Replied to The physics of social spaces are not like the physics of physical spaces by Jon Dron (

It’s very challenging to design a digital space that is both richly supportive of human social needs and easy to use. The Landing is definitely not the solution, but the underlying idea – that people are richly faceted social beings who interact and present themselves differently to different people at different times – still makes sense to me. As the conversation between Jesse and Stephen shows, there is a need for support for that more than ever.

Jon, this is one of the things that I wonder about in regards to domain of one’s own, what happens when everything is available in the form of a social exhaust. I guess that is the intent behind the discussion around private posts.
Replied to Liked: Coding is not ‘fun’, it’s technically and ethically complex by john john (

Kids in school can have this sort of fun too, perhaps helping in maths and in skills like problem solving, working together and practical skills. Scratch and micro:bits can be a a lot of fun in a primary classroom.

John, I enjoyed Vannini’s push back on coding. It reminded me in part how Seymour Papert put it, that coding is ‘hard fun’:

How do we make writing become hard fun? One way is to develop for kids “writable” activities that they love to do. The building of robotic devices acquires “writability” because it lends itself to stage-by-stage description. Its writability is further enhanced by the use of word processors and digital cameras. But beyond technology there is the attitude in the learning culture. An example of what I mean was brought up by a teacher who objected to the idea that children should be allowed to write about what they liked. “When they go to work they’ll have to do what they are told.” Therein lies a source of many kids’ failure in reading. Of course we should teach children the skill of self-control needed to carry out orders. But mixing up learning that skill with learning to write defeats both purposes.

Replied to (

Should I terminate the note experiment and relax my “real” blogging rules that state an article should ideally have > 1000 words?
Should I throw out notes in the feed and keep everything else as-is? What’s the point of streaming those to the site then?

Or should I just not care?

Wouter, my vote is for ‘just not care’, just in case you were wondering.
Replied to Emily and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Professional Development Session (Mrs Fintelman Teaches)

I’ve tried to come up with answers to the question “What makes good professional learning?”. My answers are questions.

  • I believe I know how children learn. Do I know how adults learn? If I don’t, should I be in charge of running this session?
  • What is the point of the session? What do teachers REALLY need to leave with? Answers? Questions? Skills? Content? Attitudes? Enthusiasm?
  • Do I want to teach them what I know? If I do, what do I know that is so important that 30 adult professionals all need to hear it, in the same way, at the same time? Is me putting it on slides and talking about it the best way for them to learn it?
  • I believe people learn by meaningfully doing. Will people be learning by doing or will they be passive? How can I remove that tendency for the presenter to do all the doing?
  • Is my ego involved? How can I remove it if it is?
I really enjoyed your reflection Emily. I wonder if there are times when we learn as much from failed experiences as we do from those that truly succeed? It reminds me of riff I once made on something Douglas Rushkoff once said about solving riddles or posing new ones:

For me, what matters is not necessarily the content, but the conditions created that provide the possibility for personal problem solving. To reword Rushkoff’s question, is professional development meant to solve our riddles or pose new ones?

I was intrigued by your statement about being an ‘expert on learning’:

I really believe that people educating room full of experts on learning should be absolute masters of learning – otherwise they’re hardly qualified to be doing that job.

I wonder if all learning is the same and with that if all professional development is the same?

Replied to

Now that would be a course worth paying for.
Replied to Why do people choose crosswords but not lessons? (EDUWELLS)

In crossword terms, New Zealand teachers work with learners to look at which clues have been answered so far and so make the judgement as too which would be the easiest and obvious next clue to answer. Learners ‘fill out the crossword’ at different speeds and in different order but the longer term journey from start to finish is always visible in the national learner curriculum levels.

I grew up watching my grandfather spend hours over crosswords, just wonder what to say about those who don’t buy into it?
Replied to ‘They had soul’: Anton Corbijn on 40 years shooting Depeche Mode (

Depeche Mode by Anton Corbijn. In retrospect, it looks like an obvious pairing. A band whose debut album had been dismissed by Rolling Stone as “PG-rated fluff”, Depeche Mode became increasingly dark and ambitious musically as the 80s progressed. They needed visual gravitas to match, and Corbijn’s grainy black and white images and hand-painted album sleeves certainly gave them that. “I felt people associated synthesiser music with being technical and emotionally distant,” he says, “and I felt they had soul. I think I had an approach that’s more in that direction, and that made the difference.”

Replied to Review: 'Cultish' Examines the Language of Fanaticism by Sophie Gilbert (

Montell’s conclusion isn’t that everyone should necessarily be wary of cultish language, but that they should be aware of it: identifying language’s powers of coercion, questioning statements that discourage analysis, and being skeptical of loaded language that deliberately engenders a heightened emotional state or stigmatizes outsiders. “The fact is that most modern-day movements leave enough space for us to decide what to believe, what to engage with, and what language to use to express ourselves,” Montell writes. “Tuning in to the rhetoric these communities use, and how its influence works for both good and not so good, can help us participate, however we choose, with clearer eyes.”

I wonder how this compares or relates to Stanley Fish’s notion of ‘interpretive communities’:

Unlike Wolfgang Iser who analyses individual acts of reading, Stanley Fish situates the reading process within a broader institutional perspective. In Is There a Text in the Class? (1980), Fish proposes that competent readers form part of “interpretive communities”, consisting of members who share “interpretive strategies” or “set of community assumptions” of reading a text so as to write meaning into the text. He also proposed that each communal strategy in effect “creates” all the seemingly objective features of the text, as well as “intentions, speakers and authors” that readers may infer from the text. Hence the validity of any text depends on the assumptions and strategies that the readers may share with other members of a particular interpretive community.

Replied to I Returned to the Office and Found a Very Old Apple by Rachel Gutman (

I left a lot of things at my desk in March 2020: a toothbrush, shoes, several varieties of tea, a mug full of plastic utensils, at least three jars of peanut butter. But one of my colleagues left behind a less shelf-stable treasure: one Envy apple, coquettishly perched atop a pile of fact-checking notes.

It was interesting to return to the office recently. I discovered lollies, chocolate and biscuits in my draws. All of which were past their use-by date, but I still ate them. However, there was nothing like the preserved apple and really not sure that I would have ventured to eat it if there was.
Replied to OPEN S02E46 – De nieuwsbrief is verdoemd! by Frank Meeuwsen (

I agree with Jonas, the open rate is a good way to see who is still interested in your newsletter. You can use that data to keep your lists clean. That tool is now being taken away from the maker and it remains to be seen what effect this will have on issues such as spam and list hygiene. It’s good that Apple is taking these steps, the email industry is now on the move.

Hi Frank, I read your newsletter, although I am not sure how that counts in regards to analytics. I read your ‘newsletter’ via your blog. Not sure how this count comes through. I liked this piece from Mailpoet in regards to analytics and open rates. It will be interesting to see how this space unfolds. Personally speaking, I am lucky that I do not care too much about my click count – haven’t looked at my analytics for years – but if I did, I guess I would be concerned. I do appreciate the random comment 🙂
Replied to Towards An Ethics of Care in Citation & Openness by Maha Bali (

So my idea of a care ethics of citation and openness is to not assume that anything said or written in the open or shared openly is “up for grabs”, but to try to remember who said it, when you can, who inspired you, and to cite them specifically, not generally. Not a general shout out. Not a tag on Twitter, but a citation for the specific ideas in the article.

I often feel that although I may link to ideas via a hyperlink, it wrongly assumes that someone may actually click to follow the thread. I like the way some people use footnotes or plugins which provide more detail about links. For example, Martin Hawksey’s site. In a different approach, I have started using Chris Aldrich’s browser bookmarklet for giving credit.
Replied to Why bad times call for good data (Tim Harford)

Every previous crisis has provoked a realisation that we lacked the data we needed. The Great Depression prompted governments to gather data about unemployment and national income. The banking crisis of 2007-08 showed regulators that they had far too little information about stresses and vulnerabilities in the financial system. The pandemic should prompt us to improve the data we gather on public health. Governments routinely use labour surveys to understand the economic health of households; they should now do the same with literal health. We could assemble a representative panel of volunteers who agreed to medical check-ups every three months. This would provide invaluable data and, in times of crisis, the volunteers could be approached more frequently, for example, for regular swabs to track the spread of a new virus.

This makes me wonder, when do you have enough data? Although I agree with where the piece is coming from, I worry how data is always good for someone.
Replied to ‘Like Sovereign Hill on steroids’: Meet the Victorian Historical Mine Shaft Chasers by Rhiannon Stevens (ABC News)

Nobody knows exactly how many thousands of old mines pockmark Victoria, but this group is happily spending hours underground trying to find out.

Growing up, my step-father’s family had a bush property near the old mining settlement of Whroo and the Balaclava Mine. As a young child, my siblings and I would clamber through the old shafts, ignorant of any risks. I wonder how many other sites there are and the dangers that might lurk.
Replied to Looking at Victoria’s fourth COVID lockdown from behind is maddening by Virginia Trioli (ABC News)

As the boom is lowered on yet another lockdown, how are we still having the same conversations? Fully 15 months on, how are so many issues unchanged, uncorrected and wildly off-track, Virginia Trioli writes.

Having gone out to catch up with friends only the weekend before Melbourne was again thrown into lockdown, I was amazed. Firstly, at the amount of people on public transport without masks and secondly at the man on the door of the bar who thanked me when I signed in. Is this where we have gotten to? It would seem that it is?
Replied to Data isn’t oil, so what is it? by Matt Locke (How To Measure Ghosts)

Perhaps then we’d understand how we can handle this data in a more responsible way. A metaphor that puts our personal experience at the forefront will help us find out where to draw lines in how our lives are stored and processed, and to understand that the lines will need to be different for different people. I don’t know what the right metaphor is – memory and history are the concepts I’ve been mulling over, but they have already been used in computing in ways that blur and dull them.

Matt, I am really intrigued your point about effective metaphors. I really liked John Philpin’s suggestion of data as energy:

Imagine if every single person on the planet had their own dashboard that allowed them to indicate their needs, desires, wants and flag it so that anyone who felt that they could satisfy those needs, desires and wants could respond with an offer human-readable terms of the contract, pricing, expected timelines, etc.

However, the problem with ‘energy’ as a metaphor is that it just does not stick. I think that data as people struggles in the same way.

All these metaphors imagine public data as a huge, passive, untapped resources – lakes of stuff that only has value when it is extracted and processed. But this framing completely removes the individual agency that created the stuff in the first place. Oil is formed by millions of years of compression and chemical transformation of algae and tiny marine animals (sorry, not dinosaurs). Data is created in real time, as we click and swipe around the internet. The metaphor might work in an economic sense, but it fails to describe what data is as a material. It’s not oil, it’s people.

I therefore wonder what the ‘hole in the ozone layer’ might be?

Replied to Remember the Days When People Commented on Blog Posts? (Activate Learning Solutions)

So from a blog post that started about re-introducing the comments section for my blog post, I realise that maybe we need to review our “why” of using social media.

Is it to simply “push” our articles, blog posts, thoughts and reflections. (The bombardment approach and hope that something sticks). Or, can we have more meaningful responses and conversations in our blogs in exchange with our readers who took the time to respond to our posts?

In the past, I would have stuck to my guns with social media but now I’ll take meaningful interactions any day.

What do you think?

Helen, this reminds me of a post I wrote a few years ago unpacking what actually makes a comment.

After unpacking all of the options, it makes me wonder if maybe the comments never left, but rather have become dispersed across various spaces. Maybe the answer is that everyone moves their content and conversations to Medium, but what happens when that space changes and folds under the pressure of investors. Maybe as Martin Weller recently suggested, “Blogging is both like it used to be, and a completely different thing”. Rather than a call to go back to basics, to a time when commenting seemed to be simple, what I think is needed is a broader appreciation of what constitutes a ‘comment’. As with the discussion of digital literacies, maybe we should focus on the act of defining, rather than restrict ourselves with concrete definitions.

Personally, I have taken to the world of webmentions where comments are first written on your own site. I have found this useful as it means I can come back to these ideas, also I feel that I actually own these ideas a bit more. When a corresponding site does not support webmentions, I just cut and paste.

In regards to social media, I have stepped away from broadcasting everything. Now I share out my posts and newsletter, and sometimes respond there depending on the context. I am still intrigued by Micro.Blog as a platform in that the only way an interaction is shown is if it is a comment. Although you can like, this is not presented to the other user. I think that this is a better model, just does not completely fit my own workflow at this point in time.

Replied to The coded messages in hit songs (

Generations of musicians have employed innuendo and ambiguous lyrics to subversive effect. The 1990s yielded rave pop tunes that toyed with an establishment keen to clamp down on club culture and drugs references – take The Shamen’s 1992 chart-topper Ebeneezer Goode (with its “Eezer Goode! Eezer Goode!” chant seizing the mainstream) or Madonna’s intoxicating 1995 single Bedtime Story (co-written with Bjork). In the 21st Century, coded lyrics also still convey sexual identity and liberation, whether or not the mainstream immediately picks up the message. When Lil Nas X faced criticism for the “inappropriate” content of his gay serenade Montero (Call Me by Your Name) earlier this year, he called out conservative hypocrisy via his Twitter account, with a nod to his 2019 breakthrough hit, Old Town Road: “I literally sing about lean and adultery in old town road. u decided to let your child listen. blame yourself.”

I find symbolism and hidden meaning so intriguing at times. It reminds me of Damian Cowell’s discussion of adding in the anchovies. I just wonder where the line is drawn. I remember growing up with rumours that AC/DC stood for Anti-Christ, Devil’s Child and backmasking. I think that sometimes such interpretations are not code, but more likely BS.