Bookmarked Herb Quine Interviews Herb Quine (Kicks Condor)

Some time ago, I had a reader send me a very curious e-mail. It was an interview that they had conducted. In fact, they had interviewed themself! At first, this was very puzzling.[1] But, on some reflection, I realized what a gift this was! I don’t like my part of the interview very well anyway. This is the answer!

Kicks Condor shares an interview featuring Herb Quine interviewing himself. This is an intriguing exercise as it provides different perspectives from the one person. Something similar to the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

This is an insightful exercise. Alongside #DigiWriMo alternative CV, Doug Belshaw’s letter to the past and Seth Godin’s letter to the future, these prompts offer a range of approaches for unpacking our sense of identity.

Liked Antarctica Is Running Out of Wilderness (

All over the world, human presence has transformed nature permanently; why should Antarctica be different? The hostile conditions on the continent might have limited our presence there, but the inroads made, even during the white expanse of Antarctic winter, have undoubtedly changed this place. As the continent has become more accessible, countries, even those that have pledged environmental protections, are taking advantage of its plentiful resources.

Liked The Web’s Missing Interoperability (Stratechery by Ben Thompson)

The most frustrating aspect of the entire privacy debate is that the most ardent advocates of an absolutist position tend to describe anyone who disagrees with them as a Facebook defender. My motivation, though, is not to defend Facebook; quite the opposite, in fact: I want to see the social networking giant have more competition, not less, and I despair that the outcome of privacy laws like GDPR, or App Store-enforced policies from Apple, will be to damage Facebook on one hand, and destroy all of its long-term competitors on the other.

I worry even more about small businesses uniquely enabled by the Internet; forcing every company to act like a silo undoes the power of platforms to unlock collective competition (a la Shopify versus Amazon), whether that be in terms of advertising, payments, or understanding their users. Regulators that truly wish to limit tech power and unlock the economic potential of the Internet would do well to prioritize competition and interoperability via social graph sharing, alongside a more nuanced view of privacy that reflects reality, not misleading ads; I would settle for at least admitting there are tradeoffs being made.

Bookmarked Simone Weil’s Radical Conception of Attention (Literary Hub)

“Everyone knows what attention is,” William James famously declared in his Principles of Psychology. For those who are not “everyone,” James goes on to explain that attention is the “taking possess…

In an extract from The Subversive Simone Weil: A Life in Five Ideas, Robert Zaretsky discusses about Weil’s concept of attention revolving around compassion and the divesting of ourselves.

Compassion, in contrast, means that I identify with the afflicted individual so fully that I feed him for the same reason I feed myself: because we are both hungry. In other words, I have paid him attention. It is a faculty that does not latch onto the other, but instead remains still and open … In order for the reality of the other’s self to fully invest us, we must first divest ourselves of our own selves.

For Weil, attention is about process, rather than a particular product or outcome.

Normally, when we pay attention to someone or something, we undertake what Weil calls a “muscular effort”: our eyes lock on another’s eyes, our expressions reflect the proper response, and our bodies shift in relation to the object to which we are paying attention. This kind of attention flourishes in therapists’ offices, business schools, and funeral homes. It is a performative rather than reflective act, one that displays rather than truly pays attention. This sort of attention is usually accompanied by a kind of frowning application—the very same sort, as Weil notes, that leads us to a self-congratulatory “I have worked well!”
For Weil, attention is a “negative effort,” one that requires that we stand still rather than lean in. The object of this kind of attention could be mathematical or textual, a matter of grasping a puzzle posed by Euclid or one posed by Racine. Whether we do solve the problem, argues Weil, is secondary. The going is as important as the getting there, if not even more so. “It does not even matter much whether we succeed in finding the solution or understanding the proof, although it is important to try really hard to do so. Never in any case whatever is a genuine effort of the attention wasted.” Scorning practices like memorization and dictation that impose the “right answers” upon students, she acknowledges that the practices she wished to instill in students were alien to schools in her own day (and they remain alien to most schools in our own day). “Although people seem to be unaware of it today,” she declares, “the development of the faculty of attention forms the real object and almost the sole interest of studies… All tasks that call upon the power of attention are interesting for the same reasons and to an almost equal degree.”

This reminds me of John Campbell discussion of ‘listening to help the other person understand’:

Professor David Clutterbuck, in a keynote at Positive2012, suggested that there are 5 different types of listening:

  • Listening while waiting to speak
  • Listening to disagree
  • Listening to understand
  • Listening without agenda/intent
  • Listening to help the other person understand

In a coaching context it is easy to see how 1 and 2 don’t belong. We can probably see the value of Levels 3 and 4 in coaching and leadership contexts but it is # 5 Listening to help the other person understand that can have the most impact in a coaching context.

It is interesting to think about this alongside debates about the attention economy.

Bookmarked Trade war? China was buying goods from Australia long before 1788 by Gareth Hutchens (ABC News)

From the 1700s (at least), well before the colony of New South Wales was established in 1788, the Aboriginal people of northern Australia were trading trepang (sea cucumber) with fishermen from Makassar, a port-city on the island of Sulawesi (now Indonesia).

The “Macassan” fishermen would sail to Australia around December each year, with the north-west monsoonal winds.

They would spend months living on Australian beaches, collecting and processing the trepang, before returning home with their haul.

Their catch was destined for China.

“The north coast of Australia, southern China and Makassar were all connected by an international trading network that centred on trepang,” curator Alison Mercieca, of the National Museum of Australia, said in a 2008 lecture.

That trade network matured over centuries, and became a popular source of food for the Chinese market.

“Throughout the nineteenth century it would appear that a majority of trepang traded from Makassar was supplied by the fleets which sailed to Arnhem Land and perhaps even supplying about a quarter of the total Chinese market by the mid-nineteenth century,” she said.

Reflecting upon Australia’s current dependency on China for trade, Gareth Hutchens discusses the relationship that existed between the Aboriginal people of northern Australia, Makassar and China before the arrival of Europeans to Australia.
Liked Dewey, Piaget, and Frosted Mini Wheats (Alfie Kohn)

In short: For DeVries and Zan (channeling Piaget), the temptation to be avoided is sugarcoating control in the form of “positive reinforcement”; the alternative is to work with kids to support their social and moral development. For Dewey, the temptation to be avoided is sugarcoating lessons in a vain effort to disguise their lack of value; the alternative is learner-centered education that supports students’ intellectual development (and sustains their enthusiasm).


Story Dice – your handy story idea generator
Now the classic story ideas generator is available for free in your browser. In this version there’s over 50 options for each dice – with more options being added as I get around to drawing them. 
As well as being a fun diversion for parents and ki…

Dave Birss has turned the classic story ideas dice into a digital generator. There are two versions: five and nine words.

“Eric Curts” in Control Alt Achieve – April 2021 ()

Bookmarked On “Easy” Books…Again by Pernille Ripp (

A better reader is someone who sees reading as valuable. Who recognizes the need to read because they will feel less than if they don’t. Who sees reading as a necessity to learning, for themselves and not just for others. Who sees reading as a journey to be on, something worth investing in. That a better reader is someone who will continue to come back to reading when they can, finding value within whatever materials they read in order to make their lives better in some way. A better reader is not just a child who reads hard texts, always pushing their skills, but also someone who commits to the very act of reading. And so I wonder; when we tell children not to read “easy” books, how much of their individual reading identity journey have we dismissed? And what becomes of the reader?

Pernille Ripp addresses the conundrum of whether to allow readers to read ‘easy’ books. Ripp suggests that the task is to develop people who want to read, not just who can.

So do we tell our students to embrace easy reading whenever they want to keep them loving reading?  Or do we push them so hard to develop their skills that their connection to reading breaks and then we wonder why reading becomes something just to do for school and tasks?

Associated with this, Ripp discusses the importance of respecting the journey that each reader is on.

And yes, I teach that child that reads Diary of a Wimpy Kid every day, who is not sure of what else he can read that will make him love reading as much.  My job is not to tell him, “No, you cannot read that,” but instead to urge him to read more books in the series and to celebrate the reading that is happening. To recognize that this child has discovered a part of himself where he finds a purpose within the pages of this book and to help him find books that will offer up similar experiences.  Not to take away, but to recommend, while also protecting the fierce commitment that exists between a child and a favorite book.  To explore why that child loves this book so much and then help discover others like it.  To acknowledge the reading relationship that already exists and to build on that rather than breaking it apart at all costs because I know better.

I remember coming up against this challenge when I took a class for the library session. The classroom teacher would scould me when the boys would return with a non-fiction text or graphic novel. Reflecting on this now, I am left thinking about Dave Cormier’s argument for ‘care‘ as the first principle.

Liked Netflix’s Password-Sharing Crackdown Has a Silver Lining by Brian Barrett (WIRED)

Admittedly, freeloaders primarily threaten the cohesiveness of your recommendations lists. It’s not the end of the world. They could also, though, steal whatever personal data your profile holds.

The much bigger issue is that the wider the password circle gets, the more risk you personally take on that your password will become compromised. And given how often people reuse passwords across multiple sites and services, that means your exposure could extend far beyond Netflix.

Liked Lou Ottens, inventor of the cassette tape, dies aged 94 (Guardian)

“Nothing can match the sound of the CD,” he had told the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. “It is absolutely noise and rumble-free. That never worked with tape … I have made a lot of record players and I know that the distortion with vinyl is much higher. I think people mainly hear what they want to hear.”

Bookmarked The wonder material we all need but is running out (

Natural rubber is a uniquely tough, flexible and highly waterproof material. It puts tyres on our vehicles, soles on our shoes, it makes seals for engines and refrigerators, insulates wires and other electrical components. It is used in condoms and clothing, sports balls and the humble elastic bands. Over the past year it has played a pivotal role in the pandemic in personal protective equipment worn by doctors and nurses around the world.

In fact, rubber is deemed to be a commodity of such global importance that it is included on the EU’s list of critical raw materials.

Unfortunately, there are signs the world might be running out of natural rubber. Disease, climate change and plunging global prices have put the world’s rubber supplies into jeopardy. It has led scientists to search for a solution before it’s too late.

Frank Swain discusses concerns associated with running out of natural rubber and the various alternatives.

“We have enough dandelion seed to put in 40 hectares (0.15 sq miles) of vertical farm, and 3,000 hectares (11.6 sq miles) of guayule, but we need the funds to do it,” says Cornish. “We need some of those billionaires to get involved. I am determined to get this established before I die. We’ve got to get it to work. The consequences to the developed world if the crop fails are unthinkable.”

Bookmarked Cory Doctorow: Free Markets (Locus Online)

When monopolists control the way to the market, all the other market participants have to form cartels to fight them. The reason the Big Six publishers col­luded with Apple to fix prices was that Amazon was destroying them. The reason the Big Six have turned into the Big Four is that the only way to survive the mobile duopoly and the ebook monopoly is to merge and merge and merge.

After all, when different companies collude on prices, that’s an antitrust violation. When different divisions of the same company collude, that’s just do­ing business. If you want to collude with a competitor without getting sued, you just need to buy them first.

Cory Doctorow reflects on his experience of running a campaign associated with the audiobook for Attack Surface and the challenges faced by a ‘free market’. He discusses the user experience associated with selling people an mp3 file compared with purchasing a book via an app like Audible or even integrated within Kindle.

Apple and Google are serious about keeping their 30% ferryman’s rake on everyone they row to the market. They use lawsuits to kick out noncompliant apps and DRM on their devices to keep apps out after they’ve been tossed (Google’s Android devices are better on this second front). Both companies make billions in economic rents on app purchases.
Can it really be a coincidence that both companies have also made it nearly impossible to download a file from the internet and get it to play on your phone without an app?
Unfree markets are the order of the day: not because governments intervene in them, but because they don’t. Predatory mergers have clustered publishing, payment processing, app delivery, distribution, and most other parts of the book world into industries dominated by five or fewer firms; some sectors (on­line bookselling, national book retail) are dominated by one firm. In many cases, the same firm appears in multiple places in the value chain, letting it flank the sectors it doesn’t control and squeeze them as a supplier on one side and as a customer on the other.

Doctorow also recorded a reading of the article too:

Liked Online Teaching with the most basic of tools – email by admin admin (Explorations in the ed tech world)

A lot of online teaching is really about communicating clearly and well (even if it feels like you are stating the obvious) and establishing and managing expectations. The good news is that you can do most of that by email. Early online teaching was focussed on good organization and structure, because there simply weren’t a lot of tech options to distract us.

At its most basic, online teaching is about 3 things:

Student – content: How will you get content to students in the easiest and most accessible way? How will students engage with that content?

Instructor-student interaction: How will you as an instructor feasibly communicate with your students? And how will they communicate with you?

Student-student interaction: How will students communicate with each other and work together?

Bookmarked Sovereign Writers and Substack (Stratechery by Ben Thompson)

Substack is at the center of media controversy, most of which misses the point that sovereign writers — not Substack — are in control.

Ben Thompson discusses Substack Pro the dilemmas of taking the money and the implications of this.

I am by no means an impartial observer here; obviously I believe in the viability of the sovereign writer. I would also like to believe that Stratechery is an example of how this model can make for a better world: I went the independent publishing route because I had no other choice (believe me, I tried).
At the same time, I suspect we have only begun to appreciate how destructive this new reality will be for many media organizations. Sovereign writers, particularly those focused on analysis and opinion, depend on journalists actually reporting the news. This second unbundling, though, will divert more and more revenue to the former at the expense of the latter. Maybe one day Substack, if it succeeds, might be the steward of a Substack Journalism program that offers a way for opinion writers and analysts to support those that undergird their work.

Liked Zoom Escaper (

Had enough Zoom meetings? Can’t bear another soul-numbing day of sitting on video calls, the only distraction your rapidly aging face, pinned in one corner of the screen like a dying bug? Well, if so, then boy do we have the app for you. Meet Zoom Escaper: a free web widget that lets you add an array of fake audio effects to your next Zoom Call, gifting you with numerous reasons to end the meeting and escape, while you still can.

“wiobyrne” in Growth & Engagement – Digitally Literate ()