On writing every day.

750words semantic analysis

There’s two books I read regularly. Both of those books are by authors who evidently love the written word but treat it quite differently.

The first is The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian, a 17th century Spanish Jesuit. I read his short, pithy maxims every single day on repeat. When I get to number 300, I flick back and start at number one again.

The second, which I’ve read many times is Michel de Montaigne‘s Essays. This rambling, inconsistent and charming tome is by a 16th century landowner and reluctant public servant. I (and others who have read him) feel like I know him personally.*

Both works make me want to write not just about the kinds of things I write about on this blog, but just for myself. Not necessarily for an audience, and about anything I want.

Ideally, I’d write in the series of journals I’ve kept since turning 18. Realistically, I write in there sporadically, and usually when I’m feeling down. I want more regular outpourings and means typing instead of physically writing.

I’m a fairly fast touch-typist. I used to be up to the heady heights of around 100 words per minute (wpm), but nowadays I’m happy with 60-70 wpm. That’s obviously way more than I’d get if I was scrawling: I’d be lucky to hit 30 wpm, and even that would be illegible.

Thankfully, and you’ll be delighted to know there’s a point to this post, I’ve re-discovered a place that embodies this ‘private, unfiltered, spontaneous, daily’ element for which I’ve been grasping.

Not only is 750words.com extremely well-designed, but it’s got semantic analysis of what you write, co-operative style values and badges!** The image at the top of this post shows some of the analysis the site does. There’s more than the limited amount I’m sharing there. 😉

Read this for Buster’s (the site owner) reason for creating – and continuing to run – the site:

750 Words exists because of mutual good will between myself and the people who use it. The site wouldn’t exist without the generosity, patience, and humor of everyone involved. Rather than charge for the site, I want to keep the site free, and simply offer an opportunity for people who have the means and the desire to help keep things going. I don’t want to make a ton of money, I just want to have enough to justify the time, energy, and money it takes to build, maintain, and enjoy, while also keeping the spirit of it fun and friendly.

That’s my kind of site. 🙂

*I’m also greatly enjoying Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: A life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer.

**Although not, sadly, of the ‘Open Badges’ variety.

 

Announcing my new e-book: ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’ (#digilit)

The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies
I’m excited to announce that I’ve decided to start writing another e-book. I want to communicate what I’ve learned during my doctoral studies in a way free from academic constraints. I want to empower educators.

The e-book is going to be called The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies and I shall be employing the OpenBeta publishing model I pioneered a couple of years ago with #uppingyourgame: a practical guide to personal productivity.

 


 

 

Invest now for £1 and get each chapter as it is completed FREE!

 


Can’t see anything above? Click here!

What are ‘digital literacies’? Why are they important? How can I develop them both personally and in other people? These are some of the questions that ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies by Doug Belshaw seeks to address. Informed by his doctoral thesis and experience as an educator, ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’ Doug is producing a timely resource for those who are interested in both the theory and the practice of digital literacies!

FAQ:

When are you going to finish this?

It depends on many things, but here’s my proposed timescale:

  • v0.2 – April 2012
  • v0.4 – June 2012
  • v0.6 – August 2012
  • v0.8 – October 2012
  • v1.0 – December 2012

I’m erring on the conservative side here. I’d rather under-promise and over-deliver!

In what formats will the book be available?

The OpenBeta version will be available in iPad-friendly (and reasonably Kindle-friendly) PDF format. The finished version will be available in the following forms:

  • PDF
  • Kindle
  • ePub
  • (Paperback/Hardback depending on demand)

How much will the final version be?

£10 – around $15/16 at the current exchange rate

(this is subject to change without notice)

I still don’t understand the OpenBeta process?

More here, but this should help:

OpenBeta publishing model

How long will the book be altogether?

I’m envisaging each chapter being about 1,000 words, so about 11,000 in total. This is subject to change when I start writing but it will be at least 10,000 words.

Are there any refunds? How do I know you will complete it?

No refunds, but I have managed to write several e-books before and have much more free time now I have completed my thesis! You can always wait until it’s finished, but that will cost more…

Image in book cover CC BY { pranav }

Got a different question? Ask it in the comments below!

 

My new work blog and other RSS goodies.

Doug's Work Blog

Spurred by several things including our most recent JISC infoNet planning meeting and Will Richardson’s decision to quit long-form blogging at Weblogg-ed and move to Tumblr, I’ve set up a work blog at http://dajbelshaw.tumblr.com

The theme hopefully reflects how I want to use it – as a visual snapshot of my research. Rest assured that, unlike Will, I’ll still be blogging here as well. I love writing. My work blog is more for clipping and quickly commenting on stuff relating to Open Educational Resources, Mobile Learning and Digital Literacies (my 3 main research areas).

As a reminder, you can also find other posts by me at:

I’ve collated the RSS feeds for my research and original writing in two separate über-feeds (which you can also subscribe to via email if you click through):

Doug's Writing Feed Doug’s Writing Feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/DougsWritingFeed)

Doug's Research Feed Doug’s Research Feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/DougsResearchFeed)

I’ve updated the sidebar at dougbelshaw.com/blog to make these quick and easy to find. For those people wanting to do something similar, RSSmix seemed to be lot easier and hassle-free than fiddling with Yahoo! Pipes…

 

Quick overview: iA’s Writer app

So here I am, messing about with iA’s new Writer app. I’m writing this on the iPad version of the app but I rediscovered it after iA announced in the last few days that there’s now a version available via the Mac App Store. I prefer Scrivener on my MacBook Pro, but for shorter-form writing on the iPad it looks ideal.:-)

One thing that you can’t see in this text (but should be able to see in the attached screenshots) is the difference between Normal mode and ‘FocusMode’. The latter dims all but the most recently-entered text to focus on writing.

I think that, given the ability to work offline and sync with Dropbox, it could be a really useful tool to get down some thoughts on a topic. Indeed, when coupled with something that requires discipline like 750words.com, it could become an app that allows and encourages me to write in a whole new way!

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Weeknote #28

Weeknote #28This week I have been mostly…

Writing

Well, typing, but we tend to look at the future through the rearview mirror (to slightly misquote Marshall McLuhan). I’m almost finished the draft of my JISC Mobile & Wireless Technologies Review. I’ll share it, of course, when it’s finished! (16,500 words and counting…)

Spending time with my Dad

He goes back to the UAE today, but it’s been good to have my Dad around for a week due to Second Eid.

Buying a Sony Vaio P Series

You know that stuff I sold via #twebay? I used it to fund an 8″ Sony Vaio P Series ultraportable. I found one for £350 on eBay with the extended battery and in immaculate condition. I love the fact that it’s got 3G and it’s lighter than an iPad yet has a keyboard that’s almost full-size. Tip: when deleting things ready for sale, remember to remove your media player history. :-p

Starting some consultancy work

Those who have read my blog for a while – certainly when I was working in schools – will know how I’ve railed against consultants in the past. The trouble was that I’d only come across the shiny-suited types, those that are parachuted in, say nothing much and then you never see again.

Working with consultants on JISC projects couldn’t be more different. They’re often the most dedicated, hard-working and passionate people you’ll ever meet. Which is why I’ve started doing some consulting for a consultant. If you think I might be able to help you in #uppingyourgame (in a productivity-related way or otherwise) click on the Work with Doug link.

Top 10 links I’ve shared this week

The following links were those most clicked on (according to bit.ly Pro‘s stats) when I shared them via   Twitter this week. I don’t include links back to this blog and the numbers this week show that I haven’t been as active on there as usual due to writing #jiscmobilereview!

Links given with number of clicks given in brackets:

  1. Daddy O (187 Lockdown Club Mix) [Spotify] (22)
  2. Interesting North – Doug’s Conference Blog (22)
  3. Skype Education (19)
  4. Justice with Michael Sandel (13)
  5. WordPress theme – Typograph (13)
  6. Pontydysgu – Research on Mobile Learning (10)
  7. Rypple (9)
  8. Telegraph: Fix the workplace, not the workers (9)
  9. New York Times: Building a Better Teacher (7)
  10. J Biebz – U Smile (800% slower) (5)
 
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