Open Thinkering


Month: April 2012

Arson at Ellington Nature Reserve.

Bird hide on fire

Yesterday, as I sat in my study finishing off some work, my wife called me into the lounge to look out the window. She and my two young children stood transfixed as black, billowing clouds of smoke drifted over our back garden. It was clear where it was coming from: the nature reserve close to our house.

Tragically, someone (or some group) had decided to set fire to the bird hide on the end of a jetty that goes out into the pond. By the time I’d called the fire brigade and got down there, all that the steadily-increasing group of concerned onlookers could do was watch as fierce flames consumed the wooden structure.

I overheard, but have not had confirmation, that the bird hide was doused in petrol before being set alight. In the end, the firefighters put out the fire and knocked down the hide. All that’s left are some wooden stumps.

My reason for writing about this is merely, at this stage, to document that it happened. I’m not sure who did it, nor why they did so, but feel sad that it happened. All my five year-old son asked yesterday was “Why would they do that, Daddy?” I didn’t know how to answer him but encouraged him to draw the picture at the top of this post to let out some of his emotions.

The nature reserve was opened last year after a community group secured National Lottery funding to transform the space. It’s a beautiful space within which to walk in this usually peaceful village. My children used to enjoy peeking through the windows in the bird hide.

Not any more. 🙁

v0.2 of ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’ now available!

***Version 0.3 now available!***

The Essential Elements of Digital LiteraciesRight on schedule, I’m delighted to announce that version 0.2 of my e-book The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies is now available!

Those who invested in v0.1 have already received their update, according to the OpenBeta process I devised.

You can invest in v0.2 and then get every update to v1.0 by clicking below:



Invest now (£2) and get each chapter as it’s completed FREE!


More questions? I probably answered them in this post announcing the e-book!

On writing every day.

750words semantic analysis

There’s two books I read regularly. Both of those books are by authors who evidently love the written word but treat it quite differently.

The first is The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian, a 17th century Spanish Jesuit. I read his short, pithy maxims every single day on repeat. When I get to number 300, I flick back and start at number one again.

The second, which I’ve read many times is Michel de Montaigne‘s Essays. This rambling, inconsistent and charming tome is by a 16th century landowner and reluctant public servant. I (and others who have read him) feel like I know him personally.*

Both works make me want to write not just about the kinds of things I write about on this blog, but just for myself. Not necessarily for an audience, and about anything I want.

Ideally, I’d write in the series of journals I’ve kept since turning 18. Realistically, I write in there sporadically, and usually when I’m feeling down. I want more regular outpourings and means typing instead of physically writing.

I’m a fairly fast touch-typist. I used to be up to the heady heights of around 100 words per minute (wpm), but nowadays I’m happy with 60-70 wpm. That’s obviously way more than I’d get if I was scrawling: I’d be lucky to hit 30 wpm, and even that would be illegible.

Thankfully, and you’ll be delighted to know there’s a point to this post, I’ve re-discovered a place that embodies this ‘private, unfiltered, spontaneous, daily’ element for which I’ve been grasping.

Not only is extremely well-designed, but it’s got semantic analysis of what you write, co-operative style values and badges!** The image at the top of this post shows some of the analysis the site does. There’s more than the limited amount I’m sharing there. 😉

Read this for Buster’s (the site owner) reason for creating – and continuing to run – the site:

750 Words exists because of mutual good will between myself and the people who use it. The site wouldn’t exist without the generosity, patience, and humor of everyone involved. Rather than charge for the site, I want to keep the site free, and simply offer an opportunity for people who have the means and the desire to help keep things going. I don’t want to make a ton of money, I just want to have enough to justify the time, energy, and money it takes to build, maintain, and enjoy, while also keeping the spirit of it fun and friendly.

That’s my kind of site. 🙂

*I’m also greatly enjoying Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: A life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer.

**Although not, sadly, of the ‘Open Badges’ variety.