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One day at a time, one year at a time, each decade of his life

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 18 Jan 2011, 18:49

1976 – 1983 -

I could keep going to Jan 2011. Like a returning diarist the New Year offers hope and a desire to record what goes on, though some of the tougher times would make better reading.

Reading this I could imagine a character who comes out of a coma with the New Year's Fire Works but nods off again by February 1st. There's a thought. There's a screenplay. There's another year or two of my life lost inside my head ...

January 5th

1976
Got up late, had bath, watched T.V. XXX and I were sent to our rooms, I couldn’t care because I had records, radio, typewriter, crayons etc: Watched TV. Cycled, Took down Xmas decorations and tree. Dad rang. No Tuesday. Didn’t mind. Used to him. Watched heart surgery on Horizon.

1977
Up at 8ish, breakfast with XXX and XXX, get stuff and leave dead on 9. Smash ice on pool. Wait for Mum 15 mins. Dad going to a meeting at Middlesbrough. Home, nothing changed, odd pieces of money from Aunties, chess from Uncle XXX. Still haven’t got rec: player, get record from Realm Records. No money though. Try to get rec: players in Town. Talk to XXX, bath, hair, TV, fall to sleep.

1978
Sleepy – read book. I, Claudius, Robert Graves. XXX at King’s Cross. XXX gets off to school. Phone me at 12 – stopped – continued. Very persistent, glad I answered – to meet XXX in Town. Tell her about disco – couldn’t get her Mum’s permission. Wonder town, Sit in restaurant for an hour left at 5. Danced at GRC with XXX

1979
Tell Mum were coming home on Sat. Train + XXX, Have People’s ringing P about a Top hat. Must try and get all my gear back somehow. More interesting XXX, in bed most of the day, XXX and more XXX and more comments about XXX with XXX.

1980
Felt ill in morning and up early and bath, Breakfast with XXX, late so not for XXX and Dad. Drift round Paris, stop at Cafe, then Louvre for the rest of the day. Late lunch and Eiffel Tower, slowly drive to Le Havre – pouring, Find Taverne Basque and have beautiful end of hold French meal., Mostly ski-estates on ferry, only Fiji for XXX.

1981
Strong wind – cleared snow and filled bus with Japanese (took photos of us). Clear Maison Rose, returned and sat in Cafeteria, Told off by Mme R as though I didn’t work. V. little to do so just got bored. Skied. Binding lose and broke twice. Up button lift and x4 the Telecabine (great) just starting to get legs (met XXX) – deadly, clean ski room/chocs for XXX (bleeper went) able to go early (7.10pm) really needed it as was most chattered.

1981
Hate the near depredation of the customs having to look through the boot. Expectantly. Dad missed a turning. As I did. He blew up. Rain and floods became snow at Appleby. Wanted to dash on to Newcastle to see XXX. After mean. Burst tire outside Appleby. A66 closed to Brough so drove via Brampton and straight to XXX’s. Being quite Telly ... Andrew XXX. Out for Midnight hedge, soaked but fun came in late and nicely ‘til 1.00 great to be back.

1983
Man rip to find out what I will to – to Hexham Infirmary with Mrs XXX and Granny and XXX, Plaster off and re enraged badly diagnosis by a seemingly drunk Dr XXX was to leave them alone. Work at 4.00 TV & XXX home to change before Tuxedo junction and had to get trews from Jonathan XXX, Mike XXX, Simon XXX, Rob XXX etc home to a bath end of dear but climb into bed for XXX v had the mattress from XXX’s room and on floor.

and on, and on, and on ...

Meaningless to non-participants (or should that read combatants) but most of these notes bring back the events of the day to me. Try this with a clear object in mind, studying a course with the Open University, a speculative project you want to bring about, clearly know when and what to keep private ... even write it in a book rather than online. Though I don’t think anyone has read anything I’ve locked online.

But do it. Even 50 words a day adds up over a year. And after a year it might inspire you to write 100 words a day. That's how I got going age 13 years 6 months. Exactly like Adrian Molehouse.

At family gatherings, several big ones are due in 2011, I am known as the archivist, I have the stories too, memories passed down to me of brothers and sisters growing up, but also of our long gone ‘ancient aunts’ who would all be 105+ by now. Photos of them too, old double 8mm film, me at my christening, photos of a World War 1 machine gunner, another an RFC bomber pilot.

Memories can be treasured. They should be treasured.

It doesn’t diminish the genre of keeping a diary to do so online, or to share some of the content with others, or do what the internet is great at doing – ‘Chunk’ your stuff into bite-size pieces; some of the above looks like a Twitter, keep to 250 words for a blog, but do it every day.

If words aren’t your thing load a picture a day, just one of many you may have snapped that will remind you of this day forever.

I listened to a busker sitting on Cliffe Bridge, Lewes yesterday afternoon.

Great, Passionate, Rough, Poignant. Thinking about it I wish I’d gone over and asked if I could take a snap, or video him on the phone for YouTube. I’ll do so next time I see him.

That would have nailed the day for me.

Then tag it. I have a tag fetish going. I do try to use the same word, but it looks as if I try to make up something different for the same thing, which rather spoils the purpose. Though I do rather like the ridiculous, tumbling, cascade of words and typos I have going in my tag clog, list thingey (another technical term that is a natz less technical that ‘stuff.’ all if which are eminently quantable to, of or by someone or something somewhere.

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Dreams. If you've just had one, try this.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 18 Apr 2015, 07:04

"Nights through dreams tell the myths forgotten by the day." — C.G. Jung (Memories, Dreams, Reflections)

1: Who are you in the dream?

2: Who are you with in the dream?

3: What details stand out?

4: What do you feel about these details?

5: What are the various actions in the dream?

6: How are you acting and behaving in this dream?

7: What relation does this dream have to your personality?

8: What does the dream want from you?

9: What are the various feelings in this dream?

10: What relation does this dream have to what is happening right now in your life?

11: Why did you need this dream?

12: Why have you had this dream right now?

13: What relation does this dream have to something in your future?

14: What questions arise because of this dream work?

15: Who or what is the adversary in the dream?

16: What is being wounded in this dream?

17: What is being healed in this dream?

18: What or who is the helping or healing force in this dream?

19: Who or what is your companion in this dream?

20: Who are your helpers and guides in life as well as in your dreams?

21: What symbols in this dream are important to you?

22: What actions might this dream be suggesting you consider?

23: What can happen if you work actively with this dream?

24: What is being accepted in this dream?

25: What choices can you make because of having this dream?

26: What questions does this dream ask of you?

27: Why are you not dealing with this situation?

28: What do you want to ask your dream spirits?

My older sister got me into this in the 1970s when I was in my early teens.

I would cite where it came from if I had the foggiest idea. Do help if you know as I think we all deserve to be recognised (and occasionally rewarded) for the words we write.

Extraordinary as the mind is, reading a few lines about a dream I had 35 years ago does bring it all back.

Actually I can recall a dream I had when I as about four, being strangled by Rolf Harris. I asked my mother recently if my father had a beard at the time, he didn't, though there were plenty of times he said 'I could strangle you.'

Bingo! Eureka!

That's it, I wanted him to be like Rolf Harris but he was rubbish at painting and wanted to kill me smile

So that's explained, 44 years on.

Nothing like giving it time ...

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The importance of the words

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 08:15

Writing is everything.

I'd master it now. Keeping a blog is a sure darned way to do that. Handwritten is fine; find yourself the perfect pen.

Writing, or rather the ability to write.

It is the key to communication, to learning and to e-learning, and a great deal else besides.

On my passport it says 'writer, director.'

I like that, though I think of my skill as a visualiser and the writing and directing is rarely TV, but corporate and classroom training, desk-top learning, and product launches, change brand and change management.  Still there can be drama in it, and tears, and death, and love, and life, and music and dance. We go underwater and scale mountains, enter shear caves of nuclear power plants and wade through sewers, track super-models along catwalks in Paris and record the last words of a man dying of cancer in Carlisle.

I see things in pictures.

Perhaps the MA in Fine Art IS what I should have started a year ago ... though I fear I may have missed out.

It's easy enough I find to get my 'hand back in' if I want to draw something as it is rather like riding a bike, or skiing in deep powder snow, or racing a Fireball, or pushing off a wall in Breaststroke and emerging from a legal transition half way down a 25m pool ... once you've put in the days, months, years (even decades) learning to do these things, barring ill-health and great age, you ought to be able to do them for some time to come.

Which reminds me, I want to crack written French in 2011.

Clients think of me as something in addition to writing and directing (I produce), but no. that's not it; there are words, voices, images, cut together and linked in various ways that form linear and non-linear assemblages, but to them I am 'a problem solved', a job delivered, with passion, on time, on budget (of course), sometimes as a team of one, but sometimes in a team of a few or many more. I do wonder if sometimes an email with the finally agreed Creative Brief is the end of the process, rather than beginning.

Today, once you've solved that you can invite everyone to come up with their own creative execution.

Now there's a thought I'd not heard coming.

All of this takes words, expressing and solving the problem and sharing this requires words. A fast, reliable typing speed helps too. So perhaps my Mum was right to get me a typewriter when I was 13 when I wanted an electric guitar.

Sometimes I find the problem for the client and share it with them in all its beautiful ghastliness.

This is what good writing means. And experience. And judgment. And belief. And your approach and thoroughness. And the write people around you. And sometimes conviction that £60,000 will deliver the job, but £600 will not.

Good writing is less about the words chosen and put on the page (unless you are a novelist or poet, and I am neither), no, good writing is a good idea, clearly expressed, in as few words as possible. (Which in due course requires editing something like this).

Who is it who said the selling is a good idea?

That all it takes to sell something, is to have a good idea.

Good writing has a purpose and the author knows how to put the words to work by addressing a problem, because you know your audience and whether you or someone else is the subject matter expert, it is your responsibility, even if the words are hidden by a creative brief, a synopsis, treatments and scripts, to get the message across ... like, with some or many images (photos, graphics, cartoons), or with the spoken words and/or similar images that move ...

A swimming club session plan written on a whiteboard to take a squad of swimmers can be beautifully written if it is magically composed, and serves its immediate purpose. The good swimming coach rarely leaves such things in the head. It is thought-out, it is planned, it fits into the scheme of things, it is the right session for that hour or two.

Good writing hits a chord; it too is of the moment.

I conclude that a good teacher, a good tutor, educator, practitioner of e-learning ... all have this ability to write well at the core of their being. They are confident with words, words that are as carefully chosen even if spoken on the fly, as a result of their experience and all the lesson plans or scripts, or class programmes, they have written in the past that bubble up to the surface when faced with a problem - a fresh student.

(My only caveat is the from the podcasts I've heard before an educator is interviewed they should at least have the wisdom to do some media training).

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For 26 years this is all I could write about ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 28 May 2012, 16:50

Then you settle into married life and children and, as I now do, I celebrate my 18th Wedding anniversary, my younger sister's 25th and the 50th anniversary of my in-laws.

I read about people who plan to digitise their life. The ephemera I have includes the diaries and a trunk of handwritten letters; rememeber them? And letters this boy sent to his Mum from about the age of 8.

Wherein lies the value of it? A useful habit, as it turns out, but do we expect our want a new generation to store every text, every message, every Facebook entry. Are these not stored whether they like it or not ... and potentially shared. Whose business should it be, when and if to 'disclose' or 'expose' a life. It can be of value, but it can also be harmful.

On the reverse side of this card is a note to my fiance, written on the 17th February 1992. We'd been engaged for 8 months, were living apart and would be together that summer and remain together now.

The value of reflection here, is a reminder of these sentiments. The value of any record, any stirred memory, can be to reinforce it, to be cherished, forgotten or dealt with. But if you haven't taken notes, you rely on the vagaries of your mind. So perhaps a massively scaled down version of digitising everything you do may have value, like a broach you press on occassion 'for the record.

All of this STILL coming from a single Opinion piece in the New Scientist (23 December to 1 Jan) about someone digitising every moment of their existence.

P1110008.JPG
From 11-01-2011

This is how the 'professional' student or corporate blog should look ... not social networking, no flirting, no personal stuff, just the business - something to chew on.

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90% of users are lurkers

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 18:06

The 90-9-1 Rule


90% of users are "lurkers" (i.e. they read or browse but don't contribute)

9% of users contribute from time to time, but other priorities dominate their time

1% of users participate very often and account for most of the contributions

From Jakob Nielson


So don't feel bad about. Enjoy lurking. We all lurk, we all contribute from time to time ... and I dare say there are places where we all contribute very often.Just not here.

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A diary 1975 to the present day - with gaps

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 23 Oct 2011, 07:53

I gave up buying the Guardian on Saturday after a decade or more of doing so in favour of receiving the New Scientist every week; it is simple.

Too much that I read in the paper I know already and the Colour supplement's target audience is the bottom of the bin.

I am rewarded this week with

  • a) the news that Google have digitised 5 million books
  • b) a piece on blogging 'Dear e-diary ... '

This ought to be how anyone who blog begins their entry, 'dear diary;' blogging sounds like something Morris Dancer's do in slippers after hours behind the pub.

Alun Anderson passess through the history of the diary with some clumsy thoughts on such things becoming popular gifts in the 1820s and the number of diaries inviting us to buy them at this time of year on supermarket shelves - actually I find the Academic diary is more popular in late August.

Never mind

In one respect he is right; along with New Year's resolutions, keeping a diary from January 1st is up there.

Of course, we all decide to do this on the 5th or 6th so have to invent an entry or three or four for the previous days. I've just been looking on shelves where old diaries are stored ... (this stuff gets an outing once or twice a decade). For reasons suggested above, some of the first few days of the New Year draw a blank, though I appear to have an unbroken record for the 5th and 6th of January since 1976. (I should add that the diary record over 34 years has about 13 years of blanks, so I'm not such an obsessive.

I have an unbroken run from 1983 to 1987 and 1978-1982 are complete, but largely little more than a five liner in a Five Year diary.

September 1979 is interesting though, short of the technology, I just about achieved what Gordon Bell, a senior researcher at Microsoft is up to ... recording absolutely everything that ever happens to him with a digital camera strung around his neck. (I trust he'll call it albatross).

We've seen how relentlessly dull TV manufatured life can be from Big Brother, why will Gordon's life be any better, or will the presence of the digital recorder prompt him into doing something 'worth recording,' i.e. mucking up any science he may think is going on.

What I did, not knowing for how long I'd do it, was to open the parameters of my diary page entries, from five lines every day, to an A4 sheet (no more, never missed), to as much as it could take; it took a couple of hours to write every night, which would of course lead to that vital practice of reflecting on the process of writing itself. That and every bust ticket into town (Newcastlte), the Commodores ?! Tuxedo Junction. And the 'swimming baths.' (sic). A play at the Gulbenkien. Godspell at the Theatre Royal. A Mars Bar for 3p.

Totall Recall: How the e-memory revolution will change everything.

No it won't.

All the years I Twittered into a Five Year diary (about 60 words), my aim was to put in something that would remind me what happend that exact day; I'm forever staggered how I've achieved this on very little indeed. It requires a key, not the detail, just an Alice in Wonderland key that opens up the rest of it.

This is what Microsoft should be thinking about, not oceans of everything, but the meaningful flotsam and jetsam, that and the person saying what they think and feel about what is going on. Find me the third-party device that can record thoughts, feelings and dreams - it's a thing of fiction.

This item is written by the former editor-in-chief of the New Scientist, Alun Anderson.

It amuses me to see that the new New Scientist editor-in-chief is Roger Highfield. I don't suppose he can tell me what we ate when I had dinner with him in November 1984 in Wood Green (give me a sec) ... I can. And curiouser, and curiouser, though there's not a jot recorded on what we spoke about that night, I've an inkling I could share.

It is empowering to know I can ferret around in an old diary for ten minutes to get these answers; doing the same with some 16000 blog entries saves me a few moments. Away from my desk, diaries or the Internet however, I'm sure that all this ferreting around in the past has kept these memories accessible.

Gordon Bell will eventually unconver some patterns 'you would never have gleaned unaided;' I feel I'm ahead of the Mircosoft game.

On verra.

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Pepys teaches the 21st century blogger everything.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 5 Jan 2011, 11:45

On how Pepys kept his diary

(From the author's diary 2/1/1993

With comments in relation to blogging in OU land.

Pepys composed his diary in five stages:

First, the accumulation of bills, minutes, official papers, news books and rough notes on a day's proceedings.

Second, the gathering of these into a form which combined accounts with diary style notes.

Third, the 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.

Fourth, entry of these notes into the diary-book (with care and over time), adapted to the space.

Fifth, 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

How many steps do you take when writing your blog entry? One or none? That an workm but it can also be a flop. Are you saying what you meant? Should you be saying it at all? Who are you writing it for in any case? If it's meant for your Tutor do they pop by? Never. If it's meant for your Tutor group should they comment? I wish they would, just a note 'yep, been here' would do for me sometimes.


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.'

(What amuses me is the mixture of French, Spanish and Latin Pepys uses to hide what he was getting up to with various girls; not something the modern diariast would do, the detail of any encounter always producing the most hits. But diarist as novelist? Perhaps. Below you'll find an Oxford tutor making the case for journalism in essay writing style.)

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, ppCx
ii

'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)

REFERENCE

Matthews, W et al (2000) Pepys' Diary (Highbridge Classics) (2000) Robert Latham, Samuel Pepys, Michael Maloney (edit contributors)

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H800 tips on blogging - keeping a diary online

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 18:50

Tips on keeping a journal

From a blog first posted by this author 06/10/2003 www.jonathan.diaryland.com (Locked. Accessed 4JAN11)

‘When people ask me how to keep a Diary, I refer them to Ira Progoff's Intensive Journal [method]....One cannot help being amazed by what emerges from this skilled inner journey. All the elements we attribute to the poet, the artist, become available to everyone, to all levels of society.’ Anais Nin 1974 (In the introduction to Ira Progoff's book)

Like many young men I came to Anais Nin and Henry Miller through the Philip Kaufman film 'Henry and June.' I was living in Paris and soon found myself buying up hardback copies of Anais Nin's Journals and copies of Henry Miller's opus: Sexus, Plexus, and Nexus, as well as Tropic of Cancer ... All worthy insights on how to blog. Their letters are a good read too.

The key to this kind of writing is to let go, it isn't an exercise book, that's what an e-portfolio does, acts as a more discrete, shareable repository of assessable / gradeable work. Of course, what's the difference between a blog, an e-portfolio and a wiki come to think of it? Very little, indeed if you call them an e-journal, e-portfolio and e-agenda you may recognise that binds them. The are simply compartments within the digital ocean, compartments that allow for some osmis and transfer of e-fluids, which can be e-text, e-video, e-audio, or e-drawings. Can you see why I feel the 'e-' is redundant?

From wikipeadia I learn that:

Ira Progoff (August 2, 1921 – January 1, 1998)

Ira Progoff was an American psychotherapist, best known for his development of the Intensive Journal Method while at Drew University. His main interest was in depth psychology and particularly the humanistic adaptation of Jungian ideas to the lives of ordinary people.

Some ideas on how to start your diary

(For diary read blog. As it is the New Year now is as good a time as any to make a start)

In ‘The New Diary’ by Tristine Rainer.

  • Begin with a self-portrait
  • Begin with a period
  • Begin with today

Each time I come back to this diary after an absence of weeks, months or years I approach it in one of these ways: I assess who I am, go over the previous period when I’ve been away from the diary, and count these musings as my first entry. (Tristine Rainer)

There’s now a National Diary Archive in the US

Someone thinks they have worth.

Will the handwritten diary, like the handwritten letter outlive the digital era? If someone digs up a sealed chest in five hundred years time and faced with some books, some letters and a memory stick which do you think they wil read first?

From Ira Progoff’s 'A Journal Workshop' seven useful techniques for diary writing are offered:

1. List or Period Log

2. Portrait or Life History Log

3. Map of consciousness (Recapitulations and rememberings)

4. Stepping Stones/Scenes from our lives

5. Twilight Imagery Log

6. Altered point of view

7. Unsent letter

8. Dialogue Dimension

Over these days my desire is to reach some conclusions regarding the modern blog, its use in education and how to describe the benefits to the uninitiated and unimpressed.

How about this; whilst it is possible to paste anything in here, keep it live and real.

You may have notes, so paste them in and add. This is not an eportfolio, nor a repository - it is an open letter, more so in the OU Platform as this is being pinned to a digital noticeboard.

That's it. A letter.

If spoken then in the style of Alistair Cooke's 'Letter from America.

And remember, this isn't a letter that expects a reply (for reply read comment) as it is written to its author. The value, take note OU, is barely in the present, but six months, six years even sixteen years down the line.

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On going from keeping a regular diary to writing a blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014, 07:01

I have in front of me the Five Year Diary I was given age 13 years 5 months. Each entry runs to about the length of a Twitter. I kept this up for 7 years, supplementing these entries with an A4 hard back journal from 1979. In one bonkers month, September 1979, the month went into an arch-lever file. I could write as much as I wanted. Nuts. Not only that I kept receipts from shows, bus tickets to school and best of all, a note I had to take to a school uniform outfitters from my Mum that reads, 'Please will you give my son Jonathan an RGS blazer and a Westfield School skirt and charge to my account.' Thankfully, I wasn't asked to try them both on.

I may Twitter my Five Year Diary entries across the Net in a suitably retro 1970s format, though 'got up, had a bath, watched TV, fed the rabbit' isn't too engaging. It gets better. I can't share what I was doing in 1979.

I also have my late Grandfather's logbook from his period training as a fighter pilot in 1918. He'd just transferred from the Machine Gun Corps where he'd served through the Somme and Paschendale. His handwriting is extraordiary. I'll put up a photo.

And my late Father's logbook from his sailing days, first there was Canny Lass, then there was Serendipity. His car had the number plate STOIC sad But we don't chose our parents do we?

Why all this interest in diaries and logbooks?

In 1999 I noted that there were 6000 diaries (sic) in diaries.net and 2000 in Diaryland few months after its launch.

Having transcribed and uploaded 16000 entries I can now browse through a portion of thirty years or so as if I'd been blogging. I can call up several 'essays' on Net Journals and web-logs too. Having done so I can drill even further than I did at the time into the author's cited. Courtesy of Google I can complete my research and indulge myself. There are some great diaries, great diariest and some useful books on the genre too; bloggers take note.

I'm starting to look very closely through this content for the patterns that others would find too if they kept a simple diary, a basic, regular blog.

There value comes with the passing years. I can find enough in what I have written to know who I was with and what I was doing on the 4th January between 1976 and 2011. I'm suprised how often there was snow in the 70s (this is Tyneside). On 4th January 1979 I crashed a car on ice heading for my girlfriend's house in Wylam on the other side of the Penines. The road from Brough to Bowes on the A66 was blocked with snow so I had to double-back via Carlisle and Hexham.

In a world where a life of learning is expected and the technology makes it possible, keeping a blog, some private, some open, some themed must begin to pay dividends for the author who is actively engaged with the content, rather than simply letting the events of the past go by unaddressed.

Blogs are such simple things, but surely, in their myriad of forms (you could say that Facebook entries and Twitter reports are as journal-like as any longer entry in a blog, or online magazine or other website) more could find educational and personal value in them?

So how to persuade students to keep a educational blog? To form the habit?

Promotion, example, and the devious inclusion on any course of a professional 'catalyst' who blogs and comments discretely and often to get then keep the blog ball rolling.

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The reflective blog (or diary)

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 26 Nov 2011, 16:24

The current Radio 4 series on the genre, celbrities reading from their childhood diaries, shows that keeping a diary is rather more common practice than I had thought. I am one of those people who began a diary age 13 and has never stopped. 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). Available from: http://sorubank.ege.edu.tr/~bouo/DLUE/Chapter-08/Chapter-8-makaleler/Assessment%202_%20Self%20and%20peer%20assessment.htm (accessed 6 August 2010).


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On Blogging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 15:47

With thanks to a fellow OU student who asked 'why?'

I’ve blogged since Sept 1999.

More importantly I’ve kept a diary since March 1976 (I was 14 1/2)  ... with substantial two or three year breaks I should add in the 80s, 90s and 00s ... and only on a few occasions ‘every day of every year.’

The diary was never read by others and never of interest to them. Except on one occasion I was aware my girlfriend was looking at it so I wrote some especially nice things about her and she did likewise. A comment, you could say. That was a one off. (She also read that on our first date I thought she had bad breath. Lesson learnt. If you are going to express your mind, keep it private or lie, or jsut leave things out ... and keep it under lock and key).

The appeal in the early days of blogging was to have an electronic form of the ‘journal’ I kept, however this gradually changed into something quite different with the then new additions of ‘friends’ and ‘favourites’ and all the other ‘sticky things’ (technical web term) that are common-place. 

Two things start to happen

1) you make a couple of ‘friends’ you relate to really well and find you’re only truly interested in them and you can develop ideas, support each other and so on i.e. collaboration. (We formed a successful writers group).

2) you go crazy for the statistics and start to wonder why certain pages are read and which get the most hits ... and what you have to do or say to get more hits.

This OU Blog-a-long-a-thon scroll is better for the lack of the many tools, quirks and quasi-personalisation tools that commercial blogsites now offer. 

At this stage the realisation is that you are no longer keeping a journal, nor is it private. Indeed you very quickly find there is a considerable amount of fiction, flaming and writing gibberish simply to fill a page and have your profile picked up in some blog rank-a-thingy somewhere.

I call this turning into an 'e-j'.

It's value is ephemeral. It is not a journal anymore. There's no value in privacy, indeed 'disclosure' and 'exposure' become the way to deliver a high ranking blog. My tactic was to circumvent the entire blog premise by removing any sense of it being a 'log,' writing entries that are tagged or stored by theme, rather than the day they are written on.

I try not to do it in what I call ‘OU Land’ where I am increasingly trying to be more professional and circumspect.

The temptation to write to provoke, or to intrigue is still there which will cause me trouble when it gets to submitting anything for ‘reflection’ because there may not be anything there ... which is why I am starting to post the ‘bland, objective, reflective kind of thing required’ but keeping it private.

There’s a piece on the addictive nature of games and the Internet in the New Scientist. (See below. I wrote about it last week).

I would say between 2002 and 2006 I probably spent far, far too long blogging. When you post 10,000 words on one day and have 1.6 million words online (largely unpublishable farting into cyberspace) I think you could say there was a problem.

Most of this serves no good purpose at all, other than tinkering at the QWERTY keyboard, the piano equivalent of playing chop-sticks. i.e. you quicklky find you are getting the same, repetitive tune.

I never, or rarely read over my old, hand written diaries (a decade is the right kind of timespan to afford them any worth), yet reading a page in a blog is a click away, a search word away. It's as if very day and any day is given equal value. But is it of value to learn that I tend to wash my hair on a Thursday?

Feedback is like gold, it is recognition, and in a tiny way rewarding and flattering.

Once again, there can be an obsessive hankering for comment, to the degree that your views and what you write is geared to nothing else, whilst in OU Land, a type of blogging experience, within the context of academic study, 'hits' count for nothing, whereas there is the potential to gain marks through objective reflection.

And finally ...

Blogging transmogrified through comments, friends and favourites away from being an online journal, to being a form of social networking. The blogging landscape is now so varied and vast that it often ceases to be blogging at all.

Facebook is the equivalent of blogging onto a Post it note that you then stick to the side of a bus.

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Blogging. A private journal, journalistic or academic?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 Jul 2012, 13:05

Three Degrees of Blogging

If it plays to how it is defined, a ‘weblog’ then it should be nothing more than a captain’s log, in the style of Star Trek, that logs position and events as they occur.

Web pages, cobbled together into a journal like experience defy what the web affords.

The person who keeps a diary in a hardback notebook, or one of those Five Year Diaries with a flimsy padlock, have to keep notes on specific dates in the calendar, online the daily webpage is a falsehood, it is a devise that obliges something that is wholly unnecessary.

Personally, long ago, I ditched all pretence at writing a daily entry (even if I did so), by archiving entries by category.

Weblog as webstorage or repository.

More like the modern e-portfolio I suppose. The idea concept is easily controverted. Writing pages of fiction, with comments turned on make sharing and critique immediately possible. Allow any number of readers to contribute directly to the pages and the weblog becomes both a blog and a wiki.

Can we ‘wikify’ a website?

And do I coin such a word as soon as I tell my dictionary to accept the term? Which makes me wonder – is there a way for multiple users to share the contents of their dictionaries?

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Dusty Rhodes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 1 May 2010, 17:37

Our Geography teacher had most of us (all ?) achieve A Grades at A Level. When it came to writing essays his advice was simple and he drew a flower on the board with six petals.

The stem was both the introduction and conclusion, the centre of flower was the essay title. Six petals, perhaps eight would do it. Each would be a point, well made, with quotes/references.

Often he'd summarise his thoughts on a boy's essay by drawing a dishevelled weed ... or more simply a three petalled plant with one huge, deformed petal ... and so on.

I was never one for the perfect plant. Often I'd be the one with twelve petals, some tiny some so massive they took on the entire board. One essay I remember submitting filled an entire exercise book (I still have it, sad, I know. It was Geography, meteorology, he taught as to undergraduate level). I regress (and digress).

After two years we sat exams. By then by editing down and picking out what I felt mattered I went into the exam well prepared, armed to the teeth. I could easily give up ten minutes of the 45 mins to write on a topic to planning, the six or so main points, the pulling from my head a mnemonic that would deliver a dozen or twenty or more facts. And then I wrote. This worked.

Course work would have suffocated me. I lack that consistency and self-discipline, or more likely, I drain so much energy intermittently that I just have to 'chill' from time to time. I'm not one for drawing early conclusions, nor am I one for regurgitating what is wanted from me because of what specifically I have been asked to read - I will always look beyond the references.

In particular, I would prefer to sit down to write naked ... jsut me and the keyboard, no notes. For the information to have gathered in the rigth spot in my head I need to have worked with the material, to have discussed and debated it, to got it wrong and been corrected, to have asked questions, and to have figured it out. I have to believe it.

Working in a Web Agency when first doing an OU course on distance learning the topics were of interest every day to colleagues so it was like being on a campus, or certainly in a faculty. And as we believed or thought that the aim of a university degree or studying was to get a job there was a degree of arrogance - we had jobs. We were in it, doing it. We had to know best, or certainly quite well, otherwise why would companies & government pays us to do our thing?

I ramble. Or reflect. Whether I can reflect my way into some higher level of sublime understanding though is quite another matter. A decade ago blogging obsessively there were a group of us who read and responded to everything we wrote. Doing this I feel I am writing with a fountain pen on the ceiling of a catacomb.

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Self-discipline & professionalism ...

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Whilst I can still get away with typing off the top of my head into a blog, this will not do when responding to messages or in a forum.

Sitting back, taking on board what is being discussed, doing my research then reflecting long & hard on a response will be a more productive way froward. I've taken some hints from the OU.

Personal entries in my decade old blog must also be forever locked.

Or removed. Having trawled through this 1.5 million word nonsense removing or changing names, there are still those who occasionally pop up in my life with an amused remark about the detail of their antics ten or twenty years ago. Much of this blog are transcripts & extended reviews & reminiscences of the 70s & 80s.

'Exposure' became my creed in 2001.

'Discretion' will be my approach from now on ... as it is so easy to google a person's name and find out all kinds of things that they may not want to know, that are blag & bluff in any case and could be detrimental to their career hopes (let alone their personal relationships).

Meanwhile, in a time consuming effort that needs to be addressed my sixth draft of the TMA01 is rocking back and forth between 1500 & 2350 words. I may just sit it like an exam and see if I can contain my ideas that way, addressing each in turn a set of points, six at most, that I feel need to be made

Oh to feel like a teen sitting exams again smile

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Value judgments, CBT, BPD & blogging

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As a child my late father labelled me as making too many 'value judgments.' It may have stuck. He was equally emphatic about the spelling of judgment, and the correct use of apostrophes.

This tendency to have an emotional response over the objective could compromise how I judge the work of others.

Being aware of this ought to help me to form opinions based on facts.

having some understanding of child psychology I also know that labels stick.

'Money burns a hole in your pocket' I was told and so I became this person ... or I had confirmation of who I was.

All this I am trying to change.

Tangentially to all of this, eight months of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that was first mooted in 2005, is gradually adjusting my thinking and responses. My habit is to speak first, then think later. The same applies to what I write, particularly in a blog, an environment in which I have written, as I please, when I please and how I please for a decade. CBT ought to be turning off the negative, making me less prone to lash out; so far, so good. Where I am conscious I still fail is the willingness to agree with everyone & say 'yes' to everything in order to please. Later I begin to regret the view I had taken or the decision I had taken. Too phrases I need to use often are, 'let me give that some thought ...' or 'that's interesting, let me get back to you ...'

I know that there are many kinds and forms of blog.

As 'entities' I wonder even if a 'blog' is a suitable term where this space has many different uses & expectations imposed on it. Online Journal, E.Text book, e.notes ... or the term I used, even registering the domain name in 2000 'The Contents of my Brain' or 'TCMB.' i.e. in goes everything, a decade ago with no readily available function to 'expose' all or to 'share' with a define audience or readership.

Where in lies the next issue. If a blog, like a log or a journal or a diary is written for and by one author then by its nature it is likely to be more honest if kept locked and private. As I know, a blog, like a diary, becomes a very different thing once it is published or in the case of the Internet, 'out there.' Think of Anais Nin and her Journals.

Blogs are not what they used to be.

In 1998 those who blogged might have been shipwrecked travellers on a small island - it didn't take long to suss each other out. Some wrote for the sake of it, others had something to say ... one or two were innovators, & creatives, HTML wizards who constantly played with the possible and what was then impossible.

Mummy has come along and made us put our toys away


Many would so this depth of 'reflection' is counter-productive. Others argued that a degree of 'exposure' is required in order to establish connectivity with like minds & the curious.

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The blogger's dilemma

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 17:07

'It seems to me that I follow only the most accessible thread. Three or four threads may be agitated, like telegraph wires, at the same time, and if I were to tap them all I would reveal such a mixture of innocence and duplicity, generosity and calculation, fear and courage.'

(Henry & June, Journals, July 1932 Anais Nin)

For the umpteenth time as several hooks snag I don't know whether to blog in one space or several. The compromise will be to keep this for and about the OU. Therefore 'e.learning & innovation,' even 'innovations in e.learning.'

The problem Anais Nin had related to the 'threads' in her life, her various interests that broadly split between her love life, her efforts to become a published writer of fiction & what the journals gradually become first to her and then to the people (and fans) who read them.

My response has been, having stared a blog, that mimicked a  diary and was simply an 'online journal' to split by purpose, by content (the the degree of exposure I was prepared to make/the adult nature of the material) and even by design. Things quickly got in a muddle & I returned to the single blog model, only to find I could not please all, or many (or even any but a handful)  of the readers. By which time it had ceased to be a  diary, or even an online journal.

I will persevere with WordPress where the old blog will be migrated. This could take some time. 8,000 hours if I go entry by entry. Oops. Maybe not them. I can be more selective than that. The intention will be to use current blogging tools to find & establish threads of ideas, topics, stories, people & events. To what end though?

Then there'll be a blog for teaching & coaching swimming aimed only at fellow teachers & coaches - so not on how to swim, or how to swim faster ... just how to teach or coach people to swim and then to swim faster.

There is relevance to this in relation to 'innovations in e.learning.

What is most likely to produce an innovation? By being prescriptive, or saying 'anything goes?' Or a bit of both. Somehow.

Or am I talking here about inventiveness & creativity?

 

 

 

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