The Awesome Jo Brand

This has to be the facial expression of the week for me – a mixture of strength and despair from the wonderful Jo Brand (staking a stance about sexual harassment on Have I Got News For You ). Whilst we all probably agree there needs to be more women on comedy panel programmes, I had an interesting conversation that made me think of how our silence has played such an important part on where we are today “constantly under siege” – or rather, where we aren’t in terms equality.

In the latest allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour, my immediate reaction has been, really? Does this still go on? I think this leads me to part of the problem – generations of mainly but not exclusively women have experienced unwanted inappropriate behaviour from others, but as we develop our armour over the years from those first early jobs, we experience it less? As we develop our armour and confidence presumably we are seen as less easy targets? We remove ourselves from workplaces and situations – I remember a PhD interview where the Professor and Senior Consultant didn’t look me in the eye once. Creep. As we develop our cut-throat witty one liners – it is clear we are not to be meddled with. I’m lucky, I play in bands and drink pints, and I’m pretty convinced that has made my life a lot easier in being one of the blokes and out of the firing line.
Coming back to the generational thing is important. Only recently my 80+ year old mum started to tell me of what life was like getting the tube to work in London and life in the office in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Gropers and meddlers were abound, and flashers on the tube a regular occurrence. As the older children in the family started work, they were told to look after the younger girls and boys – the boys weren’t immune either. She never told me this before, and I’ve still never shared my experiences. Maybe her own experiences meant that we never talked about this stuff in the home. I always put it down to my parents being very Victorian but now I’m not so sure. The moment something mildly sexual came on the telly, my mother would burst forth with a profuseness of tutting, and hail the scenes as “utter filth”. My dad was a hefty man and this was the days before remote controls, but he could get to the telly and change channels faster than Usain Bolt off the starting blocks.
I wonder if each generation probably thinks things have changed and therefore remains silent without doing anything about it.
Of course the problems are more complex than the media portrays, and the rather simplistic binary argument of men versus women is really unhelpful and uncomfortable. I’ve worked in offices with some mortifyingly embarrassing female colleagues, sitting on the knees of directors and going off for private meetings. They were the ones with the power. And as my mum would say “letting the side down”. I’m not surprised that work cultures are confused, although it doesn’t excuse it. We are all complicit in our silence, and society has therefore continued along based on what has not been said.
So we need to talk about it. Mums, nannies, aunts, sisters, talk to your girls and your boys. Hopefully we’ll get to a point where these matters aren’t comedy fodder for men on panel games, and they’ll be able to talk about it too.

Reclaiming our history ICDE Presentation

Congratulations to Irwin and Martin for presenting this great piece of work using Katy Jordan’s expertise on citation network analysis. A very interesting look at a number of key open and digital learning papers, and connections between other academic and research origins.

Ghosts – @ds106dc #tdc2096

Tell us a ghost story – #tdc2096

Well! Which to tell? This one is simple. The ghost(s) in our house where I grew up used to make the Christmas decorations spin around the light fittings. The baubles would spin at top speed and suddenly stop. Fact.





Lovely image from

DNA: The Secret of Smooth

It seems to me that the Yachtski scale, as a linear device, is increasingly becoming the subject of contention. And with other areas of the Yacht or Nyacht discussion delving into the history of smooth, it is perhaps time to apply some evolutionary genetics to advance our understanding.


Introducing Gregor Mendel

When we start to delve into the history of smooth we stumble across an unexpected character, the founding father of genetics, Greg Mendel. What we can reveal is that whilst he was breeding peas in his garden shed, he was also listening to smooth music. In fact, the his garden shed was an old converted boat house, and the pea seeds germinated to the calm relaxing vibes of yacht rock music.

Greg Mendel

Greg Mendel – fan of the #smooth

The science bit!

Recently discovered, some of Mendel’s historic sketches reveal early hidden hypotheses that refute the linearity of the Yachtski Scale. Combinations of what he called ‘smooth heredity factors’ could form only two phenotypes – either audibly smooth (so-called Yacht) or not smooth at all (so-called Nyacht). As he experimented he realised these always fell into the ratio of 3:1. This would account for why the combination of two (or more) supposedly smooth factors may on occasions (25% of the time) produce a non-smooth result (as detected by the fine measurements of the Yachtski instrument).

Taking the pea

However the phenotype was just part of the story and reflected a complex array of genotypic factors underneath.

Mendel's Early Notes

Mendel’s Early Notes








As Greg unravelled the mystery of heredity and unpicked the determining genotypes, he found dominant inheritance factors always included the featuring of the singers Kenny and Michael, and songs with the words ‘fool’, ‘heartache’, ‘sailing’ or ‘wind’ in the title. Further experiments showed that recessive inheritance factors that figured in the Nyacht genotype were the year of recording, and the presence of an out-of-tune alto saxophone solo. Perhaps the most radical finding, was the discovery of bass pairings that hold the complimentary strands of genetic material smoothly together. This discovery is often not accredited to Greg.

Bass Pairs

Bass Pairs


The CRISPR revolution

Toward the end of his career, Greg had achieved such intricate levels of smooth genotypic combination, it was only to be centuries later where his most hidden secrets were to be revealed. The latest CRISPR technology – Clustered Regularity Interspaced Smooth Pallendromic Repeats – only this week – revealed the wonders of his ultimate experiment. Supreme smoothitude and top of the Yachtski scale. Scientists revealed an animated GIF that Mendel put inside live pea genes all those years ago.