Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Bill Pertwee: The Warden Says

I'm currently trying to write my abstract for the "Framing Film" conference at the University of Winchester, and spent a very enjoyable couple of hours this afternoon watching "The Warden Says" introduced by Bill Pertwee (on VHS, how old school.. and now I see they are available on DVD!)... thank goodness such little gems have survived!

I know far more about the posters themselves, but there are a few good examples to use for the abstracts from the 48 mini-films (many only a minute or two, to one mini-film at around 20 minutes!), covering recruitment, careless talk, the blackout, cigarette dangers, careless sneezes cost diseases, food choices, dig for victory, salvage (tin/bones/paper), holiday harvests, save fuel and save water! Many echo the messages used in the posters, whilst others actually feature the posters themselves. That should fit well with the 'call for papers' on "Cinema’s relationship with, and even reliance upon, the other visual arts, whether for subject matter, inter-textual promotion or graphic design, is central to our understanding and appreciation of the medium."

DVD 1: The Warden Says
DVD 2: The Warden Says: II

Monday, 30 March 2009

I could eat nothing but pizza for a year

Haloumi Cheese, Zaatar & Tomato Pizzas by avlxyz

No need to edit the default title!

Italian: pasta, pizza, gelato all with in many different (and delicious) flavourings... what more could you want! Well, maybe to find the real cuisine rather than whatever I could afford for 2-3 Euro last summer: http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Italy/Veneto/Venice/blog-330501.html

Faber Finds: Mass-Observation

I used the Mass-Observation archives extensively in my PhD research (see www.ww2poster.co.uk), as it has lots of really interesting material from observations (both direct and indirect) plus collated materials from the war years (and since). It was really ahead of its time! Much of the best material is only available by visiting the archives (based at the University of Sussex), but some of their published material is shortly to be published by Faber & Faber in modern editions.

"They offer an extraordinarily vivid glimpse of a time which will soon not be accessible to living memory. Not only that, they provide evidence of how astutely Mass Observation pre-figured many later intellectual and methodological developments in social research especially in oral history and life history research, in feminist and working class history and in the kind of social research which privileges what we sometimes call the 'ordinary person' and the importance of studying everyday life" Professor Dorothy Sheridan, Mass Observation Archive.

I would particularly recommend these wartime finds:

Universities Online

As part of my research into possibilities for universities to make use of the plethora of social media around, I put out a message on my Twitter feed, and picked up a few new followers working at the overlap of social media/academia, and it's interesting to see what is popping up in this constantly changing field.

Last week (Thursday 26th March), YouTube officially launched an independent area of its site (to which Universities need to apply, and at present seems to be US universities only, but where the US leads, the rest of the world follows...) which seperates scholarly content from the more general content available on YouTube. Along with site Academic Earth which also launched last week, offering lectures direct on the World Wide Web...

Scott Stocker, Stanford's director of Web Communications notes: “Particularly in this time when the coverage of higher ed in general is diminishing in the mainstream media, it allows us to tell stories directly in a very effective way to a large audience.” Wall Street Journal Blog

It's an interesting time to be in academia, seeing what possibilities the new technologies offer, but also being aware that they need to offer a return on investment (both time and money), and to most effectively leverage the media available whilst retaining intellectual property.

Social Media MA
Birmingham City University is to offer an MA in Social Media in September 2009, and the Twitter feed has been buzzing with feeds, and the press has quickly picked up on it, publishing online material several hours before it could make it to print.

""Social media" in the context of Internet technologies is itself a relatively new term which broadly correlates to the concept of Web 2.0. "Social media consultancy" as a profession is being shaped by the early proponents of the field.

There is a dichotomy within this nascent industry. On the one hand established businesses are seeking to co-opt the tools of social media and use them for commercial gain; on the other third sector organisations are making use of these tools to build complex and conversational communication strategies for minimal cost.

This MA programme will explore the techniques of social media, consider the development and direction of social media as a creative industry, and will contribute new research and knowledge to the field." Birmingham City University.

University of Glasgow: Student Blogs
An interesting idea: "our student blogs aim to give you an insight into what it's really like to be a student at Glasgow", which they could also do via a search on YouTube! Interesting to think about the dynamic between official/unofficially sanctioned media. My expectation is that prospective students would trust the unofficial (looking) material more!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

You have to give away a million dollars. How?

Oooo - that sounds like fun, and with the exchange rate as it currently is that's worth quite a lot of money, right....

Can I keep some... in which case I'll buy me a house in Winchester, a car that doesn't need to spend so long in a garage, and a non-broken computer/phone/hi-fi, then throw a great big party and catch up with everyone again properly....

Part of me wants to run through the streets then throwing money left, right and centre, but probably I'd help family/friends with some of their mortgages, and divide it amongst the charities I'd like to support when I have a proper income: http://www.bex-lewis.co.uk/e-campaigning/index.htm

Friday, 27 March 2009

My bucket list starts with: Visit Canada

Visit Canada
Canada looks a beautiful, friendly country, and all the Canadians I've met (and shared rooms with on my travels) have been lovely! I read all the Anne of Green Gables novels when I was younger, and have always wanted to go and see Prince Edward Island... also want to get the train across to the Rockies, see the bright lights of Toronto, ski in Banff, and just take in the beautiful landscapes... while trying out some daft activities and taking a million photos no doubt, see: http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/drbexl/ for evidence of that!

Publish my PhD as a Book
I will never feel like I've finished my PhD until I see my name on the spine of a book in the bookstores. There's plenty of interesting material in my PhD (see http://www.ww2poster.co.uk), lots of interest in it (see the recent furore over 'Keep Calm and Carry On': http://drbexl.blogspot.com/2009/03/keep-calm-and-carry-on.html). Originally I intended to call my book "It's Up To You" after a poster which takes the Kitchener "Your Country Needs You" as a design inspiration, but now Keep Calm and Carry On seems far more appropriate, as I'm particularly interested in why such images still resonate over 60 years later). At my PhD viva we spent most of the time discussing turning the thesis into a book (would probably take around a year on top of a steady job), and the book proposal is in process... meantime, travelling and job-seeking have rather taken away from that!

Visit Israel
OK, so it's another "visit somewhere", as the remainder may be... I want to take a trip to Israel with http://www.oakhall.co.uk. I know loads of people who've been and they all say the same thing... really tiring, but completely awesome and inspiring (well, that describes pretty much any Oak Hall trip that I've been on!)

See a Formula 1 Race live
I used to follow Formula 1 avidly, watching heats, races, repeats, highlights - you name it, and reading all the magazines. I then realised how much of my life this was taking up and pretty much went cold turkey. However, getting to know Emma @ Manchester we chatted about Formula 1 lots, and I would still like to go to see a live race... not sure where yet. I have stood on the starting grid and podium at Albert Park in Australia, and may watch some of this weekend's... if only to remind me of the time I spent in Australia (and there's somewhere else to go back to!)... I had a day's race car driving experience: http://www.bex-lewis.co.uk/career/big_achievements/drivingexperience.htm, whic was great... bring on the skid-pan racing next!

Run the London or New York Marathon
I've done a couple of 10ks, and would even need to build back up to that length at the moment, but I've always wanted to run the London Marathon (although sometimes I think the New York would suit my traveller mind more). I have actually completed a full-length marathon event: http://www.bex-lewis.co.uk/career/big_achievements/moonwalk.htm, which is maybe almost harder than a daytime marathon, but still, running a marathon beckons...

Thursday, 19 March 2009

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:

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The athlete in me!!!

The 'have a go hero(ine)'...! Aside from my PhD where I am undoubtedly the world's expert on British Home Front Propaganda Posters, see http://www.ww2poster.co.uk/ (well, it's a niche!), I am one of life's explorers! I like to remain open to the possibilities of what is going on out there... I usually have a flexible plan for what I want to achieve, and am highly aware of the areas that I'm interested in, but as a bit of a meerkat (well, that was the animal I chose to describe myself as for my life-coaching course), I like to get an overview, and am always looking around for new possibilities!

So, in that whole paragraph, how much athletics did I mention... not a lot, but in the spirit of that paragraph I probably wouldn't be renowned for my athletic prowess in any sport as I flirt with many... like to meet my challenges to a certain level, then I'm ready to try something new:

Lover of circuit training (and most other non-dancy gym classes), give me another go at Kickboxing soon please!
2 x 10k Runs (about to get back into the swing of this)
Certified PADI Open Water Diver
Skier... I can complete a black run without falling over... sometimes!
15,000 foot skydiver
Hiked the Inca Trail (and other walking trips on my round-the-world travels)
Climbed the highest point of Montserrat, near Barcelona
Completed the Moonwalk (26.2 miles overnight), in preparation for which walked about 6 miles per day to work/back!

So, looks like walking might be the winner... all exercises the brain... and for most of my sessions it's exercises the mouth too... yes, I have to admit, that's probably most what I like about the exercise... the chance for a conversation... multi-tasking in a feminine way!

Wow, I quite like this Plinky thing... one short question and many different ideas, all answered in different ways!

Seat me next to the irritating talker, please

What This is About:
Just stumbled across 'Plinky', a site which provides random questions, to which you can provide an answer in any way you choose (and it just demonstrates the different ways in which people's minds think!). I linked it to this blog, and next thing I know, it's posted what I've written... (and the prompt acts as the blog title) that's one way to get creative with the blogging (was actually trying to work out how to post the days tweets as a blog, not worked that one out yet!). Unfortunately it doesn't post images or give an option to add labels/keywords, but I can (and am) re-editing afterwards to add those elements, although where possible leaving the article as is! Done a couple of entries, but don't want to a) use them all up b) overwhelm with entries!

The Upload from Plinky:
Talk, talk, talk...

Sitting in silence ALL day would drive me completely up the wall, although if they distracted me from taking photos out of the window they'd be in trouble! I'll pretty much talk to anybody and can find interest in most conversations... although the irritating voice may get to me in the end... maybe I'd have to try and pace my conversation to theirs!

You Only Have One Life: Live It Well

It's such a pain not having a functional (internet) computer at home, can take a little while to get around to these things, and fit them around the sheer volume of work that is currently coming in! Living by my mantra of if you're going to do something, do it on time and do it well... keeps getting me more work! Just got to keep believing it's going to keep coming, although am putting my best foot forward for a full-time post also!

One Life Live
A great event hosted over the weekend at Kensington Olympia! I've been looking forward to going to this for months, having pre-purchased my ticket via Psychologies magazine (and then getting special offers from several other RSS feeds I subscribe to - hey, you win some, you lose some!) ages ago!

The event was structured into a number of zones:

  • New careers & Learning
  • Free Time
  • Be Your Own Boss
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Travel & Career Breaks
  • Sustainable Living
  • Life Change
  • Volunteering & Fundraising

I LOVE learning, so I checked out a bit of that, wandered around the 'be your own boss', but I'm aware (but haven't quite read) most of that literature, and of course was checking out the 'Life Change' areas, but as always, I gravitate towards the travel and volunteering sections... very inspiring to see the ways in which you can combine travel with so many other things... I may return with specifics of companies, but right now I need to learn how to use Wordpress!

As I said, interested in the volunteering section, so put my actions where my feet were, and signed up to do The Big Sleep Out at Winchester Cathedral on 15th May: http://www.justgiving.com/drbexl

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

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...

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Terry Waite: "Survival in Extreme Situations"

A great talk at the University of Winchester last night by Terry Waite. Terry was in Winchester for a dual purpose for the day, opening a new housing project with Emmaus during the day, and giving an interesting lecture in the evening to a packed-out audience.

I wasn't taking notes, so this is simply a brief summary of the 4 things that really struck a chord which have remained in mind overnight:
  • In hostage negotiation, Terry Waite would be looking to meet up with the captors, THEN forge a relationship.
  • Waite is very much AGAINST paying money to captors, as he feels this simply encourages further hostage taking, as evidenced since the advent of 'hostage insurance'.
  • Waite maintained a mantra for his days in captivity "No regrets, no reminiscences, no self-pity", something which we can all learn from!
  • When asked if his relationship with God had changed over his time in captivity, the answer was "No, God is not an insurance policy", and at all times Waite had gone into the hostage negotiations aware that he could be captured. (The Christian in me says "yes", the academic in me says "Discuss" - the two are not incompatible!)

Terry Waite as a speaker.