Here is a collection of quotes from Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale:

Fraternize means to behave like a brother. Luke told me that. He said there was no corresponding word that meant to behave like a sister. Sororize, it would have to be, he said.

The young ones are often the most dangerous, the most fanatical, the jumpiest with their guns. They haven’t yet learned about existence through time. You have to go slowly with them.

There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.

Would like to believe this is a story I’m telling. I need to believe it. I must believe it. Those who can believe that such stories are only stories have a better chance. If it’s a story I’m telling, then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending, to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where I left off. It isn’t a story I’m telling. It’s also a story I’m telling, in my head, as I go along. Tell, rather than write, because I have nothing to write with and writing is in any case forbidden. But if it’s a story, even in my head, I must be telling it to someone. You don’t tell a story only to yourself. There’s always someone else. Even when there is no one.

I read about that in Introduction to Psychology; that, and the chapter on caged rats who’d give themselves electric shocks for something to do. And the one on the pigeons, trained to peck a button which made a grain of corn appear. Three groups of them: the first got one grain per peck, the second one grain every other peck, the third was random. When the man in charge cut off the grain, the first group gave up quite soon, the second group a little later. The third group never gave up. They’d peck themselves to death, rather than quit. Who knew what worked?

Replied Accessibility on the Web (Chris Aldrich | BoffoSocko)
I certainly don’t go out of my way to follow the topic of accessibility, though I do think about it occasionally. It’s apparently bubbling up more frequently as something in need of some dire attention on both the web and in real life. I ran across three different pleas in less than the span of...
Just to add to the conversation Chris, Tom Woodward has done a bit in regards to investigating WordPress and accessibility that might be worth checking out:
Working on Accessibility
Javascript for Added Accessibility
Replied Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us? | Facebook Newsroom by David Ginsberg and Moira Burke (
In sum, our research and other academic literature suggests that it’s about how you use social media that matters when it comes to your well-being.
I find the answer to improving social media as being how it is used as being problematic. This was a message that was also presented in a recent RN Future Tense podcast. What about the side effects of using such platforms as Facebook? I recognise the improvements in functionality, such as the ability to snooze, take a break from seeing an ex or detecting suicidal posts. However, these only add to the data that I as a user would provide you to develop a richer profile of me. As Ben Williamson reminds in his new book,

Whether you like it or not, a data-based version of yourself exists out there, scattered among different databases as data points in massive torrents of big data. Data mining, algorithms and analytics processes are increasingly being put to work to know and understand you, and also to know and understand the wider populations, communities and societies to which you belong.

If benefits are gained by how we use social media then I would argue that the #IndieWeb has a lot to offer, as well as the movement to claim your own domain. This means that I am more mindful of my space and potentially decide how to share my data and information.

Audrey Watters asks the questions ‘who is telling the stories’ of the future and about research:

Where do these stories about the future come from? Like, how do we know about “what’s happening” and “what’s trending” in education? Who are the people who are telling us what the future of education or technology or education technology is supposed to like? Who tells these stories? Who benefits from these stories? Who funds these stories? Why do we find these stories compelling?

Clearly, in this case it is Facebook and this is a concern.

Replied Groups, communities, collectives or …? by Ian Guest (Marginal Notes)
Twitter is classified by Stephen Downes as a Group, based on the fact that power is centralised and held by the platform, rather than being in the hands of the participants. Membership is closed by dint of the requirement to create an account and there are rules which members are obliged to follow. In addition to the criteria he uses to disti...
This is an interesting discussion Ian. I wonder if you have read Teaching Crowds by Jon Dron and Terry Anderson. I have summarised it here. However I think that this graphic captures it:

A representation of the ideas presented in Teaching Crowds
Graphic taken from a presentation at GAFE Summit, 2016

What intrigues me about labeling Twitter as a ‘group’ ignores the many features built into the platform and the affordances they allow. For example, the focus on hashtags allows for the formation of ‘Communities of Interest’, while lists can be used to develop ‘Circles’. Maybe Downes’ reference to ‘sameness’ is assocaited with the idea of ‘templated self’.

A self or identity that is produced through various participation architectures, the act of producing a virtual or digital representation of self by filling out a user interface with personal information.

It has definitely left me wondering.

Replied Chris Aldrich (Chris Aldrich | BoffoSocko)
I’ve switched over to David Shanske’s IndieWeb-friendly fork of the TwentySixteen Theme tonight. Liking it a lot so far. Can’t wait to see what little surprises I run across under the hood and how we can potentially make it better for the community.
Really interested Chris in what David Shanske’s theme might have to offer. Having spent some time lately trying to get my head around the ‘motor under the hood’, I am wondering about the difference between David’s approach to fork the 2016 theme, compared to your approach of creating a child. Is there simply fors and againsts for both? Or is one more ideal? Just wondering as per usual.
Replied Storify Bites the Dust. If You Have WordPress, You Don’t Need Another Third Party Clown Service by Alan Levine (CogDogBlog)
There are two kinds of people or organizations that create things for the web. One is looking to make money or fame and cares not what happens once they get either (or none and go back to flipping burgers). The other has an understanding and care for the history and future of the web, and makes every effort to make archived content live on, to not leave trails of dead links. Storify is Type 1. After getting enough of a value based on the free labor of grunts like you and me who built content in it, they got bought by Adobe, and swept up into some enterprise product
Thank you Alan for your investigation into alternatives to Storify. By chance, I had gone down a similar rabbit hole wondering how I could store a set of Tweets. I was under the impression that being embedded if the original tweet were deleted then they would not show up in the blog. It was for this reason that I explored pasting the text. I am assuming from your discussion(s) that this is not the case?

I still like the idea of using TAGS to collect the links, but rather than pasting the text:

The book traces the changing focus of the history of second wave feminism over the 20th/21st centuries. Providing essays situated in each of the three ‘Acts’. I’m live tweeting Fraser’s overview of the history and spirit of the wave
“Second wave feminism came out of the New Left after WW2.

Act1 – Began life as an insurrectionary force that challenged male domination in state organised capitalist societies”

Act2 – the feminist imagination turned from redistribution of power/economy to recognition of difference – identity/cultural politics dominated

Act3 – still unfolding but we are seeing the reinvigoration of feminist and other emancipatory forces to demand that the runaway markets be subjected to democratic control

A user could just paste the URLs:

Will continue to think about this, especially as I do not always want the parent tweet necessarily embedded. I also have to investigate your Storify Embeddable Link Extractor, but it looks to be a great tool for all situations.

Replied What the New York Times doesn't get about Teachers Promoting Tech. by Keith George (
Teachers aren't in it for the money! Every teacher I know spends hundreds and hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to make up for the shortfalls of declining budgets and underprivileged kids. Many of those free T-shirts end up in the school counselors office for the kids that comes to school underdressed because of family situations out of the school's control. Those free pencils and pens? Teachers slip them quietly to the kid that comes to school each day in part to get out of the homeless shelter they live in. Those rare instances when a teacher earns a piece of equipment or free software- it doesn't go to them, it goes to the school. And the gift card I received? It was redeemed within an hour. . . to buy a book on how to teach coding to every kid in every classroom.
Interesting reflection Keith. I understand what you are saying about teachers ‘not being in it for the money’. I wonder though if this misses a wider point. The increasing influence of private providers in education, both at a school and policy level. I too am a ‘Certified Innovator’ and have presented for the EdTechTeam, but I do not badge my participation on my blog. That is my choice. I am happy to disclose (, but see no need or benefit in plastering this on my front page to the web, especially when such badges lack any layer of credentialing associated with Open Badges.
Replied The Propaganda behind Personalised Learning by Benjamin Doxtdater (Long View on Education)
So what do we do? Educate ourselves. Follow critical educators on Twitter, read books that expose corporate interests, and support the work of people like Audrey Watters who act as independent journalists.
Another thought provoking read Benjamin. I really like your call for people to educate. I am also intrigued by your four filters:

  • Funding
  • Expertise
  • Ideology
  • Flak

I think that they provide a useful framework to get started. I just wonder about the entry point for many teachers who are already a part of the ‘learning machine’? I agree about supporting those like Watters and mobilising. I wonder if this is a part of what Howard Stevenson and Alison Gilliland describe as a ‘democratic professionalism’.

My question and concern is whether a structural systemic knowledge is enough? I really like Ben Williamson’s approach focusing on the assemblage:

In this broad sense, a data assemblage includes: (1) particular modes of thinking, theories and ideologies; (2) forms of knowledge such as manuals and textbooks; (3) financial aspects such as business models, investment and philanthropy; (4) the political economy of government policy; (5) the materiality of computers, networks, databases and analytics software packages; (6) specific skilled practices, techniques and behaviours of data scientists; (7) organizations and institutions that collect, broker or use data; (8) particular sites, locations and spaces; and (9) marketplaces for data, its derivative products, its analysts and its software.source

An example of this is his work around ClassDojo. What I think is useful about this approach is that it incorporates skills into the wider critical discussion. For me, that is a part of my interest in Google’s GSuite. That is also, in part, what drives me to do my ‘eLearn Update’ newsletter. I just wonder if there is a limit to dialogue from the outside?

Apologies if this is a complete misreading Benjamin.

Replied AI, algorithmic decision making, ethics and the under-representation of women in tech (Radio National)
Ethical principles for algorithmic decision making; more women in the tech industry; inclusion in AI and design - these of all issues of increasing significance in the future.
This was an important episode addressing the ethical questions that need to be considered in regards to algorithmic decision making, as well as gender equity within edtech. My only question was the voices chosen.

I wonder if there was an opportunity to have a female voice to discuss the topic. Whether it be Audrey Watters, Cathy O’Neil or danah boyd. Maybe choosing an ‘equitable’ voice could be construed as token. However, I fear that continually hearing from males perpetuates the issue at hand.