Open Thinkering


Things I Learned This Week – #49


Offline this week I learned to fly direct and take only carry-on luggage where possible, that the UK is ridiculously underprepared for snow compared to other European countries, and that thrash metal isn’t as bad as you’d think… :-p


  • I’m far from the only one who found the Wikileaks ‘cablegate’ affair more than mildly disturbing. The US government were able to get the site shut down because ‘’ is resolved via something called ‘DNS’ to a particular IP address of a computer connected to the internet. To prevent such shutdowns happening again, the bittorrent community is working on a decentralised .p2p top-level domain suffix. Awesome.
  • In a world of quick tweets and retweets, it’s good to know where the facts are. Check out Channel 4’s FactCheck blog (it’s also on Twitter, appropriately)
  • Don’t use Twitter’s version of retweets. It stops real conversation.
  • Viber is an iPhone app (Android, etc. coming soon) that integrates your existing contacts, without signup, to allow for Skype-like Voice-over-IP goodness. Engadget has an overview.
  • Concerned about people using things like Firesheep when you’re on an unsecured public network? Using a Mac? You need this.

Productivity & Inspiration

  • Seth Godin reckons you – yes, you – are the worst manager in the world. Why? Because at the end of the day we’re all really self-employed:

If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much as your time as you do, they’d fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under.

  • Where and when are you most productive? For me, it’s leaning back slightly, coffee and water on-hand with music on. In other words, when I’m by myself. Granted, there’s times when I need to be with others for collaboration and the social element, but not 9am-5pm every day. Check out this TEDx video from Jason Fried, author of ReWork and this blog post. I really like his points about “trading in your work day for a series of work moments”  by going to the office and the relationship between sleep and work. More about this at Michael Hyatt’s blog.


  • When I’ve got more information to synthesise than I can possibly handle, I print out stuff and let it ‘stew’ in my study. There’s a time when it all comes together. That’s why I really like this post which can be summed up as “don’t try too hard”. Strange, but true.
  • I found this post on three types of procrastination really interesting – especially the third: “we procrastinate because at some level we can’t accept the larger meaning of our actions.”
  • Getting people onboard, agreeing with you and motivated to do things on your behalf is an important life skill. Check out this post about the genius of Bill Clinton’s Reality Distortion Field (especially the video)

Education & Academic

  • ALT is taking over Becta’s ICT in Education Research Network discussion list (in association with Naace). Scroll down to List 4 here to join (or rejoin).
  • As a Philosophy graduate I do, of course, think that everyone should have some grounding in Philosophy. I’ll be using resources like this one with my children as they grow up.
  • On the subject of my children (one soon to be born, one four next month) I’m really concerned about the education they’ll receive in England. And I speak as a former teacher and senior leader in secondary schools with a wife who’s still a primary school teacher. What should my four year-old know? asked one worried mother. Check out the response:
  1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
  2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
  3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
  4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
  5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.
  • Tom Barrett has been using QR codes with in Early Years. Awesome.
  • Simon Bostock is organising a group (including me) to produce a Learning Experience Digest. The idea? To make some of that ‘web-hating stuff’ (PDFs and the like) searchable and linkable. We’re all going to contribute something every month. Do join us. Oh, and I just have to repost one of the images that Simon used to illustrate that post (click here if you don’t get it!)

Bonus: via Simon, the Boyer model of scholarship (scroll down to colourful table at the bottom). I think I’d like to have my finger in all of those pies please. 🙂

Data, Design & Infographics

  • It’s great when people do new things with webdesign. I’ve certainly not seen anything like this before! (scroll down)
  • I’ve seen this before, but was reminded of it again this week: You Suck At Powerpoint! (best viewed fullscreen – click on ‘Menu’)

<p align="center"

  • David McCandless at Information is Beautiful posted a ‘thought piece’ this week on a potential hierarchy of visual understanding. What do you think? Is he onto something? I do.


  • Adam Curtis has an interesting BBC blog post on how the UK coalition government’s new ‘Behavioural Insights Unit’ is a return to Skinner’s behaviourism (and why that’s dangerous)
  • What would happen if you got a bit of every element in the periodic table and rammed them together at 99.99% of the speed of light? Probably nothing very interesting, as it turns out.
  • Lord Adair Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority, reckons that what goes on in most financial centres such as Wall Street is ‘socially useless activity’. Great article in The New Yorker:

In effect, many of the big banks have turned themselves from businesses whose profits rose and fell with the capital-raising needs of their clients into immense trading houses whose fortunes depend on their ability to exploit day-to-day movements in the markets. Because trading has become so central to their business, the big banks are forever trying to invent new financial products that they can sell but that their competitors, at least for the moment, cannot. Some recent innovations, such as tradeable pollution rights and catastrophe bonds, have provided a public benefit. But it’s easy to point to other innovations that serve little purpose or that blew up and caused a lot of collateral damage, such as auction-rate securities and collateralized debt obligations.

  • You can ‘beatbox’ with Google Translate. No, seriously.
  • I love this collection of car-focused hack posts at Lifehacker. Especially the Nike+ central locking hack!


You just can’t beat the person who won’t give up. (Babe Ruth)

Leap and the net will appear. (Julia Cameron)

Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy. (Sir Isaac Newton)

Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat. (Sartre)

The greatest motivational act one can do for another is to listen. (Roy E Moody)

(more quotations at my page)

Main image by me on Thursday in Berlin

3 thoughts on “Things I Learned This Week – #49

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *