Bookmarked Are we on the road to civilisation collapse? (

Studying the demise of historic civilisations can tell us about the risk we face today, says collapse expert Luke Kemp. Worryingly, the signs are worsening.

In an article a part of a new BBC Future series about the long view of humanity, Luke Kemp unpacks the historical reasons that have contributed to the fall of past empires. These reasons include climate change, inequality, increasing complexity and demand on the environment. Although Kemp suggests there are reasons to be optimistic, he also warns that the connected nature of today’s civilization has made for a rungless ladder where any fall has the potential to be fatal.


Think of civilisation as a poorly-built ladder. As you climb, each step that you used falls away. A fall from a height of just a few rungs is fine. Yet the higher you climb, the larger the fall. Eventually, once you reach a sufficient height, any drop from the ladder is fatal.

With the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we may have already reached this point of civilisational “terminal velocity”. Any collapse – any fall from the ladder – risks being permanent. Nuclear war in itself could result in an existential risk: either the extinction of our species, or a permanent catapult back to the Stone Age.

Replied to What to say when there’s nothing to say (Austin Kleon’s Weekly Newsletter)

OK, friends. Thanks for reading. Next week I go into full Book Promotion Mode with the new one. If you like this newsletter and want it to keep going, pre-order Keep Going online or at your favorite indie bookstore, and save your receipt because we’re announcing an awesome pre-order gift next week. (The reviews on Goodreads so far are better than good and my 6-year-old was quite pleased by the nice comments about his book trailer.)

Not sure I completely get how the book industry works, but have pre-ordered Keep Going in the belief that this makes a difference to production numbers.
Bookmarked All the Bad Things About Uber and Lyft In One Simple List by an author

The report in the Daily Bruin revealed anew that Uber, Lyft, Via and the like are massively increasing car trips in many of the most walkable and transit friendly places in U.S.

It comes after a raft of recent studies have found negative effects from Uber and Lyft, such as increased congestion, higher traffic fatalities, huge declines in transit ridership and other negative impacts. It’s becoming more and more clear that Uber and Lyft having some pretty pernicious effects on public health and the environment, especially in some of the country’s largest cities.

Angie Schmitt compiles a number of negative effects associated with Uber and Lyft. They include an increase in driving, predominantly operating in transit-friendly areas, often replacing biking and walking, hurting transit and hoarding data.

It is interesting to consider this disruptive innovation alongside a wider discussion of the future of public transport.

Bookmarked Retro-Tinged Game Controllers: BX Foundry’s Handmade Joysticks (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

From the arcades to the living room, how the controller has evolved—and why one tech historian, Benj Edwards, started building his own.

This look at the game controller is a useful look at the development of hardware over time that has become a part of the Digital Technologies Curriculum. Personally, I remember beginning with a toggle associated with our Apple IIe.
Replied to What is the Value of OLDaily? by an author

But in 2019 there’s no community that encompasses all of these things. Indeed, each one of these topics has not only blossomed its own community, but each one of these communities is at least as complex as the entire field of education technology was some twenty years ago. It’s not simply that change is exponential or that change is moving more and more rapidly, it’s that change is combinatorial – with each generation, the piece that was previously simple gets more and more complex.

This is an interesting reflection on the development of a blog over time. For me, it highlights the role of connections with community and the other) voices. When I think about my own work I can’t help but be influenced by the work that I am engaged in. As much as I would like to think that I am covering ‘learning and teaching’ in my newsletter. However, it cannot help but be learning and teaching based on my current experiences and perceptions.
Listened Cheat Sheet: J Dilla, a playlist by Okayplayer on Spotify from Spotify

Dig deep into J Dilla’s sample archive with this 28-hour-long playlist.

For more on J Dilla and his legacy read Tim Carmody’s celebration of what would be his 45th birthday, also Vox produced a documentary looking at J Dilla’s influnce on music through the use of the MPC.

via Austin Kleon

Bookmarked CERN 2019 WorldWideWeb Rebuild

In February 2019, in celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the development of WorldWideWeb, a group of developers and designers convened at CERN to rebuild the original browser within a contemporary browser, allowing users around the world to experience the rather humble origins of this transformative technology.

A team of programmers gathered together at CERN to celebrate 30 years of the web. This involved getting the first browser working again. You can see a breakdown of this here.

via Jeremy Keith

Bookmarked Vast amounts of data about our children are being harvested via apps used by schools. This is what is being collected and stored (AARE)

A major problem with creating reports like this is that they only judge students on a small number of behaviours that ‘count’. They ignore, and even deter, diversity. For example, teachers have to identify behaviours they want students to exhibit so they can monitor them using ClassDojo. Default options include working hard, on-task, and displaying grit. This list has to be limited to a number of behaviours that is manageable by the teacher to track. The selected behaviours end up being the ones that count, others are ignored, thus promoting conformity.

Jamie Manolev, Anna Sullivan and Roger Slee explore the sensitive data collected on students, teachers and schools by educational apps. The authors document some of these points:

This data includes

  • First and last names
  • Student usernames
  • Passwords
  • Students’ age
  • School names
  • School addresses
  • Photographs, videos, documents, drawings, or audio files
  • Student class attendance data
  • Feedback points
  • IP addresses
  • Browser details
  • Clicks
  • Referring URL’s
  • Time spent on site
  • Page views
  • Teacher parent messages

Moreover, ClassDoJo says it ‘may also obtain information, including personal information, from third-party sources to update or supplement the information you provided or we collected automatically’.

This reminds me of Ben Williamson’s point about Class Dojo that sensitivity is produced over time:

The ‘sensitive information’ contained in ClassDojo is the behavioural record built up from teachers tapping reward points into the app.

I think that it needs to be noted that although there is a focus on ‘wellbeing’ the affordances of the application can be used in different ways. For example, Bianca Hewes has used it to monition 21st century learning.

Liked A Followers Page on My Personal Website using Webmention by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich

To my knowledge, I may be the first person to be displaying “following” webmentions anywhere. The nice part is that this following webmention functionality is built into the Post Kinds plugin by default, so that if people begin creating follow posts on a more regular basis, then several hundred WordPress sites that have Post Kinds will automatically be able to display them.

Replied to

I’m building a small robotic orchestra. Why play drums yourself when you can get bits of code, wire, and solenoids to do it for you?

I built a little control unit that takes voltages and makes them into something that can power motors and stuff without anything catching on fire.

If you set this up with a Python script then you can just sit back and enjoy?
Liked Rats have infested this remote atoll near Tahiti, but an eradication attempt aims to turn back the clock – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) by an author (ABC)

On what should be a pristine tropical island, humans have introduced a destructive pest. Can scientists turn back the clock?

Replied to Scripting News: Sunday, February 17, 2019 by an author (Scripting News)

Discourse is not Twitter’s strength, not because of the thread structure, rather that it’s a write-only community of attention seekers. Most of what passes for discourse is thinly disguised spam.

This reminds me of a comment (which ironically was a Tweet) from Alec Couros from a few years ago:

There are challenges when it is so easy to just push out comments and critique. This is something Stewart Riddle touches on in a recent interview on the TER Podcast.

Liked Thanks, Medium by an author

One thing we’ve got to give @Medium credit for is inspiring people to build their own sites again thanks to the awful, inaccessible, JS-rendered, pop up laden hellzone that they produce.

One thing we’ve got to give @Medium credit for is inspiring people to build their own sites again thanks to the awful, inaccessible, JS-rendered, pop up laden hellzone that they produce.

Momentum is in the right direction away from platforms like that.