Showing posts from November, 2007

Scotedublogs Data

I've been playing with the data from Scotedublogs (I can provide this data in its raw detail, if anyone wants it!). Clearly we do not have every edublog in Scotland in the system, but I thought this visualization was interesting:

Google Project for High School Students

A quick heads up that Google have launched The Google Highly Open Participation Contest   - a global contest for high school students.  I'll definitely be passing this on to our Computing department.

Education, Young People and the Social Graph

Having tuned in to the enormous buzz about the concept of an open, global, social graph, I've been pondering what the implications are for education and young people. The reality is that some time pretty soon young people are going to be arriving in high school with well established online identities which support "single sign on" (SSO) across a wide range of web sites and services, and with portable graphs of their social connections. They already have the social graphs and identities - they just need the graphs to be liberated from the closed social networks within which they reside and for the identities to be unified to allow SSO. Will we then provide them with a new, school-based online identity and expect them to be grateful? This will never work unless their school identity plays nicely with their real identity, by which I mean that they will be able to designate their school identity as belonging to their real identity, and will therefore be able to access thei

Blogs I Miss

I realised today that many of the blogs in my news reader are dormant/dead.  Some were tentative ventures that didn't develop, but some were really interesting for a while.  For me, the lesson is that if you are not actively seeking out new blogs to read, you are slowly losing touch with the blogosphere. Anyway, here are some blogs I miss: Creating Passionate Users - of course; Miscellaneous Learning - Nova Stevenson; GeekyTeach - recent signs of life actually from Peter; Paul Goodall ; It's late and I'm tired - the reality of being a probationer; Graham Dickie ; Can anyone recommend any new blogs that I should definitely be subscribing to?

PLEs - The way to go for Glow.

Scott Wilson has a superb diagram on his blog showing how institutional software and user-controlled spaces should interact in an efficient learning environment. He also has a slide show about OpenID and education, in which he says: Far from threatening institutional viability and control, distributed, user-owned technology offers an escape route from escalating costs, liabilities, and bureaucracy that come from a supply-driven model. Rather than spinning us out of control, they offer a way to get back under control. Oh yes!

The Social Graph

When you first heard the term "Web 2.0", was it a bit of a mystery to you? Did you feel like you must have been asleep when everyone else got told about it? Don't let it happen again! "Social Graph" is a concept that will be more important than "Web 2.0" ever was, so now is the time to familiarise yourself with the exciting ideas that are coming together under this umbrella term. has a great summary here : 1. The Internet: links computers 2. Web: links documents 3. Graph: links relationships between people and documents -- "the things documents are about" as Berners-Lee put it. The original article from Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) pulls together other key posts on this idea, and with tongue in cheek refers to the Giant Global Graph! The Social Graph will liberate the information you have stored in sites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo from the confines of these particular web applications and give it

More on OpenID

If I haven't convinced you yet about the wholesome goodness of OpenID , how about these wee facts: Every Estonian ID card holder has an OpenID (80% of the population) Microsoft supports it. You can now use OpenID to identify yourself for commenting on this blog :)

Got your OpenID yet?

Crystal ball time! I reckon that everyone reading this will have an OpenID and be using it regularly 12 months from now. As Wikipedia puts it: OpenID is a decentralized single sign-on system. Using OpenID-enabled sites, web users do not need to remember traditional authentication tokens such as username and password. Instead, they only need to be previously registered on a website with an OpenID "identity provider" (IdP). Since OpenID is decentralized, any website can employ OpenID software as a way for users to sign in; OpenID solves the problem without relying on any centralized website to confirm digital identity. Have you got yours yet? If you use AOL or have a blog at Wordpress then you have one already! Otherwise, get one here . I'm and have also set up this blog to act as my OpenID, following Sam Ruby's instructions here . OpenID has a good chance of becoming one of the key elements of a truly open, distributed social netwo

Books + DRM = Kindle

I was vaguely interested by the launch in the US of Amazon's e-book reader, Kindle. Ths morning, via Tom Hoffman's google reader shared items, I came across this post, which spells out superbly why we really don't want the future to look like Amazon's terms of service for Kindle:

Tinyurl down?

The Internet cannot be broken by a single point of failure. That it the way it was designed, and that is its great strength. And that's why I think it's a really bad idea to use tools like tinyurl. Tonight I clicked on a tinyurl link, and got an error page from tinyurl rather than the desired link. It was back up in a couple of minutes, but it set my mind a wandering! Why are we trusting tinyurl to be the single point through which we pass so much information? Do we know anything about the owners of tinyurl? Do we trust them not to do misuse the data passing through their hands? A quick google on the subject brought up this extensive discussion on slashdot - Do Tiny URL Services Weaken Net Architecture?


I was out for a pint with my good friend Jim last weekend.  He's from Anstruther, a small fishing village directly opposite us as we look across the Firth of Forth from North Berwick.  When I say that he's from Anstruther, I don't just mean that he was born there.  His mum and Dad were also both born there, all his uncles and aunts live within a 10 mile radius of Anstruther, and he is not aware of any ancestors that come from anywhere apart from Anstruther. I can't begin to imagine what it must feel like to be so connected to a particular place (and to the fishing industry that was the lifeblood of the village). My Dad was from Mid-Wales, with parents from Mid-Wales and Shropshire, and my  Mum is from Bradford in Yorkshire.  I was born in the South of England and have lived in Scotland since 1983.  Unsurprisingly, I struggle to answer the question "where are you from?"! Of course, the scattering of my ancestors last century is happening to my friend's fami

Lau at the Scottish Fiddle Festival

I went with wife and son to see Lau play tonight at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. I've had their album "Lightweights and Gentlemen" for a while, so we knew what to expect, and were not disappointed! Lau are Kris Drever on guitar and occasional vocals, Aidan O'Rourke on fiddle and Martin Green on piano accordian. They belted out a breathtaking set full of energy and passion. Their music is mostly original, but utterly rooted in traditional Scottish music. It was one of the best performances I've seen for years. It was through Kris Drever that I came to Lau, having seen him playing double bass on one song at Kate Rusby's recent Edinburgh show. She plugged his solo album, and as I was buying it on Amazon I saw a link to Lau's album. As a beginner on the mandolin playing folk stuff, tonight's show was great inspiration for me - maybe if I practise hard for years I might get to be half as good as the guys in Lau. They are recording a live album

OLPC - is anyone preparing?

I was at an International Education meeting today, and as I sat listening to the speakers, it struck me that we are about to have millions of children in the developing world arriving online, via the OLPC project. This represents an enormous opportunity to forge international links, but I haven't heard anyone talking about it. I suspect that outside the Slashdot reading nerdosphere that I inhabit, most teachers have never even heard of OLPC. We should be planning now, so that when these youngsters emerge online we are ready to welcome them.

Open Social from Google

Google recently announced OpenSocial - an Open API for developers to create apps that will work on Bebo, Myspace and many other social networking sites. This is huge, and everyone is wondering what Facebook's next move will be. Here's a good introduction on the official Google blog.