I found some Visual Thinkery on the open Web

Sometimes, the Web feels too big. Like this planet, it instills in me a sense of impossibility: I’ll manage to know but a tiny bit of its wonders. And so I skate through it, sometimes getting tired of the browsing, always discovering something worth pursuing. And thus I have got a number of bookmarks (in diigo), a number of notes (Evernote), plus quite some annotations in my agenda and post-it notes. I keep collecting such information and sometimes I end up actually using it.

The Web is, however, magical in its being full of wonder and grace, and I can’t but pain when I see the declining use of links and of open Web pages. I wonder whether the Web will survive or whether we will in the end lose a fantastic opportunity. In edtech, for instance, I feel the Web is already losing, among apps and closed stores, learning management systems and other content-based materials. Like the idea of trapping some knowledge onto a CD, with all the outward links turned inward. This is what’s happening. A refusal to see the web for what it is.

When I found the work of Bryan Mathers though, I was so pleasantly surprised. Look at his site, his drawings, his thoughs, and all he does is celebrating openness and the open Web. All his images are licensed with Creative Commons (BY-ND), so they can be immediately reused in other web pages or other medium. Hope you enjoy especially this one on the Open Web:

Image from Byan Mathers

The Open Web by @bryanMMathers is licenced under CC-BY-ND.

And this from #OER17:

Bryan works also with his site Visual Thinkery by helping clients

articulate their thoughts, ideas, and messages, to create visual thinkery[…]

He is also the author of some great logos out there: among all I love those of Hack Education and Reclaim Hosting.

There is so much good stuff on the Web and I don’t have a chance at enjoying it all properly!

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Ma come fanno i marinai — How do sailors do

How do sailors do?

US Military Advisory Trip Opens in Tokyo

US Military Advisory Trip Opens in Tokyo flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license.

That is the title of a famous song in Italy, from the duo Lucio Dalla-Francesco De Gregori. I remember them playing the song on TV when I was some 16 years old. Mind you, Dalla & De Gregori (the former died a couple years ago) are two songwriters and singers of extraordinary im pact. But what’s the point of this remembrance? Well, the song is an ironic reflection on some common-lieu on sailors:

How do sailors manage kissing each other
and stay real men…

But why am I talking about sailors? Because Maha Bali wrote about a “strange” saying in Egypt that has to do with sailors (Lines Not Drawn – and Invitations of Sailors #digciz):

… “invitation of sailors”, which means you invite someone, or offer them something, but you don’t really mean it, or it’s something they can’t really accept.

After which Alan Levine wrote about related expressions meant to attribute Names for Other People:

“Indian giver” is an American pejorative expression, used to describe a person who gives a “gift” and later wants it back, or who expects something of equivalent worth in return for the item.

Or names given to black, gay or other people, more or less each coming out of some prejudice.

So I remembered that in Italian we have an expression which is very similar to the Egyptian one:

Promessa da marinaio,

meaning Sailor’s Promise, with a very close meaning: A sailor’s promise is a promise which you can’t count on. The rationale of such an expression is the same Maha gives:

Because imagine a sailor, already at sea and you can’t reach them physically, holding out their meal and offering that you share it. Yeah. They don’t REALLY mean it.

So be it. However, another such expression came to my mind, and this one racist, but I guess it’s still used (disclaimer: I do love, love Turkey!):

To smoke like a Turk,

which means “to smoke a lot” and likely originates from the custom of using a Narghile or hookah to smoke tobacco in the Middle East, a practice still very popular, I guess.

I don’t even dare open the book of expressions on Italians, do I?

OK, now here is the song, enjoy! [Lyrics here and, in English here.]

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Saturn, 75 minutes ago

The planet Saturn is at its closest to the Earth, at some 1,350 million kilometers. A spectacular image has been shot at Aguadilla, Puerto Rico [by Efraín Morales Rivera and provided by the Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe]: here.

This reminds me how beautiful and multi-facet is the Web. One day we see LOLcats and the next, Saturn. However, what came to mind immediately after noting its distance from us is: How long does it take for the light from Saturn to reach us?

Easy: Divide 1,350 million km by the speed of light (approximately 300,000 km per second) and the answer is there: 4,500 seconds, that is 75 minutes, or 1 hour and a quarter.

1 hour and 15 minutes it takes, traveling that huge distance. This means that the image we see is 75 minutes old when we watch it, at least. The actual planet might have vanished in that lapse, or exploded (very, very unlikely for the time being). But this is just a reminder that space gazing is time-travel. We always see the Universe as it was in our past, a few seconds, minutes (8 for the sun), or years away. We may feel this is a terrible limitation, being unable to see the Universe as it is now (on the Earth). But there’s also another side to the same coin. We are thus able to see the Universe as it was one million years ago, when the Earth was young, and learn accordingly. Anyway, this feels to me like a very humbling sense, and a connection magic beyond any scripture.

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The forgotten Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia #fail

[Flickr Photo by A. Vantaggiato, CC-Licensed BY-SA-NC]

The forgotten encyclopedia lies on the boardwalk, close to the street, a couple of meters off dirt, rain and abandon. Not even school libraries want it.

Of course, it is old, virtually obsolete [pun almost not intended] and impractical. Compare it to Wikipedia. Which by the way did not kill the enclycopedia (á la Britannica) –worst, it was Microsoft’s Encarta that did, the living room computer-living CD-ROM-stored encyclopedia that suddenly, for little money, everybody had. [See: Wikipedia Didn’t Kill Britannica. Windows Did. , Wired, 3.14.2012].

Not like Britannica or the best encyclopedias. Those were the patrimony of few. My father bought one (an Enciclopedia Treccani, some 40 volumes, each huge and weighty) which stayed like a queen in our big library shelves. Heavy, mighty, except it was rarely used, even when I was at school. He–like many– bought one in installments. At the time, no respectable family in Italy would stay without one. Now, almost forgotten except in libraries, it is fully available online.

The model of a world closed on itself, all encyclopedias managed to do was not turning their nose up and see the future coming. Nor could they foresee the open and collaborative nature of the future of the encyclopedia and imagine Wikipedia, the mythical Web encyclopedia, likely the greatest collective work of humankind. Full of errors, it showed us the even the best paper encyclopedias actually contained mistakes. Which, as Umberto Eco loved to repeat, one could easily correct.

So here they lay, in a simple space called Libros Libres on the street, an initiative aiming to put some books on the paths of people passing by. But encyclopedias, so big and bulky, don’t really belong on those shelves. And in fact they are left on the boardwalk, and there they remain.

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Blocked from one Twitter account

So, I found myself blocked from Dave Winer’s Twitter. This means I cannot see his tweets while I’m logged into Twitter as myself. As soon I logout, though, I can get to his timeline. Weird, I know. Dave is one of the very first bloggers, and I still like to read his blog Scripting News.

First, I do not know what I have done to deserve this. I wasn’t given any explanation, nor warning–at least that I know of. But there I am, in the accused box, without trial and accusation. Mind you, not that I believe I ever did anything against him.

Screenshot from my intent to access Winer's Twitter feed.

Screenshot from my intent to access Winer’s Twitter feed.

Well, it happened while I was reading a sour post of his–which I agree with– on why he does not link stuff to Facebook. The post is Why I can’t/won’t point to Facebook blog posts:

It’s supporting their downgrading and killing the web. Your post sucks because it doesn’t contain links, styling, and you can’t enclose a podcast if you want. The more people post there, the more the web dies.

So, I wanted to write a post like this and quote him fully with his Tweeter handle. Voilá, I discovered the thing.

I don’t know, I think it’s a bit rude. And I leave it at that, in the hope that… what, do I believe there is a way out? I tried to interview him once. Is this the outcome?

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