mixed or multi-media, cross platform, live or pre-recorded, discussed and shared online.


Links potentially with:


Help for Heroes

Western Front Association

Scout Movement


History departments of universities

International broadcasters and partners



Identifying veterans of the First World War: Putting names to faces, and faces to names.

 Fig.1. ‘Poster’ constructed using a combination of ‘Brushes’ (to layer several photos in one) and ‘Studio’ a simple graphics app that provided the overlays and text. Images and screen-grabs cropped and saved into Picasa Web Albums. 

Created for the Open University module H818: The Networked Practitioner – towards a poster to illustrate a conference demonstration of an interactive mobile learning platform aimed at sourcing the involvement of many collaborators to enrich our understanding of this period in history.

The QR code should work, the YouTube video does not – it’s a screengrab. The video clip, under 2 minutes, is there.

In fairness to my grandfather I edited around 8 minutes down to 2 minutes, keeping one story about a young woman who came down from London to meet up and otherwise to compress the kind of circuitous conversation you can have with someone in their nineties.

Fig. 2. Jack Wilson (1896-1992) talks briefly about his few weeks military training at RAF Hastings in May/June 1918. Features several of his photographs from these weeks that he sent home to his mother in Consett, County Durham. (As YouTube doesn’t embed on OU platform, link to YouTube)

 Fig.3. The simplest of SimpleMind mind maps to remind me what the poster still requires and is certainly missing. 

And as a reminder to me there is 2500 words to write too.


If you or your relatives have old photos from the First World War how about sharing them and let’s see of collectively we can bring these characters back to life by researching then telling them story. If you are seeing family over the holiday try to find out what you have in that battered box in the attic: photos, an ID bracelet, his watch? A pay book, or log book? An Webley Revolver!! A gas-mask. A piklehaube helmet.

I’m always very interested to hear from people with a similar interest in the ‘Great War’ especially when it comes to the Machine Gun Corps and the Royal Flying Corps where my grandfather and great uncle served.

The project above relates to RAF, formerly RFC Hastings. Cadets were sent for military training in batches of 30 or so, six weeks at a time. They got military training, fitness, map reading and meteorology. Time off was spent on the beach, on the pier, in the outdoor pool and cinemas, and in a RAF club in Wellington Square. After this they headed for Clifton College, Bristol (Douglas Haig’s old school) for Morse Code, navigation and mechanics (basics) and machine gun training. Then to Uxbridge for bombs and finally off to an aerodrome for flight training. I don’t even know if they all went off together. I do recognise one other face here, a man who shared a room with my grandfather. They had a valet between them. Some change for my grandfather, the son of domestic servants, finding himself in the Officer’s Mess with schoolboy Etonians and all sorts of others.


Mobile learning at the Museum of London: QR codes and NFCs

Fig.1. YouTube video for the Museum of London‘s NFC initiative in 2011

Having picked through links that came to a dead end in a fascinating paper on the variety of technologies and tactics being used by museums in relation to mobile learning I started to see and read more and more about the use of QR codes (those matrix two-dimensional bar codes you use with a smartphone) and NFC ‘Near Field Communication‘ which is becoming an industry in its own right.

Having been kept awake at night about a need for ‘constructing knowledge’ rather than being fed it I knew that visitors, students especially, need to engage with their surroundings by somehow seeking and constructing their own views.

Without QR and NFC the simplest expression of this is taking notes, and or photographs of exhibits – not just selfies with a mummy or your mates. Possibly doing bits of video. And from these images cutting/editing and pasting a few entries in a blog, Prezi or SlideShare. QR and NFC feed the visitor controlled and curated bite-size nuggets, so more than just a snap shot, you can have audio and video files, as well as more images and text.

Fig.2. South Downs Way QR Code.

Successful trials mean that these have spread. Funny I’ve not noticed them living in Lewes and walking the dog most days on the South Downs. I’ll take a look. NFCs have been used extensively, for 90 exhibits, at the Museum of London – so a visit is required. Though I won’t be ditching my iPhone. Apple does not support NFC believing that the technology is still in its infancy … like Flash, like Betamax and VHS, and all that stuff, a battle will be fought over the NFC benchmark.

So 60% penetration of smartphones in the population … most of all of which can use a QR code, but less using a early version of NFCs. My experience?

Fig.3. QR Codes at the Design Museum

Last year a visit to the Design Museum I found the ‘Visualizing the mind’ exhibition littered with QR codes.

They didn’t work. Just as well they had ample computers. How often do organisations jump on the IT bandwagon only for a couple of wheels to fall off further down the road?

Fig.4. Evie

Meanwhile I’m off to walk the dog .. then using a trip to see Gravity at the Odeon Leicester Square with my kids to include an educational tour to the Museum of London (always handy to have a teenager around when using mobile technology).

‘REPORTING RESEARCH’ 2013, Interpretation Journal, 18, 1, pp. 4-7, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 November 2013.

Reflections of a post-post graduate – the no-man’s land before a PhD


Fig. 1. How the eBrain looks – everything’s tagged. (Lost property, London Underground)

I’m delighted to say the Open University’s student blog upgrade is an enhancement. The improvements are seamless without any loss of what we had before … a ‘bulletin-board-cum-blog-thingey’.

Become an OU student to see this for yourself.

I will get Internet access in my ‘office’ – a studio down the road, away from home and family, DIY, the garden … but not the dog. She’s allowed.

All that it requires from me is something I lack – self-discipline NOT to get distracted by email, which includes updated postings from forums and the likes of Linkedin (let alone a gaggle of family members on Facebook). AOL is the worst as I innocently go to check email and find 20 minutes later I am still clicking through the inviting gobbets of news and sensation that is offered.

I had hoped to behave like the smoker trying to give up – I’ll only smoke other people’s fags. A very, very, very long time ago … I can honestly say I have never smoked a cigarette since I turned 20.

Back to the Internet. Like Television.

Or diet. We are living in an age where self-control is vital. Having not had a TV for several months I was eventually pushed to buy one. Courtesy of Which? we now have a TV so Smart that it probably tells my brother in South Africa who is watching what …. we can Skype sofa to sofa. I just wonder if our antics could be recorded and posted on YouTube? Not my doing but any of the teenagers with the wherewithal just hit a record button somewhere.

In all this hi-tech I DO have a tool I’d recommend to anyone.

I’ve invested in an hour-glass. In runs for 30 minutes. While that sand is running all I may do is read and take notes. This might be an eBook, or a printed book, either way they are on a bookstand. I take notes, fountain pen to lined paper. What could be easier? The left hand may highlight or bookmark and turn a page, while the right writes?

This works as the filtering process of the knowledge that I am reading and want to retain needs to go through several steps in any case. The handwritten notes will be reduced again as I go through, typing up the ideas that have some resonance for me.

My current task has been ‘How Europe went to war in 1914’ by Christopher Clark.

I doubt my second thorough read will be the last. From notes I will start posting blogs and going into related social platforms to share and develop thoughts and in so doing be corrected while firming up my own views. I need this social interaction, to join the discussion if not the debate.

Meanwhile I will revisit Martin Weller‘s book on Digital Scholarship.

However swift the age of the Internet may be he suggests it will still take a person ten years to achieve the ‘scholar’ level … whereas John Seely Brown recently reckoned this was now down to five years. i.e. through undergraduate and postgraduate levels and popping out the other end with a PhD in five years.

DIdn’t an 18 year old who was home schooled just get called to the Bar?

She graduated with a law degree while contemporaries did A’ Levels and finished High School and then did a year of pupilage I suppose.

The intellectual ‘have’s’ of the future will, by one means of another, achieve degree status at this age. The Internet permits it.

School is far, far, far, far, far too lax.

It tends to the median if not the mediocre. Long ago it found a way to process kids as a genderless year group instead of treading each student as an individual … so let them skip a year, let them stay back a year … allow them to expand and push subjects that appeal to them.

Learning in extremis

Fig.1. Three years later

“Emergency Home Birth!” my wife exclaimed pointing at a book on pregnancy and childbirth.

My wife went into labour at 2.30am, we’d planned a home birth (this is her second) however our hospital was some 37 miles away and our allocated Midwife was another 20 miles beyond that.

I got her on the phone and she spoke to my wife between contractions – she wouldn’t make it.

‘Call an ambulance and I’ll be over in due course’, she said.

Chapter Six, ‘Emergency Home Birth’ looked like it needed half an hour to read and at least as long  again to digest; there wasn’t time.

Thankfully om the facing page of Chapter Six the editor had laid out the essentials in clear bullet points – towels, scissors and string are the ones I remember, probably because I required all three, these and the warning that the umbilical cord can get caught around the baby’s throat. I needed that too.

Just in time learning, delivered just in time.

And so it was, at around 3.20am, my wife on floor holding onto the  the end of the bed, towels in place that our son was born.

First his head, the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his throat. I eased this over his chin and around his head, surprised at how thick and tough it was – then one,the both shoulders and he fell into my arms like a muddy rugby ball out of a scrum. My wife rolled around and sitting at the end of the bed she took him into her arms.

A few minutes later the midwife arrived, thought everything was going well and went to run a bath. In due course she showed me how to cut the umbilical cord then took my wife to the bathroom.

Learning in extremis?

In my day job I was supporting the teaching of such techniques at the logistics and distribution group UGC in Oxford.

I didn’t need a book, or a training video and given this was 1996 I wasn’t going to have Google, Quora or YouTube offer some advice.

I’ve had no further need for these particular parenting skills, though it’s been an adventure following two infants through childhood into their early teens.

Learning works best when it is pushed, when there is a challenge of time and circumstances, where it can be applied and seen to work.

How do we apply this to formal education, to studying for exams through secondary and tertiary education?

What is the difference with learning in the workforce, between physical actions on a factory floor, in a mine, power station or warehouse, out on a civil engineering building site or in an office or boardroom?

There need to be exams – from mocks to annual exams and finals.
Essays and regualr assignments are part of this best practice.
And how about tests, even the surprise test, not so much for the result, but for the pressure that ought to help fix some learning in our plastic, fickle minds?

In advertising we often spoke of ‘testing  to destruction’ that nothing beats a clear demonstration of the products power, staying power or effectiveness in memorably extreme conditions.

I like the idea of working Against the clock, of competition too, even learning taken place, as I have heard, as someone cycles around Europe, or drives a Russian Jeep from Kazakstan back to Britain.

I believe in the view that ‘it’ll be alright on the night’ – that you can galvanise a group to rally round when needed and those new to this game will pick up a great deal in the process; personally I loved the ‘all-nighters’ we did in our teens breaking one set then building another in the Newcastle Playhouse, some sense of which I repeated professionally on late night and all night shoots, often in ‘extreme’ places.


To teach is to nurture and the best metaphor for the mind is to see it as a garden

Fig. 1. My own vision of education as nurturing – like growing plants in a garden

‘Her metaphor for the brain is that of a garden, that’s full of the most interesting,  different things that have to be constantly cultivated and constantly checked‘.  This was Kirsty Young  introducing her guest, Professor Uta Frith. (01:24 into the transmission, BBC Radio 4 2013)

Professor Uta Frith of University College London was on Desert Island Discs for the second time this week  – this time round I paid close attention. I then went to the BBC website and took notes.

Having recently completed the Open University postgraduate module H810 Accessible Online Learning and of course interested in education, this offers insights on what studying autism and dyslexia tells us about the human mind.

There’s more in another BBC broadcast – Uta Frith interviewed for the BBC’s Life Scientific – Broadcast 6 Dec 2011 accessed 1st March 2013 – and available, by the way,  until January 2099 should you not be able to find time and want your dyslexic grandchildren to listen.

The difference between someone who is autistic and the rest of us is how we each of us see the world.

‘We learn by taking different perspectives – something about ourselves which we otherwise would have never known’. Uta Frith (2013)

‘Take what’s given to you and make the best of it, but of course the cultivation is key to all of these things, so culture in our lives, learning from other people … these are the really, really important things’. Uta Frith (2013)

We may all have some of this in us.

Genetic factors matter.

‘How we are raised is a myth. It is not right. It has been so very harmful. It is a illusion to think that doing the right things, for example that you get from books, that you can change things.’ Uta Frith (2013)

Then from BBC’s Life Scientific

‘A passionate advocate of neuroscience and how its findings can be used in the classroom to improve learning. She hopes that eventually neuroscience will inform education in the same way that anatomy informs medicine’. (01:35 in, BBC 2013)

Uta Firth wants knowledge of the brain to inform education the way knowledge of the body informs medicine.

Professor Uta Frith is best known for her research on autism spectrum disorders. Her book, Autism, Explaining the Enigma (1989) has been translated into many languages. She was one of the initiators of the study of Asperger’s Syndrome in the UK and her work on reading development, spelling and dyslexia has been highly influential.

Throughout her career she has been developing a neuro-cognitive approach to developmental disorders.

In particular, she has investigated specific cognitive processes and their failure in autism and dyslexia. Her aim is to discover the underlying cognitive causes of these disorders and to link them to behavioural symptoms as well as to brain systems. She aims to make this research relevant to the education of people with development disorders and to contribute to a better quality of their everyday life.

The above profile form the UCL pages

Further Reading/Viewing

Uta Frith on YouTube on early years, then on dyslexia

Frith, U (1989/2003) Autism – explaining the enigma (second edition)

Frith, U (2008) Autism – a very short introduction


Uta Frith, Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4, Transmission accessed 1st March 2013

Uta Frith, The Life Scientific, BBC Radio 4, from BBC website as a podcast (accessed 1st March 2013

University College London, Staff. Website (accessed 1st March 2013)


Blogging breached the guidelines a bunch of us followed in 2002 – now anything comes and goes on e-folded origami paper we call a blog

Fig. 1 Blogging brings like minds together – through their fingertips

I did a search in my own blog knowing that somewhere I cited an academic who described blogging as ‘whatever you can do on electronic paper’.

Chatting about this at dinner my 14 year old son trumped my conversation with his mother as I tried to define a blog and what can go into one with one word ‘anything’.

For me there has been a slow shift from text (the weblog-cum-dairy journal thingey), to adding pictures (which have become photo / image galleries, photostreams of Flickr and concept boards of Pinterest), to adding video … to adding ‘anything’ – apps, interactivity, grabs, mashups, music …

My starting place is here.

This ‘eportofolio, writers journal, aggregating, dumping ground, place for reflection and course work’.

You see, is it a blog at all? This platform, I’m glad, has its design roots in a Bulletin board.

The limitations of our OU Student Blog platform works in its favour.

I can only put in two search terms. In Google I might write a sentence and get a million links, in my wordpress blog it might offer have the contents.

Less is more.

Here I search ‘blog paper’ and get 112 posts that contain both words.

I’ll spin through these an add a unique tag. My starting place.

But to study blogging would be like researching the flotsam and jetsam that floats across our oceans – after a tsunami.


Starting with a book published in 2006 ‘Use of Blogs’ I want to read a paper ‘Bloggers vs. Journalists’ published in 2005. A search finds richer, more up to date content. Do I even bother with this first paper? (ironic that we even call them papers).

I can’t read everything so how do I select?

  • Toggle through the abstract, check out the authors, see where else such and such a paper has been cited.
  • Prioritize.
  • Use RefWorks rather than my habit to date of downloading papers that MIGHT be of interest.

Whilst storage space is so inexpensive it is virtually free there is no need to clutter my hard drive, Dropbox or Google Docs space.

Which makes me think of one of my other favourite metaphors – kicking autumn leaves into the breeze. That or drowning in info overload, or as the Robert de Nero character in Brazil, Archibald ‘Harry’ Tuttle, who vanishes in a pile of discarded paper … my mind wanders. We do. It does.

I stumble in the OU Library as I find I am offered everything under the sun. I am used to being offered academic papers only. So far all I’m getting are scanned images of articles in newspapers on blogging. All feels very inside out.

Where’s the ‘turn off the printed stuff’ button?

I fear that just as I have never desired to be a journalist, preferring the free form of your own diary, letters, and of course blogging and forums online, I will struggle to write within the parameters of an academic paper. I’m managing assignment here, so I guess I’m learning to split the two. A useful lesson to have learnt.


Is this a research methodology?

I am looking at a book on blogging, ‘Use of Blogs’ (Bruns & Jacobs, 2006). I have it open on p.31 Notes (i.e. references) for the chapter Journalists and News Bloggers.

As I pick through these articles, papers and reviews written between 2002 and 2005 I find several of the authors, a decade on, are big names in the Journalism/Blogger debate. It’s as if I am looking at a tray of seedlings.

It strikes me as easier to start in 2006 with 27 starting points when the field of debate was narrow, rather than coming in from 2013 and finding myself parachuting into a mature Amazonian jungle of mixed up printed and digital, journalism and blog content.

Courtesy of the OU Library and RefWorks I have nailed this article after a decade of searching:

Druckerman, P (1999) Ellen Levy Has Got The Write Project For the Internet Age — It’s a Year of Scribbling Down Almost Everything; Ah, Yes, It Was a Raisin Bagel, New York, N.Y., United States, New York, N.Y.

Reading this around 23rd /24th September 1999 prompted me to start blogging

Then I’d been reading blogs for a few months but had a mental block with uploading HTML files and then along came the first ‘ready made’ DIY blogging platforms.

The last 12 years makes amusing reading – particularly the battle between journalists and bloggers. And who has won? Is there a difference anymore? Journalists blog and bloggers are journalists and entire newspapers are more blog-like from The Huffington Post to the FT … which within three years will close all its print operations.

To be used in learning and to be a genre to study blogging needs to be part of formative assessment

A blog therefore becomes ‘an active demonstration of learning’ with cumulative feedback. I’ve only received ONE Tutor comment in my OU blog and that was to say why was I blogging and not getting on with my TMA. This person had their head so stuffed inside primary school education of the 1960s it made me feel like tossing my cap in the air.

Why MAODE students blog (Kerawella et al, 2009) depends on their perceptions of, and for:

  1. an audience
  2. community
  3. the utility of and need for comments
  4. presentational style of the blog content
  5. overarching factors related to the technological context
  6. the pedagogical context of the course

Cited x30


‘Bloggers vs. journalist: The next 100 year War?’ 2011, Public Relations Tactics, 18, 4, p. 17, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.

Bruns, A. Jacobs, J. (2006) Use of Blogs.

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