Digital reinvention – the rise and fall of ColinMcCampbell

Not only is this the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do. The phrasing was deliberately ambiguous, but most of the audience and many London newspapers and magazines took it to mean that Bowie was retiring from music. In fact, he had killed off his Ziggy persona but not his music career.

Now as reinventions go my decision to start again with twitter is hardly up there with the end of Ziggy Stardust, but the end of @ColinMcCampbell is about more than my use of a social network.

I started with @colinmccampbell at an educational technology conference in Shanghai back in 2009. Assisted and encouraged by then colleagues @brianlockwood and @GenkiU I stumbled into this new arena. I attended sessions hosted by @ewanmcintosh, @mscofino@cogdog & @dwarlick at the same conference and I was blown away by the openness and creativity of this community. The son of a gadget loving photograher I had grown up in a technology enhanced household and it has always seemed natural for me to bring computers into things, but this was different. They weren’t talking about technology they were talking pedagogy, community and revolution. The conversations I’d wanted to have for years as a teacher were happening and were being pushed by educational technologists.

Soapbox by Shuttleworth from Flickr (cc)

Soapbox by Shuttleworth from Flickr (cc)

So as @ColinMcCampbell I started blasting away on twitter, edublogs and then wordpress. I wrote about educational change and tried to be as open as possible, following the example of @ewanmcintosh using my real name (or as close to it as I was permitted, there are a million Colin Campbells) and looking to engage with others. I built up a network, of sorts, on twitter and through my blogs and on the advice of Stephen Downes in this post did my best to share, to be open, to engage and not lurk too much. This was hard though, it was difficult to do more than support the comments of others especially in the forums, discussions and blogs I was drawn to and finding your online voice is hard especially amongst more experienced peers. Then I wondered into the open online digital storytelling course called #DS 106 and I started to rethink (as is the goal of the course) my digital identity/ self/ selves.

Two conversations stay with from this experience. One was with the organiser of the course – meddler in the middle – Jim Groom.

Jim had kicked the course off as Dr. Oblivion and ran the first few sessions under that adopted persona. He tweeted and blogged as him as well. In the midst of the above exchange I then started to think, is Jim messing with me now?

Jim Groom or Dr. Oblivion?

Jim Groom or Dr. Oblivion?

Amongst this I had developed an unhealthy obsession, perhaps fuelled by my own procrastinations, with the films of Charlie Kauffman – so layered, potentially unreliable narratives was very much in my mind anyway. I was befuddled as to to what to do with all of this? I was thinking, what do I want my online identity to be? What manifestation of myself? What is my identity as a teacher? As an educational blogger? As someone trying to start a socially responsible education start-up? I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied not with what I had been saying but the way I had been saying it. Whole parts of me were being left out.

I then read this excellent confessional blog post from @BrianLamb and nodded along in agreement. He seemed to find a new lease of life by venting his frustration with dialogues he connected with conceptually but just couldn’t get excited about. This post was, for me, about not letting the communities and conversations you are part of dictate the mode and nature of your expression. #DS 106 reminded me of how much I like to make things, my fondness for movies, storytelling and subversive, sweary conversations. Sure we get these things from other places but we want our digital selves to be true don’t we, or honest at least.

And so as we come back to an almost depressingly simple truism that I heard the John Peel say when asked about the secret of his longevity on Radio 1.

John Peel by Foxtongue on flickr (cc)

John Peel by Foxtongue on flickr (cc)

He acknowledged, grudgingly, that not having an image is an image in itself, but there was something about his honesty that would keep you listening, even when he went an hour without playing something that you really liked. Thankfully there are good people making sure for all we still miss him terribly, we can still enjoy his music.

So how does all this relate to Ziggy Stardust and ColinMcCampbell and digital identity? Well I’ve decided to let the manifestation of me that was ColinMcCampbell go. Why? Well because he mainly just jumped into a communities, had a look round, broadcasted from a soapbox and then left. If our habits create our digital identities he meant well, but he got things wrong.

My digital selves are splintering anyway with the development of this blog on our project’s website where I will write about learning and through my involvement in PechaKucha Hanoi which has been a great way to reconnect with the city and the creativity of the community here.

So, here is what @colinicampbell is going to try to do. Now I did say try, as we all need to get on the soapbox once in a while.

-comment and blog less preciously

-maintain my interest in education learning (it is what I do) but engage with more folks about sustainability, filmmaking, storytelling, Hanoi/ Vietnam, music, politics and social entrepreneurship

-avoid tweeting about blogging, or blogging about tweeting (shite! off to a bad start)

-more productive

-not drinking too much

-regular exercise at the gym (3 days a week)

-getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries

-at ease

-eating well (no more microwave dinners and saturated fats)

-a patient better driver

-a safer car (baby smiling in back seat)

-sleeping well (no bad dreams)

-no paranoia

-careful to all animals (never washing spiders down the plughole)

-keep in contact with old friends (enjoy a drink now and then)

-will frequently check credit at (moral) bank (hole in wall)

-favours for favours

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3 thoughts on “Digital reinvention – the rise and fall of ColinMcCampbell

  1. Brian Lamb

    Great post – and I’m unduly pleased to find my post referenced between Charlie Kaufman and John Peel… (I can only hope I have not lost all sense of perspective in terms of self-assessment.)

    I’ll be reading and clicking.

    Reply
    1. Colin Campbell Post author

      Thanks for the comment Brian, like the sound of the pitch fest and remixathon sessions at the open-ed conference I read about on abject. Seems like some equilibrium has been achieved since your pavement/ hoff episode.

      Reply
  2. Andy

    Aaahh…Here you are. Choosing life! Ranting about not ranting. Loved reading this. Big love to the little fellas and the missus.

    Reply

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