Liked 10 tech-related trends that shaped the decade (Pew Research Center)
  1. Social media sites have emerged as a go-to platform for connecting with others, finding news and engaging politically.
  2. Around the world and in the U.S., social media has become a key tool for activists, as well as those aligned against them.
  3. Smartphones have altered the way many Americans go online.
  4. Growth in mobile and social media use has sparked debates about the impact of screen time on America’s youth – and others.
  5. Data privacy and surveillance have become major concerns in the post-Snowden era.
  6. Tech platforms have given rise to a gig economy.
  7. Online harassment has become a fairly common feature of online life, both for teens and adults.
  8. Made-up news and misinformation has sparked growing concern.
  9. A majority of Americans see gender discrimination as a problem in the tech industry.
  10. Americans’ views about tech companies have turned far less positive in recent years.
Bookmarked Why you should read Machiavelli by OPEN

Here are some specific lessons from The Prince that will help any new people manager:

  1. You lead for the benefit of the led and with their implicit consent. If you expect respect or compliance because of a new job title, you’re already on the wrong track. If you’re managing a person or a team you need to succeed by making them successful and not seek the credit for what they do.
  2. Be unusual. Reputations are built on what you do differently, on the big challenges that you overcome.
  3. Be alert to the need to adapt — and do it boldly when it is time to do so. Change will come, but we act as if it never will. Best to accept that it is coming and be ready when you see signs. The positive version of this is – change is good, and there are always opportunities if you look for them.
  4. If you’re going to make changes an organisation, best to do it quickly. Ever lived through a six-month re-org? If not, I hope you never do. Everything else stops, no one can think about anything other than the change that will come.
  5. Innovation requires power. To innovate you need to be in power, or as Thomas Cromwell puts it in Wolf Hall, “pick a prince”. In modern corporate parlance, find a senior sponsor for your brilliant project. Having a great idea and being passionate are not enough to get things to happen – you need support. That’s politics.
Antony Mayfield provides some reasons why Machiavelli’s The Prince is one of the books he recommends new people managers to read.
Bookmarked Welcome to Jáchymov: the Czech town that invented the dollar (

When the town’s shiny silver deposits dwindled, miners began to encounter a mysterious pitch-black substance that led to an alarmingly high incidence of fatal lung diseases. They called the uraninite mineral “Pechblende” (“pech” means “bad luck” in German). While sifting through the town’s mines in 1898, a physicist named Marie Curie identified that the same ore that had produced the first dollars contained two new radioactive elements: radium and polonium. The discovery disfigured Curie’s hands, eventually killed her and led her to become the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. But it also set the stage for the town’s unlikely second act: the same mines that coined the world’s currency would now power the nuclear arms race.

Eliot Stein digs into the history of the tiny Czech town of Jáchymov that was recently named one of Unesco’s newest World Heritage sites. He discusses the silver deposits that helped create the first ‘thalors’ some 500 years ago, as well as the radioactive metals that helped fuel the Cold War.
Liked Tonnes of sand along this Melbourne beach are hiding a dark chapter of Victoria’s history (ABC News)

It’s a tale that has everything: ghastly crimes, executions, exhumations, grave robbery, publicly-funded Great Depression-era mass-employment construction schemes and, of course, Ned Kelly.

Bookmarked The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade by an author (Hack Education)

For the past ten years, I have written a lengthy year-end series, documenting some of the dominant narratives and trends in education technology. I think it is worthwhile, as the decade draws to a close, to review those stories and to see how much (or how little) things have changed. You can read the series here: 2010201120122013201420152016201720182019.

I thought for a good long while about how best to summarize this decade, and inspired by the folks at The Verge, who published a list of “The 84 biggest flops, fails, and dead dreams of the decade in tech,” I decided to do something similar: chronicle for you a decade of ed-tech failures and fuck-ups and flawed ideas.

Oh yes, I’m sure you can come up with some rousing successes and some triumphant moments that made you thrilled about the 2010s and that give you hope for “the future of education.” Good for you. But that’s not my job. (And honestly, it’s probably not your job either.)

Audrey Watters closes the decade with an epic post documenting the worst of ed-tech. Full of ‘I forgot about …’ and ‘whatever happened to …’, this post is an important provocation to read and reflect upon in regards to the use of educational technology. Along with Watters’ review of the trends for 2019, she leaves a lot to stop and think about.

In a separate post, Ryan Boren collects together a number responses to Watters’ post.

Liked ‘Civilization’ and Strategy Games’ Progress Delusion (Vice)

Unsurprisingly, strategy games tend to only engage with complexity when it can be converted into a military or economic trait, the rest is treated as irrelevant or merely aesthetic. The tendency, when looking at different populations, is to fixate on familiarities, either because something appears similar or because something supposedly essential is missing. Much of anthropology up until the midpoint of the last century could be crassly summarized in the question “how come all these people don’t have a State?”

Bookmarked The Stories We Were Told about Education Technology (2019) (Hack Education)

What I have noticed in 2019 from my perch of not-paying-full-attention would probably include these broad trends and narratives: the tangled business prospects of the ed-tech acronym market (the LMS, the OPM, the MOOC); the heightened (and inequitable) surveillance of students (and staff), increasingly justified as preventing school shootings; the fomentation of fears about the surveillance of Chinese tech companies and the Chinese government, rather than a recognition that American companies — and surely the US education system itself — has long perpetuated its own surveillance practices; and the last gasp of the (white, male) ed-tech/ed-reform evangelism, whose adherents seem quite angry that their bland hype machine is no longer uncritically lauded by a world that is becoming increasingly concerned about the biases and dangers of digital technologies.

Audrey Watters continues her tradition of summarising the year that was in regards to educational technology. Although Watters no longer conducts her deep dives into the various trends, she still comes back to the same issue that comes up time and time again, technology’s tendency to forget.

Writing the Hack Education end-of-year series has always reminded me of how very short our memories seem to be. By December, we’ve forgotten what happened in January or June. And we’ve certainly forgotten what happened a year ago, two years ago, a decade ago. Or at least, that’s one way I can rationalize how someone like Chris Whittle can get such a glowing profile in The Washington Post this year for his latest entrepreneurial endeavor.

Bookmarked Letter to the Editor: Historians Critique The 1619 Project, and We Respond (

Five historians wrote to us with their reservations. Our editor in chief replies.

The debates over ‘the facts’ associated with the 1619 project reminds me the History Wars in Australia.
Bookmarked Beneath modern Melbourne, a window opens into its ancient history (the Guardian)

Researchers are drilling into remnant billabongs across the city to document the landscape as it was under Aboriginal management

Along with Zach Hope’s article on buried Melbourne, Jack Banister’s discussion on Melbourne lush waterways provides a perspective of another world.

By analysing the sediment – from the traces of pollen, and layers of charcoal and organic matter, to the DNA of lost creatures and micro-organisms – with the local Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung elders and community, Fletcher will add to the collective knowledge of this secluded spot.

This touches on what Tim Flannery has described as a ‘temperate Kakadu‘.

Listened In Our Time – Tutankhamun – BBC Sounds from BBC

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the discovery in 1922 of Tutankhamun’s 3000 year old tomb and its impact on the understanding of ancient Egypt, both academic and popular. The riches, such as the death mask above, were spectacular and made the reputation of Howard Carter who led the excavation. And if the astonishing contents of the tomb were not enough, the drama of the find and the control of how it was reported led to a craze for ‘King Tut’ that has rarely subsided and has enthused and sometimes confused people around the world, seeking to understand the reality of Tutankhamun’s life and times.


Elizabeth Frood –
Associate Professor of Egyptology, Director of the Griffith Institute and Fellow of St Cross at the University of Oxford

Christina Riggs –
Professor of the History of Visual Culture at Durham University and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford


John Taylor –
Curator at the Department of Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum

Listened Hardcore History 64 – Supernova in the East III from

Japan’s rising sun goes supernova and engulfs a huge area of Asia and the Pacific. A war without mercy begins to develop infusing the whole conflict with a savage vibe.

Liked The iPod at 18: the gadget that changed music and tech for ever (The Economist)

When Apple revealed the iPhone in late 2007, with its touch screen and several native apps, some technology writers dubbed it the “Jesus Phone”. It has sold more than 1.5bn units.

This makes the iPod the musical and technological equivalent of John the Baptist. The device was quickly superseded, but it prepared the way for the great innovations to come. It showed consumers that technology could be beautiful and that the most enthralling possessions could fit in the palm of a hand.

Bookmarked The Jungle Prince of Delhi (

For 40 years, journalists chronicled the eccentric royal family of Oudh, deposed aristocrats who lived in a ruined palace in the Indian capital. It was a tragic, astonishing story. But was it true?

This is an intriguing story and podcast. I feel that I should probably read more about India’s history, especially post-colonial.
Bookmarked The Forgotten Life of Einstein’s First Wife (Scientific American Blog Network)

She was a physicist, too—and there is evidence that she contributed significantly to his groundbreaking science

Albert Einstein had a wife, she may have had a part to play in his success:

Peter Michelmore, one of his biographers(7), wrote that after having spent five weeks to complete the article containing the basis of special relativity, Albert “went to bed for two weeks. Mileva checked the article again and again, and then mailed it”. Exhausted, the couple made the first of three visits to Serbia where they met numerous relatives and friends, whose testimonies provide a wealth of information on how Albert and Mileva collaborated.

Liked Ancient Earth (

This visualization is created and maintained by Ian Webster. See more of my work at or email me at

Plate tectonic and paleogeographic maps by C.R. Scotese, PALEOMAP Project. For more information visit: &

Some elements of this visualization are not adjusted for time (eg. cloud and star positions). The coloring of the maps is based on elevation and bathymetry. The locations are accurate to ~100 km.

via Doug Belshaw