Cat buckaroo, memories and how times change

Like many of you we visited family this weekend, a chance to catch up on news and marvel at how quickly the children are growing up. Watching my nieces play on their Xbox Kinnect system I was struck by how at ease they were with using gesture enabled technology, impatient in fact that it didn’t respond fast enough to their movements. And I was surprised to hear them diss the Wii games which were firm favourites less than two years but seen as passé because they need you to hold a controller. It led us ‘grown-ups’ (which apparently we are now though I don’t remember signing up for that!) discussing our relatively recent adoption of touchscreen tablets of various hues and how this has changed how we interact with technology and each other.

I’m sure variations of this conversation have been had round many Christmas feasts this year as kids unwrapped the latest gadgets watched on by adults whose childhood Xmas memories were of games like Connect, Operation (my personal favourite) and Buckaroo.


After dinner we sat around the table and played board games for three hours, not a laptop or tablet in sight and had a great laugh. Those will be the memories I’ll cherish and I’m sure the girls will too when they look back.

Given my enthusiastic adoption of social media it might surprise people to know I wasn’t much fussed by technology for many years and I held out against having a mobile phone for a long time despite working in an area which required a lot of lone working in the field. I didn’t use a computer until I went back to university to study for a masters in my early twenties, I completed my first degree using handwritten notes and one of these:


This is inconceivable to my nieces they just haven’t experienced a world without handheld technology.

By the way those of you worried cats aren’t featuring at all here should check out the old internet meme Cat Buckaroo , made me chuckle for a long time & a great example of technology reimagining old favourites!


My friends and family often tease me about the volume of my tweeting but I’ve seen all my close family move onto Facebook this year some who swore they’d never ‘do’ social media (accompanied by dramatic shoulder shudders!). I think this has been both a response to the family moving further apart geographically but also the fact that everyone now has access to a tablet or phone that makes social networking easier than digging out the laptop or heading up to the study to use the PC.

Does this mean we speak less on the phone now? Probably yes, but it also means we all keep in touch on a more regular basis and share little moments of each other’s lives in a way we haven’t for years.

Similarly, we don’t learn so much by rote now that information is but a moment’s Google away. This is true but we can now explore the links and connections between different things, the ideas of others and alternative perspectives on the world quickly and easily – this makes for powerful, connected learning experiences.

Whilst we might worry that we can’t drag ourselves away from our tablets or about needing a digital detox, for me as long as technology continues to help me make connections, hear fresh perspectives and share moments of those I love I’ll continue to be an enthusiast.

At the end of the day what makes precious memories isn’t the games we play or the technologies we use it’s the feelings, the emotions and the connections we share with each other. The medium will change but the emotions and feelings created remain timeless and precious.

Happy New Year to you all, go make some memories.


I recently mentioned on Twitter that I don’t blog very often unlike my tweeting! It prompted me to pull together all of the posts I have written over the last year or so and finally build my blog. As well as that I’ve decided to give blogging a little more attention in the next 12 months so watch this space! As you can see already it will be an eclectic mix of topics from social media in the social sciences to personal musings.


Those of you who already follow me on Twitter @jess1ecat will understand why I chose this image to launch my new blog!

Reblogged: #adventblogs Day 8: Loosen Your Stakes

Posted by: Alison Chisnell in her inspirational Advent Blogs series on December 8, 2013

Today’s post is written by Kandy Woodfield, better known to many of us as her Twitter handle of @Jess1ecat. Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath @SimonHeath1

I’m ambivalent about stakes. They’re good (I’m told) for slaying vampires, or the walking dead…20131216-005225.jpg

They’re important to stick in the ground when you need to stand up for something you believe in and hold true to that.
20131216-005309.jpgBut they’re also used to mark boundaries, they anchor you to opinions and perspectives, they can end up being pretty rigid things that control your freedom and creativity.

For much of my life I was quite proud of being the type of person who knew exactly what was happening and when – yesterday, today and ten years into the future. I liked lists and things happening as they were scheduled to and I thought those stakes were serving me well.Then a few years ago a personal crisis forced me to reappraise the negative side of that boundary setting. All of a sudden my life wasn’t going the way I’d planned at all. Stakes I’d carefully, heavily hammered into the ground to keep me anchored were upended at an alarming rate, I felt set adrift.

Coming out of that period I learnt to stop limiting myself to the boundaries my plans and set ideas gave me. I started to look around at the here and now. New options and possibilities opened up. It took a lot of personal reflection (and a fair bit of therapy but that frankly is a whole other story!) but I started to live in the present and it’s a scary but exhilarating place to be.

So what do I try to do differently now?

– I try to think ‘why not’ rather than ‘what now’ when unexpected opportunities/issues crop up
– I take risks and force myself to do things that scare me
– I try to be in the now, not to dwell on the past or live in the future
– I’ve accepted change happens, sometimes it happens because I’ve had a hand in planning it but mostly it just happens, and it’s scary but it can also be liberating
– I’m less dogmatic or prone to sticking my stake in the ground and not wavering, as a result I listen to others more attentively

In upending my stakes what I’ve actually raised is the stakes I have in my life. This year that’s led me to meeting a whole new set of friends in my Twitter network in real life, running an international network of researchers and taking part in a judging panel for an awards ceremony. Unconstrained by ideas about what my life ‘should’ look like, I’ve met more people, done more interesting things than my carefully crafted planning would ever have allowed me. I confess I still like a good ‘to do’ list so planning isn’t out altogether but nowadays I pick and plant my stakes more sparingly!

So my question for you all is what stakes are tying you down? What will you do to loosen the guy ropes this coming year to see where it takes you?