🗒️ Ideas

James Somers discusses the notion of ‘Collaborative Circles’ and ideas focusing on the work on coders Jeff Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat:

After years of sharing their working lives, duos sometimes develop a private language, the way twins do. They imitate each other’s clothing and habits. A sense of humor osmoses from one to the other. Apportioning credit between them becomes impossible. But partnerships of this intensity are unusual in software development. Although developers sometimes talk about “pair programming”—two programmers sharing a single computer, one “driving” and the other “navigating”—they usually conceive of such partnerships in terms of redundancy, as though the pair were co-pilots on the same flight. Jeff and Sanjay, by contrast, sometimes seem to be two halves of a single mind. Some of their best-known papers have as many as a dozen co-authors. Still, Bill Coughran, one of their managers, recalled, “They were so prolific and so effective working as a pair that we often built teams around them.”source

Liked Facebook’s monopoly is harming consumers by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

With any lens except the most superficial, Facebook fails this test. Yes, its product is free and available to anyone. But we pay with our data and privacy – and ultimately, with our democracy. Facebook’s dominance has adversely affected entire industries, swung elections, and fuelled genocides.

Listened Beckstrom Holiday Extravaganza Volume X, by Chris Beckstrom from Chris Beckstrom

6 track album

It is always an interesting time of year when it comes to music. Michael Buble has his niche. Last year Sia created an interesting album of original music. With all this said there is something truly joyful about these Holiday Extravaganzas. The pictures are also a useful reflection of the effort required.
Replied to Deconstructing the Modern Hip-Hop Song by an author (Kevin’s Meandering Mind)
  1. Start with a simple beat. Maybe kick drum on the beat or on the off beat. Keep it pounding until your feel it in your skull.
  2. Add piano or organ over it. Do this for about four measures. Just enough to establish the melody.
  3. Drop the drum and transform the opening melody part to synth after the first few measures. Come in strong with a big kick drum sound (think: John Bonham from Led Zep. That’s the sound you want. Bigger than your head.).
  4. Make sure the bass is deep enough, rich enough, to reach into your esophagus. Deep in sound, but not too complicated in parts. The bass will become the thread that holds this whole thing together. Modern bass is the river on which the melody floats.
  5. Shout out “yeah” on the offbeat until you create synergy off the beat. Wave your hands in the air if you care. Get hangers-on in the studio to the mic, and have them join in.
  6. Name-check yourself. Maybe a few times. Don’t let the listener forget who you are.
  7. If your lyrics are a mostly meaningless flow about nothing much to talk about, pump up the effects to bury the meaning beneath your voice. Also, do this, too, if you can’t really sing. If your lyrics have meaning, push the voice up over the beat during verses. Make it known.
  8. If your partner(s) are the DJ at the mix machine, have them interject a few odds and ends now and then. Maybe during live performances tell the crowd to make some noise, but with a slew of profanity. Say it at least a dozen times. Keep their microphone volume lower than yours, though.
  9. Have a famous friend? Invite them into the track for some verses or a line of words or two. Guest overdubs are the rage right now. If you are a male rapper, having a female singer take over the chorus seems like a good bet to get heard.
  10. Bury the words of the chorus with layered overdubs of voice and effects. Ideally, you do this in stages, so that by the end of the track, the chorus is bigger than a building. Unless you can’t sing. Then, bring in a guest (see #8) or add more effects (see #6)
  11. End by either reversing the flow — ending back on simple opening beat and keyboards — or by taking the track in another direction, and the come to a full stop. A big boom blast — cannon shots are popular — with tons of reverb will end the track with a slow-fading tail. Add lights and fire during live shows.
  12. Start over again until you find your groove and your audience.
I really enjoyed this reflection on hip hop Kevin. One thing that it reminded me of was a few recent episodes of the Vox’s Earworm series looking at sampling:

I am always intrigued by the roll of technology on what is possible and what is created.

Also on: Read Write Collect

Bookmarked 7 Ps of Platform Education

Social media research is not pop-cultural. It is a mechanism for understanding the very real performativity in platform education.

Naomi Barnes explores the effect of the platform economy on education. She breaks this investigation down into seven considerations: platforms, publics, profiles, produces/prosumers, professional expectations, policy and performativity. In closing, she highlights three points to be taken from all this: platform education is here and there is no pragmatically viable way to avoid it, social media policy makers should be aware of the ebbs and flows of social media platforms and factor that into workload and human resourcing, and policy makers must be aware of the effect of their presence on social media. This touches on the work of Ben Williamson and his book Big Data in Education.
Replied to Using Inoreader as an IndieWeb feed reader by an authoran author ( )

It may still be a while before I can make the leap I’d love to make to using Microsub related technology to replace my daily feed reader habits. I know that several people are working diligently on a Microsub server for WordPress and there are already a handful of reader interfaces available. I’…

I have been wondering how I could improve my workflow associated with Inoreader. Obviously I did not wonder enough.

Currently, I use URL Forwarder as many of my posts (like this one) are composed during my daily commute on my phone. I guess I could use IFTTT, but there is something There is something about IFTTT that leaves me feeling unsettled. I am therefore unwilling to use the platform for anything that
really matters to me. I am not sure if I want to pay for Zapier, but have been thinking about it, especially after listening a recent episode of the Automators Podcast:

Another challenge I find is that some of the features you have touched upon do not seem available via the mobile app. Maybe then this ties my hand.

Liked IndieWeb Google Custom Search Engine by an authoran author

Google has offered custom search engines for individual sites for a long time, so I threw together one that searches all of the sites in Indie Map, plus lots more that have joined the IndieWeb since then. It seems to work ok so far. Try it out and let me know what you think!

https://snarfed.org/magnifying_glass.jpg https://snarfed.org/magnifying_glass.jpg
A search engine for the whole IndieWeb has been a hot conversation topic, on and off, for many years now. Many of us offer search on our own individual sites, and more ambiti…

Bookmarked Doing my research work is like walking a city. How would you walk this city? by Dr. Naomi Barnes (EduResearch Matters)

If you were to walk to the top of the tallest tower and look down on the network of roads and people, it might look planned, straight, considered. Plenty of people have taken that path and many know where to go. You can tell by the structures. But when you get down to ground level, the steps people are taking are not all in unison. They wander, stop, turn around, bump into things.

Naomi Barnes reflects on walking around cities, irruptions and the way in which we shape our research and our research then shapes us. This was an interesting read in light of Ian Guest’s reflections on flânography and his description of riches.
Bookmarked The Problem With Feedback by Megan Ward (The Atlantic)

Companies and apps constantly ask for ratings, but all that data may just be noise in the system.

Megan Ward looks back at the history of feedback. She touches on its origins associated with improving machine efficiency and explains how it has been appropriated in recent times as a tool for managing people. Ward explains that this confuses things and in the process we risk making the activity one of noise, rather than any sort of meaning.


Traceable to antiquity, the idea of feedback roared to prominence in the 18th century when the Scottish engineer James Watt figured out how to harness the mighty but irregular power of steam. Watt’s steam governor solved the problem of wasted fuel by feeding the machine’s speed back into the apparatus to control it. When the machine ran too fast, the governor reduced the amount of steam fed to the engine. And when it slowed down, the governor could increase the flow of steam to keep the machine’s speed steady. The steam governor drove the Industrial Revolution by making steam power newly efficient and much more potent. Because it could maintain a relatively stable speed, Watt’s steam engine used up to one-third less energy than previous steam-powered engines.

Wiener broadened the definition of feedback, seeing it as a generic “method of controlling a system” by using past results to affect future performance. Any loop that connects past failures and successes to the present performance promises an improved future. But instead of energy, Wiener thought of feedback in terms of information. No matter the machine, Wiener hypothesized, it took in “information from the outer world” and, “through the internal transforming powers of the apparatus,” made information useful. Water flow, engine speed, temperature—all become information.

Positive ratings are a kind of holy grail on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, and negative reviews can sink a burgeoning small business or mom-and-pop restaurant. That shift has created a misunderstanding about how feedback works. The original structure of the loop’s information regulation has been lost.

Feedback may matter to the corporations that solicit it, but the nature of the feedback itself—the people who provide it, the relevance of their opinions, and the quality of the information—seems not to matter at all.

Listened Ep. 107 Fred Turner “Beyond the Master Plan” – Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff from Team Human

In this conversation, Fred and Douglas use these works as a jumping off point to a wide range of topics including a provocative discussion on the ways those early utopian visions of technology were subsumed into an ideology of individualism and ultimately, consumerism.

Fred Turner covers a range of topics in this conversation. Some of the points that stood out was the sense of awe provided by place and the importance of the past in appreciating the present. For Brand this comes through the work of Stuart Brand and the connections with the theorists from the 40’s.
Liked How to Make Dishwasher Detergent Tabs (My Frugal Home)

I did a bunch of research on the active ingredients in dishwasher detergent, how they work together, how to address hard water; etc.; and then I experimented until I came up with a recipe that really works. It’s all natural, just like the stuff I was buying (honestly, probably more natural than what I was buying), and it’s in tab form, so it’s really easy to use.

via Corrine Campbell
Liked ‘It was utter chaos’: Inside the Thai cave rescue that nearly didn’t happen (ABC News)

When the British divers sent to find the young members of a soccer team trapped in a Thai cave surfaced in a flooded cavern, they were astonished to find several men waiting there, themselves stranded by the rising waters.

Listened Annie Clark (St. Vincent) Talks with Andy Gill (Gang of Four) for The Talkhouse Music Podcast by Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Andy Gill from Talkhouse Podcast

One of Annie Clark from St. Vincent’s favorite guitarists is Andy Gill from Gang of Four, among the most iconic bands of the post-punk era. And one of Andy Gill’s favorite guitarists is Annie Clark. So we figured we’d put them together for a little chat. They talked about guitars, soccer tricks, Sufjan Stevens, withholding tax, politics in rock music, and the relative merits of Dr. Feelgood and the Grateful Dead.

One of the things that I was left thinking about after listening to this conversation was the difference between structured music that sticks to its form (Dr Feelgood) and free wheeling music that is unique every time (The Grateful Dead). Both artists swayed towards structure. However, what intrigues me about St. Vincent is the way in which she reworks her songs. This is epitomised by Slow Dance, which she has played acoustically, sped up and performed with piano. Although the structure stays the same, Clark seems brings something new each time.
Replied to Where’s my Net dashboard? by an authoran author ( )

I’m not sure that a next-gen reader can solve the same problems that my first-gen reader did, in the same ways. Still, I can’t help but envision a dashboard that subscribes to, and manages notifications from, all my sources. It seems wrong that the closest thing to that, once more, is email. Plugging the social silos into a common reader seems like the obvious thing. But if that were effective, we’d all be using FlowReader or something like it.

This reminds me of Aaron Parecki’s work on an indie feed reader.

📰 Read Write Respond #035

My Month of November

It is always odd coming to the end of the year, but not being in a school. We have continued to grapple with scalability, reviewing workflows to identify gains. I have also spoken to a few schools about what they are doing next year.

It feels like every month is eventful. Makes me wonder if in part this is a mindset? Ms 2 graduated in swimming and will skip the next class. This means I will no longer need to get in the water. Ms 7 had her yearly keyboard recital. It is always fascinating watching her learn her pieces and develop confidence over time. Practice makes perfect? Lastly, we had some issues with our roof, which involved water getting into the house.

Personally, I think this is the first month in a long time where I have not written any long form posts. I have started a few drafts and written some lengthy comments on other posts, but never really found the time and energy to finish gathering my thoughts on anything.

In regards to music, I have been listening to the new album from Muse, as well as the VAST compilation, featuring a range of Australian artists. In addition to this, I have found myself listening to a lot of old St. Vincent.

Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking. Based on some feedback, I have tried something different for this edition …


Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/reflections-on-the-smart-phone/10472876
Image via “Dialling” by Oblong https://flickr.com/photos/oblongpictures/5685283018 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA | Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone

Making change in education – champions are for charlatans: Dave Cormier reflects upon the change approach of “working with the ‘willing’ first” and wonders if this is wrong approach. Rather than sustainable change, focusing on the guaranteed +1 is both unethical and creates a super star culture. Something I have touch d upon in the past. Cormier instead argues that the focus needs to be on long term change, with a plan to solve an actual problem. Associated with this, it is important to make space for such change, what Tom Barrett describes as innovation compression. This is also something that I have discussed in regards to my concern about ‘great teachers’. Rather than the right teacher, I would argue that we need to focus on the right culture and environment. Cormier also addresses this in regards to the complex versus the complicated.

ePortfolios: Competing Concepts: Tom Woodward addresses a number of considerations associated with ePortfolios, including strategy, audience, ownership and privacy. Woodward provides a lot of nuance throughout his discussion and provides a number of examples to support this. It is a worthy addition to the discussion of ongoing reporting and ways to blog. Woodward also reflected on the skills required for living online.

Twenty things I wish I’d known when I started my PhD: Lucy Taylor provides some suggestions of things to consider when starting a PhD, such as identifying a work/life balanace, set yourself goals early, write down everything and backup your work. This reminds me of posts from Gayle Munro and Deborah Netolicky sharing some of their experiences.

The plastic backlash: what’s behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference?: Stephen Buranyi unpacks the worldwide rage against plastic.  This is a part of the wider discussion of global warming. Whether it be in the drinking water or the ocean tip, rubbish has become an important conversation.

QandA:‘what works’ in ed with Bob Lingard, Jessica Gerrard, Adrian Piccoli, Rob Randall,Glenn Savage (chair): Glenn Savage chairs a conversation with a varied group of voices discussing impact of evidence, Think Tanks and NAPLAN on education.


Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/reflections-on-the-smart-phone/10472876
Image via “Dialling” by Oblong https://flickr.com/photos/oblongpictures/5685283018 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA | Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone

Reflections on the smart phone: Antony Funnell speaks with Professor Genevieve Bell, Ariel Bogle, Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth and Emma Bennison about the history and affordances of the smart phone. They discuss the walled garden created by apps, the way devices inform our humanness, the cross-cultural appropriation of new technologies, support for accessibility and the surveillance built in. I have been thinking a lot about smart phones lately, especially while reading James Bridle’s New Dark Age and Adam Greenfield’s Radical Technologies. The conversation that I think is interesting is whether there is a future beyond the templated self produced by a handful of social silos.

Checking Out Online Shopping (IRL Podcast): Manoush Zomorodi investigates the big data associated with shopping online and off. This reminds me a comment by Ben Williamson in regards to Class Dojo that ‘sensitive’ data is often about how as much as what is captured.

Secrets of the Edu-Twitter Influencers: This is a reflection from a number of educational ‘thought leaders‘. What stood out was the intent of self-promotion that many started their journey with. One thing that I found interesting was how much time different people spend. It makes me think that being a ‘thought leader’ is something that needs to be maintained.

Why people troll others online: Ian O’Byrne discusses some of the reasons why people troll online and how to respond to them. For a deeper look at the types of trolls, read Molly Hill’s post.

Avoiding the Lock-in Effect in WordPress: Antonio Villegas discusses much-dreaded lock-in effect that can occur with WordPress when utilising a particular feature provided by a plugin.

Avoiding the Lock-in Effect in WordPress: In this extract from The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age (Columbia Global Reports), Tim Wu explains how today’s monopolies were able to avoid regulation. He give the particular example of Facebook and Instagram:

Storytelling and Reflection

Quote via When Elon Musk Tunnels Under Your Home by Alana Semuels https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/11/los-angeles-elon-musk-tunnels-under-neighborhood/575725/
Image via “Lego Subway” by Friscocali https://flickr.com/photos/friscocali/6906585459 is licensed under CC BY-NC | Quote via When Elon Musk Tunnels Under Your Home by Alana Semuels

When Elon Musk Tunnels Under Your Home: Alana Semuels explores the intricacies associated with Elon Musk’s boring project in Los Angeles. She highlights the many ways in which innovation is able to bypass the rules and regulations that hamper the development of public infrastructure. For me this is highlighted by fifty year plan associated with transport in Melbourne. I agree with Semuels’ that it would be better to see such time and money spent supporting the state, rather than endlessly trying to circumvent it.

Should we really all fly less?: Diego Arguedas Ortiz discusses a recent study unpacking the individual actions that can help lead to climate change. Some of these actions include taking public transport, invest in renewable energies, eat less meat and stop flying. If this is too much then Arguedas Ortiz provides a list of actions to offset your activities. On the flipside, Martin Lukacs argues that individual action is a con and that what is really needed is collective action.

Zambia may serve as a crystal ball for countries looking to deal with Beijing: Siobhan Heanue reports on China’s growing influence in Zambia. This is part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Even more interesting than Chinese ownership (do they own the third world?) was the ownership of business for 20 years. This investment, both private and state, is nothing new and is a part of a long-term strategy. It would be fascinating to see a breakdown of Chinese investment and ownership from around the world.

‘A wall built to keep people out’: the cruel, bureaucratic maze of children’s services: Jake Anderson recounts the journey associated with gaining support for their daughter, who has ASD. One of the things that stood out was the blur between private and public connected with the privatization of government contracts.

Dropping Acid: Shuja Haider talks about the sounds and methods associated with Acid House music. Along with the TR808 and the Line 6 DL4, this article documents the place of the TB303 on modern music.

Focus on #CPDin140

I have been following Ian Guest’s research into the potentials associated with Twitter in regards to teacher professional development for a few years. Having submitted his thesis, Guest has been openly unpacking his work in a series of posts in preparation for his viva. Here is a summary of those posts:

  • Thesis submitted. Next steps: Ian Guest outlines what is next now that his thesis has been submitted, including developing responses to possible questions
  • Thesis Abstract: Ian Guest provides a summary of his research, as well as an explanation of why he moved away from the traditional contents page.
  • Foreword: Ian Guest provides a forward to provide preliminary explanation of terms like flâneur.
  • Chapter 1: Introduction: Ian Guest breaks down the different parts of his research.
  • Chapter 2: Hinterlands: Ian Guest provides a summary of the supporting and sustaining literatures which informs his research.
  • Chapter 3: Sensibilities: Ian Guest explains his choice of flânography and how this sits with the Actor Network Theory.
  • Chapter 4: Assembling methods #1: Ian Guest explains how he took on three methods of research – participant observation, semi-structured interviews, blog post analysis and interviews – but these were supplemented with additional methods which emerged during the study.
  • Chapter 4: Assembling Methods #2: Ian Guest addresses questions of ethics, data management and analysis associated with his research.
  • Introducing the Gatherings: Ian Guest explains that in presenting his work as ‘gatherings’, he has assembled a variety of actors and data, and through sociomaterial description, to produce ‘an adequate account.’
  • Thesis submitted. Next steps: Ian Guest uses EduTweetOz as a catalyst for an examination of the parts associated with Twitter.
  • Chapter 6: Gathering: Assembling actors, maintaining relationships: Ian Guest explores the sense of hygge found by many connected educators.
  • Chapter 7: Gathering: It’s personal…: Ian Guest discusses some of the benefits and drawbacks to learning with Twitter he found through his research.
  • Chapter 8: Retracing my steps: Ian Guest explains how professional development on Twitter is an ongoing process of assemblage in which actors like teachers and tweets, hashtags and hygge, communities and crib sheets, are bundled together, form, reform and break associations.
  • Ethics revisited: Ian Guest revisits the question of ethics when researching in online environments in light of some of the challenges faced.
  • Chapter 9: Concluding: Ian Guest discusses some of the implications and limitations, including four contributions to knowledge.
  • Why did you undertake this study?: Ian Guest discusses the three nudges that led to his research.
  • Can you summarise your findings in a few sentences?: Ian Guest summarises his research by providing answer to three key questions: How are professional learning practices of teachers on Twitter manifest, How does the Twitter social media platform support the professional learning practices of teachers, and How does professional learning practice extend beyond Twitter into the wider social media ecosystem and the ‘real’ world?
  • Where did you make ‘the cut?’: Ian Guest discusses some of his choices and constraints associated with the field, the collection of data and the writing process.
  • “Flânography? Isn’t it just an ethnography?”: Ian Guest documents some of the differences and similarities between flânography and ethnography, including impact on immersion, mobility and visibility.
  • In your flânography, how should we conceive the ‘field?’: Ian Guest discusses the notion of field and how it is performed through the act of research.
  • Which theoretical framings did you consider and why did you settle on ANT?: Ian Guest reflects on the various methods he explored, including communities of practice, connectivism and rhizomatic learning, and why he ended up choosing actor network theory.


So that is November for me, how about you? As always, happy to hear.

Also, I am interested if anyone has any feedback on the style and structure of this newsletter. I would love to know if there are things that people like or if there are things that you would change?

Bryan Mathers Image

Cover image via JustLego101.

Bookmarked Digital Survival Skills by an author (Bionic Teaching)

The confluence of distraction and rapid change in today’s digital environment can result in confusion and frustration. We’ll focus on limiting distraction and choosing tools and workflows that will help you do more with less effort. The foundation will be a quick overview of digital productivity patterns (pomodoro, GTD, etc.). From there, we’ll move into successful patterns for getting work done in key workplace applications.

Tom Woodward reflects on the skills required for living online. He discusses knowing how you use your time, checking your data, avoiding distractions, optimising workflows and knowing the ‘basics’. It is interesting to think about this alongside Doug Belshaw’s work with digital literacies. It also has me reviewing my ten step program to being a connected educator.