Memories of a Bowie Conference: 16. JUST THE RING OF THE BELL IN THE PURE CLEAN AIR


Paul McCullagh Time May Change Me: Alone in Berlin 2011 – Never Get Old

SPEAKER McCullagh is a Reader in Computing & Mathematics at University of Ulster

SYNOPSIS McCullagh sets his personal experience of running in the Berlin Marathon against a backdrop of sensor technology, personal area network communications, and debates in future assisted health and wellbeing, as well as personal recollections of David Bowie, which becomes a soundtrack to the question of age and time frames. As this unfolds during the Berlin marathon, David Bowie’s 1970s Berlin trilogy becomes the soundtrack to the story. The story tries to convey the feeling of running with 40,000 people and yet being ‘alone’; except for the Bowie soundtrack and acoustic feedback from a technology-mediated ‘virtual’ coach. It reflects upon the Hans Fallada novel, Alone in Berlin, where Otto, a German citizen, begins a futile anti-war propaganda campaign, after losing his son in battle. Hallucinations, caused by dehydration, heat and exhaustion mutate the ‘coach’ into Otto’s Gestapo interrogator. FALASDMcCullagh completes the marathon, as his futile attempt to deny the ageing process, in a similar time to that he recorded in the first Belfast marathon in 1981. 35,000 ‘Heroes’ also achieve their goal, but the remainder succumb to their personal interrogation. The story examines the ageing process, advances in ambient assisted living technology, and contrasts societal changes in Berlin with McCullagh’s home town of Belfast, over a 40 year epoch.

KEY POINTS Ambient technology can support wellness, Never get old.

Never Get Old (Last Call With Carson Daly, 2003)

KEY QUOTE ‘In the future, the treatment of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease cannot be sustained by the health system. We are at a crossroads. It is important that we embrace the wellness paradigm. Technology can help.’

NEXT UP. All my idiot questions. Let’s face the music and dance. Richard Fitch

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