ALT-C 2009: In Dreams Begin Responsibility


Watching ALT-C 2009, streaming live from the University of Manchester, from today through Thursday 10th August 2009. There’s also some other sessions being streamed via UStream.

Follow the stream on Twitter. (#altc2009 seems to be the main hashtag, but there are other’s noted!).
Beware of the concept of Digital Natives:

Digital Fingerprint

Since 1997, I have had “mydesigna” as a catch-all for the websites that I’ve designed. As I move more and more into social media, I have set up a new WordPress site, which will become the new, up-to-date site, far more appropriate! I’m faffing around with Blue Host, and hopefully will learn how to upload my own CSS/use my own domain name, then I’m all set to help other people with the same! I’ve just had a fun day helping Deborah Kerslake of Serenergise gain an understanding of some of the possibilities for social media, I think the one she’s most looking forward to using is Twitter! As a result of teaching Debs about fan pages, I have also set up one of my own for Digital Fingerprint!

Woo hoo!

I used those precise words when I sent an email to my Mum the other day. My plan on coming back to Winchester was to get enough work to see me through to June… job done, but although I’d had lots of conversations, I didn’t have anything concrete for my next stage – enough work to see me through until October. I was then offered 2 pieces of work which, if I’m careful, will at least keep me that long, and there’s other conversations in the pipeline!

I think that deserves a big WOO-HOO of celebration!

#assk64: Trending

#assk64

Finally, I am “trendy”, and was ahead of fashion!
The website “64 words for Aung San Sui Kyi” launched yesterday evening at 9.30pm (GMT), and I was only the second person to Tweet using the hashtag #assk64. Working late on something, I watched it start to take off, particularly once @SarahBrown10, @jimmycarr and @eddieizzard started tweeting about it.
Trending Topic
The image to the left is a screenshot from Twitter in the last 10 minutes, showing that #assk64 is now the third most popular topic on Twitter right now – that’s pretty impressive in less than 24 hours! Most are redirecting people to the website although of course there’s always a few mis-using it – ignore them!
So Where are most of the Retweets coming from?
The organisation behind this hasn’t been slow in asking celebrities to post their “64 words” (although many, like me, have tweeted about it, rather than written their 64 words), and I suspect that @stephenfry (with over half-million followers) has had quite a bit to do with an extra spurt in popularity and the official @64forsuu should be worth following too! @assk64 has dropped off the top trending topics, but still plenty of activity, particularly triggered by Alan Davies this afternoon.
On the Website: George Clooney, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Vaclav Havel, David Beckham, Daniel Craig, and the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown have all written messages of support.

The News: Waiting to see it start to appear, only 1 story in Google at the moment.

Take Action: On the website, on Twitter, or on Facebook!
Update 11th July 2009: Interestingly #assk64 is still circulating on Twitter.

#assk64 : 64 Words for Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi: 64th Birthday Coming Up

As Aung San Suu Kyi approaches her 64th birthday (June 19th 2009), and around 13 years of imprisonment, this site was created to collect hundreds of messages of support before that birthday. Created in only 6 days by Rechord, and launched only a couple of hours ago, the site already has a buzz going on Twitter, largely thanks to @SarahBrown10 (Gordon Brown’s wife, he’s also posted an entry, but it keeps disappearing thanks to the volume of Tweets!) and @JimmyCarr, and now @eddieizzard! You can read more about ASSK, and her fight against illegal imprisonment.

Add your voice: Website; Twitter Feed (using hashtag #assk64, let’s see if we can get it trending!); become a friend on Facebook.

Georgette Heyer: The Historical Holiday Read

I have loved Georgette Heyer’s regency novels since my mum lent me ‘Frederica’ many years ago (I know most people think I’m only about 25, but I’m considerably older than that!)… that copy of Frederica has long since disintegrated, but no worries, I tracked down another one!!! In fact, with much diligent searching I have tracked down all her regency romances, and most of her other texts excluding the detective novels, which, never being so popular as her regency romances were (at least not since, although they may have been at the time). I could do a bit more research and make this a scholarly entry, but I’m supposed to be on a week’s break, hence the Heyer’s come out and the brain switches off!! Not managed to get one off the shelf yet, but I will…. and meantime was checking out how far Georgette Heyer appears on the web:

Stephen Fry: Guilty Pleasures (go to around 2:40-3:50)

Go Jenson Button….


As the National Anthem rings out again, it’s another win for Jenson Button! Awesome… watching it on the BBC news site! Until 4-5 years ago I used to avidly follow qualifying, races, follow-up and read F1 magazine, then decided it was just taking up too much of my life, but I still maintain an interest in it. Was great to see Lewis Hamilton’s victories last year… although as I was abroad I missed most of it, but maybe this year it’ll suck me back in…

Keep Calm and Carry On

“For many the wartime slogans, such as Dig for Victory, Careless Talk Costs Lives, and Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases, have never been forgotten. Such slogans have been passed on as a part of our common heritage,” says Dr Rebecca Lewis, a historian who has made a study of the subject. “Posters that were not published or were withdrawn also make for interesting study, particularly for reasons as to why they were rejected,” she adds. “However, there do not seem to be many examples of these, although whether this is because records of unsuccessful designs were not kept or because there were not many was not established.”

Simon Edge, ‘Sign of the Times’, Daily Express, Thursday March 19, 2009, p36

So, a part of my thesis is finally published… my book is still in the planning stages, and the website: http://www.ww2poster.co.uk/ needs a distinct overhaul and I am throwing around ideas for an associated blog, but I’m not there yet [EDIT: See http://ww2poster.wordpress.com/]! In the meantime, I’ve been quoted in the national press in relation to a story which now I’ve done a bit of a hunt, appears to have been circulating for some time, re the discovery of the unpublished Second World War posters ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ ten years ago by Barter Books, and it’s continued surprise success (although with my love of wartime posters I don’t find the idea that people love posters surprising, it is surprising that such a generally non-visual design is popular, but the slogan is very strong, and very apt in the present times)!

PhD Findings
My PhD ‘The Planning, Design and Reception of British Home Front Propaganda Posters of the Second World War’ was awarded (without corrections) in June 2004 by what is now the University of Winchester.

A section from pages 104-5 of my thesis (copy held in the Imperial War Museum, and in the RKE Centre at the University of Winchester):

The poster with a proclamation from the King was to be ‘plastered everywhere in order to drive the contents into everyone’s head’.[1] By August 1939 war was regarded as inevitable, and by 9 August the finished drawings were submitted to Macadam for final approval. Any adaptations to proportions would then be made and the posters printed.[2] By 23 August the proportions to be printed were decided. The percentages were: ‘Freedom is in Peril’ (for remote areas), 12% (figure 22); ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’, 65%; and ‘Your Courage, etc.’, 23% (figure 1).[3] The Treasury had approved costs for a single poster, three designs were produced, exceeding estimates by under £50. “Our Fighting Men Depend on You” for factories, works, docks and harbours, was also printed, for which no allowance had originally been made.[4] By September, ‘Your Courage’ and ‘Freedom is in Peril’ were already being posted throughout the country. ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’ was printed and held in reserve for when the necessity arose, for example, a severe air-raid, although it was never actually displayed. Soon after war was declared, the small poster ‘Don’t Help the Enemy, Careless Talk may give away vital secrets’ (figure 62) was approved by the War Office and was ready to put into production. 58,000 copies had already been distributed by September 17, and 75,000 copies were to be despatched daily from September 26.[5] By the end of September 1939, roughs for further designs had been prepared and approved, including messages from the King and the Queen, designs specifically for factories and docks, and designs specifically for each branch of the armed services: reassurance, not recruiting, posters.[6]

[1] PRO INF 1/10, ‘Functions and Organisation of the Ministry. Memorandum by E.B. Morgan’, early 1939.
[2] PRO INF 1/266, ‘Memo from Vaughan to Macadam’, August 9 1939.
[3] PRO INF 1/226, ‘Letter from Macadam to W.G.V. Vaughan’, August 23 1939. In the same folder, ‘Demand for Printing Slip for HMSO’, August 31 1939, and ‘Poster Campaign: Distribution’, November 1 1940, give details of the exact quantities ordered on August 31 1939, in a variety of sizes and in both broadside and upright versions, and where distributed. PRO INF 1/302, ‘Summary of Activities of Home Publicity Division’, September 28 1939 notes that all sizes were included, from 20ft. by 10ft. down to 15” x 10”.
[4] PRO INF 1/226, ‘Letter from I.S.Macadam, MOI to E.Rowe-Dutton, Treasury’, September 4 1939.
[5] PRO INF 1/6, ‘First Report on the Activities of the Ministry of Information from September 3 to September 17 1939’, September 1939.
[6] PRO INF 1/302, ‘Summary of Activities of Home Publicity Division’, September 28 1939.

I have lots more I could say, and hope to be back with some more considered comments, summarising elements of my PhD, before I get round to the book!

Some Links:

Social Networking World Forum

9th March: My Birthday! How do I choose to spend it? The morning on catching up with some sleep, and the afternoon at the Social Networking World Forum (with an evening with Helene to look forward to):

This was the inaugural conference in the UK, and I remember seeing the date for next year already, although strangely enough cannot now find it on the site! I couldn’t afford the conference fees (replacing my broken laptop is a much higher priority!), but was able to get the free exhibition pass, which also included a couple of free workshops offered by Tempero and the Facebook Developer Garage. Exhibition itself was pretty small, but I would expect it to grow in future years.

Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom
The guys on all the stands were all friendly, but had quite an extended chat with the guys on the Wiley publishing stand, as I finally purchased ‘Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom: How Online Social Networking Will Transform Your Life, Work and World’, which I’d been considering for a while. They offered me chocolate too, which always go down well (although now, come to think of it, I forgot to take it). Can see potential for academic modules from this kind of material!

Also had extended conversations with the guys from BT Tradespace and WebJam, and very impressed by the speed of contact from the guys at the Digital Training Academy. Hmmm… who else…

More Academic Networking

Academia.edu

OK, a new site (or is it new, well, it’s new to me!) has appeared on my horizon: Academia.edu. Discovered it through Facebook, when I saw Martin (Polley, my PhD supervisor) had signed up to it. Wonder why it didn’t appear when I Googled “academic social networking”, obviously doesn’t have great SEO – have to teach them some tricks! The site looks like it could add some real value, as it has listed all departments even within the University of Winchester where I work (a small university), not just American Universities. Can list your publications, significant conference papers, research interests, upload your CV. Think it has real value-added potential!

Life Coaching
OK, maybe a blog should be about a single subject, but I just wanted to put a bit of info on tonight. This week has been extremely busy, the lowlight of which was my laptop breaking, so I’m borrowing another computer to write this (so excuse the image, created with Paint, rather than PhotoShop!). Still deciding on a new one, but in the meantime, tomorrow have my final weekend of the current course of life-coaching (it’s going to be a lifelong learning skill, but have found it useful already in teaching!)

Check out:
On other matters, I’ve been doing life coaching with Bex (see http://www.bex-lewis.co.uk/) and it’s been really helpful. I’ve now got a second blog where I talk solely about my PhD, which came out of one of our sessions, and I am thinking more positively and being more organised. You should give it a go!”
http://charlynorton.blogspot.com/2009/02/its-been-few-days.html

The Past Influences the Present

Yesterday, whilst working with my “Reflecting History” group, we had a number of great discussions about current/recent controversies which have a historical aspect (which could include many things, but we were looking to define a specific workable question which would produce a 15 minute presentation and a 2000 word essay). One of my students is looking at why so much of the current media coverage about the economic crisis refers back to the depression of the 1930s, and not to the recessions of the 1970s/1990s, so I was interested to see this article by Frank Skinner:

“For example, though I’m confident I’ve spotted every reference in the Virgin ad, I had to turn to Google when I began to hear political commentators describing this current economic crisis as “worse than the recession of 1987”. I couldn’t remember that recession at all. Beadle’s About, yes, Black Monday, no. And it’s not just me. When my mum talked about the war, she never mentioned fascism or appeasement; it was all George Formby, powdered egg and drawing a line down the back of your legs so you looked like you had stockings on. Thus, when we look back at the current recession, for all its apparent horrors, we might remember it very differently. It might not seem so important. It might just be outside on the news stand. I think it helps to consider that.”

Frank Skinner Article, The Times, 13th February 2009

Thankfulness and Positivity

As we rolled into 2009, I’d already been preparing to start my “Thankfulness Diary”, which is a cross between a prayer diary (inspired by Bill Hybels “Too Busy not to Pray”) and a focus on that for which I’m thankful on a daily basis. I often like to get things “right” and both my thankfulness diary and this blogs are areas in which I want to play and see where the path takes me (in a similar way to how I prefer to travel!), as for paid work it’s a lot more focused, but without that space for creativity, no new thinking will emerge.

Thankfulness Diary
I bought an A4 page-to-a-day diary (and would you believe how long it took to find one which had full pages for Saturday/Sunday as well as weekdays, finally, a £1 shop!), and either in the morning or the evening I combine my chapter of Bible reading with some notes from The Word for Today and then I let myself at it. Text is still my primary medium, but I let myself at the scribbled drawings too, and who knows what else might come to mind as I relax into it more!

Whether to go morning or evening depends on my mood, and each has different benefits. In the morning set off for the day with a particular spring in the step, in the evening can really think back over what has happened on that particular day. 

I have noticed a difference as with “the current economic climate”, the fact I’m living out of a suitcase in a friend’s spare room whilst job-hunting I could just focus on the the mountains to climb, but instead am concentrating on a step at a time (and looking back at the steps already taken) as I’m incredibly grateful that I do have a roof over my head, I’m picking up some bit-work which all adds to the portfolio, and there’s space for some creative thinking, further learning whilst I move through the process.

It’s not an “instant fix”, and it certainly doesn’t mean walking around on (or in!) a cloud of hot air all day. A bad news story, e.g. “more jobs lost” can still knock you sideways, but looking back at all the things there are to be thankful, and looking at it within the bigger picture wins the battle.. eventually!

Positivity
I wondered if anyone had set up a positivity blog to counteract the current negative thinking, particularly focusing on positive news stories. Not found one like that, but the first entry on Google does have a lot of tips for creating a positive mindset for yourself, and in fact offers a specific “Positivity Challenge” which chimes with the above.

Linking Note
To note, if you wish to create a link to a long URL (I’m especially thinking if you want to create a posting in Twitter) use Tiny URL to create a short URL which doesn’t break-up in emails, or use up all that space.

Chat Acronyms and Text Shorthand

LOL: “Laugh out Loud”… I thought lots of people were sending me “lots of love” when I first received this! 

HTH: “Hope this helps”… 2 years later, and thinking I was pretty savvy with the text speak, I had to look this simple one up too! 

If you’re wondering about the latest online lingo, checkout: http://www.netlingo.com/emailsh.cfm, there’s a whole lot more there than I thought there would be!

Science can’t explain the big bang – there is still scope for a creator

We should not dismiss the concept of intelligent-design lessons in school, says Thomas Crowley
The Guardian, Tuesday 6 January 2009 

You reported a recent poll which indicates about 25% of UK teachers support the teaching of creationism in secondary school science courses (Would you Adam and Eve it? Quarter of science teachers would teach creationism, 23 December). In a sidebar, Professor Richard Dawkins states that it would be a “national disgrace” if such a high percentage of teachers believe this, adding that the teachers must be either “stupid” or “ignorant”.

But an important point of confusion involves the poor use of the term “creationism” in the original poll question: “Alongside the theory of evolution and the big bang theory, creationism should be taught in science lessons.” The question is ambiguous because there are at least two interpretations of “creationism”.

A “hard” definition is that the Earth is about 6,000 years old and that God created man and all the other creatures as in the Book of Genesis. This definition is out of line with virtually all scientific evidence and cannot fit in a science course. Sir Michael Reiss says: “Some students have creationist beliefs. The task of those who teach science is … to treat such students with respect”. I agree – if for no other reason than that sneering sarcasm almost never changes someone’s mind.

But a softer definition of creationism is not as easily dismissed. Although science can state a great deal about what followed after the big bang, it cannot in fact explain how “something” (the energy of the universe compressed into a volume the size of a golf ball) arose from nothing beforehand.

This yawning logical gap leaves open the possibility that something else may be going on. The history of life is consistent with Darwinian evolution, although life’s increasing complexity – including the very recent appearance of modern man – is also consistent with (but not proof of) the possibility of some special creative agent existing.

A further point of confusion is that “intelligent design” – again a term not properly clarified in the article (or apparently in government guidelines) – is not just a figment of Christian fundamentalist thought. It is embedded in any Christian religion that continues to treat the promise of a messiah, the incarnation and the resurrection as historical fact (the reasoning being that, if God is responsible for creating the big bang, then the incarnation and resurrection would be child’s play by comparison).

This could be used to make a case against outright dismissal of the concept of creationism and intelligent design in the science classroom. However, if included at all, it should still take only a small amount of total class time to discuss. And it is essential for any teacher to point out that, even if “soft creationism” and “intelligent design” are true, they cannot be considered science until they make predictions that can be falsified.

But as long as science cannot explain how our universe evolved from nothing, scientists should not be so quick to dismiss the “soft form” of creationism. And the subject certainly does not warrant arrogance from those who seem to think that scientific materialism is the only logical option for the 21st century.

• Thomas Crowley is a professor of geosciences at the University of Edinburgh and has previously taught evolution in a US university with many fundamentalist students.

The Guardian, 6th December