Open Thinkering


Things I Learned This Week – #28

Offline this week I learned that running two 10k’s in a week doesn’t actually kill you, that ‘location-based task chunking’ aids productivity and that the Kindle rocks (although technically the latter can go online as well…) :-p


  • You can now use rich text in GMail signatures, which is going to make Retaggr (which I use at work with Outlook) compatible and useful!
  • I set up as my own personal pro-powered URL shortener this week. Why? Vanity and because I could, I suppose. Now that I’ve added my details (username and API key) into TweetDeck, every time it shortens a URL it automatically uses! Thanks to Chris Ratcliffe (who uses the infinitely more-awesome for his guide.
  • Apple have launched the new beta of their MobileMe calendar service. If and when I get an iPad I’ll be subscribing to MobileMe just for the awesomeness of this:

  • Augmented Reality. Awesome, but you wouldn’t want everyone doing it all of the time:

Productivity & Inspiration

An idea turns into a meeting and then it turns into a project. People get brought along, there’s free donuts, there’s a whiteboard and even a conference call.

It feels like you’re doing the work, but at some point, hopefully, someone asks, “what’s the point of this?”

5. Create structures to maintain your flow.
If you know how motivation works, you will know it comes in bursts and waves. It’s not possible to maintain a 100% full motivated state every single second. Hence, you need to create/leverage on your environment to maintain your flow. Examples are your physical environment, people you hang out with, your routine and communities you are a part of.

  • I’m increasingly aware – perhaps because I use Windows at work – that not everyone is in a position to respond to my ‘buy a Mac’ suggestion regarding their productivity. That’s why I found a post My Essential Productivity Tools over at Life Optimizer interesting. I have to confess to never having used Microsoft Onenote, but know some people swear by it!
  • Finally! Some sense r.e. organization vs. messiness from Unclutterer (including a video clip – included below – featuring Joan Rivers):

Creative personalities have the stereotype of being messy, disorganized people. When, in reality, the incredibly successful creative people of the world are often profoundly organized — they have to be to manage their work and schedules, so they can be ready when inspiration strikes.

Education & Academic

  • Richard Byrne at Free Technology For Teachers reckons he’s got a list of Seven Videos All Educators Should Watch. Who am I to argue?
  • Blackboard, the learning platform that everyone loves to hate, announced this week that they’ve bought Wimba and Elluminate. JISC uses the latter quite a lot, so this should be interesting…
  • Will Richardson had a bit of a rant this week about why parents don’t question their children’s schooling more. I’ll give you three reasons. First, they only know what the school and their children tell them. Second, they don’t have a leg to stand on, pedagogically-speaking. Third, like it or not, schools provide a shared common experience that unites generations. But I know what he means.
  • The Huffington Post ran an article this week entitled Revolution Needed For Teaching Literacy in a Digital Age. It’s US-centric, but with some interesting recommendations such as ‘Design alternative assessments and include project based learning in standards’.
  • Children should start school later in the school day according to this study. Which lends credence to what a school near me is doing.

Data, Design & Infographics

Richer, fatter, living longer, more indebted, drunker, better connected, politically disillusioned: there’s no metric that can describe whether we are happier or living better lives after 13 years of Labour. But there are plenty to show how we have changed during a period of fulsome spending, borrowing and technological transformation.

  • Garr Reynolds from Presentation Zen recommends using Adobe’s kuler tool to create colour themes that go well together:


  • Never, ever, kill a chicken in front of a monkey.
  • This study purports to show that people read more slowly on e-readers than they do with books. I have to say that I feel I do exactly the opposite.
  • Apparently, parenting makes you miserable, but you think it makes you happy.

From the perspective of the species, it’s perfectly unmysterious why people have children. From the perspective of the individual, however, it’s more of a mystery than one might think. Most people assume that having children will make them happier. Yet a wide variety of academic research shows that parents are not happier than their childless peers, and in many cases are less so.

  • Google obviously saw my post and ripped it off to expand it into Life in a Day (fair play: awesome idea!)


No medium has ever survived the indifference of 25-year-olds. (Clay Shirky)

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. (Dr. Seuss)

Anything that comes easy, comes wrong. (J.Tessier)

The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind. (William Blake)

If you’re able to be yourself, you have no competition. (Barbara Cook)

Main image CC BY-NC-SA -sel

3 thoughts on “Things I Learned This Week – #28

  1. Doug: I really appreciated what you said about creative people. It is so true that people assume there is no method to what they do, but those who are the most successful really are extremely organized and devoted to their passion. It is a good lesson for us all that in order to continually effectively tap into our creativity, we really do have to be passionate about what we are doing and do things in an organized way.

  2. I enjoy the quotes you have been including. Your productivity thoughts and links are also useful. Thanks for all your hard work.

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