2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,400 times in 2010. That’s about 13 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 62 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 548 posts. There were 48 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 10mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was March 31st with 57 views. The most popular post that day was Kluging: An LMS Alternative.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were teacher.pageflakes.com, c4lpt.co.uk, twitter.com, ianmason.net, and browse.workliteracy.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for visual literacy, fotobook editor, udutu, google cheat sheet 2010, and google search cheat sheet.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Kluging: An LMS Alternative October 2008


Visual Literacy and Visual Thinking July 2008


Joan Vinall-Cox’s E-Portfolio September 2008


Photobook Adventures (and advice) December 2008


udutu – Free, Easy, and Perhaps Unnecessary August 2008

The Web is About Connections

Holiday Monday and I’m playing on the web. I’m scanning through my MakeUseOf.com subscription and decide to look at this – http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/technology-explained-how-the-internet-works/

I read this:

Look at a map of the Internet sometime and you’ll see that it is like a million superhighways with no lines painted on the road. It’s a snake pit of computers attaching to modems attaching to phone lines, or cable, or satellites, or cell networks, attaching to more computers, servers, routers and modems and so on, and so on. There is no beginning. There is no end.

It’s the big picture, and it has a picture

In the image above, you are looking at one very small part of the Internet. See that star-burst like image it is extracted from? Go take a look at the full image.
I take the invitation and find this image

It’s stunningly beautiful, in my opinion, and my mind makes another connection; it’s the macro to a micro image metaphor:

Dandelion fluff, courtesy of Yahoo’s image search,

(I used Yahoo’s controlled image search to find a copyright clean image -filtering for Creative Commons images.)
A quick puff and the dandelion seeds spread out into the world, finding places to link to.

The web is made up of connections, and that’s how our minds work to: the visualization of the web looks like a dandelion, and knowing the global nature of the dandelion, I can grok the global outreaching of web connections.

The web is made up of almost infinite connections, and when I land on one, my mind makes the connections that seed my use of the web’s connections. I link on/with the web.


The Web is a Creativity Generator generating a Culture of Creativity

Photo by Tabea Dibou, from Flickr

We can see more people creating more works than ever before in history. And it’s because of the web and because the web is social. On the web, much is possible. Whether you are finding the right beautiful photo (with the right Creative Commons license) to illustrate metaphorically the connectivity and the beauty of the internet for a blog post, or whether you are playing with a web app (Skitch –  http://skitch.com/) to draw

or to explain something

The web is a space where people want to make, to create. I’m creating this blog post, because it’s FUN! And easy. The phrase “user-friendly” developed with the personal computer. Web apps are aimed at being user-friendly to entice and encourage people to use them, to be creative.The social aspect of the web, the possibility of being seen/heard/recognized, even if only by a very few others, encourages people’s creativity. I might not have composed this blog post if the one I created yesterday hadn’t been re-tweeted, and got  a comment. That thrill of recognition is energizing. So people are playing on computers and posting their creativity on the web. As we get responses ourselves, and even if we just see others get responses, we are encouraged to join in the play. And playfulness spreads.

So serious people who sell cars and race cars become part of the crowd playing:

Two typographers ( Pierre & Damien / plmd.me ) and a pro race pilot (Stef van Campenhoudt) collaborated to design a font with a car.
The car movements were tracked using a custom software, designed by interactive artist Zachary Lieberman. ( openframeworks.cc )
Which I downloaded – nl.toyota.be/iqfont and played with.

Art, play, creativity – that’s how we humans learn and that’s what makes us happy and healthy. And the web is our creativity playground.

Why I Use More than One Social Bookmarking Service

Not that I’m paranoid (or maybe I am but I like to call it cautious skepticism) but I am always aware than any of the free web services that I use, or even ones I’ve paid for, could go belly up and my stuff on it (them) could vanish into a black hole. So when I read about speculation that my wonderful collection of bookmarks on del.icio.us could disappear, I feel my paranoia is justified.

Internet search marketers could lose some invaluable free tools from Yahoo such as their Site Explorer. Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb was concerned what the deal meant for Build Your Own Search Service (BOSS), Yahoo’s search developer platform Search Monkey and social bookmarking service Delicious, which he described as “one of the last era’s most heartbreaking symbols of untapped potential in social media”.

Bing is exciting as an effective challenger to Google, but if that competition comes at the cost of cannibalising Yahoo’s innovative search work – then we won’t be so excited about Bing any more.

I also celebrate that I have a strategy to deal with this. What are the odds that two similar web services will disappear at the same time? Not good, I hope.

My web stuff paranoia has led me to set up another social bookmarking service called Diigo. So I have two active accounts on different social bookmarking services.

So does that mean I have to save everything I like twice? Well, sort of, but that’s because I’ve recently taken to using Evernote, a broader and more visual saving application. But back to strictly social bookmarking. I only save once.

How? you ask. In Diigo, under my account name, I go into “Tools” where I can “Import Bookmarks”, but more importantly, I can “Save Elsewhere”. I have added my del.icio.us account here, and every time I save to Diigo, I also save, without any extra work, to del.icio.us.

So I’m prepared! If Yahoo and Microsoft let del.icio.us die, I still have all my bookmarks in Diigo. (Same thing if something happened to Diigo.) And I have Evernote too!

The Web is a Bottomless Toy Chest

I like to play on the web, and my biggest problem is my “I-can’t-catch-up” anxiety. There is always more to explore. And for free, either for the basic version or for a month. I can never try everything out. I can’t catch up. Ever.

I make things even more intense by following people who suggest really interesting web toys. Like Jane Hart, with her Jane’s E-Learning tip of the Day

If you teach or train, or just like to play on the web, you should check out her blog, and subscribe to it.Another of my current people to follow ’cause they give really neat toys – whoops, I mean URLs – away, is Steve Rubel – http://www.steverubel.com/ – Twice he mentioned Posterous. The first time, I tried it but left it orphaned. The second time, months, maybe years, later, I found my original account and started playing, even sort-of lifestreaming, copying him. Great fun.

His constant exploration and evolution is inspiring. Check him out, and subscribe to him in Posterous, and maybe to me too;-> As they say on tv, “Time well wasted!”

WordCamp Toronto 2009

Live Tweeting vs Live Blogging

WordCamp Toronto 2009 May 8, 2009
WordCamp Toronto 2009 May 8, 2009

At the Toronto WordCamp 2008, I live-blogged, and that was fun:

  1. https://joanvinallcox.wordpress.com/2008/10/04/live-blogging-at-wordcamp-toronto-08/
  2. https://joanvinallcox.wordpress.com/2008/10/05/live-blogging-wordcam-day2/

At WordCamp Toronto, 2009, I Tweeted using the hashtag #wct09, and that was fun, and more social for a couple of reasons.

  1. I was less focussed on getting every piece of wisdom and could relate more f2f with the people around me; and
  2. I could have conversations via Twitter with others at wct09 (if they were using the hashtag) pick up pieces of wisdom from their tweets, and talk f2f with them after meeting on Twitter.

So, for me, with the current social applications, Live Tweeting was a richer experience than Live Blogging, but both were fun.


I learned from the mix of new information in presentations and conversations around and between the sessions, and my most frequest conversationalists were –

I enjoyed great conversations on shared interests with them – who could ask for anything more?


  • James Walker – Your Blog is Your Social Network

There was much more of value there, and others will be blogging about WordCamp Toronto 2009, but this is my contribution for now.

at wct09 - picture from Flickr - Uploaded on May 10, 2009 by LexnGer
at wct09 - picture from Flickr - Uploaded on May 10, 2009 by LexnGer

Thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/lexnger/

Oh yeah, and I won:

My Winning EduBlog WordCamp Toronto 2009
My Winning EduBlog WordCamp Toronto 2009

Always Beta, Never Done

The most fascinating thing about the web is that there is no end; there is always more and new.

The most frustrating thing about the web is that there is no end; there is always more and new.

Everything is always changeable. My website – jnthweb.ca – is not the same now as it was a half-hour ago. I just added my most recent brilliant idea,

Currently, I look at Twitter using the third or fourth application I’ve tried. It’s Nambu now; it was TweetDeck, and who knows what I’ll try next. And Twitter is the poster child for constant change, as Tweet after Tweet flips by.

My friend showed me her new laptop today, and I drooled enviously, although mine does everything I want and need and is only a little more than a year old.

I’m behind in my Bloglines again, no, make that still. I never did fully catch up.

Trying to catch up! - via Creative Commons/Flickr
Trying to catch up! - via Creative Commons/Flickr

So I love the web, and I learn so much from what often feels like frittering my time away, but there is no end to  what you can learn to do and learn and do on it. Clay Shirky, in Here Comes Everybody, says in the first 100 years after the invention of the printing press, it broke more than it fixed. I know that the printing press brought endless developments with it from dictionaries to science, from the Enlightenment to romance novels, and more. And here we are in the same early stage with the web, where everything is alway beta, never done!

Newspapers and Web Design

We are living in confusing times because we are living through the biggest change in human communications since the printing press, maybe the biggest change ever. You can see this in the small changes that happen as we leave an old technology for a new. It is clear that newspapers and magazines, even tv, are challenged by the web. (Some tv shows are becoming almost loss leaders for the web. At the end of every news show, watchers are invited to see more information, visuals, and details on the show’s website.)

Today, in Stephen Downes newsletter, OLDaily, he references the newly designed website of the NY Times.

New York Times new web design
New York Times new web design

The table of contents on the left is clear and easy to read, and each of the story teasers links directly to the story.

Most other papers have sites that aren’t nearly as easy for users to sort through and read. They are still using layout similar to the paper layout. The New York Times have produced a game-changing news site design; it is no longer a website emulating the newsPAPER. It is a news website that will appeal to readers who aren’t going to the newspaper website as an adjunct to the paper. It is a news site design that those who haven’t grown up reading newspapers will gravitate toward. I think it is one of the small changes that lets go of the legacy format, and truly adapts to the new medium. I wonder what McLuhan would say!

Now the next question is how they will monitize it.

Check out this link too – http://www.megantaylor.org/wordpress/2009/02/18/first-look-at-a-new-news-interface/

About Gaming – & Learning

If it’s this big …

From a slideshow by Jerome Sudan
From a slideshow by Jerome Sudan

the education community should be taking notice!

I confess I know almost nothing about gaming, but I suspect it will be (should be) deeply important to education. As a student, I used historical fiction to help me learn history, and it worked. The learning promise for gaming appears to be much richer and deeper.

This slideshow by Jerome Sudan (found via Stephen Downes) outlines the power of gaming quite succinctly.

The only “game” that I play regularly is the beyond simple iPhone widget Blanks – and I’m amazed at how seductive the experience is, (although occasionally I find their match-ups of definitions and words too obvious and/or grammatically different – but even that is fun). In Blanks, you are given a definition and four possible words. You are supposed to drag the matching word to a a ripped hole in the “lined paper” background. I suspect much rote learning of definitions – of language, parts of systems, geography, etc. would be much more efficiently taught (and learned) by having students play simple games where they  drag one part to its match-up connection, thus adding a kinesthetic componant to immediate feedback and repetition. Movement on the screen and the privacy of “correction” are also part of the power of such simple games.

Do you know of any online effective educational games? (Preferably free ;-> )