Bookmarked Accretive Growth Logics by Venkatesh RaoVenkatesh Rao (

Despite the resemblance, an accretive robot is not the same thing as what in software architecture is known as a [big ball of mud]( Big balls of mud are the result of organic growth logics going wrong and stalling out due to insufficiently thoughtful organization. Accretive growth is marked by ongoing incorporation of bits and pieces into an improvised, emergent architecture that has a small, conceptually coherent kernel and a large, wild shell. It is the material-embodiment analogue to the AI/big data principle of “simple code and lots of data beats complex code and little data.”

Source: Accretive Growth Logics by @ribbonfarm

Venkatesh Rao unpacks the different between organic and inorganic choatic growth, which he labels as accretive growth. Interestingly, with accretive growth, goals are “very unimportant”:

Goals themselves will evolve as chaotically as the body and mind of an accretively growing entity, and will matter much less. In fact, the more I think about complex, large scale systems, the more I realize “goals” are a very unimportant feature of their behavioral profile. Accretive growth logics prioritize the next round of growth, self-perpetuation, and survival, not long-term goals.

Source: Accretive Growth Logics by @ribbonfarm

This has me thinking about SMART goals and curriculum planning in education, and how these might be done differently by being accretive. I wonder if this is what the adaptive Modern Learning Canvas was trying to achieve.

In the end, Rao captures the biggest challenge of all in my opinion in highlighting that organic growth often wins out as it is easier to implement.

Scaling with accretive growth logics is much harder than scaling with organic growth logics. It takes conscious intelligence and more active steering to do. Very simple creatures can grow organically. It takes human intelligence to invent organ transplants that work. Dumb, unmanaged accretive growth isn’t a thing.

Source: Accretive Growth Logics by @ribbonfarm

Joel Selwood’s autobiography exploring his life in football and the world of leadership. I have written a longer reflection here.


Chapter 3 Resilience and challenge

my career-long exercises to activate and strengthen the vastus medialis oblique (VMO), one of the four big muscles in the thigh, a process critical to drive the rehabilitation of my knee. The exercise was repetitive but I knew its importance and my athletics training helped me stick with such drills.
I swam one day and did weights the next. I was anal about keeping my leg stiff in the pool, always swimming with a buoy so only my upper body was doing the work.

Chapter 6 Redemption

One of our values was to be ruthless but I understood that such a word can be used as an excuse for being thoughtless unless the leadership is on the ball.
‘Ruthless’ was appropriate as a value at that time but around 2012, as the playing group transitioned, it was not so important. By then, we needed to do things differently, to play to the strengths of a new crop of players, to establish a framework but to let players be themselves within that framework. Surely in a high-performance sport being both ruthless and caring can co-exist. Perhaps it should be about being relentless in the pursuit of improvement rather than being ruthless.

Chapter 8 New coach, new direction

I eventually learnt that when issues affecting me and others needed to be resolved, it was best to rely on experts rather than thinking it was my job to resolve everything. That took time and was not without mistakes as I did not always adhere to that philosophy, but it eventually did sink in.
The game also taught me that rigid preparation was not always possible. What was possible was that I could switch on as soon as I dragged the jumper over my head. Eventually the assistants would refer to me as Sir William Wallace, the hero of the Mel Gibson film Braveheart, when they saw me put on the jumper and joke whether I would be able to go over the hill one more time. They knew that was my cue to put all aside and concentrate on the game. It became a habit for me. They thought that trait was remarkable.

Chapter 9 Tackling tacklers

It didn’t take me long to recognise I could gain an advantage over my opposition by exploiting the difficult skill of tackling. And, in my opinion, tackling is the worst executed skill in football. That isn’t because players aren’t good at tackling. It’s just difficult to run 12 or 15 kilometres in a game and also execute such a technical skill when an opponent, with the whole ground to work with, is carrying the ball and running quickly at you or away from you. I identified this as a real weakness in our game and took advantage of that. I prided myself on knowing the rule book better than most and I knew exactly what the umpires were expected to adjudicate when it came to head-high contact. As a competitive professional, knowing every angle mattered.

Chapter 10 New deal, new job

if a player does something wrong, he has let the club down (and probably himself) rather than it being anything personal against the captain or a teammate. Most of the time the guilty party knows it too.


Understanding the bigger picture became something I had to consider and develop in order to lead effectively.

Chapter 11 Leading and learning

Sometimes I would take matters up with him but he was not only a ‘bush physio’ when it came to fitness issues, he was a ‘bush lawyer’ too and he would passionately defend what he had done. I grew to love the way he could argue his way out of anything because he would present his case in a manner that made me smile.


I was wearing a tracksuit bottom on the early flight to Adelaide because I was recovering from a corkie as we headed to meet Travis in secret, realising when we were door-stopped before we had left Adelaide airport that we had created a media storm through pure naivety.

Chapter 12 A near miss

I fuelled the perception that my game was built on brawn, when I told the Herald Sun in 2011: ‘I am not a pretty footballer. I am slow. I don’t kick it as well as the good kicks. I am what you would say an olden-day footballer in so many ways.’ In reality it indicated my thinking that I needed to work harder than most for my talent to be realised.


I’d arranged for Kathryn Cotsopoulos to attend the Brownlow medal with me the following Monday as a bit of fun, checking with her new boyfriend – now husband, Daniel De Lulio – that he wouldn’t be fussed before I’d even asked Kathryn. He was fine but then poor Kathryn had to answer texts all night from friends watching the count on television, asking whether she and Daniel had broken up!

Chapter 13 In transition

My intent was never in question but when you carry that view of leadership – that success was your responsibility – the danger is that when something goes wrong, you look to blame someone else. If you are not careful you can become a cop, rather than a teammate, and forget that the group that had won premierships had changed and other methods might be needed to give different – and new – individuals a prod.

Chapter 23 Bring the love

One of the phrases we came up with early was ‘Connect to WIFI’ with WIFI an acronym for ‘What If, Fuck It’ which would help me attack what was ahead of me with a sense of freedom.

Chapter 26 Getting it right

When reading his eulogy, I said that I fell in love with Vic Fuller the day I met him. His approach to life was spot on – leave the ego at the door and you might learn something. Bloody hell, did I learn something along the way?
The club fostered my belief that if you are open enough to listen you can learn from anyone. It’s part of why jumping in the car with a first-year player to attend a school visit was never a chore for me. They might give up a little bit of dirt on their teammates to me, or reveal a dry sense of humour in a different setting.


Some people can work themselves up way too much. They think you need to do this, or you need to read that. I keep it simple: what about just generally being half a decent person? Have your eye out a little bit for everyone and make sure you have a bit of fun along the way. That was the basis of everything I strived to do.

Replied to Pluralistic: American education has all the downsides of standardization, none of the upsides (16 Jan 2024) by Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow (

If I found myself at loose ends, trying to find a project to devote the rest of my life to, I’d be pitching funders on building a national, open access portal to build an educational commons.

Source: American education has all the downsides of standardization, none of the upsides by Cory Doctorow

Although it was not necessarily ‘national’ or ‘open access’, one of the things that was attempted by the Ultranet was an educational commons. The challenge I found with this was around mindset. Even though staff were paid by the government, many teachers saw resources created as their own, not something to be added to a collective repository.

I kind of get the feeling that this maybe what Bonfire is trying to achieve. I have not given it enough time to know though.

Liked (

In the end, what matters about music writing is exactly the same as what matters about music: It isn’t leading anywhere productive. Instead, it’s offering a break from the grind, a free zone for thought and a few glorious, rejuvenating moments of fun. This is a different kind of pleasure than the quick nervous kind TikTok brings, always moving on to another source of stimulus, always ratcheting up the competition for attention. Music writing says: Slow down. Pay attention. It witnesses the unfolding of meaning within measured time, and calls back to it.

Source: Pitchfork’s peril and the purpose of music journalism by Ann Powers

Watched 2023 American film by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
I clearly was not in sync with things when I decided to take my daughter to see Trolls – Band Together. It was slow and boring. I felt I had seen the film in the trailer. I really enjoyed the mix of music in the first two films, but this time around there was not much that was memorable.
Bookmarked (
Mathew Ingram’s newsletter with snippets from the weird and wonderful world. He is the chief digital writer for the Columbia Journalism Review.

“Clive Thompson” in Saturation – Clive Thompson: “For more non-doomscrolling rea…” ()

Listened Loverama, album by Custard by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Loverama is the fifth studio album by the Australian band Custard “Custard (band)”). It was released in June 1999 and peaked at number 19 on the ARIA Charts; the band’s highest charting album.

Loverama was the band’s final release for 16 years, until 2015’s Come Back, All Is Forgiven. Some copies came as a two-CD set, with the companion disc called Custaro Musico.

Girls Like That (Don’t Go For Guys Like Us) “Girls Like That (Don’t Go For Guys Like Us)”)”, “Ringo (I feel Like…)” and “Hit Song” all featured in a Hottest 100, with Girls… in 1998[2] and the other two in 1999.[3]

Source: Loverama by Wikipedia

Recently, when asked about album reviews and music criticism, Caroline Polachek suggested that:

Music criticism is not a review of the album you just made, its a review of your career up to that point. – Caroline Polachek

Source: This Generation’s Caroline Polachek by Switched on Pop

It is a strange experience slowly listening through a bands oeuvre one album at a time, I feel it is impossible by nature of the exercise not to judge each album against the previous. Sometimes I wonder if you start to hear ghosts after awhile. For example, I would find myself making assertions, such as this album is more straight-forward or has a different feel when it comes to instrumentation, only to then question myself as many of the ingredients are present in their earlier work.

It was interesting reading in ‘Preview for Loverama’ in Cuszine 2 that some of these ‘new’ songs were actually old rejects, such as Ringo. This left wondering about the difference made by Magoo as producer. I wondered if that although the same ingredients are present, whether it be distorted guitar, slide guitar, weird effects, quirky lyrics, that it was the placement of the drums and bass in the mix that actually hold these songs together and provide some sort of semblance of continuity? I fear though that if I went back to the past albums I would possibly hear the same pattern, however I feel that with Loverama whenever there is some sort of dalliance with some strange guitar line or even a harmony that it is the rhythm that grounds it all.

The other difference is that although the album is approximately the same length as say We Have the Technology, there are only 13 tracks, while some were instead included on a bonus disc Custaro Musico. I wondered if the extra length allowed the songs more time to hook listeners? Or maybe it is an example of a band that has come to grips with their potential.

Overall, this was the album that really grew on me the more I listened.


  1. “Girls Like That (Don’t Go For Guys Like Us)” 3:11 – The warble bass used throughout this album reminded me of Bowie. Then I went and re-listened to Bowie and I could not hear it. Funny how when you follow up text-to-text connections that they can make a mockery of our memory.
  2. “Hit Song” 2:22 – Love the comment in Cuszine 2 “Soon Custard will be writing a song about writing songs that are about songs they are trying to write.”
  3. “Monkey” 2:26
  4. “The New Matthew” 4:18 – The chorus really makes this song, the harmonies and the way the guitars really fill out. The ending is only track on the album that goes off in a tangent. I was not sure if this saying something like even with all the new quiet ways, the old remains.
  5. “Ringo (I Feel Like)” 2:50 – Listening to Ringo, I felt it could have been a Disco Machine song. I was also reminded of Twinkle Digitz’ Blackmail Boogie.
  6. “Nervous Breakdance” 3:57 – It is interesting comparing the two versions of this song, this one and the electronic version on Custaro Musico. It highlights how their music could so easily be so different if they had made different choices.
  7. “Funny” 1:57 – classic Custard, the song feels over before it has even started
  8. “Pluto (Pts. 1 & 2)” 2:55 – This song ebbs and flows throughout, I feel it could sit in a playlist alongside Blur, Parklife era, but then again, I could be wrong.
  9. “Almost Like A Song” 3:57 – There is something about the idea of ‘hitting’ you with this song. The wall of distorted guitars and harmonies ‘hit’ you at the same time as the chorus.
  10. “Correctional Facility Of Love” 4:12 – I had no idea what this song was about when I first listened to it. I thought it was implying that being in a relationship was akin to being in jail, until I read that it was based on a Four Corner’s program about prisoners who swallowed objects so they had to be sent to hospital to avoid being raped.
  11. “Genius” 3:47 – Song by Glenn Thompson.
  12. “Kinder Whore” 2:50 – This song is driven by a really strong bass line which I feel prevents it from exploding.
  13. “Ladies And Gentlemen” 3:22 – The big dramatic strums have a Pulp feel. Magoo discusses this in Cuszine 2: “The highlight of recording this song was the violin. We decided to try and make the song as dramatic as possible, to suit the lyric. Strings were talked about and Glenn told me about this guy he knew. John Bone was his name. Everyone I spoke to about this guy said he was amazing. It’s pretty strange when people build someone up to be great You get a picture in you’re head that’s pretty hard to match. Anyway he came to do the track. He didn’t really even want to hear the song before he went in to record it. No one mentioned keys or the vibe required. He just did his thing and It was truly amazing.”

Custaro Musico

  1. “Umlaut” 2:59
  2. “No Te Escribi Ninguna Cancion” 2:18
  3. “Pablo Tiene Novia” 1:53
  4. “Gato De Nueve Colas” 1:14
  5. “Nervoisa Danzarota II” 5:00


Loverama is the fifth studio album by the Australian band Custard “Custard (band)”). It was released in June 1999 and peaked at number 19 on the ARIA Charts; the band’s highest charting album.

Loverama was the band’s final release for 16 years, until 2015’s Come Back, All Is Forgiven. Some copies came as a two-CD set, with the companion disc called Custaro Musico.

Girls Like That (Don’t Go For Guys Like Us) “Girls Like That (Don’t Go For Guys Like Us)”)”, “Ringo (I feel Like…)” and “Hit Song” all featured in a Hottest 100, with Girls… in 1998[2] and the other two in 1999.[3]

Source: Loverama%20-%20Wikipedia by

Loverama, the fifth studio album by the renowned Australian band Custard, was released on June 14th, 1999, and marked a significant milestone in their career. The record achieved remarkable success, soaring to new heights and reaching a peak of number 19 on the ARIA Charts. It proudly stands as the band’s highest-charting album to date and has become a beloved favourite among fans.

Source: LOVERAMA%20%26%20%20CUSTARO%20MUSICO by

Recorded and produced by Magoo at The Dirty Room in Brisbane and Sing Sing Studios in Melbourne during the optimistic summer of October and November 1998. Assisted at The Dirty Room by Andrew Lancaster. Assisted at Sing Sing by Dave Davis. Mixed at Sing Sing by Magoo with Glenn Thompson and David McCormack. “We Wanna Party” recorded and mixed at 192 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill, Queensland. Artwork by Glenn Thompson withinterference from David McCormack.

Source: LOVERAMA%20%26%20%20CUSTARO%20MUSICO by

If something’s bad, that’s what they meant to do, it’s them having fun.

Source: Custard%20-%20Loverama%20(album%20review%20)%20%7C%20Sputnikmusic by

I think that this could probably read as “if something seems bad.” I think that you have two choices with Custard, you either accept them and their music and come to respect it for what it is or you do not.

“I was happy to do something that wasn’t as throwaway as some of the other ones [songs on earlier albums],” McCormack said, although he was aware his intentions might not land in the same way for listeners.

“I’m sure everyone else would think it’s an overtly happy and quirky Custard record. But I think for us, we could listen to it and go, ‘ah yeah that’s right, that was fucked when that happened.'”

Source: Classic%20Album%3A%20Custard%20%E2%80%93%20Loverama%20-%20ABC%20listen by

[Correctional Facility of Love] was inspired by a three-part ABC documentary series that revealed the stories of prisoners who would swallow contraptions made with rubber bands and paperclips that would cause terrible internal injuries so they would be taken to hospital, and in doing so, avoid being raped.

As chilling and horrific as that sounds, the fact that people are in a position of having to contemplate such actions is even more disturbing and makes one stop to reflect, something that McCormack explains that the band was ready to explore on Loverama.

Source: Classic%20Album%3A%20Custard%20%E2%80%93%20Loverama%20-%20ABC%20listen by

“It’s that whole realisation that people like The Go-Betweens can have on you,” he said. “On the balance of things, no one wants to hear a happy throwaway song. I don’t really. I wanna hear a sad, melancholy song that you could listen to a few times. That’s something we came to realise and therefore that’s what we wanted to do.”

Source: Classic%20Album%3A%20Custard%20%E2%80%93%20Loverama%20-%20ABC%20listen by

It would seem that there was a choice to include some of their quirky tracks as a bonus disc.

Replied to One Year into ChatGPT: Resources & Possible Directions for Educators in 2024 by Maha Bali (

This post is about AI and getting ready for the new semester knowing what we now know, roughly one year into ChatGPT taking over our classrooms and media feeds.

Source: One Year into ChatGPT: Resources & Possible Directions for Educators in 2024 by Maha Bali

Maha, I really like how you have summarised the four clear options:

  • Make AI use impossible
  • Discourage AI use by redesigning assessments to forms AI would not perform well
  • Allow AI use within boundaries
  • Allow indiscriminate AI use
Replied to The Unfulfilled Promises of Tech in Education: Can AI Succeed? (The Construction Zone)

Will this be it? Will we see radical changes in our educational systems? Is there something that makes it different this time?

Peter, I feel like I have tried critiquing you before and I am not sure how much hope there is even left:

can you really find wisdom in one-line? The answer is probably no, but you can definitely find hope. Hope for a different world, hope for a different way of doing things, hope for a more critical viewer. And sometimes that hope is all that we have.

Source: Can You Really Find Wisdom in One-line? by Aaron Davis

I still like Bill Ferriter’s argument, that technology makes higher order learning ‘more doable’:

Technology lowers barriers, making the kinds of higher order learning experiences that matter infinitely more doable than they were in previous decades.

Source: Do We REALLY Need to Do New Things in New Ways?
by Bill Ferriter

However, I guess like all technology, it can also make lower order learning ‘more doable’ too.

As always, food for thought I guess.

Listened We Have the Technology (Custard) by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

We Have the Technology is the fourth studio album by Australian band Custard. It was released in September 1997. Three singles were lifted from the album, “Nice Bird”, “Anatomically Correct”, which reached #48 in the fifth Hottest 100[1] and “Music Is Crap,” which reached #24 in the sixth Hottest 100.[2] The guitar riff from “Pinball Lez” has subsequently been used in the children’s TV show, Bluey, of which lead singer David McCormack is a cast member.

Growing up, I remember finding a copy of We Have the Technology at Cash Convertors. My guitar teacher was encouraging me to play the surf rock tune ‘Memory Man’ as a part of my Year 12 group music performance. I knew the singles, such as ‘Anatomically Correct’, ‘Nice Bird’ and ‘Music is Crap’ and probably skipped to those on my CD player or computer, but I fear that I never gave the album the patience it probably deserved or needed.

As an album, We Have The Technology seems to continue on from the other albums in forever bouncing between pop, surf, stoner, country and rock. The problem is that at times there were just too many flavours on the plate, balancing between genius, chaos and who cares. Although each track seems to make its own statement in themselves – a change from some of their earlier tracks – they feel like they are contrasted with how they are organised on the album. For example, ‘Scared of Skills’ gives the impression of a rock album, only to pivot to ‘Memory Man’, then quickly followed by ‘Very Biased’. It plays like a child with ADHD ready for their Ritalin.

It is interesting listening and hearing various sounds. At times, I feel like there are similarities to say Blur and their jangly pop. However, I have gone and listened to Pavement’s Wowee Zowee and can hear some of the influences. (Growing up in an era before streaming, it is interesting how some bands simply escaped your radar.) What I feel is probably the case is that I am missing the albums that influenced both bands and albums. Maybe I need to go and listen to Captain Beefheart maybe? Or Jonathan Richman? (Interestingly, in a recent interview for a book on the Velvet Underground, Dylan Jones suggested that Jonathan Richman has been largely forgotten. I would agree with this, until The Go-Betweens, I had not even heard of him.)

I have been left thinking that maybe the best way to describe Custard is ‘seriously silly’. Whimsical songs about guitar cases, alien’s thoughts on music and long roads leading to drugs all seem rather silly, but then I was left wondering if they were any more ridiculous than some songs written using cut up poetry or even say something like Powderfinger’s Double Allergic, another ‘Brisbane’ album released at roughly the same time. I think that Andrew Stafford captures this period best in Pig City with the quote that the band had possibly ‘disappeared up its own arse’:

We Have The Technology caught McCormack in an ornery mood. Heavily under the influence of Pavement’s Wowee Zowee, also made at Easley Studios, McCormack’s songs were growing ever more tangential and self-referential. And consequently, the music – as a review of another Brisbane band had earlier suggested – ‘disappeared up its own arse’.

David McCormack: I remember Eric Drew Feldman sitting me down in some diner saying, ‘Look, you’ve got to have a radio single, you’ve just got to have one . . . Go as crazy as you want, but you need three or four radio songs so the band can keep going, you can’t just ignore that stuff,’ and he was right. But I was just like, ‘No, man, we’re fucking artists!’ It’s maturity . . . If I could go back, there would be a lot of decisions I would make differently.
The release of Thompson’s Music Is Crap as a single in February 1998 painted the band into a corner.

Source: Pig City by Andrew Stafford

Although the same could be said about Powderfinger, at least they provided ‘Pick You Up’ as a somewhat accessible single. Yes ‘Anatomically Correct’ and ‘Nice Bird’ come close to this, but their feels like a refusal to play by the rules as personified by ‘Music is Crap’.

What remains is a certain catchiness that pervades throughout. I was watching Dylan Lewis’ interview with McCormack on Recovery in which McCormack was questioned about being perfectionists. It is interesting to consider the idea of silly music being perfect is sometimes lost, but after a few listens everything feels intentional. (I have had a similar thought listening to TISM.) For example, they never really drag out songs and the only one that they do on We Have the Technology is ‘Very Biased’, when it drifts off into a dream-like state. After listening through a few times, I found that the various hooks and melodies really sink in, often leaving me unintentionally tapping or humming along. Also, thinking about it now, I probably could have covered all the criteria for my group performance playing Custard songs.


Track listing

1. “Scared Of Skill” 1:25 – dirty distorted pop rock
2. “Memory Man” 1:25 – surf Rock instrumental. Same length as the first track. Feels like a statement. This is going to be another ride.
3. “Very Biased” 2:33 – back to rocking out again. Only to then washout like a lingering dream outro.
4. “Anatomically Correct” 2:43 – pop rock, reminds me of blur.
5. “Hello Machine” 2:46 – steel string slide back. I am reminded a little of Gomez, but wonder if one of the things about Custard is that not only do they never seem to settle, but their mix of sounds and genres within the one album is so novel.
6. “Totally Confused” 3:14 – slowed right down and stripped back, with rich harmonies in the chorus.
7. “Piece of Shit” 2:29 – bouncing vibe reminds me of Parklife.
8. “Pinball Lez” 2:22
9. “Sons and Daughters” 2:49
10. “Nice Bird” 3:01 – starts out like a Pixies track
11. “No Rock and Roll Record” 2:49 – self-referential song about being failed artist
12. “Sinatra Theory” 2:54 – the angular meets thr melodic
13. “Schtum” 3:50 – slide guitar back
14. “The Truth About Drugs” 2:39 – this is called the truth about drugs, that maybe that life is boring and mundane.
15. “Music Is Crap” 3:08 – quirky silliness takes everyone down
16. “The Drum” 3:43
17. “Eight Years of Rock and Roll Has Completely Destroyed My Memory*”

Listened Hardcore History 50 – Blueprint for Armageddon I from

Publish Date:Tue, 29 Oct 2013
Duration: 03:07:20 minutes – 180.68mb
Buy from Apple Music

Blueprint for Armageddon is a 23 hour six-part podcast series by Dan Carlin exploring World War I.

Blueprint for Armageddon I

The planet hadn’t seen a major war between all the Great Powers since the downfall of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. But 99 years later the dam breaks and a Pandora’s Box of violence engulfs the planet.

In the first episode, Carlin begins with a reflection on Gavrilo Princip, the Serb national who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Carlin suggests that Princip is the most important no one in the last 100 years. The focus is then turned towards the place of Germany, Bismarck and European alliance system. Military power is about who is the “firstest with the mostest”. Associated with this, Carlin discusses the argument that war was inevitable, instead he suggests that there was poor leadership and statesmanship more than anything else. The worst much mistake was the “Rape of Belgium”

Blueprint for Armageddon II

The Great Powers all come out swinging in the first round of the worst war the planet has ever seen. Millions of men in dozens of armies vie in the most deadly and complex opening moves of any conflict in world history.

Carlin begins the second episode with the question, “When do we have the power to destroy the world?” This leads to a discussion of the Russians attempts to stop technological development through arms agreement. The Germans answer to the war was the Schlieffen Plan, where they would hit France like a sledgehammer, before then addressing Russia.

The Schlieffen Plan (German: Schlieffen-Plan, pronounced [ʃliːfən plaːn]) is a name given after the First World War to German war plans, due to the influence of Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen and his thinking on an invasion of France and Belgium, which began on 4 August 1914. Schlieffen was Chief of the General Staff of the German Army from 1891 to 1906. In 1905 and 1906, Schlieffen devised an army deployment plan for a decisive (war-winning) offensive against the French Third Republic. German forces were to invade France through the Netherlands and Belgium rather than across the common border.

Source: Wikipedia

The rest of the episode explores the Battle of the Frontier. Carlin contrasts the initial British army led by French vs the French infantry in Napoleonic colours led by Joffra. The world has gone from Napoleon’s quip of “30000 deaths a month” to 30000 deaths a day at Battle of Mons and the Battle of the Marne.

Blueprint for Armageddon III

The war of maneuver that was supposed to be over quickly instead turns into a lingering bloody stalemate. Trench warfare begins, and with it, all the murderous efforts on both sides to overcome the static defenses.

Episode III begins with a story about Ernest Shackleton and his shock that the war was still going when he returned from Antarctica. Carlin uses this to highlight the length and complexity of the war. With the same amount of people killed in first month than were killed in the whole American Civil War.

Moving into 1915, Carlin discusses the blending of two eras, as captured through the Battle of Ainse and the Battle of Ypres. A particular change was with the development in technology, whether it be barbed wire, flamethrowers, zeppelins, submarines, gas and multilayer trench network. With these changes, Carlin argues that shellshock impacts everyone at some point.

Although it is easy to get bogged down on the Western Front, Carlin explains that there were also battlefronts in the East, Turkey and Pacific. Turkey and the Dardanelles was seen as a weak point in Central Powers, which turned out to be a mistake. Carlin then touches on the atrocities in war with the Turkish massacre of the Armenians.

Throughout, Carlin always tries to capture the human side, such as tropes stopping at 1914 Christmas.

Blueprint for Armageddon IV

Machine guns, barbed wire and millions upon millions of artillery shells create industrialized meat grinders at Verdun and the Somme. There’s never been a human experience like it…and it changes a generation.

As the war grinds on and more and more soldiers are killed, Carlin asks how you market hell as a travel destination, as that is what the war has become. Rather than touching on each and every battle, Carlin dives into a few examples, including the Battle of Verdun, where a battle is intentially designed to be a meatgrinder, the Battle of Jutland, where the English and Germans faced off at sea, the Brusilov Offensive, where Russians defeated Austrians but lost one million soldiers in the process, and the Battle of Somme.

On a side note, Carlin explained the way in which ‘gas’ was actually more of a solid that lay on top of everything and left everything dead.

The focus of the war progressively moved to home front and the civilian economy. The intent was the collapse and disintegration of a nation.

Blueprint for Armageddon V

Politics, diplomacy, revolution and mutiny take center stage at the start of this episode, but mud, blood, shells and tragedy drown all by the end.

Episode Five focuses on the changes to politics and the impact this had on the war. It begins with an exploration of US and Woodrow Wilson’s decision to go to war. This position of power is contrasted with Germany and the turnip winter of 1916/1917, as well as the struggles faced by Italy, Austria and Russia. Outside of this, there were changes in the governments of Britain and France.

With the Russian Revolution and Germany decision, under the leadership of Erich Ludendorff, to enter into total war, Carlin explains how things could have been different and that chance had so much to play. Total war for the Germans meant the development of the Hindenburg Line and dead zone behind the old front line to imped the spring offensive.

The Hindenburg Line, built behind the Noyon Salient “Salient (territory)”), was to replace the old front line as a precaution against a resumption of the Battle of the Somme in 1917. By devastating the intervening ground, the Germans could delay a spring offensive in 1917. A shortened front could be held with fewer troops and with tactical dispersal, reverse-slope positions, defence in depth and camouflage, German infantry could be conserved. Unrestricted submarine warfare and strategic bombing would weaken the Anglo-French as the German armies in the west (Westheer) recuperated. On 25 January 1917, the Germans had 133 divisions on the Western Front but this was insufficient to contemplate an offensive.

Source: Hindenburg%20Line%20-%20Wikipedia by

What ‘total war’ meant was captured in Carlin’s discussion of the creeping barrage associated with the Battle of Arras and the 3rd Battle of Ypres, where rain inundated Flanders’ fields.

Blueprint for Armageddon VI

The Americans are coming, but will the war be over by the time they get there? Germany throws everything into a last series of stupendous attacks in the West while hoping to avoid getting burned by a fire in the East they helped fan.

Episode Six is largely about the ramifications of World War One. It begins with the discussion of a ‘dangerous idea’ being worse than say a dangerous gas. Carlin explains how Vladmir Lenin, with the help of Germany, released the idea of Communism on the world.

With the collapse of Russia, the various treaties were made public. A particular part of this was the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East, this included the Balfour Declaration and the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.

With all this happening, Carlin explains how Germany had window of opportunity, as there was an increase in troops from Eastern front and such developments as the Paris Gun. The problem was that there was also a lower morale on the home front and eventually low morale on the war front, especially as troops went days without eating.

Allied Commander-in-Chief, Ferdinand Foch, held back troops to survive the battle of morale. This with aided by the addition of fast moving tanks and American support.

Overall, Carlin never promises to tell the story of World War I, instead he carves out a particular story that encapsulates many of the highs and lows. As he often states, he is not a ‘historian’, but a storyteller, what some describe as “the Michael Bay of history.” He captures the past from the high road, from the perspective of a reader, rather than a thorough researcher. This often sacrifices nuance to instead carve a clear path. With this in mind, he often builds situations up with suspense. It is interesting challenge given that we often know the end, but we do not always know how it unfolds. Therefore, he often addresses our desire to know.

Associated with this, he often goes off on tangents, jumps around making comparisons with previous historical events, whether it be Genghis Khan, The Civil War, The Battle of Hastings, Napoleonic War and World War II.

Bookmarked GitHub – zadam/trilium: Build your personal knowledge base with Trilium Notes by zadam (GitHub)

Build your personal knowledge base with Trilium Notes – GitHub – zadam/trilium: Build your personal knowledge base with Trilium Notes

I have been tinkering with Obsidian, while I have used Trello in the past. I respect Stephen Downes’ point about trust in third-party options:

It’s similar to Google Keep, Evernote or Obsidian but feels a lot easier to use and, of course, I don’t need to worry about a company discontinuing it or suddently making it a lot more expensive.

Source: Trilium by Stephen Downes

“Stephen Downes” in ~ Stephen’s Web ~ Trilium ()

Liked Leaving the Nazi bar by Ben WerdmullerBen Werdmuller (

Think of the web as a series of living rooms. If you’re in my living room, I have the right to kick you out if you start being abusive to me or other people in the room. I get to set the rules in my space so that other people can feel safe to be there. Different people have different values, so their living rooms might have different rules. But I get to set mine.

I also get to decide which rooms I want to be in, and which rooms I want to invite other people into. I don’t have any interest in hanging out in a room with Nazis, and I certainly don’t have any interest in inviting my friends to hang out there with me. If I find that the owner of the living room allows people who make me or my friends feel unsafe — or, as is true in this case, pays them to hang out there, and makes money from their presence — I can use the law of two feet to leave.

Source: Leaving the Nazi Bar by Ben Werdmuller

“wiobyrne” in Navigating Paradoxes – Digitally Literate ()

Liked Stuff we figured out about AI in 2023 (

2023 was the breakthrough year for Large Language Models (LLMs). I think it’s OK to call these AI—they’re the latest and (currently) most interesting development in the academic field of Artificial Intelligence that dates back to the 1950s.

Here’s my attempt to round up the highlights in one place!

Source: Stuff we figured out about AI in 2023 by Simon Willison

Replied to Whose ethics? Whose AI? (
Helen Beetham follows up here keynote to the Association for Learning Technologies (ALT) winter summit on AI and ethics, unpacking a few questions that were raised. The two points that stood out to me were that rather than teaching ‘prompt engineering‘, we need to update search skills in a part-AI world:

What I think we probably should do, working with our colleagues in libraries and study skills centres, is to update our support for search skills. Help students to understand what the algorithms are hiding as well as what they are revealing, how to search when you know what you are looking for as well as when you don’t, the business models as well as the algorithms of search, and how search online is being systematically degraded both by commercial interests and by these new synthetic capabilities. We may conclude that students are better off learning how to use the walled gardens of content that academic libraries and subscriptions provide – which ties in with my arguments about building our own ecosystems. That will also equip them for search ‘in the wild’.

Source: Whose Ethics? Whose AI? by Helen Beetham

And that rather than inviting cynicism regarding the use of various tools to write essays, opportunities need to be found to talk to students about what agency they have to shape their own futures.

“Stephen Downes” in ~ Stephen’s Web ~ Whose ethics? Whose AI? ()

Replied to The digital wall by David TrussDavid Truss (

What is it about the internet that gives people permission to be awful and mean to others? I follow an astrophysicist on social media. She’s brilliant, and makes great content. She also posted a rant about all the misogynistic comments she gets from men commenting on her rather than her content. I’m not sharing any more details because it looks like she took the video down.

Source: The Digital Wall by David Truss

David, I have long wondered about the problem of on and offline. As an educator, are there any strategies or approaches that you have put in place to encourage empathy online, as well as an understanding of the impact of such practices? I recently did a short course on cyber security and awareness, my feeling is that such comments risk forming an informal character reference in a world beyond forgetting.

I think the future of hacking and cyber attacks is the linking of different datasets that we openly share online through data brokers to provide an insight and awareness of individuals that will open up new possibilities.

Source: Cyber Security & Awareness – Primary Years (CSER MOOC) by Aaron Davis

Ironically, looking back through my blog I actually came across a previous post and comment on your blog relating to the difference between our online and offline persona.

I can see that we are not our online personas. They are different than us. Yet they can say a lot about… but they don’t always say what we think they say.

Source: Our Online Persona by David Truss

Replied to epilepticrabbit ( (

Idk I guess I just need to go back to MailPoet. It’s going to suck for @dajb and whomever else gets auto-unsubscribed randomly, but I spent almost 3 hours looking at alternatives and my newsletter on my site seems like the best thing to do.

Laura, I received the first Mailpoet newsletter if that means anything. Really appreciated your point about tech principles:

I have inconvenienced myself with my tech principles for decades at this point. It takes days for my local bookshops to send me books because I try very hard to not use Amazon. I am not a part of several family and friend What’sApp groups because I loathe anything Facebook is or touches. I have, for decades, tried to live up to my values, fought for the open web and made technology choices that align with who I am and what I believe in.

Source: %5BFBT%5D%20on%20MailPoet%20and%20Moving by Laura Hilliger

Liked Why Oblivion.University? by mbransonsmbransons (

This post is a component of my coursework at the CUNY Graduate Center in the M.S. in Data Analysis and Design, for a special topics course about Large Language Models taught by Professor Michelle A. McSweeney. I extend my gratitude to her and all my fellow students for embarking on this journey together, seeking to […]

Oblivion.University enables users to submit text-based work and questions for Dr. Oblivion’s AI-generated feedback. The feedback, presented in the form of an AI-generated video embed (currently audio only), undergoes a multi-step process. This process involves a fine-tuned LLM response, audio transformation using a voice clone, and video rendering with a lip-syncing generative model (the final step is currently only achievable offline).

Source: Why Oblivion.University? by Michael Branson Smith