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A decade in Diaryland

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 26 Nov 2011, 16:43

I have stubbornly kept with a clunky, bare coded blog site whilst around me new wonders have formed.

Diaryland has been around since Sept 1999. The format's hardly changed,. It feels like using a slate while flying through space to Mars.

There was a period, around 2002/2003 when too many new blog sites were forming. I tried one or two, then fell back on a basic format in Diarlyland which gives the user considerable control to create a bespoke layout. I tied my head in knots with HTML ... then left it to a nascent web designed ... only to attempt some crafty alterations (innovations/experiments) to it myself and nearly bring the roof down.

I didn't care. I had become tired of some of the weirdest layouts where the text was virtually impossible to read. Style over matter. The content never king.

It's ideas that appeal to me. Ideas and how they form.

Despite this and given my desire to climb a mountain that has grown beneath my feet, I will be working in WordPress ... though this evening getting in was proving difficult.

At the autumn of 1999 Ellen Levy was featured in the Washington Times. She had just completed a 'web log' - an entry for every day, for a year. Someone thought it was a first. She had included 800 photographs. The journalist thought there might be some 40,000 blogs by then.

I wonder what's happened to Ellen Levy?

Did blogs catch on?

She thought her 'online diary' might chart her professional relationships and so help her with her work.

My mind has needed the break; I can feel it getting back into gear. The excitement is still there. Its been well fed - writing, reading & consuming so much - doing things that would have never crossed my mind during the headiest days of working at a Web Agency. The habit of keeping a journal has meant that while periods I may not of been online, plenty was being typed up and filed. No return to a traditional pen in a notebook 'journal' has been possible

Chasing 'readers' was ridiculous. It transformed things. It does. Then you havea a few fans and you pander to the things they enjoy to read. It is no longer a blog. No longer the contents of my brain.

What patterns might I find in 1,600 entries & some 1.5 million words? How long would it take me to transfer the text, edit it (yet again) & tag it? Why do activities of no apparent value appeal to me so much? From this is invention born? Who cares? My brain's done nothing interesting.

My favourite button in all of 'that' is nothing sophisticated at all. It is the 'random entry' button - sometimes chaos is more interesting than order.

Think about it, I was. Whilst we attempt to order nad box and tag and list and group our thoughts ... don't we find inspiration and fluke insights in the oddest of random places? The smell of the screenwash on the windscreen bring up recollections of a journey through France? A dream that visually had nothing to do with any of this, but from the feelings it engendered at everything to do with a sense of 'missing the boat; and then trying to catch up by taking a plane ... and then missing this too.

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Paper & pencil

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Circumstances and necessity have taken me back to a pad of paper & a pencil.

Years now of typing in, typing up, scanning in and saving 'stuff' digitally finds me returning to the safe, solid & 'real' storing, sharing & manipulation of 'stuff.'

Lack of space in the house had me taking of the kitchen/dining table with the laptop. My 'office' took over the place & I got fed-up of needing to work at 5.00am so that it could be cleared away.

Then the Laptop screen bust.

It's an iBook. It's pushing seven years old (which in laptop years, as in doggie years, probably makes it due for retirement). It is no longer a laptop & it is no longer on the dining room table ... or on my lap out and about. Instead it is on a desk the width of a large shelf at the end of the bed.

No longer being a student, or a child with his own bedroom (this doesn't last long guys, if you are in this position) & therefore sharing a bed (& bedroom) - it has its pleasures & comforts. No longer being a student ... & sharing a bedroom means that access therefore to this cornucopiea of semi-retired, quasi-disabled techno-stuff may only occur when hers truly is up. I'm a lark, she's an owl. Access is denied 'til mid morning.

Unless I tip myself into the 'study,' a broom-cupboard that takes a desk and a narrow set of shelves, one person, one office-chair - her office chair.

Pencil & Paper

I don't even have a fountain pen that functions. Ink on paper would be my preference if I must put pen to paper. I like a good pen, but I will lose them. But I no longer have teh luxury of replacing them when lost.

Poverty has its lessons. (If I dare even call it that).

So I am using a pencil on paper. The pencil needs to be sharpened every few lines, so I clutch a sharpener in one hand, the pencil in the other. I flick through pages of a tatty book and make notes. These pages & this book, given my inclination to box & store said 'stuff' could be around in fifty years time.

I have double 8 film shot by my late father in the 1960s - on film, on a digital Beta master, on VHS & DVD. It exists.

I have diaries, from the 'Five Year Diary' bought for me in 1976 & the others - hardback A4 lined for the most part - for the following 16 years. All boxed & safe.

I 'postcard' photos of my late grandfather - one is dated 1905, others 1918. I have pics of other relatives across the century.

And our wedding

And our infant children

But find me the CD of photos taken on holiday in Cornwall 6 years ago. It is buried in a stack of labelled Photo-CDs.

Find me a photo I took of Lewes Castle in the snow only a month ago ... it is lost amongst hundreds of versions of this and other photographs that have been loaded onto this PC over the last couple of weeks from four different phones & any of three digital cameras. Each of appears to have a different way of doing this, uses a different software programme too.

Digital Stalemate?

Please don't tell me I should have sytems, methods & to do this or that to resolve the clutter. A computer each to start with.


The digitisation of everything will be our undoing - it will result in a block, a jam, a mental breakdown.

In a reflexive mood, you see.

Preparing for an exam in a month's time I find I am falling back on old methods - methods that worked for me before. The notes on a piece of paper. The re-hashing of these notes. Then attempts to recall the information or to answer questions from a mock paper. All of this I do offline, on paper as described above.

Just as watching TV, we are told, can be like a person smoking canabis - semi-comatose, I do wonder if despite this interactivity, that screens, removed by one step from 'reality' are therefore less conducive to forming deeper mylenation in the mind and so the information is less likely to be retained.

In any case, the input here is on a QWERTY keyboard, whilst the 'exam' will be black Biro to paper. Something else gets lost in translation.

There is no easy way to make the information stick - not, at least in my case, without visualisation & engagement, without a battle in which the pathways in my brian take on some significance.

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Social media rusts & gathers dust ... unless updated

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 17:08

"I recently met a organisation about building a social media presence. They had a website, facebook page and you tube channel so they believed they had a very good social media presence. However, nothing had been updated in over 3 months and only one member of staff new how to update the website. Most of the employees had only visited the facebook page and youTube channel when they were launched 6 months earlier.

Enda McCloskey 12 February 2010, 20:36
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Digital Natives, Dinosaurs, Luddites & Dictators ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 21:02

"The problem for schools at the moment is that many teachers do not have the levels of digital literacy held by many of their students. This is magnified by the fact that the 'decision makers' in schools - i.e. the senior management team are less likely to have the skills needed due to their ... 'experience' so see less value in elearning and ict.

They have the power to effect change and innovate but are less likely to use it.

Gavin Holden 11 February 2010, 22:12

And barriers to learning:

"In FE-environments at present, they are staring down the barrel of a gun that spells out a requirement of at least a 75% pass-rate for A-levels. As a consequence they become more interested in bullying lecturers into, in effect, ticking boxes than being creative, let alone innovative."

Eva Arndt 12 February 2010, 14:31
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Wet learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 07:29

In an environment in which the coining of phrases is endemic I wish to invent the term wet.learning - learning that is conducted in and around water in relation to teaching people to swim and teaching teachers and coaches how to teach people to swim.

By defintion you cannot have anything electric or electronic around water; this negates e.learning of any kind.

even paper learning (p.learning) can be problematic as the stuff invariably gets wet, goes soggy, tears and is binned.

so we are left with orginal learning (o.learning), which like orginal sin committed by Adam & Eve is done in a semi-naked state.

I mock, I must. I've been involved in education, mostly corporate, and have never deemed it necessary to call it v.learning when we used video, though interactive learning & training became common place (though never called i.learning or i.training) - it was sometimes called 'clever' or 'smart' learning though ... but never c.learning or s.learning.

So back to wet learning ...

undertaken poolside where the acoustics are atrocious we often resort to grunts, sign language and waving our arms & limbs about in demonstration.

Did our ancestors in cave teach cave-kids to paint in such ways?

If there is to be any final definition of e.learning it should be 'effecitive learning,' the alternative be "*.learning."

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Voice recognition is yet to overcome QWERTY

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 5 May 2014, 07:00

Trying voice recognition software and expected to use it fifteen years ago I fail to see its everyday application. (Inform me otherwise, please).

A generation typing in TXT may in time stick with an keyboard that goes ABC/DEF while touch screens and icons are still an expensive novelty, limited yet again by those who create the software in a language that they can use and favour with English often the mother tongue and culturally the was screens are read, the images and colours used, of Western origin.

And within this, take one tiny Empirical-like imposition that took many years to address – all Microsoft dictionaries favoured American English.

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