Replied to Why Google’s feed succeeds when Facebook’s fails by an author (Duncan Stephen)

Throughout its history, Google has focused on what people really want from it. This is why its search engine has been so wildly successful.

Google became so good at it, that it began to reasonably predict what I might be coming to it for. Nowadays it is bringing me things that I didn’t even know I wanted. That is seriously impressive.

Does that ‘seriously impressive’ ever make you seriously concerned about how they were able to make such recommendations? It makes me wonder about the shadow profile that Google are building? I prefer my own feed. That is how I found this post. It wasn’t via Google, it was via my own network.
Liked Google’s Reach into Classrooms (via NYT) by Kevin Hodgson

I am right now in the midst of teaching my sixth graders in a Digital Life unit, where we discuss and explore issues of privacy, identity, choices, and the ways corporations like Google are using our browsing histories and data to target us with advertising. You won’t find mention of that state of the modern day technology world in Be Internet Awesome.

Bookmarked Android: a 10-year visual history by an author (The Verge)

Ten years later, here’s a deep dive into every version of Android.

The team at Verge look back on 10 years of the Android operating system. With a focus on the stock open sourced code it is interesting to consider what has been developed outside of this. It is also interesting to compare this with Mozilla’s efforts to enter the mobile market with Firefox OS.
Liked The breach that killed Google+ wasn’t a breach at all by Russell Brandom (The Verge)

The concern is less about a breach of information than a breach of trust. Something went wrong, and Google didn’t tell anyone. Absent the Journal reporting, it’s not clear it ever would have. It’s hard to avoid the uncomfortable, unanswerable question: what else isn’t it telling us?

Liked What’s that you say? Present with captions in Google Slides by wiobyrne (Digital Breadcrumbs)

What’s that you say? Present with captions in Google Slides (Google) To help your audience get more out of your presentation, you can now turn on automatic captions in Google Slides. Yet another reason to use Google Slides.

Bookmarked RIP, Google+: long ailing and finished off by a security bug (Boing Boing)

By the time Google+ rolled out, there was already nascent discontent with Facebook. Google+ offered all the downsides of Facebook, but with fewer of the people you wanted to connect with.

Cory Doctorow reports on Google+’s demise, with the discovery of a bug associated with the API being its final flaw. He highlights the implementation of ‘real names’ and the push to integrate it within every product as two failures. I like how Dave Winer put it:

Products, to be any good, must be motivated, have a creative purpose.

Some would say that it was crushed from the beginning.

Last year, I spent a month wholely in Google Plus. My reflections can be found here.

Liked Google Wants to Kill the URL (WIRED)

If you’re having a tough time thinking of what could possibly be used in place of URLs, you’re not alone. Academics have considered options over the years, but the problem doesn’t have an easy answer. Porter Felt and her colleague Justin Schuh, Chrome’s principal engineer, say that even the Chrome team itself is still divided on the best solution to propose. And the group won’t offer any examples at this point of the types of schemes they are considering.

Bookmarked Totally Unscripted (YouTube)

Totally Unscripted is a new Google Apps Script show organized by the community for the community. Each month members of the community will talk through some new developments in Google Apps Script as well as talking about a coding project or problem.

Totally missed this and only just came upon it via Ben Collins’ newsletter.
Replied to Google Is Collecting Your Data—Even When Your Phone Isn’t in Use (

Google collected considerably more user data when mobile phones were moving around and were in use. One researcher carried around a factory-reset Android phone with a new Google Account and used it as she went about the regular course of the day. That data, the researchers concluded, was pretty reliable. Google was ultimately able to identify that researcher’s interests “with remarkable accuracy” over the course of the 24-hour period, they wrote.

I am left wondering how much of this ‘tracking’ is associated with our move to cloud computing? How much does Microsoft capture? And does Apple even provide like for like? Is their offering as comprehensive? I feel that in general we need to get better at appreciating data that is being collected.

via Audrey Watters

Checked into Google Innovator Energizer (Sydney)
The Sydney Google Energiser event was held at Google Sydney in Darling Harbour. It was designed to give an opportunity to work with each other on the newest latest that Google for Education has to offer. What interested me was finding out where Google was moving, both in and out of education.

Dan Stratford framed the day explaining that Google’s current push is not necessarily about technology, but rather the development of cultures of change and having meaningful impact. This is all a part of Project Culture Shift, the push to encourage people to learn from failure and success in the development of solutions. It is intriguing to consider this from a policy perspective (read chapter four of Ben Williamson’s book Big Data in Education). Also the reference to ‘impact’ always seems so intertwined with the work of John Hattie and Visible Learning.

The session digging further into cultural change was facilitated by the O’Briant Group. The initial conversation was about what actually constitutes ‘culture’. It was suggested that we make our culture each and every day. Chris Betcher argued that it was:

The things that you don’t need to talk about.

We then did a few activities including using our ‘superpowers’ to frame culture of our table group.

Superpower Activity via the Obriant Group

What these two activities were designed to do was to highlight the way that culture can be developed through the way we do things and with this the stories that we tell. One of the problems is that we can talk all day, the challenge is start from a central story.

Another part of culture are our everyday rituals and routines. Through our rituals and routines we create our daily experience. For me this is pumping Disney ballads in the car while driving the girls to school each day.

Thinking about rituals and routines from an organisational perspective, some that were raised included: marking the roll (daily), staff meetings (weekly) and report writing (yearly)

Taking a different tact, the focus turned to the four foundations at the heart of change and innovation:

  • Curiosity (Wonder, Experiment, Play)
  • Agency (Own, Initiate, Problem-Solve and Create)
  • Collaboration (connect, synergise, share, cross-pollinate)
  • Risk-taking (Dream big, reach, experiment and try)

Beyond these four, it was stated that innovation cannot thrive without a foundation of psychological safety. More often than not success and failure comes back to ‘safety’.

In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.source

Some other characteristics that support change include fallible authority where we are all ‘experts’ but we can all make mistakes. Also stepping back to give a chance for somebody else to move forward.

The day was also broken up with a range of lightening pitches, which included Emil Zankov’s wondering about the next step with Chromebooks (NAPLAN) and Michael Ha’s idea of 365 days of inspiring teachers from around the world (sign up here).

The day ended with a series of Sparktalks. I presented one on the Modern Learning Canvas:

Modern Learning Canvas
Scrap SAMR’s four steps to edtech nirvana. Don’t get lost in TPack’s tri-venn.
Create the future by telling the whole story in a clear and concise manner using the Modern Learning Canvas

I also attended presentations by Marto Shaw on Google for administrators, as well as Sheets with Jay Atwood. I never cease to come away with something from Jay’s sessions. This time it was:

  • Double click with the Ctrl key held down to fill down something like an identifier.
  • Powertools add-on to breakdown the splitting process.
  • Pivot Tables as a means of asking questions of data.
Bookmarked “Google Was Not a Normal Place”: Brin, Page, and Mayer on the Accidental Birth of the Company that Changed Everything (The Hive)

A behind-the-scenes account of the most important company on the Internet, from grad-school all-nighters, space tethers, and Burning Man to the “eigenvector of a matrix,” humongous wealth, and extraordinary power.

I really didn’t know how to read this attempt at some sort of truth from those who were there.

This oral history, gathered from a mix of original reporting and previously published and unpublished reflections, is an excerpt from Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (as Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom), published by Twelve.

Is it meant to discredit Google as just another misogynistic Silicon Valley startup? Why now? Are there any biases at play as there was with Quinn Norton’s doppelganger. I am reminded of Faulkner’s quote:

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

Bookmarked Google tracks your movements, like it or not (Associated Press)

An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.

In this expose, Associated Press uncover some of the different ways Google surreptitiously tracks users and how difficult it is to get out of. I remember reading Dylan Curran’s breakdown of the data Google have on us thinking that there is surely more. Clearly there is. This reminds me of Facebook’s shadow profiles. What intrigues me with all this is how the data is then analysed and used. That is the ledger right?

via Ian O’Byrne

Bookmarked Google’s iron grip on Android: Controlling open source by any means necessary (Ars Technica)

From the archives: Android is open—except for all the good parts.

Ron Amadeo outlines the limits to Google’s the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). The reminds me of their work with maps and the fact that other platforms and providers are seemingly locked in or working with a second-rate solution.


There have always been closed source Google apps. Originally, the group consisted mostly of clients for Google’s online services, like Gmail, Maps, Talk, and YouTube. When Android had no market share, Google was comfortable keeping just these apps and building the rest of Android as an open source project. Since Android has become a mobile powerhouse though, Google has decided it needs more control over the public source code.

Google’s real power in mobile comes from control of the Google apps—mainly Gmail, Maps, Google Now, Hangouts, YouTube, and the Play Store. These are Android’s killer apps, and the big (and small) manufacturers want these apps on their phones. Since these apps are not open source, they need to be licensed from Google. It is at this point that you start picturing a scene out of The Godfather, because these apps aren’t going to come without some requirements attached. While it might not be an official requirement, being granted a Google apps license will go a whole lot easier if you join the Open Handset Alliance. The OHA is a group of companies committed to Android—Google’s Android—and members are contractually prohibited from building non-Google approved devices. That’s right, joining the OHA requires a company to sign its life away and promise to not build a device that runs a competing Android fork.