Open Thinkering


Tag: inspiration

Things I Learned This Week – #17

On a personal note, I learned that people really don’t know that their hacked email account is repeatedly spamming others unless you tell them, that customer service is still a completely alien concept to some businesses, and that before placing it in the washing machine it’s best to check pockets of running gear for MP3 players, headphones and the like… 😮


  • Google’s ‘satnav killer’, Google Maps Navigation, has been released in the UK. Shame you need to put on an American drawl to use it.
  • I’ve been playing around with NoteSync, a cross-platform, Adobe Air application that syncs with Google Docs. Genius. I give it until the end of the year before Google actually buys it.
  • The video below was the first ever video uploaded to YouTube (5 years ago this week). So now you know. :-p

Productivity & Inspiration

  • Please don’t annoy Seth Godin. Do these 8 things to be more efficient/less annoying to him (and everyone else) when it comes to email.
  • Scott Belsky’s got some grand plans about how to make meetings better. Here’s 7 of the best. 😀

Education & Academic

Data, Design & Infographics

  • A USB flash drive that can dynamically display what it contains? Now there’s a plan…

  • Revisit is a really nice-looking, flexible way to display tweets:



The wound that bleeds inwardly is the most dangerous. (Proverb)

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. (Buddha)

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. (Dalai Lama)

Oh yes, the past can hurt. But, you can either run from it or, learn from it. (The Lion King)

Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. (Dale Carnegie)

Main image CC BY Prabhu_B

Things I Learned This Week – #16

On a personal note, I learned just how delicate the balance is that keeps our world ‘normal’ (think volcanic ash cloud) and that the gadgets which provide the most satisfaction are those where you identify a problem, research solutions, and then make your purchase. :-p


  • I found this presentation about perceptions of the role of technology in 2020 interesting – especially the shift over the last 10 years in attitudes to the internet ‘endangering reading’:

  • Stuart Ridout wrote a useful post about spotting email hoaxes this week after his mother-in-law got scammed. Even my wife had to come and ask me yesterday after a professional-looking email from HM Revenue & Customs claimed she was due a £1000 tax refund. Some might call this ’email literacy’. I wouldn’t be one of those people. I call it ‘digital common sense’. 😉
  • Not too sure whether to follow a given individual on Twitter? Try! (which says this about me – including the following Twitter follower map)

Productivity & Inspiration

  • My colleague @andystew shared this video with me this week. Sometimes, even if you’ve planned things up to the hilt, you just have to steam on in there. LLLLLLEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOYYYYYYYYYY JJJJJJJEEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNNKKKKKKKIIIIINNNNNNNNSSSSS!!!!!

  • Football Manager came out for the iPhone this week. And I bought it. And still remained productive. Check. Me. Out. (context: I almost failed my GCSEs, A Levels and degree because of various iterations of this game – it’s that addictive…)
  • There’s some useful tips on happiness over at Dumb Little Man. Numbers 15 and 30 on the list are especially important!
  • Also at Dumb Little Man is this post on ‘time pockets’. I call it ‘parallel-tasking’ but whatever you call it, it’s worth learning how to do. :-p

Education & Academic

  • I needed some advice about online survey design and creation this week and found this information from Bristol University useful!
  • Will Richardson linked this week to a Cisco-sponsored report entitled Learning from the Extremes. Much as I found We-Think by co-author Charles Leadbeater a tortuous and platitude-riddled affair, I’m looking forward to going through the report in more detail. A great point is made on p.16 about it not being education we need to reform but society:

Spreading learning is not just a question of providing more teachers and schools. A parallel process of social and cultural change is critical, so that learning is taken more seriously at home and in society. An educated society does not just have an effective school system; it has a culture that values learning.

Consider how one rears children. They are not little machines waiting to be directed by higher headquarters. They are people learning how to be free and responsible citizens. Their future emerges; it is not designed.

Data, Design & Infographics

  • The Infographics Showcase aims to collect the best infographics and data visualizations on the web, including this motion graphic on wine-making:

(click on image to see full – very tall – version)


A big mark of privilege is that social and economic networks tend to facilitate goals, rather than block them. This makes it easier to ignore the social and economic networks around us; and it makes it easier for the privileged to imagine their accomplishments are the result of their own pure merit. Imagine two roads: one smooth, well-paved, well-maintained, the other lumpy and full of cracks and pits. Most people will drive over the smooth road without even noticing it – but that doesn’t mean that the smooth road hasn’t facilitated their driving. Nor does it mean that the person driving on the smooth road has more merit, as a driver, than someone stuck on pothole avenue.

  • I never knew robots could be so funny when folding towels
  • And for all of you who still call cars ‘horseless carriages’ and think there’s nothing better than a typewriter, is a way of having Twitter delivered to you as an online newspaper. 😉


I am always doing things I can’t do. That is how I get to do them. (Pablo Picasso)

Every choice you make has an end result. (Zig Ziglar)

Conflict cannot survive without your participation. (Wayne Dyer)

We need men who can dream of things that never were. (John F. Kennedy)

No one can see their reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see. (Taoist Proverb)

Main image CC BY-NC-SA Erica_Marshall

Things I Learned This Week – #15

CC BY TheMarque

On a personal note, I re-learned this week just how hideous and un-user-friendly Microsoft Outlook is (I have to use it for work). The teacher in me was concerned about the normalization of extreme violence in the film Kick-Ass, but on the other hand I stopped worrying and learned to love closed digital ecosystems… :-p


  • Need a quick way of sharing images, links, music, videos and files? You could do a whole lot worse than CloudApp (Mac OSX only)
  • Want to write your own iPhone app? Want to use free multimedia guides? Check out these tutorials from Stanford [iTunesU link]
  • After Google’s disastrous intoruction of Google Buzz, they’ve tried to make things right. Not least through this video aimed at teens showing them how to use the controls and settings to ensure their privacy online:

  • Twitter have bought the company who make my iPhone Twitter client of choice, Tweetie. They’re going to ‘do a Google’ and make it available for free. Which is nice.
  • Google have expanded the utility of their link shortener service by making it easy to auto-generate QR codes. Simply append ‘.qr’ to the end of any shortened link!

Productivity & Inspiration

Education & Academic

  • Hans de Zwart is starting a reading group (with weekly Monday teleconference sessions) around the concept of serious games (and the book Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration in particular). Unfortunately, 15.30 Amsterdam time makes it impossible for me to participate, but I’d encourage you to! 😀
  • I’m soon going to be published in an academic journal for the first time with this book review of The Hyperlinked Society.
  • According to the latest research, most kids will be using touchscreens by 2015 which, obviously, has massive implications for education.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that dyslexics may find reading ebooks easier. I’m not dyslexic but certainly doing better with The Brothers Karamazov via Stanza on my iPhone than I’ve ever done with the physical version of the, admittedly, rather large tome. I’ve only ever got half-way through it before…
  • Got questions about how the Apple iPad could be used in education? iPad4Edu is a good place to ask those questions!

Data, Design & Infographics

  • Ever wondered about the relative sizes of the characters in Pixar animated films?
  • Dribbble is ‘show and tell for designers in 120,000 pixels or less’ 🙂
  • The BBC has a new DataArt section where they ‘take data sources from the BBC and attempt to visualise them in ways which are both artistic and informative’. For example:

When your mental model doesn’t match the actual state of the system, a mode error occurs.

  • Put your important stuff on the left-hand side of your website. Why? This study shows that users spend 69% of their viewing time looking at that side – even when their native language reads right-to-left!


  • Not sure which political party to vote for in the upcoming UK General Election on 6 May? Try answering the questions at My results are above so I’ll probably vote Liberal Democrat (for the first time) given that the Greens aren’t capable of forming a majority government. I’m also extremely disillusioned with Labour, and really don’t rate the Conservatives’ education policies. Of course, given the first-past-the-post system all votes aren’t really equal; according to the Voter Power Index my vote in south-east Northumberland is effectively worth a mere 0.23 of a ‘real’ vote due to it being a safe Labour seat. 🙁


Dreams permit each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives. (William Dement)

When the water reaches the upper level, follow the rats. (Claude Swanson)

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers. (Voltaire)

People do not lack strength; they lack will. (Victor Hugo)

First, get the facts, then you can distort them at your leisure. (Mark Twain)