Update: I feel like I’ve grown a lot since writing this angry post. I don’t feel like I’m the same person that wrote this, but have kept it up as an example of how sometimes I get things very wrong.


Last week I keynoted the DeFT OER dissemination conference. I enjoyed the event, received good feedback afterwards and thought it was well-received. Certainly no-one raised any major issues either in the opportunities for question-and-answer, nor during the rest of the day when I was visible and around to talk to those in the audience.

That’s why this blog post (on the official JISC-funded project blog) caught me by surprise. Now, I know that what I probably should do is ignore or perhaps downplay it. But I’m not going to, because I’m actually outraged that the author feels like she can get away with misrepresenting me in this way. You can find out what I actually said (I recorded it) by going to my conference blog.

I now have the ‘my mother test’. My mother reached the grand old age of sixty a few months ago and now if I can explain it to my mother, then I think that the average person can understand it. So I thought how could I explain ‘openness’ to my mother in a way that she could understand? Because ‘Open Educational Resources’ is kind of a supply-side term.

Note that I equate my mother with ‘the average person’. The author fails to quote me at any time in the post, claiming that I’ve ‘dissed’ my elders (particularly my mother). Why, she wonders, did I use a female example here?

I’ll tell you why.

I used my grandmother as an example of a digital refusnik because both my grandfathers died before I was five, and she’s the only person of that generation that I know well enough to comment upon. I used my mother as an example not because she’s female but because my father has perhaps slightly more advanced skills than others of that generation. I also showed a video at one point showing the (male) rapper DMX as an example of someone who’s less than digitally literate. But he’s black, so presumably I’m a racist as well as a misogynist.

Using the not-so-subtle device of rhetorical questioning the post goes on to ask whether it was fair that I implied that my mother was intellectually challenged. Really? Is this not just a case of someone getting on their hobby horse and riding it off into the distance (whilst I’m left stranded on a scapegoat)? I’m genuinely shocked that, if they felt so strongly about the issue, they didn’t raise it with me on the day.

So I’m not overly-deferent to my elders. So I don’t venerate academia. So I don’t engage in hand-wringing over the gender of the examples I give.

So what?