Open Thinkering


Category: Weeknotes

Weeknote 11/2023

It’s Mother’s Day in the UK today, so I’d like to take the opportunity to thank both my own mother and my wife, Hannah, for being fantastic mums. I spent time with both of them, separately, at Druridge Bay this week. It’s a wonderful place.

Laura‘s been back to work this week which I’ve been delighted about. We recorded the first episode of Season 6 for The Tao of WAO, submitted proposals for The Badge Summit, co-worked on various client projects, and ran community calls. I’ve also done some co-working with John and Anne, did some more work with the Member Learning group, and enjoyed my chats with James Polansky, Tim Riches, and Abi Handley.

It’s only a few weeks now until I’m walking the first half of The Pennine Way, going form north to south (Kirk Yetholm to Middleton-in-Teesdale). I think I’ve bought everything else I need now, including the Rab SilPoncho which can double as a tarp. I’m still weighing up whether to replace my cheapo Mountain Warehouse Carrion 65-litre rucksack which I used for Hadrian’s Wall with the latest version of the Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor (60-80l). It’s probably £175 I don’t need to spend at the moment, to be honest, although the buckles on the Mountain Warehouse pack do my head in.

This week I published:

Last week I ‘admitted’ to effectively just copy/pasting from ChatGPT to create posts on LinkedIn. I’ve actually found a better workflow:

  1. Spend a lot of time with the AI trying to get the right kind of content. This can involve feeding it quite a bit in the way of text, or ensuring it ‘understands’ the context. A good example of this is the first post in the list above about AI literacy.
  2. Where appropriate, ask ChatGPT to use a metaphor or compare/contrast two or more things. It’s particularly good at doing this.
  3. Take the text and copy/paste it somewhere. Rewrite the entire thing in my voice.
  4. Choose a relevant image, or make my own (e.g. with the asssessment one above)
  5. Hit publish

It’s interesting to see just how little some people know what’s going on with large language models (LLMs). There is no ‘there’ there, so anthropomorphising platforms makes no sense. It just makes those doing it look daft.

Next week, it’s a pretty normal week as these things go. I’m taking three weeks off in total in April, so there’s a few things I want to get done so that I haven’t got anything hanging over me, work-wise, before my break.

Photo taken at Druridge Bay on Sunday

Weeknote 10/2023

Snowy scene

I’m going to start this week’s update with a bit of an admission. A post I’ve shared and has got plenty of traction, especially on LinkedIn, was written in the following way:

  1. Ask ChatGPT to write a blog post about a particular topic
  2. Ask it to add in a metaphor
  3. Ask it to rewrite it “in the style of Doug Belshaw”
  4. Copy/paste to LinkedIn, add a link, and emoji, and italicise one of the words
  5. Add relevant image, then hit ‘post’

Is there anything inherently ‘wrong’ about this? The only reason it can write in a somewhat similar style to me is because it’s been trained on a huge corpus of data that’s included my writing.

Although it wasn’t focused on this particular episode, Niall Winters asked an interesting question when I mentioned I’d found ChatGPT useful in my work this week.

Post from Niall Winters: "@dajb Interesting. How did you cite/credit/acknowledge use of ChatGPT? I’m curious on what standard we’ll use (in all areas, academia, journalism etc.) so readers know it is being used. Thanks!"

I was surprised by the question. I’m not sure why or when it would or should be expected in my line of work to acknowledge this? I don’t really see it as much different to having an assistant doing some research. After all, if people can’t tell the difference between my writing and ChatGPT imitating my writing, then doesn’t that free me up to do other things?

Here’s another example. I know a bit of HTML and CSS, but have never really used much JavaScript (JS). So it was amazing to me when I discovered this week that it’s possible to create simple games using HTML, CSS, and JS using ChatGPT. I’ve created a couple which are moderately fun to play and which were entirely created by me providing prompts. ChatGPT provided the code, and iterations upon it. You can find the games via this blog post.

I’m not particularly interested in the moral panic around AI, but I am interested in getting manual, repetitive tasks done more quickly. I’m also very interested in an assistant that can help me be more creative, as has been the case with some of the work I’ve done this week, as well as the games I’ve created.

Here are the posts I’ve published this week. You’ll have to decide which ones were pretty much fully written by ChatGPT, which were the ones where I used it as an assistant, and which were written entirely by me. Answer at the end of the post.

  1. RetroEmoji Challenge: a simple game created using ChatGPT
  2. FONT and Nonviolent Communication
  3. Sim City 2000 as a metaphor for Open Recognition and Open Badges
  4. Why Open Recognition Is the Key to Unlocking Human Potential
  5. “I can’t see the forest for the trees!” Microcredentials and Open Recognition

On Wednesday night, Anne and I ran a session as part of Open Education Talks on entitled Integrating Open Recognition into program and course designs. The linked post not only contains the slides, but also a pre-recorded version of our 15-minute session. It uses Anne’s experience attending The University of Lapland for five months as a lens for how Open Recognition useful augments microcredentialing.

This has been the third and final week of Laura being away. Much as I’ve enjoyed working with John and Anne, I’m looking forward to Laura’s return as she’s my main partner in crime. On Friday afternoon I created a long etherpad of all of the things she needed to be caught-up on, and then recorded a Loom video talking her through it.

I’ve been working on client projects with and for Greenpeace, Participate, Passbolt, Sport England, and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. I’ve also been doing some work as a member of the Member Learning group of It’s looking like we’re going to have a bit more capacity earlier than we though, so from mid-April WAO is available for additional client work.

There’s been a fair bit of snow here this week, and our combi boiler decided to stop work on Friday. Thankfully, the broken part was easy to repair so we weren’t cold for too long. However, it has meant that all of our kids’ football training sessions and two of the matches were called off. They enjoy their sport, but they’ve also enjoyed the additional time they’ve had to hang out with friends.

Although we’ve booked to go away on holiday to Scotland for a few days in the Easter holidays at the start of April, we haven’t yet booked a summer holiday for Team Belshaw. Part of the reason for this is that we were planning to take our youngest out of school for a week after our eldest has finished his GCSEs. However, by the time we found out when that would be, everything is super expensive. And I mean like at least twice as much as I would expect it to be.

So that plan might be out of the window and we could just be taking him for a nice meal instead. That would mean that we could drive to the south of France for a couple of weeks during the school summer holidays. It’s still up in the air, to be honest.

Next week, Laura’s back and I’m expecting her to come in like a hurricane wrecking ball, even though I’m sure she’ll be very chilled after a few weeks in Costa Rica. I’m looking forward to finishing off work for one of our clients and doing some more planning for my Pennine Way expedition next month. Hopefully the kids’ sporting activities will be back to normal and it will be warm enough for me to run outside again.

Photo taken looking out from the top of our house taken by my wife, Hannah, and then edited by me. The first two posts in the list were written entirely by me. ChatGPT helped me with the third one, and I only really tweaked the last two.

Weeknote 09/2023

I’ve been tired this week, mainly because I’ve started running every day. It’s already had an impact in terms of my fitness, as when running the same distance on the treadmill at the same speed my heart rate is lower.

In six weeks’ time I’m walking the first half of the Pennine Way, a 268-mile National Trail that officially starts in Edale, Derbyshire and ends at Kirk Yetholm, just inside the border in Scotland. However, I’m going to walk it north to south instead, as the endpoint is only about an hour away from where I live. It also means that I’m dealing with the hardest day when I’ve got the most energy.

I was weighing up whether to try and do the whole thing in one go, which would take around two weeks. It was my daughter who persuaded me not to, as she’s away on a school trip and otherwise wouldn’t really see me for three weeks. I’m not entirely sure when I’ll do the second half of the trail, but I’m planning to break at Middleton-in-Teesdale.

Work-wise this week I’ve been:

Laura‘s still away and I’ve been working with John a fair bit.

This week I wrote on this blog:

On Thought Shrapnel I wrote:

I didn’t send out my monthly newsletter as I seem to have lost motivation to write it. This is curious, as I’m not the kind of person who usually needs motivating. I need to reflect on this a bit more.

Next week, it’s a pretty normal week. It’s still the football season so I’ll be watching plenty of that on TV and on the side of pitches watching my kids play. I’m also going to do more planning for my walk and hopefully get a holiday booked for after my son’s GCSE exams are finished.

Photo from last week’s monthly Sunday dinner out at The Blackbird, originally a 14th-century castle built due to conflicts between the English and Scots.