Open Thinkering


Things I Learned This Week – #41

Warning for Americans/Puritans: Some NSFW language/links in this week’s post! :-p

Stormy Days

Offline this week I learned not to travel on CrossCountry trains if I want to be productive (no wifi and 3G blocked), that this gapingvoid cartoon is 99% true, and that my SAD begins in October. Gah.


  • Mozilla have released Firefox 4 (beta) for Android devices. If only iPhone users could get it! Skype’s also released an Android version of their software.
  • I don’t use FourSquare, but FourScore looks useful for finding popular (and potentially geek-tastic) places.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer is now used by less than half of the people who access the internet. This is A Good Thing:

Decline of Internet Explorer

  • Facebook now allows you to download your data. Which should give Diaspora some traction when it launches!
  • I’ve been thinking about getting my 3 year-old son the new iPod Touch (think: learning apps, camera so he can record stuff, etc.) Trouble is, it’s all-too-breakable. That’s why Griffin Technology’s Woogie is so perfect (more at Mashable):


Productivity & Inspiration

Education & Academic

  • Dan Sutch of Futurelab wrote a great blog post this week about the three roles of formative education. I’m still mulling it over…
  • I haven’t played around with this yet but Cognician, a Clay Shirky-approved way to interact and be prompted by questions relating to texts, looks rather handy.
  • I wish Johnny Depp had come to my school to support not-really-mutinous pupils.
  • The K12 Online Conference starts soon (18th-29th October). I ‘attended’ it in the early days but haven’t for the last couple of years. The archived keynotes, however, are especially worth looking at.
  • Second Life no longer offers an education discount. And of course, there’s no longer a Teen Grid. That’s the final nail in that coffin, then. Let’s move on, people.

Data, Design & Infographics

HAL-inspired MacBook decal

  • Some designs are awesome. Some are disturbing. This ‘umbilical iPhone cable’ falls disconcertingly into both:


  • Axis Maps make typographic maps. I hope one day they do more than just American cities!

Typographic maps

  • Involved in business, marketing or branding in some way? Yep, we all are! So look and learn:

How to create a shitty brand

  • David McCandless has created a visualization of quangos in the UK (‘quango‘?). Whilst it’s undeniably accurate, I do think it’s slightly misleading. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), for example, redistributes – and is told how to redistribute – money for UK Higher Education institutions (click to enlarge):

You've been quango'd



  • I didn’t really eat chicken nuggets before, but I’m definitely not eating them now. This is what they’re made out of. Ugh.
  • Birth control pills alter the structure of women’s brains. I can well believe that.
  • I had to include this letter from Python (Monty) pictures to the censor about Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “I would like to retain ‘fart in your general direction’.” Awesome.

Python (Monty) Pictures letter


Change before you have to. (Jack Welch)

Civilisation began the first time an angry person cast a word instead of a rock. (Sigmund Freud)

Ability is of little account without opportunity. (Napoleon Bonaparte)

No pressure, no diamonds. (Mary Case)

What we have learned from others becomes our own reflection. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

(more quotations at my page)

Main image CC BY-NC-SA EJP Photo

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