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First Things First...

Hi Bryan,

SOMEONE left the heater on in my shed.

It wasn’t the first time, either. Technically speaking though, it’s not just my shed. It’s our shed; I share it with my family. I work there on Mondays and Fridays. It was built in a really nice spot at the end of our garden by my brother-in-law, who builds sets for TV shows for a living. It’s insulated, got a proper floor and gets plenty of light. I rigged up a mini hifi (free) and a pair of tannoy speakers (£2 at a school sale) with a bluetooth receiver. There’s a wifi repeater and a whiteboard ready and waiting to capture thinkery scribbles. There are a few old computers, suitable only for the running of Minecraft and Scratch, but which refuse to give in, soldiering onwards in the creation of endless virtual worlds by chocolatey fingers.

 - I think I left the heating on in the shed…
This is said by my son who’s in the bathroom at 3am.
 - I think I better pop out and check…
5 mins later everyone is back in their respective beds and the heating in the shed (which was indeed left on) has been switched off.

And that brief grumpy exchange in the small hours formed the beginnings of an idea. The purpose, or enough of a purpose to provide an excuse to start. The enough-purpose framed a puzzle. A wonder. A challenge. What if I could rig up a Raspberry Pi to alert me when someone (cough, including me…) leaves the heating on in the shed? After approximately 5 seconds of thought, I decided that this could officially qualify for my first Internet of Things project. And so my course was set. Whilst the kids were busy on Minecraft, I got the soldering iron out and started to make. I’ve recently realised that if I start making something in view of my kids, they’ll soon start asking questions too. Here’s where I got to:

The things you don’t know

Writing this having successfully made a thing (whoop whoop!), I got to thinking how exactly I made it there. Of course, making something is easy when you know how (apart from the work involved in actually making it). Thinking back on what I needed to know in order to make this, I roughly separated it out into three categories. 

At any point in a maker journey, there is:

  1. The stuff you Know you Know (KK)
  2. The stuff you Know that you Don’t Know (KDK)
  3. The stuff you Don’t Know that you Don’t Know (DKDK)

So, after reflecting on who knew what, here’s my table of knowledge:

Don’t worry too much if this is all gobbledygook, and I’m sure I’ve missed some stuff out here, but on the whole, I reckon that I was pretty well teed up to succeed in my self-imposed challenge. Learning the stuff in the “You know you don’t know” category starts with a search engine. There are obvious keywords to search for, and some excellent tutorials, blogs and troubleshooting online just waiting to enlighten me. At the outset, there was only one thing I couldn’t see - how to fix IFTTT Google Drive authentication. The fact that authentication was the problem was an informed hunch from experience. It was the hunch that let me convert the DKDK into a KDK.

Five years ago, if you’d asked me can you draw?, I’d have replied not really. If you asked me now, I’d reply Absolutely and YOU CAN TOO! and then get very animated about how if you do anything every day, you’ll get a lot better at it and how when we’re young we decide that we’re not good at a whole bunch of stuff based on very shaky evidence. But what would my table of knowledge look like for the journey of creating visual thinkery from conversation?

There was so much I didn’t know that I didn’t know. As some of those things came into view, they changed the nature of some of the other things too. It’s a connected terrain of knowledge, and I started out seeing very little. In terms of making anything, each of us starts in a different place - and surely that's a good thing.

Interestingly, though, I never set out to learn how to draw. I set out to make things that resonated with people. 

Visual things. Visual thinkery


Here's some of the thinkery I've blogged in the last couple of weeks:

See the why…

See the why

There’s little point in constructing a website unless you know what your message is, and who you’re trying to say it to. Form does indeed follow function. A really insightful way of doing this is to use facilitated dialogue with a diverse group, and trust that the knowledge is in the room…

The post See the why… appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

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People and Jobs

people and jobs

I attended a Cities of Learning event recently, hosted by the RSA. I’ve long been interested in this project, and how it is interwoven with a local use of micro-credentials. The day was teed up by Kirstie Donnelly, MD at City & Guilds, who framed this problem.

The post People and Jobs appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

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UFI VocTech celebration

I was invited to attend an event celebrating the Vocational Technology (VocTech) projects funded by UFI Charitable Trust last night. I find it impossible now to sit through presentations without drawing out what I hear…

The post VocTech appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

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Data: it’s personal

I just want my data to mean something

Meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless! It’s just 1’s and 0’s after all…

Unless, that is, I can get some insight from your habits, or predict what you might do (or want) next. You are part of a herd after all…

This thought came from a thinkery conversation with the API Evangelist, Kin Lane.


The post Data: it’s personal appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

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Badge Pathways

Gold, Silver, Bronze, yawn…

This (standard) approach prevents the issuing organisation from having to think too deeply about how learners might interact with what they’ve got to offer.

There’s more than one way to string together some badges.

The post Pathways appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

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The Seven Co-operative Principles

Co-operative principles

You may not know that there are Seven Co-operative Principles. Yesterday, I was at Mozfest, hosted by Ravensbourne College in Greenwich, facilitating a visual conversation all about co-operatives. In fact, Mozfest is so chock-full of conversations, you can easily spend an hour getting to the right floor, bumping into interesting people you half-know. And that’s not because the lift/elevators are confusing. Which they are, but anyways…

I’m a founding member of WeAreOpen, a worker co-operative set up to help a few of us combine our skills, networks and voices.

The post The Seven Co-operative Principles appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

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ZeroNet – the rabbit hole…

ZeroNet - Decentralised hosting

Doug Belshaw has been experimenting recently with ZeroNet, a way of hosting a website, distributed amongst peers (using BitTorrent and BitCoin technologies). Essentially, such a website would become decentralised, with no single point of hosting, should someone want to target it in order to shut it down, or deny others access by overloading the server. Resilient hosting…

The post ZeroNet – the rabbit hole… appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

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einstein - i have no special talents

What if I just tweak it a little? Change the colours slightly, or make it into a repeating pattern? Or a character? If it could speak, what would it say? Curiosity is creativity’s playful little cousin (Tinker?) – always getting up to mischief…

I came across this quote on curiosity doing some work for Ada College, the UK’s National College for Digital Skills (I’m a big fan). I was invited to come along to the first day with the first cohort and create thinkery from conversations had with staff and students, who were, and are, brilliant.

The post Curiosity appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

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the eye is the window to the soul

It’s a two way deal.

Once you’ve seen something, you can’t unsee it.

Equally, the interpretation of what you see is a product of things you’ve seen and experiences you’ve had so far.

Eye. Even the english word is a palindrome; it’s a two way deal.


The post Eye appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

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Self Portrait

self portrait

If self expression affords you a sideways glimpse at your own self, then a self portrait allows you to briefly hold its gaze.

Deface your face. Go on; I give you full permission…

The post Self Portrait appeared first on Visual Thinkery.

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