About the Author
Paul Levy was born in Essex in the UK in 1966.
Paul Levy is the author of the book Digital Inferno.
Paul is a part-time senior researcher at The Centre for Research in Innovation Management (CENTRIM) at the University of Brighton since 1990.
Paul is currently working as a facilitator with the Social Media Leadership Forum.
He has been a writer, facilitator and change agent for the last twenty years in the field of personal and organisational communication. He founded and is director of CATS3000.
He was Head of Interaction with The Digital Workplace Group for five years where he also co-hosted the online broadcasts Digital Workplace Live and DW24.
Paul lives in Brighton and a large number of cafes.
You used to be able to look out of the back bedroom of our house and see the sweep of houses down towards Hainault Forest, the original hunting ground of Henry the Eighth. I grew up there and remember television sets (big wooden-framed beasts) that you had to physically walked over to in order to change over one of the three channels on offer. When remote control came along, it was a space age miracle, matched or even bettered by the arrival of the plug-in games console that played just one game – Pong. Pong was the first game, wondrous and addictive – a game of virtual tennis with a white dot for a ball.
I soon got an Acorn Electron computer with a massive 32K memory. Screen time for TV got augmented with computer screen time. It kept me quiet until I was swearing that the cassette hadn’t loaded properly or that I’d lost a life. Welcome to the realm of instant reincarnation – lose a life, reload, play again.
“Not long after a BBC Micro (128K) computer became the new prize, and then it stopped pretty much as I headed into a rock band called Day of Judgement, school exams and then university where computers had become word processors and stats generators with just one printer between a thousand of us. I missed out on the gaming consoles that began with Atari. I dived into books, mediation and live music; theatre, literature and storytelling. In the meantime 32k became a gig, and my rock gigs were replaced with media players.
A first degree in management, a higher degree in philosophy, initiate of a school of meditation, a founder of Brighton Storytellers and the Upstairs Theatre Company, I still have stacks of hand-writing-full note books of plays, poems and ideas. Words, words, words…
I loved texting. I didn’t enjoy mobile phoning at first.The ringing landline had been replaced with the trilling landline, then the cordless landline which played It’s a Small World After All. Or was that my parents’ door chime?
Then chat rooms – places of hate and happiness, creativity and boredom-busting. I cut my social media teeth in a writers’ chat room.
Blink! Along comes social media on computers, and then onto hand held devices. And here we all are. A growing realisation that we are stumbling into a paradigm shift with our eyes fairly closed. And I always had my eyes open in those early days.
From Pong to Pinterest. From Joystick to the Internet of Things, it never hurts to look around, to stay conscious. Testicular cancer came to call, and I wrote a comedy play on an early hand held tablet (A Psion 5) plugged into a chemo machine. Cured and I discovered the sheer joy of plunging my hands into wet dark clay – sculpture as part of the way back to health. Texting and typing was claiming the spider-like nature of my fingertips and cold clever micro-sentences. Clay used all of my hand, palms pressed in, in full-bodied commitment. Warmer. Less frowns.
A new play penned and performed called Text. It was about mobile phone relationships. We won an award. And the blog of the play turned into a book – Digital Inferno.
And somewhere in that journey of over half a life, I half-slept to 48.
Waking up more these days; looking around. Loving the world, excited by, but wary of the inferno. The Digital Inferno that wants us to engage with it, immerse in it, plug into it, wear it, even link it to our nervous systems. The Tide of change that is bigger than we imagine. Hold my own. Stay upright. Love it without losing your self in it.
Walking freely, conscious, curious, open but aware and in control, through the Digital Realm. The Digital Inferno.
Paul Levy, Brighton, 2014.