Open Thinkering


Things I Learned This Week – #15

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On a personal note, I re-learned this week just how hideous and un-user-friendly Microsoft Outlook is (I have to use it for work). The teacher in me was concerned about the normalization of extreme violence in the film Kick-Ass, but on the other hand I stopped worrying and learned to love closed digital ecosystems… :-p


  • Need a quick way of sharing images, links, music, videos and files? You could do a whole lot worse than CloudApp (Mac OSX only)
  • Want to write your own iPhone app? Want to use free multimedia guides? Check out these tutorials from Stanford [iTunesU link]
  • After Google’s disastrous intoruction of Google Buzz, they’ve tried to make things right. Not least through this video aimed at teens showing them how to use the controls and settings to ensure their privacy online:

  • Twitter have bought the company who make my iPhone Twitter client of choice, Tweetie. They’re going to ‘do a Google’ and make it available for free. Which is nice.
  • Google have expanded the utility of their link shortener service by making it easy to auto-generate QR codes. Simply append ‘.qr’ to the end of any shortened link!

Productivity & Inspiration

Education & Academic

  • Hans de Zwart is starting a reading group (with weekly Monday teleconference sessions) around the concept of serious games (and the book Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration in particular). Unfortunately, 15.30 Amsterdam time makes it impossible for me to participate, but I’d encourage you to! 😀
  • I’m soon going to be published in an academic journal for the first time with this book review of The Hyperlinked Society.
  • According to the latest research, most kids will be using touchscreens by 2015 which, obviously, has massive implications for education.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that dyslexics may find reading ebooks easier. I’m not dyslexic but certainly doing better with The Brothers Karamazov via Stanza on my iPhone than I’ve ever done with the physical version of the, admittedly, rather large tome. I’ve only ever got half-way through it before…
  • Got questions about how the Apple iPad could be used in education? iPad4Edu is a good place to ask those questions!

Data, Design & Infographics

  • Ever wondered about the relative sizes of the characters in Pixar animated films?
  • Dribbble is ‘show and tell for designers in 120,000 pixels or less’ 🙂
  • The BBC has a new DataArt section where they ‘take data sources from the BBC and attempt to visualise them in ways which are both artistic and informative’. For example:

When your mental model doesn’t match the actual state of the system, a mode error occurs.

  • Put your important stuff on the left-hand side of your website. Why? This study shows that users spend 69% of their viewing time looking at that side – even when their native language reads right-to-left!


  • Not sure which political party to vote for in the upcoming UK General Election on 6 May? Try answering the questions at My results are above so I’ll probably vote Liberal Democrat (for the first time) given that the Greens aren’t capable of forming a majority government. I’m also extremely disillusioned with Labour, and really don’t rate the Conservatives’ education policies. Of course, given the first-past-the-post system all votes aren’t really equal; according to the Voter Power Index my vote in south-east Northumberland is effectively worth a mere 0.23 of a ‘real’ vote due to it being a safe Labour seat. 🙁


Dreams permit each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives. (William Dement)

When the water reaches the upper level, follow the rats. (Claude Swanson)

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers. (Voltaire)

People do not lack strength; they lack will. (Victor Hugo)

First, get the facts, then you can distort them at your leisure. (Mark Twain)

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