Category Archives: Uncategorized

This blog has moved to!

I’ve switched to All of the postings from here have been transferred to my new blog.

Sorry for the hassle, but please go there from now on.

A good year on Slideshare

Last year was a good one for me on Slideshare. In 2009, I uploaded 13 presentations and got:

  • 536 average views per presentation
  • 16 favorites

That sets the goal for 2010!

Been working on mLearning Africa (and been in Zambia)

I haven’t blogged here for a while … because I’ve been doing a lot of posting at mLearning Africa, which I started in May. It’s about news, projects and research about mobile learning in Africa. Check it out!

I also recently attended a mobile learning summit in Zambia called Go Mobile! Check out an interview, posts and images from that.

Zambian learners on their mobile phones (Source: Steve Vosloo, CC-BY-NC-SA)

Zambian learners on their mobile phones (Source: mLearning Africa, CC-BY-NC-SA)

Lunch at Google

Last week I had the pleasure of lunching at Google in New York. My friend, Bruce Falck, who works there took me on a bit of a tour around the offices. He used to be based at HQ in Mountain View — aka the Googleplex — and showed me around there when I was studying at Stanford.

Alas, one can’t take photos inside, but this is what I can tell you:

  • It’s huge! Google rents space in the New York Port Authority, which has the largest footprint in Manhattan. The building is a full city block, and if you know how long a block of the Avenues is, you’ll appreciate how long it takes to walk from one end of the floor to the other.
  • Which is why there are push wheelies to scoot around on. And outside the cafeterias are racks to park the wheelies.
  • The office space is mostly open plan. But this is no dour cubicle farm. The space is highly customised. Googlers stick up posters of their favourite bands, skateboards or even muppets. One section had a wall covered in about 200 vinyl records. Every desk also has it’s array of personalised paraphernalia.
  • The engineers (software developers) have Macbooks for portability and PCs on their desks. Often desks are covered in hardware being tested or developed for.
  • Google runs Goobuntu Linux, a slightly customised version of Ubuntu.
  • Each meeting room has four screens for video conferencing. I peered into a meeting and the images being beamed from other parts of the world were chrystal clear. Oh, the bandwidth!
  • The games room is huge, with foosball, ping pong, arcade games, console games (Playstation, Wii, etc.), loungers, etc.
  • And then there’s the food. An incredible selection of salads, antipasti, roast meets, fish, home-cooking, desserts and drinks. All free, of course.
Google New York (Image: niallkennedy, CC-BY-NC)

Google New York (Image: niallkennedy, CC-BY-NC)

When Bruce began working for Google there were 5,000 employees. That number is now around 20,000. It remains one of the most difficult companies to get hired at in the world. As I walked around the building — seeing the giant that is Google at work — I was reminded of a Nokia ad campaign with the tagline “intelligence everywhere.” These are bright people doing very cool, world-changing stuff.

What is impressive is how accommodating the company is: basically you can do what you like with your desk space, wear what you like or make extensive use of the games room. I even noticed a group of Jewish employees praying in one of the meeting rooms. As long as you do your work, and do it well, it’s all good.

Annotating the web

My esteemed colleague. Steve Song, has written a blog post about an Annotate-ipedia, a shared mechanism to annotate content on the web. It is only an idea at this stage, but a damn good one. We first discussed this concept last year when considering submitting a paper to Innovate journal’s forthcoming special edition on the Future of the Textbook.

Over the holidays I read Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. My copy has an introduction and notes by Richard Maxwell. While the book is brilliant, the notes really made reading it a richer, more enjoyable experience. They set the context, explained links to real people (the novel is historically factual), framed the theme within Dickens’ own personal struggles, etc.

But how much better if I could read notes from others? From school teachers, historians, Dickens’ fans and teens? How cool would it not be if I could ask a question about a particular historical point and have it answered right there, alongside the text? Then the book could become a resource for History students learning about the French Revolution as well as English language learners.

Bring on the Annotate-ipedia!

Note: The only thing that I’ve seen that is related to this is Trailfire, although it’s not exactly what is needed because it let’s users add notes to whole pages only, not to words or paragraphs within pages. (Still, it’s a nice way to create a web trail across different sites that you like, e.g. your 5 favourite blog postings about twitter.)

Life in a web 2.0 world :-)

Comic life in a web 2.0 world