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Oxbridge History Exam 1980

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 07:03

The journey I set out on to get to Oxford or Cambridge took two years.

Not getting along with Economics I switched to History after a term in the Lower Sixth. (Not getting on with Sedbergh School, Cumbria, I left smile !)

My essays, though long (always, my habit, then, as now - why say something in six words when eighteen will do?) Tell Proust to write in sentences of less than six words, in paragraphs that don't flow from one page to the next (ditto Henry Miller).

Where was I?

See how a stream of consciousness turns into a cascade?

I digress.

My essays (I still have them. Sad. Very sad). Were on the whole terrible. A 'C' grade is typical, a 'D' not unknown. So what happened to get me to straight As, an Oxbridge exam and a place to study Modern History at Balliol College, Oxford?

Composting

I was bedding down. Putting things in a stack. And working my pile. Perhaps my history tutors detailed notes and bullet points fed on my poor essays? Perhaps the seeds that took root were carefully tendered?

Repeated testing (my self) and learning how to retain then regurgitate great long lists of pertinent facts helped.

Having an essay style I could visualise courtesy of my Geography Teacher helped. (Think of a flower with six or so petals. Each petal is a theme. The stamen is the essay title, the step the introduction and conclusion).

Writing essays over and over again helped. Eventually I got the idea.

Try doing this for an Assignment. You can't. Yet this process, that took 24+ months to complete can be achieved over a few weeks. Perhaps a blank sheet of paper and exam conditions would be one way of treating it, instead I've coming to think of these as an 'open book' assessment. There is a deadline, and a time limit, though you're going to get far longer than the 45 minutes per essay (or was it 23 minutes) while sitting an exam.

Personally, I have to get my head to the stage where I've done the e, d, c, and b grade stuff. When I've had a chance to sieve and grade and filter and shake ... until, perhaps, I reach the stage where if called to do so I could sit this as an exam - or at least take it as a viva.

Not a convert to online learning as an exclusive platform though.

Passion for your tutor, your fellow students ... as well as the subject, is better catered for in the flesh.

The way ahead is for 'traditional' universities to buy big time into blended learning, double their intake and have a single year group rotating in and out during a SIX term year (three on campus, three on holiday or working online.)

P.S. Did I mention teachers?

Have a very good teacher, it helps. The Royal Grammar School, Newcastle where I transferred to take A' Levels delivers.

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Face to face over online learning

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Whilst I Adore being online, and feel it offers something to learning ... in many cases, certainly longer or more demanding coruse, face-to-face must be a built in component.

Oxytocin

BBC Radio 4. 25 MAY 2010. C 10.30.

Why face to face is better than Facebook, because with out real human contact you don't get this hit of oxytcin.

Passion for a subject is self-evident when you meet fellow students with such passion. Try this online when of your 15 strong tutor group only FIVE have made much active contribution.

Yet our 'access' to other tutor groups is restricted or throwned upon.

Imagine going up to Oxbridge and finding you student life (and education) reduced to that with your allocated tutor and tutor group ... with the doors to the JCR locked. (And the MCR & SCR for that matter).

Is the learner-centred education at its worst or institution-centric learning at its best?

Bereft of sharing such views at the 'front line' I am now reduce to pasting them to a hidden wall, in an underground tunnel. i.e. where my fellow tutor group, and fellow students are least likely to pick it up.

Am I learning something about online learning? Of course I am. H807 is in desperate need of 're-invention' Rogers. 2003

REFERENCE

Rogers E, M Diffusion of Innovation(2003. 5th edition)

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Use of personal photos

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 10:37

A healthy debate over the use of photographs has developed in our Forum.

What is best practice?

There needs to be common behaviour for a start. If some of us show our faces while others do not, or put up abstract images or symbols then I'd liken this going to a dinner party and finding some people in fancy dress, or eating alone outside ... or hiding under the table.

There is a very good reason to 'show your face' - there is not better way to relate to someone, or to 'tag' a piece of text.

As a swimming coach I now coach or teach or have responsibility for nearly 300 children age 5-17. I know who they are because I recognise their faces. This is what we humans do, faces are of such vital importance, even our field of vision is defined by the scale and detail of a face.

The choice of picture matters too. Why half hidden? Is it recent? And the mood? Would it ideally look like the Mast Head for a Newspaper ... or ought it to be more modest and reflective, not quite a passport photo but equally bland?

What do people think?

How do you represent yourself?

Do you have a different picture for different sites or do you use the same picture each time?

Is this you in the last year? Or the last decade!

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The best walk in the world

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 18 May 2010, 10:56

The best walk in the world just got better - not a plane in the sky. The walk from High Barn down to Hope Gap with the view of the chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters and the English Channel is inspiring any day. It is glorious at 5.00am with a clear sky - a sky devoid of the usual tapestry of vapour trails, an experience all the better without the repetitive distance rocket roar of jet engines.

This is, I understand, some of the busiest air space on the planet. It is called Seaford and takes in air traffic leaving and landing in Gatwick, Heathrow and Stanstead ... and no doubt intercontinental flights from Europe heading to North America.

On a no-fly day the sky is open to the heavens. Otherwise the vapour trials like lines drawn to a distant vanishing point on an artist's sketch cage you in. I shouldn't be so poetic, it is graffiti. We should not have to tolerate any of their pollution, not the fouling of the air, not the noise or these visual intrusions on the natural world.

The busiest shipping lane in the world looks it. There are ships and tankers and ferries of various enormous sizes strung out along an horizon some ten miles or more away to the South.

The tide is further out than I have ever known; I have walked here often for ten years. It must be a spring tide. I take this advantage to walk out to the water's edge and look back and forth along the coast, East to the lighthouse of Beachy Head and and West far beyond Brighton & Hove to Littlehampton.

There is a single yacht heading West. I wish to be on it.

The walk takes me around to the mouth of the Cuckmere River where I lay down to enjoy the empty ceiling above my head. It won't last long. I need a fish eyes lens to capture it all. A rare sight.

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The Cognitive Interview

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 13 May 2010, 16:04

Pure serendipity but I have caught this documentary twice in the last couple of weeks on UK terrestrial TV.

So insightful on the way the human mind works. How such tiny nuances of sensory information can help us recollect genuine memories ... or to create false memories.

There is relevance here.

How does the mind gather and retain and use information ? And how can the trivial take on extraordinary importance. And importantly, what is the effect of online-learning that deprives us of some important memory-binding tools.

What do you think?

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More face-to-face ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 13 May 2010, 14:21

Hungry for face-to-face interaction I spent 90 mins sharing ideas on e.learning with the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA). This is an exciting time for sport in the UK with the London Olympics 2012 fast approaching - indeed athletes who hope to be on the podium have been working towards this goal for some time already.

How do we get more people to swim and win more medals?

E-learning has a part to play in this and I'm confident that the ASA will deliver.

I'll do my bit by addressing a specific learning problem that can be addressed with a simple, innovative, e-learning idea.

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Creativity in e-learning - OU MAODE H800

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 26 Oct 2011, 07:49
'We are (re) seeing the role of creativity and the hyperpersonal in teaching and learning, and (re)appreciating the value of play, and the importance of the 'learning community. We can not assume that the skills and pedagogy of face-to-face teaching will be appropriate in cyberspace. We have to be open to change and open to the lessons, both in their delights and their dangers, that teaching online can offer.' (Chester & Gwynne 1998)

Watching on YouTube the way in which sequences from 'Downfall' have be subtitled, satirised and exploited reminded me how learning can be fun.


In one version Hitler and his motley crew in the Berlin Bunker debate the benefits of the Apple iPad. Not only does it have me in stitches, but if it is accurate it informed me of the pros and cons of the iPad and left me with the view that it will fail. i.e. stick with your iTouch or iPhone.

This reminds me of training videods that featured John Cleese (from Melrose productions in the 1970s & 1980s) and later Rhys Grith Jones from Not the Nine O'Clock News in the 1990s.

You can have a laugh and learn.

REFERENCE

Andrea Chester & Gillian Gwynne 1998. Online Teaching. Encouraging Collaboration through Anonymity. Department of Intellectual Disability Studies Royal melbourne Institute of Technlogy. JMCM 4 (2) December 1998

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With special thanks to ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 15:56
All writers thank a person or several people who have helped bring to fruition a new piece of work. I am looking for someone I can thank, to help me get through the last barrier with a novel. To finish the thing! Several choices, I've worked for around two years each on three novels and a screenplay. My last chance. Possibly. I know this is a journey I should never have set out on alone.
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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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Second time round

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 12:50

Frank Cotterell-Boyce the English playwright and author was featured on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs a few weeks ago. He remarked that as a boy he was held back in the final year at Primary School because he was too young. Far from being a negative experience he said that it empowered him - he had done it all before, of course he knew the topics.

I feel as if I should sign up for 'Innovations in E-learning' H807 next year, not just to get my head around the topic more fully (its a gargantuan topic on which you could never know enough) but because by then there will of course be new innovations to talk about.

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Wikipedia and SpacedED

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 12:53

Wikipedia is the parent that does your homework for you. SpaceED is the parent who asks you questions so that you learn something and it sticks. Discuss.

SpaceED is a newly launched platform for creating simpe Q&A learnnig modules.

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The Contents of my Brain

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 22 Apr 2010, 14:47

What matters is what I have in my head and how I use it. If through background, experience and training I can express a thought and do so in a variety of ways: text, voice, video, presentation in the flesh ... then so be it.

All efforts I have made over three decades to keep diaries, letters, books and videos has been funnelled into this experience. My conclusion is that all that matters is what I take with me in my head as I step away from this keyboard ... and that when I die the contents of my brain and its way of connecting things goes with me.

 

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The Science Museum, London

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 12:54

The kids travelled for £1 return from Lewes. Not much more for me! A day out.

They lasted over 3 hours, though it did include an IMAX documentary on dinosaurs.

If I were to chose somewhere to sit and write an assignment on innovations in e.learning I would do it here. People this is what I will do. The setting counts with me, to be part of a wider engagement with the subject when I write rather than being on a broken lap-top in the corner of a bedroom with the usual whirlwind of family life a constant and demanding distraction.

 

I failed even to visit the bookstore. I took no notes. I am yet to blog away the day. So my memory of it all is already fading sad

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Van Gogh Exhibition, Royal Academy, London

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Not too old to be taken around by my Mum who is a member so could jump the massive queue. Also easier to have her talk through all the drawings, paintings & letters as she has an MA in Fine Art from Durham and taught art.

Given the crowds I wonder if a replica event could be create 'in the provinces' or a virtual 'walk through' could be created online.

I'd need to return to a thing like this several times for an horu or so at a time.

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Assistance & support for academics

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Oct 2011, 04:28

'Academics expressed a clear preference for individualised assistance and support. This is intensive & expensive and the provision of such an approach is unsustainable.'

Kirkpatrick (2001:174)

REFERENCE

Kirkpatrick, Denise. International Journal for Academic Development, Nov2001, Vol. 6 Issue 2, p168-176, 9p (accessed 28 august 2011)

 

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Flexibility

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Oct 2011, 04:34

'Flexible learning with technoliogy can offer opportunities for improving the quality of students learning experiences and for meeting the needs of students in more appropriate ways. The challenge is to keep options open and allow space for exploring what is possible within a framework of appropriate support.'

REFERENCE

Kirkpatrick, Denise. International Journal for Academic Development, Nov2001, Vol. 6 Issue 2, p168-176, 9p

(accessed 28 august 2011)

 

 

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Flexible learnings vs seminars and lectures

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 13:08

The orgnanization and resourcing of learning in ways that shift the emphasis off the traditional format of lecture and seminar with its tendency to reinfoce a one-way conception of teaching and learning as the dissemination of wisdom from teacher to learner.'

REFERENCE

Flexible Learning (Fleming, 1993, p320)

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Cogntive Behavioural Therapy

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Session 12 after nine months

The OU course had to come into the discussion. My topics today were:

Effort

Perfectionism

Collaboration

My problem being that I will make the effort, and put in too much effort, where a topic interests and engages me. However, I may shy away from anything that doesn't appeal to me. The answer is to find a middle road, to be be flexible & adaptive.

Regarding being a perfectionist, something similar applies. So in OU Land, do as required for each task and in each environment. No more. This is good. How I indulge my interest in something by chasing references is for me as an 'add on.'

Collaboration requires trust. You put in what you have to offer and you trust others to make their contribution in their way, in their time. More can come through sharing, that trying to do everything yourself.

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OU Blog vs MyStuff

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I'm trying to establish which is the better tool for collecting notes, quotes, thoughts & ideas & issues for potential use in forums or assignments.

Short of notes on a filed sheet of paper in a pad do either the OU Blog environment or the OU MyStuff 'information collator' offer something more versatile?

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Diffusion of Innovations (5th ed)

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Have it, read it ... taken notes and now well through a second even more thorough reading with the intention of tracking down some additional references.

Somehow may race through this material in the early weeks, trying to skim read it off a computer screen and not finding the excerpts in the e.book satisfactory hadn't sold me on the ideas. I'm now evangelical about the insights and more than ready to work with them.

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Diffusion of Innovations

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 30 Mar 2010, 13:23

Now that I have the book in my hands I can only conclude that Roger's Diffusion of Innovations is the heart, veins & arteries of 'H807 Innovations in e.learning.'

Did I miss a trick finding excerpts as an e.book somewhat less than engaging or as an OU student was there an opportunity to download the entire thing?

Not that printing if off would have been cheaper than buying a second hand copy off Amazon.

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H807 TMA01 The Word Count

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 14:44

TMA01 in its current draft/s is stubbornly refusing to accommodate all the requirements and get close to the required word count.

They say 1300 words, I'm forever at 1800 or more sad

Some edits then get close but appear so spartan I feel I'm looking into an empty basin.

My process might get the word count down to five - a title.Or just a single word.

e.yes.

I feel like Jack Nicholson's character from the Stanley Kubrick film of Stephen King's novel 'Shining.'

I feel stuck in a loop and beg for what my school and undergraduate years prepared me for - an exam. And in this case one essay of six to be written in the space of three hours. From six to eight point plan. Wherein I see my solution - I do just this.

Or not.

On verra.

How are you guys doing?

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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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Flexible Learning. Denise Kirkpatrick

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Oct 2011, 04:24

The Advantages

  • Great efficiences
  • Access
  • Competitive advantage
  • Improve student learning

Institutional Anxieties:

  • Academic practice
  • Personal sense of IT efficacy
  • IT fatigue
  • Pace of change
  • Magnitude of change

REFERENCE:

Kirkpatrick, D (2001) Staff development for flexible learning. The international Journal for Academic Development, 168-176

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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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