How to share your memories with us

How to share your memories with us
Many, many thanks for taking part in Today’s 50th birthday celebrations. We want to see as
many of your memories as possible, and this is our guide to doing that - the easy way.
Hello, and thanks for taking part in the Today Generation project.
I'm Alan Connor, and I'll be here to help you share your
memories of the last fifty years with us, and with the Today
In this document, we're going to suggest lots of different ways you can contribute.
Don't worry if it looks like a lot - we don't expect everyone to do everything, but we
don't want to put any limits on the material you can share.
How we're going to do this
We'll be featuring lots of memories on the programme as well as on the Today
website. But we know that listeners will want to know more about some topics, and
we know that between you, you'll be giving us more than we can use at any one time.
That's why we want to help you to assemble your memories - in words, pictures,
audio and video - and publish them yourself. That way, you can contribute at your own
pace, and the material won't disappear as soon as the programme is over.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t spend half your life on a computer; I'm living proof that
it's possible for a normal person to use the various websites that let people share their
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Hands-on help
While you can always email me at [email protected] if you have any questions,
there's nothing that beats having someone in the room with you, especially if the
computer you're using starts misbehaving. So the first thing to do is to think of
someone you know to be your "Technical Support Friend". This might be a niece, or a
colleague, or a tech-savvy friend. Send them a copy of this document, tell them what
you're doing with us, and ask whether they'd be happy to help out so you're not left
on your own.
If you don't have access to the equipment you'd like, have a look at the BBC website
to see whether there's a BBC Bus in your area. These are garish-coloured vehicles full
of computers, tutors and a warm BBC welcome. You might also be near a BBC Open
Getting started
As soon as you've dug out some photos, or found the time to write up some
memories, we're ready for you. Drop us a line to tell us what you're up to, and if
you're already using a web service we don't mention below, then that's the right one
for you to use. As long as we can find your stuff and link to it from the Today website,
we're happy.
Below, we mention various sites and services you might find useful. Every time we do,
there’s a underlined link that will take you to the place we’re talking about. This being
the BBC, it’s important that we say at this time that these are pointers rather than
recommendations, that there are services available other than the ones we mention,
and that the BBC isn’t responsible for the efficiency or content of these external sites.
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Words (Page 1)
Your writing is probably the easiest thing to contribute to the
Today Generation. You could type new words, describing
events from your life, you could talk about notable events of
the last fifty years and what they meant to you, or there might
be documents from the past that you think we'd find
interesting - diary entries, school reports, letters - anything
you're happy to share. Remember: we're probably more likely
than you think to want to see it, and there's no such thing as
too much material!
We'll be in touch with specific topics and events that we're looking at, but we also
want to take a lead from you - what you think has changed since 1957, what you think
is memorable, and what you want to talk about. We don't want you to wait for us: we
want to hear about your five decades.
➪ Publishing
As we mentioned above, we'll be assembling the recollections of all of the Today
Generation on the BBC site, but we want listeners who are interested in your story to
be able to go on and read more. For this reason, we're asking participants to use blogs
to share their memories.
You might have read one of the millions of descriptions of "blogs" (short for "web
logs") over the last few years - I've tried a few myself - but the most important thing is
this: before blogs, you pretty much needed to talk to computers in their own language
to put your words on the web. Now, all you need is an email address and less than five
minutes. Technophobes are welcome in the world of blogs!
➪ What to write?
There are no rights and wrongs in what you write. That's so important, it's worth
saying again. There are no rights and wrongs in what you write.
Blogs are sometimes described as "online diaries", but you don't need to write in a
diary form. You don't even need to be consistent in the form or tone of what you
write. Blogs are a series of "posts" (individual pieces of writing), with the most recent
at the top of the page. And each post can contain whatever you like. It can be two
sentences, or a hundred paragraphs. It can link to places across the web and contain
"embedded" photos and video, but the most compelling blog posts are often nothing
more than some words.
The best thing is to overcome any writer's block you might have, get typing and press
"Publish". You can get rid of posts later if you think they're rubbish. It might take some
time to find the style you're happiest with, but it's best not to be self-conscious: your
blog is your space, and what you say, goes.
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Words (Page 2)
➪ Setting up your blog
You might want your Technical Support friend at your side as you do this, but blogging
is very user-friendly. Some participants find Google's Blogger service easy to use. It's
certainly free and very simple; other blogging services include WordPress, Vox and
those listed at Google.
Using Blogger as an example, you're asked to register for an account, providing an
email address, the name you'll be using at the end of each post, the title of your blog
and a colour scheme you'd like to use.
And then, all too soon, you're looking at an empty box waiting for your words. As a
test, why not try answering the following questions and publishing what you've typed
(1) What's your name?
(2) How did you hear about the Today Generation?
(3) Where were you living in 1957, 1967, 1977, 1987, 1997 and 2007?
...then click on "Publish Post" and we're off!
One quick request: where your blogging site offers you the chance to add a "label" or a
"tag" to each post, we'd be very pleased if you could add today50, as well as
whatever other labels you think appropriate, if any.
➪ Taking it further
If you find that you're enjoying blogging, we hope that you'll continue long after
Today's birthday celebrations are over. There's a lot more you could do: you could
customise the colours and layout, you could host your own blog, giving you more
versatility, you could have Google add auto-generated ads to make money from your
writing, and you can add other bloggers who you know or like to your "blogroll" (a list
of recommendations on the side of a blog) and join in the many-to-many conversation
that's going on in what's regrettably called the "blogosphere". Or you can carry on as a
lone wolf, sharing your thoughts with those who enjoy them.
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We're looking forward to seeing your images which evoke
the last 50 years. You might have photos, certificates,
concert tickets, diary entries or things we haven't thought
of. If you feel like showing us any of these, we'd love to see
them. Even a photo of a high street in the 1970s - before all
high streets became the same - might have a story to tell.
➪ Scanning
The first thing you'll need to do is scan the images - for which you'll need a scanner,
and possibly your Technical Support Friend. There might be a scanner you can use at
work, a friend might have one, or you might have one yourself.
As you scan each image, don't get disturbed if you're offered millions of options that
make no sense. The default is probably fine. You might want to make sure you're not
scanning just the image, and not the blank space around it, and you may wish to ask for
a lower-resolution image to make sure you don't end up with a load of unwieldy files.
Save each picture onto the computer you're using, giving it a meaningful name so you
can find it later.
➪ Uploading
If you’ve got a blog (see above), you can upload your pictures there. Either way, you
can get a lot of value out of putting them on a website for images. Some of the Today
Generation are using Flickr, one of the easiest and most popular; other services
include Facebook, PhotoBox, Kodak EasyShare and those listed at Google.
The first thing is to register. Most services are free, some are free as long as you're
not uploading thousands of pictures at once.
Once registered, you click on the page that allows you to Upload, and then choose the
photos you've scanned on your computer. (Note: depending what kind of computer
you're using, you might have the option of uploading batches of photos at once by
using a tool like Flickr Uploadr.)
When your pictures are up, you can add captions with as much or as little detail as you
like. You could even choose to write solely about your pictures rather than blogging.
The final thing to do is to make sure that Today can find the picture. All services allow
you to add "tags" or "labels" to each image - today50 is the tag we'll be searching for
when we're putting images on the BBC website.
➪ Taking it further
If you like the look of your images gathered together, these photo-sharing sites allow
you to do more. If you use a digital camera, you might find it easier to upload these
(no need for a scanner). Most sites let you mark certain pics to be viewed by friends
or family only - some of yours might already be signed up! Most also offer a service
where you receive prints of your digital pictures.
[Image above from Flickr]
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We're not expecting hours and hours of video footage, but if you
have any from the last fifty years - home movies or maybe a wedding
- we'd be very interested to see whatever you have to share.
The tricks to get video into a form we can see on the internet vary
widely depending on what kind of tape/film you have, as well as your computer, so it's
best if you get in touch directly. If your Technical Support Friend is able to feed your
old tapes into a computer, then that’s great; otherwise, some camera shops offer a
service where old movies are put onto DVD; if the costs are reasonable, let us know.
Ultimately, what we'd like is to be able to put your films on a site like YouTube or
BlipTV (tagged once again with today50), so that we can link to them from the BBC
site and you can include them in your blog.
There are two kinds of audio that we're interested in. Number One
is audio recorded now, either by us interviewing you for Today or
by you recording yourself. Number Two is any "audio-only home
movies" you might have.
If we interview you, we'll only be able to use part of the recording
on the programme, but we want to offer listeners the chance to hear
more of those interviews they've particularly liked. We'll do this by
giving you a longer version which you can "embed" in your blog - a
complicated way of saying that when someone looks at your blog,
they'll be able to click and listen to more.
You might also find that your computer makes it easy for you to record yourself. This
will come in handy if you think of more after we've interviewed you, or to cover topics
that you didn't talk about for the programme. This depends entirely on what flavour of
computer you're sitting at, but it's not necessarily the most expensive or flash
machines that let you record your own voice.
If you have any old recordings, the same applies as per home movies above.
If you do fancy interviewing yourself, it's then a question of uploading the files you've
created to a service like Odeo, Gabcast or Hipcast (tagging them, of course, today50)
and then including the recording in a blog post.
And, of course, if you fancy using a site like Podbean to start podcasting, we’d be
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That's all, folks
We look forward to seeing, reading and hearing your memories. The today50 tag
should help us find everything, but feel free to drop us a line at [email protected]
whenever you want to highlight anything. We're sure that between us, we're going to
make up a fascinating and unique picture of the last fifty years, and thanks again for
joining your birthday celebrations with ours. We couldn't do it without you.
Good luck!
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