QUOTED: Former chief Rabbi blames social media for inflaming wars

220px-SirjonathansacksRuth Gledhill asked me for a quote earlier today re “The former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, has warned of of the potential of social media to inflame wars to global proportions and said: “God himself weeps at the evils being committed in His name.” Here’s some of my response:

Dr Bex Lewis, research fellow with Codec, which explores the interfaces between the Bible, the digital world and contemporary culture at Durham University and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age, criticised Lord Sacks for a “technological determinist” position – that the technology is responsible for forcing a person to act in a particular way, rather than giving new opportunities which a person make choices around.

She said: “Social media can be considered like a brick – you can build houses with it, or you can throw it through people’s windows. People are doing both with it, as people have always done with every communications medium. Yes, social media allows messages to move faster globally, and those who speak loudest will often be listened to. Social media, however, gives the opportunity to speak back, particularly if people gather together.”

Read full article.

My ‘Done’ List…

I find my ‘Todoist‘ app wonderful, but sometimes, especially for someone who is motivated by a feeling of achievement, have to celebrate what have done these past couple of years! How do I recapture this sense of joy that I got from the one run I made on my own on a surf board in Australia in 2007!


In summer 2012, I searched, bought and moved into ‘my first house’ in 6 weeks flat, starting a new job in Durham on 1st September 2012.


So, CODEC constitutes 80% of my working week. I moved up for a contract until August 2015. I have signed a new contract to August 2018, although it is still funding dependant, but there are promising leads for that! It’s been a difficult couple of years with lots of challenges, moving offices, seeking to find friendships outside of college… so I’m thinking of a few of the things I’ve done:


It was getting to a stage where I was spending around 120% of my working time on CODEC, so at Christmas I started to re-focus and re-address, with renewed vigour – to own the label given by a radio station ‘thought leader in digital culture’. Taking on some business coaching to develop Digital Fingerprint – which needs to provide 20% of my income, with a USP that people think it’s worth getting me down (usually down) from Durham.


In June 2004, I passed my PhD viva ‘with no corrections’. I keep promising to get it written, and this year have actually allocated some time, and am fighting to retain it!

  • Interviewed for LA Times and a German newspaper re ‘Keep Calm and Carry On
  • Started the conversion of PhD thesis to book, with help from Dr Martin Polley (who was my PhD supervisor)
  • Met with Henry Irving, who is working on a publishing history of the Ministry of Information.


A few final thoughts on this. As someone with declared mental issues, I am thankful that these are managed through medication and exercise. Life has to be more than work, right … although I’ve not managed to really “just sit still” – always something to do, read, think about… or sleep to be had!

  • Swam a lot, gained yellow belt in karate (nearly ready for orange, apparently), with a few Body Pump/Jam thrown in + lots of walking through London, etc. Plans to walk lots of the local region have not yet exactly taken off, aside from a one day hike!
  • Learnt 250 words of Brazilian Portuguese (in the last month) using Mind Snacks.
  • Made it on holiday to Marrakech, and off to Portugal next week. Some visiting of family & friends (not enough) – with a few National Trust and Alnwick visits thrown in + Merry/Bryony ordinations, and a handful of visitors in this direction (those who can get over how far away it is)! Not enough simply hanging out with friends, though I get some great chats with friends on FB, etc… especially Mel and others who try and get me to slow down or sit still…
  • In the first year I painted house, a lot, furnished on a shoestring, and this year have been having a better go at gardening (3 raspberries so far!).
  • Counselling and coaching sessions are always hard work, but worthwhile. Sourced and shared stories on Beyond Chocolate.
  • Making participating in ‘Faith and Fellowship’ housegroup from Carrville Methodist Church a priority, whilst thinking about if/where might want to be on a Sunday (Tuesday at College = my main service).
  • Been learning to switch off earlier in the evening, seeking to not spend all evening working, nor up late with TV/book. Hmmm…
  • Dealt with a number of technology issues – just had 4 extra MB of RAM put in laptop – SOOOO much faster!
  • Decluttering, including kitchen cupboards (I used to hoard).
  • Streamlined finances, paid off debt to parents, still working on Student Loan (2016!) .. and of course mortgage!

Once the PhD is turned into a book, a couple of articles written, paperwork has been scanned, photo albums complete, and a bit of a digital declutter, then everything becomes forward looking.

This is not necessarily comprehensive & I reserve the right to add things if I remember them – this post is for me really!

A Big Decision: The Year Since

Newcastle #NMTrain

So, the above is a picture that Timehop has just sent me (it sends me a daily reminder of what I shared on social media a year ago) – at our #NMTrain event in Newcastle. A couple of days before I had been promoted to Senior Fellow in Teaching and Learning at the University of Winchester (Grade 9) and offered a job as Research Fellow in Social Media and Online Learning at St John’s College, Durham University (Grade 7) – so I had a big decision to make…. as you’ll likely know (and see Pete’s blog post) I decided to ignore the ££ head for Durham, where CODEC is doing such unique things… I’m achievement-driven, and it’s not been the most straightforward year, I’m always thinking about what I’ve not YET done, so let me take time to think about some of the things I’ve done:

  • Spent 4 days looking round about 20 houses in Durham with Tracey Hulme: purchased one of them – with all the mortgage rigmarole that goes with that!
  • Prepared lots of material for handover at University of Winchester, brought 3.5 years of counselling to an end, packed up, deep cleaned the flat I left, & leaving parties (one after I’d moved!). Met with Brian Draper a couple of times to try and work out how moving to Durham would mean a healthier lifestyle, slowing down, more time for friends, etc. (hmm, that’s not quite working yet!)
  • The BIG move!  Furnished & painted the house top to bottom (with a little help from friends), including lots of little fixings (several of which I’ve got stuck on – I may hire someone for a day!). Having started decluttering 13 years ago based on this William Morris quote – I have this week reached the stage where I have 2 sets of shelves that need sorting, pictures to put up, photos since 2007 to sort, 200+ badges to sew on my blanket, and “quite a big” pile of books to read… otherwise if I ain’t using it, it’s not there!  Even a couple of weeks after I’d moved in it looked like I’d be there for quite some time. Garden is making progress (not sure if I’m a natural gardener), and also slowly pulling together stuff for a new bathroom. Plan is to sit back and enjoy the house then!
  • Maintained and  continued to re-develop BIGBible (see also Tumblr), with help from #digidisciple(s), and particularly Bryony Taylor as we seek to find a way to interact healthily online – so Bryony takes over for at least 4 weeks of the year!
  • book-coverPublication Wise, quite a lot going on, including radio interviews, journal articles, magazine interviews, reviews, – and new deadline for my book manuscript is 9th July (it’s already on Amazon!) – so far about 18k written, to reach 45k this week (notes are all there – read about 40 books, lots of online material & 120 questionnaires returned) – lots of social media activity also & participated in Advent Book Club!
  • Digital Decluttering: Gradually working Inbox 0 (workwise = all is in the to-do list; other emails still need more work); hard-drive tidy aside from a bit-too large “sort me” folder; and both drbexl and Digital Fingerprint have had a bit of an overhaul – though quite a lot of work still to do on my online ‘digital fingerprint’ (digital footprint to many others)…
  • Spoken at lots of events (including co-organising CNMAC & NMTrain/NMThink with Premier) including academic conferences, run several workshops – which has included lots of travel – how else do you get 5 free first-class vouchers on EastCoast!
  • Things that were planned when I moved: Holiday in the Scillies (having a holiday is always an achievement for me!); Hosting Heidi Campbell, running a stand at #GB13, #BigRead13 with Rowan Williams, #MediaLit13; ODHE Project, LST events, kickstarting CODEC website.
  • Things that weren’t planned when I moved: a boss off long-term sick, teaching in Romania, Tearfund trip to Uganda, intensive teaching at Spring Harvest, moving CODEC offices… oh, and 3 colds + ‘proper flu’…
  • Locally I’ve only managed to visit Cathedral/Castle, etc, Hexham and Alnwick so plenty more local sites to see…
  • I think I’ve nearly retained my sanity – still only been in Durham for 10 months tomorrow … quite a lot has happened, right?!  #probablyforgottensomething #allowedtofeelabitweary!

Probably forgotten some stuff, but lots to think about and plan for next year, including ensuring we have processes/lists in place so can focus on the more interesting stuff, ACW competition, #BigRead14 with Stephen Cherry, BA Supervision, potential PhD supervision, how to ensure that Cranmer Hall turns out some of the most digi-aware vicars in the country, time to research digital behaviours… and how we continue to fund CODEC – that’s in my 4 days a week … also continuing to develop Digital Fingerprint, and turn my PhD into a book!

Happy Christmas 2012 & New Year 2013!


Here’s a lovely version of the Nativity composed from Bricks, with an appropriate ‘northern’ accent in honour of my move to Durham:

Loving my new home – first time have my own Christmas Tree… though missing my Winchester friends – but thank goodness for Facebook, etc. they don’t feel as far away!

And there’s some helpful guidance from Durham Markets as to how to prepare/cook your Christmas Turkey:

Looking a bit more round the Internet – liking this from Pinterest:

Source: Uploaded by user via Jen on Pinterest

plenty more where that came from!

And I thought I’d leave you with some Christmas Cake – it’s got fruit in it and everything:

Source: flickr.com via Cindy on Pinterest