Open Thinkering


Things I Learned This Week – #37

Offline this week I learned that conference coffee is always bad, some of the worst people to sit in front of on trains are old, talkative women who lead boring lives, and that there was a reason my parents moved away from Nottingham when I was four… :-p


  • Summarizr is a great analyser of TwapperKeeper archives (i.e. archives of tweets with a particular hashtag). Here’s the one from #altc2010.
  • Whilst I’m on the topic of tweet analysis, Tony Hirst did some awesome work visualizing the tweets from #altc2010 and showing relationships between people, nodes, and the like. 🙂
  • Apple have updated their App Store guidelines. John Gruber’s got a useful overview of what changed at Daring Fireball.
  • I’m sure I’m not the only one slightly freaked out that a shopping centre I’ve been to ‘monitors the movement of mobile phones’ to ‘help’ the owners. Twitpic from Princesshay, Exeter.
  • Apparently, not only do we consume, on average, three times as much information per day as people in the 1960s, but we need technology like we need food:

Just as food nourishes us and we need it for life, so too — in the 21st century and the modern age — we need technology. You cannot survive without the communication tools; the productivity tools are essential. And yet, food has pros and cons to it. We know that some food is Twinkies and some food is Brussels sprouts. And we know that if we overeat, it causes problems. Similarly, after 20 years of glorifying technology as if all computers were good and all use of it was good, science is beginning to embrace the idea that some technology is Twinkies and some technology is Brussels sprouts.

Productivity & Inspiration

  • As anyone who’s read #uppingyourgame (final version out 1st October!) knows, exercise and productivity go hand-in-hand. That’s why I’ve been testing out Nike’s new GPS-based iPhone app. So far, so good!
  • Some of this is always useful to keep in mind.
  • Lifehacker: $75,000 (about £48,000) is the ‘perfect salary for happiness’. Me: not true.
  • Chris Guillebeau’s been interviewed to support his new book, The Art of Non-Conformity (Kindle-only in UK until December). I found what he had to say about ‘legacy’ particularly interesting.
  • Controversial! Some advice on not just ‘getting started’ here. Why? Because of the survivor bias. Food for thought…

Education & Academic

  • It’s all corrupt. Utterly corrupt. Watch the governor of the US Federal Reserve squirm:
  • Springer, publisher of academic journals, has started a kind of social network for scholarly article users. It’s called CiteULike. I haven’t used it (because I’ve got my own solution) but would be interested to hear from people who have!
  • I’ve been talking about ‘affordances’ really with the JISC Mobile and Wireless Technologies Review I’m undertaking. However, I’ve realised some people think that’s got something to do with money. It hasn’t. Read this!
  • Some definite things to reflect upon here about Alec Couros’ experiences (via Will Richardson). Especially as my son starts school nursery this week!
  • The Kindle has a built-in browser. Here’s some ways in which it’s slightly cumbersome experience could actually be of benefit to educators.

Data, Design & Infographics

  • It’s not new, but I came across Newser this week, which mashes up news in a designy-type way. Nice!
  • Stephen Downes likes the infographic in this post, and it’s hard not to agree with him.
  • Wow! I’d love to see this in real life:

Since Google introduced Street View three years ago, rival services have since appeared from the likes of Microsoft and Mapquest. Microsoft’s Bing Streetside (their version of Street View) has been remixed by a group of researchers, turning it into Street Slide. Street Slide takes the data from Streetside and turns it into a strip of businesses with clickable logos and building numbers. It’s a different and intuitive view into the average shopping street, and could change window browsing forever.


  • I’ve yet to read Steig Larsson’s trilogy of books, but here’s one reviewer who doesn’t like him. The conclusion reads:

Which is why, in the end, my problem with the Millennium trilogy is not its genre, or its plot, or its characters. It’s the fact that the bestselling books in the world are poorly written, erotic fan fiction that a man wrote about himself.

  • There’s a conference called Interesting North on the 13th November in Sheffield, England. It’s all about random stuff like sword-swallowing, feral children and ‘catching sleepers’. I’ve booked my ticket – see you there? 😀
  • The trouble with taking things literally.
  • Daft Punk are doing the soundtrack to the upcoming Tron: Legacy film. You can get a preview of the soundtrack here.
  • There’s been an advance in technology that makes primitive, Star Trek-type tractor beams possible. Frickin’ lasers!


Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome. (Samuel Johnson)

I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate. (George F. Burns)

Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional. (Roger Crawford)

If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone. (John Maxwell)

Do something wonderful, people may imitate it. (Albert Schweitzer)

(more quotations at my page)

Main image CC BY-SA shioshvili

5 thoughts on “Things I Learned This Week – #37

  1. Well any sympathy I had with your conference keynote case just evaporated as it would appear that the poor gentleman may have had an east midlands accent. What is wrong with being from Nottingm the murder capital of Englandshire

    1. I’ve also used CiteULike in the past, though mostly only to demonstrate to students … I think I’m more into Zotero – though since I decided that, I’ve realised that Mendeley has a lot to offer, in particular the fact I can put it & all the .pdfs on a single memory stick & use it all over the place (well, bar the fact I now have a Mac at home).
      We’ve also got EndNote & MyEndNote web via work – so trying to get familar with them too, esp. for students who’d rather keep references private (and, knowing the numbers of problems we have with poorly referenced work, my priority at present is to get referencing done well, rather than to worry about sharing)

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