Monthly Archives: November 2012

My time is a piece of wax…..

I am part way through the busiest and quite possibly most terrifying week since I started back at university.  I really feel this blog post should be a letter;

“Dear friends and family,

I love you all, but sadly you not going to see me till February.  I am going to be so busy it will be like I am living in another country.  My assignment schedule is crazy.  I am thinking of spending Christmas camping in the library, or at least staying at the Highfield Hotel so I can be close to the library.

See you all next year. x

Here is my assignment schedule for the upcoming weeks.

Course Assignment Date Due
Quantitative Methods 3 questions coursework 7/1/13
Foundations of Web Science Class based conference papers review 12/12/12
Foundations of Web Science Essay – How do theoretical perspectives on science and technology   contribute to our understanding of the web? 12/12/12
Foundations of Web Science Assignment on industry seminars Tbc
Computational Thinking Journalistic article on an area of computing 11/1/13
Computational Thinking Teacher resource pack on history and future of computing 7/12/12
Computational Thinking Public speaking engagement 7/1/13
Hypertext and Web Technology Essay on Hypertext 11/12/12
Hypertext and Web Technology Exam Jan 13
Interdisciplinary Study Essay blending two disciplines and a web issue 5/1/13
Interdisciplinary Study Poster blending two disciplines and a web issue 5/1/13

Lots on.  I need to focus, to concentrate and not allow extraneous concerns to get in my way.  I need to read, take notes and marshal my thoughts.

My attempts to blend Geography and Economics into a viable discipline for studying Digital piracy can be read here.

I’m off to get on with hypertext essay now.  See you soon.

Super Sexy Shoes and Zombies

After the Remembrance Service today I decided to go for a quiet walk in the country.  It didn’t happen.  I took two children with me. First we went to the bog to poke it and look for dead bodies.   We didn’t find any dead bodies.  It has long been an ambition of mine to find a dead body.  I used to walk the dog in the hope that dog walking status would increase the chances, we almost found one once but it turned out to be a puff ball mushroom.  After we searched for dead bodies we flung bits of the bog around.  On our way home we played “The puddles are made of lava” and re-enacted the “Luke, I am your father” scene from Star Wars using sticks and dried cow parsley stalks.  I played the role of Princess Leia, then  Princess Bubblegum finally ending with LSP.  Oh the disgrace.

Walking home I was ruminating on how incredibly happy I am and how fortunate I feel.  I am growing in confidence and intelligence.  I have the best family and friends I could wish for.  The past month has shown me who the important people are and how I am loved and cared for by them.  They stick by me and respect my secrets.  It was at this point when I was thankful for my blessings that I noticed middle son had his school shoes on.  They were filthy and quite possibly ruined.  After yelling about what type of idiot would go out and play in the mud with his school shoes on I noticed that I had my school shoes on and they too were filthy and quite possibly ruined.  A golden opportunity to buy some new ones!

I came late to an interest in shoes, but I love them now.  I love sexy high heels which make my legs look and feel like something fantastic.  I love boots, I harbour a secret desire to striptease to The Velvet Underground’s Venus in Furs and end up in nothing but a pair of thigh high leather boots.   That’s just between us ok?  The shoes I wore to my graduation were so high I thought I would break my leg, but I did feel great in them.  Plus I was nearly the same height as the rest of the population.

So in considering new shoes I want something to reflect my personality and I want to feel good in them.  The answer came  to me in a flash, I need to go back to my roots and get me a pair of docs.   Doc Martens were the only thing on my feet for 10 years.  Once you got over the crippling pain of breaking them in they were so comfortable and lasted forever.  I attended festivals in them, I slept in them, I drove in them, I danced in them, I walked up the aisle in them.  I could certainly play “The puddles are made of lava” and the boots would survive.  Oh my Glob, I reckon its the type of footwear LSP would have.

Doc Martens are sexy.  Best of all you can outrun Zombies in them.  When it comes to Zombies the only use some of my heels would be was if I spiked the Zombies in the eye with them.   So I am going to get me some classic Docs and I am going to feel amazing in them.

I have two badges….

As a child I was fortunate enough to receive two badges that I knew would make my friends green with envy.  One was a Blue Peter badge and the other was a Jim’ll Fix It badge.

I have since lost the Blue Peter badge.  I received it after I drew a new bosse for the York Minster following a fire in 1984.  I didn’t win the competition but my design was drawn out of a tub and I became a runner-up.  I received a Blue Peter badge and a bit of burnt wood from the Minster.  You can read more about the fire and the Blue Peter competition here.

The other day I found my Jim’ll Fix It badge.  It was just when the news was full of the terrible deeds he had done and the culture that existed that allowed widespread child abuse almost with impunity.  It has also made others remember that I was on the programme.

At the age of nine I was helping my parents clear the garden of old runner beanstalks.  My younger brother was also engaged in this arduous task.  My mum suggested how much fun it would be to climb a beanstalk and find a giant and a harp and a golden egg.  We agreed, we were nine and six and didn’t want to be clearing beanstalks.  Prehaps agreeing would allow us to run away and play.  Unbeknown to us, this casual garden clean up had sparked my mother’s imagination and she was off writing to Jimmy Savile about our long-held desire to climb a beanstalk and how such a thing would make our lives complete.

Two years later they got to my mum’s letter.  They arranged a surprise treat for me and my brother where we would go to the studio and be plucked from the audience in order to climb a beanstalk.  I was now eleven and no longer interested in beanstalks (if I ever had been).  Needless to say we climbed the beanstalk (about three times) we found a giant (who was Dave Proswe, you know, Darth Vader) and a golden harp.  We nearly missed our train meeting Terry Wogan in the green room and got raced to Waterloo in a BBC VIP car that drove on to the platform and we jumped out just in time.  That bit was really exciting.

The programme went out and my first Christmas at Secondary School saw me climbing a beanstalk.  It was mortifying.  It did not chime with the sophisticated image I would have liked to portray.  I don’t think I have ever lived down the shame.

Whilst it is gratifying to know that maybe one day my kids will still cringe from the embarrassing things I do for them while thinking I am doing a good thing for them this is not the point of this post.  This post is about all the people who went on Jim’ll Fix It and how they should feel now.  There has been a backlash against Jimmy Savile, his gravestone has gone and his charities are going.  More widely there has been a backlash against the culture of sexual abuse.  This is good, sexual harassment continues to this day and anything that draws attention to the perpetrators of it is a good thing.  We need more of this.

Regardless of what Jimmy did, it does not change my memories.  I do not feel horror that I was touched by a paedophile (on the arm!).  It does not change the fact that this episode from my life was done for me by my parents because they loved me and they wanted me to have fun.  I am still slightly embarrassed by the whole experience but am now able to take it all a bit more light-heartedly.

My embarrassment is nothing to do with the presenter being Jimmy Savile, it’s because I was eleven and climbed a beanstalk.

While the Daily Mash may suggest what to do with old Jim’ll Fix It badges I won’t be melting down mine.

My Jim’ll Fix It Badge.

What a feeling….

When I woke up Tuesday morning I felt fantastic.  All the strains and worries of the previous month had melted away.  I feel like I could slay dragons.  Just after I posted a blog about my academic insecurities.  Irony.   The feedback I got from you following my post was fantastic.  Especially from my web science colleagues.

This feeling of confidence, sexiness, intelligence and general wonderfulness I expected to last till February when the results from the first semester come in.  I expect to feel like an idiot imposter then.   This feeling could not have come at a better time for me.  This week I have been reading and studying Actor Network Theory.  It has been  challenging but rewarding.  I love the idea that networks are made from human and nonhuman actors and they are equally important.  I love the idea that networks are dynamic.  I really hope to get to grips with this theory and run with it.

Long may this feeling last, I am hoping to get so much positive work done while it does.

Academic Writing Style

I am working hard to develop my own academic voice.  This is a task that I have struggled with ever since I began my undergraduate degree.

Firstly, there is nothing wrong with my structure.  I get this, I understand the ideas underpinning proper construction of an essay or piece of academic writing.  The basic form consists of introduction, middle and conclusion.  The middle is written first, followed by the conclusion and lastly the introduction.  The introduction summarises what the essay will say and how it will conclude, the middle consists of topics with arguments for and against my ideas and the conclusion ends up as a summary of what I have proved throughout the essay.  This works for me.

What I wish to develop is my voice, my flavour.  It is not easy.  I want to sound intelligent and educated but I always feel that I actually sound as if I am bluffing.  I feel like I am the Emperor wearing no clothes and it will only take one person to unmask me for the fraud I am.  During my undergraduate degree I would get jealous of my fellow students amazingly grown up sounding essays, whereas I always felt mine read like they had been written by a 10-year-old.  I wanted to sound grown up and clever too.  I used to carry around a  magpie book and add words to it that I wanted to use in essays to sound academic.  An idea I got from my children who carried similar books in order to improve their vocabulary, learning is a two-way process when you are a parent. 

It is beginning to work, I can use academic words in conversations and know what I am talking about.  I can discuss concepts and ideas using correct terminology and phrases.   Although sometimes I flap my arms and demand incoherently that the other person in a conversation knows what I mean.

Whilst having a good vocabulary and excellent essay structure no doubt helps with producing excellent essays, without a doubt the best tool to essay writing is academic reading.  Essays in which the author can show they understand and can engage in the relevant topics are the best.  This may seem to be self-explanatory, but it is amazing how many essay writers sit down without having done the reading or understanding it.

So while I may worry about my individual voice, my vocabulary, my structure (how do you structure a web science essay?  Does anyone have any clues on referencing such a beast?) and my technical abilities, I will aim to ensure that my reading does not let me down.