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East Berlin: before and after the wall

The story of two TV Tower photographs

The recent examination of the cold war era through the depiction of early 1960s Berlin in the 2015 film Bridge of Spies and the drama series Deutschland 83, reminded me of a visit I made to the city in 1986 and again in 2008. On both occasions I took a photograph from the same vantage point – the visitor’s platform of Berlin’s TV Tower near Alexanderplatz. I recently placed them side-by-side. This is the story of how I came to take them. Continue reading

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Bowie, My Bowie: Eight years that influenced my life

I’ve written this tribute nearly a week after David Bowie’s death. It’s only now that I’ve felt able to put my feelings into words. While his death was a shock, nothing prepared me for the shock of my own emotional response and the concealed depth of feeling I held for this man. Never before have I been so moved by the death of one of my heroes. The passing of creative heroes, such as Warhol, Lou Reed and Lennon, all resonated with sadness and reflection but I just moved on shortly after. Bowie, I now realise, is very different. Unlike Warhol and others, Bowie feels like a friend and creative mentor, complex but accessible. It has led me to experience the strange and untypical sensation of butterflies in the stomach and a feeling of loss. This was amplified by the fact that I’d been listening to his latest studio album, Blackstar, over the weekend of his death and felt I’d reconnected to his consciousness through his music, or so I thought. This was in itself unusual, as I hadn’t listened to any of his albums in their entirety since the early 80s. Continue reading

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Publication: Self-created digital content sharing in retirement

Today a book arrived, Media, Margins and Popular Culture, with the second publication from my PhD. My article relates to statistics showing that the retired population in the United Kingdom is rising and growth in the use of digital technologies and the internet are also increasing within this age group. However, a polarised view of this age range has emerged as either a ‘tech-savvy’ ‘silver surfer’ web user or a fearful, ‘digitally dismissive’ reticent nonuser. This suggests an oversimplified perception of the over-65s, a section of society often ignored in qualitative internet research, and overlooks growing numbers who are using digital technology and the internet for something more than to search and consume online goods and materials. Continue reading

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Presentation: The problem with ‘digital generation’: A study of adult digital content creators

I recently gave a presentation at the 2015 Generations themed MeCSSA conference at Northumbria University in Newcastle. What follows is outline and slide presentation.

Karl Mannheim (1952 [1928]) wrote about problems associated with use of the term ‘generation’. He argued that generational consciousness within a generation is not necessarily homogeneous or coherent, as there will be divergent views and practices within any group. Indeed one of the main criticisms arising from comparisons and differentiation between people in pre-defined generational groups is that standardised assumptions and pre-conceptions are made about how they behave and their ability to learn. This is particularly problematic in the digital era when use of the terms ‘digital generation’ and ‘net generation’ (Tapscott, 2008) are used for the categorisation of age delineation (Buckingham, 2006). Continue reading