Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Children in the camcorder's eye

I'll be at the British Library on Tuesday, talking about how digital technologies help in our understanding of children's minds, and what the costs and benefits are for children themselves. In an earlier post, I talked about how the selectivity of the video record might lead children to mistrust memories for which they don't have documentary evidence. If recent posts are anything to go by, they would be right to mistrust those memories. The point is that this is one respect in which adults have an obvious part to play in shaping children's autobiographical narratives, through those sometimes thought-through, sometimes haphazard decisions to record this and leave the camcorder switched off for that. 

I'll also be talking about how digital technologies can bring us closer to the small child's point of view. Here, I'll be developing a theme from the 'Lightning Ridge is Falling Down' chapter, in which I describe Athena's early attempts at movie-making. In preparation, I have this afternoon been going through some of the video clips she took when she was two. Oh, that Aussie accent. I found the clip I mention in the book, in which she is videoing the courtesy light in the roof of our Toyota Camry. When she wants to check if the camcorder is switched on, she puts the whole thing down on her lap and inspects it all over. The machine keeps running, filming the weave of her orange trousers and the canvas of its own strap. Her fingers are all over the lens, and I'm sure the whole thing falls to the floor at one point. How offhand she is with her technological eye on the world, and how poignant the digital record. 


  1. if it wasn't for work, I'd head along and listen.

    I notice you are on the ticket only day of the conference. Nice. There's kudos.

  2. Charles FernyhoughFebruary 4, 2009 at 5:46 AM

    Thanks - glad to hear you enjoyed the book. Yes, there's a Dutch publication on the way. I didn't know about that book you mention but will check it out - thank you.