Monthly Archives: February 2008

More Humorous/Interesting Info-graphics Based on Songs


Originally uploaded by boyshapedbox

Links to a large set of graphics on flickr based on songs. I didn’t recognize some of the songs but there are lots of fun things to think about.

In terms of class use – great art projects, great ways to introduce graphing or diagramming flow charts.

Even if you don’t use them in class, it’s just worth looking at them as ways to think about things differently.

Link via Gawker by way of Information Aesthetics.

To Clarify Add Detail

I bounced from this O’Reilly post to this Edward Tufte video on the iPhone. It’s a big file but fairly short and worth listening to if just for the last few lines.

To clarify add detail.

Clutter and overload are not an attribute of information. They are failures of design.

If the information is in chaos don’t start throwing out information, instead fix the design.

This doesn’t just apply to software or visuals. I know I’ve tried to explain things to people and when I see I’m failing have over simplified. I think that’s a mistake. It wasn’t because I was giving them too much that they weren’t understanding, it was because I was giving them information in the wrong way. Communication can be designed just like a visual.

I think our education system is a system that is/was in chaos. Our response has been to throw out information, to standardize everything, to make testing so ABCD simplified that we don’t really have to think about the design.

The perfect example is the “sandwich” writing style that students are coming into college with. I can see it as a way to teach introductory writing but because of the way standardized writing samples are graded the style carries right over into high school. Students then end up in college writing standardized dreck with the belief that it’s awesome. It’s not.

I’ve been tutoring college writers for about 7 years and I’ve seen the decay, the loss of voice, the adoption of really artificial and forced “introductory sentences.” It’s ugly. I can’t imagine what long time professors must feel.

Now schools are starting to fail according to NCLB (I’m sure we’ll all be at 100% passing by 2013). What’s going to happen? My bet is we’ll continue to simplify the information while ignoring the design. Expect more rote memorization and more robotic writing.

Damn that’s depressing. Someone cheer me up.

Feeds Growing Slowly

So I’m slowly re-adding feeds to the newly blank aggregator (I always picture a very aggravated alligator when I see that word- too many Crocodile Hunter shows with my son).

See what I’m reading below maybe you’ll find something interesting (maybe not) but I’m looking to expand so drop your top sites (educational or non) in the comments. I’m really looking for more on WordPress, design, change and data visualization.

Real Life Collides
Rationale: People I’ve actually met.

bavatuesdays – Jim “WordPress” Groom (coworker)
Pandaemonium – Kevin “Bossman” Creamer (coworker – counts as only .3 of a blog due to infrequent updating)
EdTech Journeys – a wise man from NY who writes about staffdev and change
Operative Fitness – My brother-in-law’s slightly nutty fitness blog (in a good way). I dabble with extreme-ish fitness and am back at it now that I’m out of K12.

Humor/Non Serious/Inspiration
Rationale: I like odd things and I feel humor plays a really important role in teaching (or should anyway).
Boing Boing – lots of good ideas here
Defective Yeti – I really like this guy and he writes really well
Tcritic – a blog about interesting t-shirts
XKCD – a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language

Rationale: Each of these blogs has something unique that keeps me coming back.
Dy/Dan – math, design, shooting down Web 2.0 zealotry w/o being too contrary (most of the time)
CogDogBlog – solid, consistent, high quality work and anti-spam pundit
Liberal Education Today – a NITELY blog by Bryan Alexander
Techsavvyed – MI tech integration with no militia ties. I’ve had a long history with Ben and think he does great work.

Rationale: Design and education are solidly linked in my mind and I just like design.
Information Aesthetics

O’reilly Radar – can be a lot I don’t care about but there’s usually at least one good post each time
Hack WordPress – title says it all. I’ve been doing a lot of exploring with WP and this blog is pretty helpful.

Staying Uncomfortable

I listened to a great conversation today between the president of UR (Ed Ayers- former Professor of the Year and major player in the creation of the Valley of the Shadow project) and a UR Business School professor and VA Professor of the Year (Joe Hoyle). So some high power professors and great teachers. It was really impressive to watch. I’ll be posting the video for it soon. Really great stuff.


Anyway, one of the things they talked about was the danger of becoming too comfortable, complacent. You get set in your ways and things just flow onward while you sit like a rock (my interpretation anyway). It spurred me to do something I’ve been contemplating for a while.

I wiped my Google Reader account. I had 299 feeds until a few moments ago. Now I have none*.

I think the intent here is important. This isn’t a number 11 on Pete’s list. I’m not overwhelmed or cutting down. I’m just starting over rather than pruning.

I’ve had a lot of those feeds for several years. I’ve grown comfortable with them. If I don’t read them I worry I’m missing things. It was a really strange feeling to hit unsubscribe on all of them. Some people are probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about (most never read this far) but RSS feeds are a major part of both my career and my education. To get rid of all that in one fell swoop is intimidating to me.

The point of this is to rebuild from scratch- to see what happens as I add things organically based on what I know now.

Will what I read change? I think it will. I’m looking for more diversity. It’s the internet, right? I think I can find some diversity. So less edtech echo and more challenge and change. After all, I feel the need for different types of growth. I’ve changed and my job has changed. I see it as being far more about community, staffdev, learning and change than about technology. That’s not how I thought once upon a time.

Naturally, there are some people and some feeds that I remember and will add back but it’ll be interesting to see just how many of those there are.

*I do have the exported OPML file so after a few months I’m going to compare new with old to see what matches.

Welcome to Nonprogramistan


Originally uploaded by bionicteaching

Thought some of you might get a kick out of this graphic that’ll be part of a presentation Jim Groom and I are working on.

The premise is that a variety of recent technologies allow the creation of mashups and other interesting web based options without the need for programming skills.

Andy Warhol is the patron saint of the mashup so he adorns our poster.

Original photos here.