Past master

Can you see the family resemblance?!
The way in which history has been recorded and certain individuals remembered (and others forgotten) is a fascinating subject on which the current trend for social media and online publishing will no doubt have a lasting effect. For this 100th post I'll be sharing how I was very excited to discover a few years ago that the Fryer family had a distant relative who was part of one of the most exciting and evocative naval stories of all time - the Mutiny on the Bounty.

Originating from Southampton many of my ancestors are sailors but none more famous than John Fryer who set sail in 1788 as Master of the Bounty. He was unique in that he was the one member of the crew who disagreed with Captain William Bligh's decision to promote Fletcher Christian (later leader of the mutineers) to Acting Lieutenant but then remained loyal to Bligh after he was cast overboard. Bligh's account of the Mutiny vilified Fryer, but Fryer gave fair evidence at Bligh's court-martial. Edward Christian, Fletcher's brother, was assisted by Fryer in publishing a counterweight to Bligh's version.

John Fryer's Narrative
These events showed that it was possible to have two contemporary and contrasting opinions of an event and that the history with which we are presented can never be 100% accurate. At the time both Fryer and Bligh were privileged in that they were men of influence and could see their accounts published. However, as social media has become popular we are now awash with every type of opinion on an individual or event. This will mean either a much more measured take on how events are remembered or a tangled web of thousands of sources to wade through in which to arrive at an accurate account.

Whereas earlier generations only have very small pieces of information about their lives recorded and perhaps only a few photographs with which to be remembered we are now awash with detailed, self published, online diaries listing what people have eaten for dinner, where they have checked in on Facebook and a mass of photos saved on the devices we all carry around in our pockets. This rising generation is the most photographed in history and one statistic estimates that in the past five years, more photos have been taken than all the prior years combined.

There is a lot of content out there!
However how many of these photos are just saved to a hard disk and hidden in a drawer, or uploaded to a social media site that will be gone in 5 years? Where is that longevity that a painting or book had in the past? Without making the effort to print these precious memories they will be confined to existing on an old device in a drawer as digital is cheap and cameras are everywhere. These lost memories prove expensive - not just to us but to future generations.

A big part of my current job at Kier is to increase the reach of our brand online. Essentially I am responsible for actively managing our digital footprint to build the foundations of how the brand is, and will be, perceived. The opposite side of this (the passive digital footprint) where we are mentioned by the public or in which our logo is photographed somewhere, is something we can attempt to control but eventually we are no longer the masters of our own destiny in the way the rich and powerful were in the past.

Mutineers turn Captain Bligh and
18 others (including John Fryer) adrift
In fact, I am currently taking steps to ensure that this blog is not forgotten and have begun to put together a printed version that will hopefully stand the test of time. Not for my own ego but so that the hours I have spent writing it (in total it amounts to a 60,000 word novel!) are not forgotten on an old and defunct SD Card in someone's loft.

Obviously it will never reach the exciting heights of John Fryer's life - I've worked in some colourful places but never any that have shown signs of a full scale mutiny!
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