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What I got up to during #BelshawBlackOps12 (and what 2013 has in store)

TL;DR version: Best of Belshaw 2012 is now available as an ebook, I felt a little lonely working from home without interaction via social networks, and I’m trying to travel less in 2013.


The difference between working in an office or classroom versus working from home is fairly obvious. When I was in the former I had constant, relevant co-located conversations about work and related areas; in the latter the only occasional interactions I get are not work related. Of course, this is mitigated to a great degree by social networks and the calls I have as part of my working day.

What happens, though, when you consciously try to minimise your use of social networks – as I did last month? You get a bit lonely when you’re at work, that’s what. I really missed the continual partial attention and wealth of information that comes down the tubes, especially via Twitter.

Happily, though, when I wasn’t working I also wasn’t using social networks and therefore spent a lot more time being both physically and mindfully ‘present’ with my family. Which was nice. I played a lot of games, especially FIFA12 (with my son) and OLO (with anyone within my general proximity). I went down to the wonderful beach at Druridge Bay more times in December than I did in the rest of 2012, I reckon. Most of that was down to investing in Scandanavian waterproofs for the children.

I read a lot. Whilst I didn’t quite make it to 10 non-fiction books, I did manage to read seven, which isn’t too bad. I also succumbed and re-invested in the Amazon Kindle ecosystem both for myself and my wife. I feel a bit guilty given the vendor lock-in but, honestly, it makes reading on an ereader a stress-free experience. In addition to the fiction books I read or re-read (including Crime & Punishment and a Jack Reacher novel), I read the following. I’ve ordered them from best to worst:

  1. The Connected Family – Seymour Papert
  2. Society of the Spectacle – Guy Debord
  3. Reality is Broken – Jane McGonigal
  4. The Signal and the Noise – Nate Silver
  5. The Bed of Procrustes – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  6. A Whack on the Side of the Head – Roger von Oech
  7. Slow Reading – John Miedena

The book I was looking forward to reading most, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, I didn’t get a chance to read due to the Norovirus paying a visit.

What I didn’t do in December was write any more of my ebook The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies. I’ll be prioritising that in the first months of this year. What was I doing instead? Putting together my Best of Belshaw 2012! You can download it for free:

So what’s in store for me in 2013? Well, hopefully a lot less travel for one thing. I followed a similar strategy in my first six months at Mozilla as I did with my first year at JISC infoNet – getting out and meeting as many people as possible. Now, though, over and above the things I’ve already committed to, some essential travelling, and the inevitable really interesting stuff, I’ll be focusing on my work around Web Literacies and Webmaker badges.

Of course, 2013 will also be the year of world domination for Open Badges. Oh, and the year of Linux on the desktop. 😉

What are you up to in 2013?

5 things I can do with my Kindle that you can’t with your dead-tree books.

1. Read things I save for later using Instapaper.

2. Sync highlights and comments to Evernote.

3. Search for a quotation or section in a book.

4. Look up a word in the built-in dictionary or a concept at Wikipedia.

5. Use the built-in 3G to navigate Google Maps via the browser.

Your anti-ebook rhetoric is like a broken record.

To be honest, I’m not particularly bothered whether you, on a personal level, decide that you don’t like ebooks and you prefer dead trees.

That’s fine.

actively prefer the former over the latter, so I do mind your Luddite-style arguments attempting to castigate others whilst appealing to some kind of external, objective value. If you’re in a position of influence within an organization, then your reactionary stance on ebooks makes you a barrier.

These are the 3 types arguments I hear most often:

1. I like sharing books

That’s great! Good for you. My liking ebooks obviously makes me A Bad Person.

2. There’s just something about…

…the smell, the cracking of the spine, etc. Erm, that’s a fetish.

3. Ebooks strain my eyes

I completely take onboard your point about reading anything of any length on a backlit screen. But that argument just doesn’t stand up with e-ink screens as featured on the Amazon Kindle.

Got a different anti-ebook argument? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!

***Update*** Many thanks to ‘atw’ in the comments below who adds a fourth argument I hear often:

I like paper books because I can stick them in my purse and they never run out of batteries!

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