Thursday, June 23, 2016

Parable of the Polygons

Here is a link ( to a simple but powerful online tool/game demonstrating the unintended mechanisms behind discrimination and segregation.  It's kind of like the dark side of the complexity behind flocking behavior in which simple rules for individual behavior results in complex emergent outcomes - i.e. Institutional racism and social segregation as an unintended outcome of seemingly unrelated, disconnected and "harness" personal choices.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dominican Leadership Series Videos - Alex Pentland, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome, Senator Elizabeth Warren

If you missed any of these events, you can now watch them on: Marin TV, Education Channel 30.  Check the program listings at Community Media Center of Marin -

Alex Pentland
Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread - The Lessons From a New Science

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

If the Big Data revolution has a presiding genius, it is MIT's Alex "Sandy" Pentland. Over years of groundbreaking experiments, he has distilled remarkable discoveries significant enough to become the bedrock of a whole new scientific field: social physics. Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread-The Lessons From a New Science will change the way we think about how we learn and how our social groups work.  
My highlight from his talk ... Behavior change = 20% data 80% personal, face-to-face network behavior. Proof that its "who you know not what you know" that counts! Major implications for designing solutions to important issues like poverty, education gap, climate change etc.

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsome 

Wednesday, August 27, 2013
A rallying cry for revolutionizing democracy in the digital age, Citizenville reveals how ordinary Americans can reshape their government for the better. Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California, argues that today's government is stuck in the last century while-in both the private sector and our personal lives-absolutely everything else has changed. The explosion of social media, the evolution of Internet commerce, the ubiquity of smart phones that can access all the world's information; in the face of these extraordinary advances, our government appears increasingly irrelevant and out of touch.
Despite your political perspective on Newsom this is a must watch for anyone interested in Digital Citizen Engagement and Democracy 2.0.

Senator Elizabeth Warren
A Fighting Chance

Wednesday, September 3, 2013
In this passionate, funny, rabble-rousing book, A Fighting Chance, Warren shows why she has chosen to fight tooth and nail for the middle class-and why she has become a hero to all those who believe that America's government can and must do better for working families. Elizabeth Warren is the senior senator from Massachusetts. A former Harvard Law School professor, she is the author of eight books. 
Missed this one, wish I hadn't.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Visual Thinking, Innovation and Idea Card Decks

Here's a reprint of an article (on the Xplane blog)  I just read about a tangible tool to use visual thinking to solve problems and generate new ideas.  Yellow highlights = my emphasis (i.e. parts I think are super cool).

I often jot down my bits and bytes of ideas in my journal and then later cull through it to write articles or project proposals. The key, as noted below, is to have a "tagging system" so you can "see patterns" as they emerge. I do this (in my journal) with a consistent header for each item (date, person, headline, icon) and icons that I draw next to each piece of information (star person for a person reference, book icon for a resource reference, idea balloon for a quote etc.). Also the reason blogs work so well as a place to dynamically aggregate information - "its the tagging stupid" - blogs are just the front end of a dynamic database system for gathering, tagging, and rearranging information.

Always fun to come across an article with interesting background context connecting a personal practice to something larger.

Card Decks: Tactile Tools for Pattern-Finders, Integrative-Thinkers and Inspiration-Seekers

By Stephanie Gioia
What do the Table of Elements, the first IBM computer, and the novel Lolita have in common? Before they were icons of human achievement, they were card decks.
What gives card decks this unique power to create new meaning in the world? The basis of visual thinking is the analysis (i.e. disaggregation) of a complex idea into “nodes”, followed by the synthesis (i.e. reintegration) of those “nodes” through “links” into a new meaningful whole. At the most basic level, cards are “nodes” in search of “links”. Card decks as a problem-solving tool are powerful because we often know the parts of a problem or solution, but we don’t yet know how they fit together in an insightful way.
061914_2Dmitri Mendeleev was the first scientist to order the elements by atomic mass, resulting in what is now the periodic table. Mendeleev carried a deck of cards – each with an element and some of its known properties – using time on train rides to play “chemical solitaire” and look for patterns.
Visual Thinking Tip: When looking for a pattern or structure to bring meaning to complex information, break information into movable nodes and seek multiple possible configurations until the relationships within the system comes into focus.
061914_3Herman Hollerith developed a machine that could tabulate statistics by reading information encoded on physical cards through the placement of holes in a grid. Hollerith’s invention revolutionized the field of data statistics and marked the beginning of the computing age. His Tabulating Machine Company later became IBM.
Visual Thinking Tip: “Code” your individual cards in as many ways as possible, using symbols and colors to categorize information. Structure may later emerge from this metadata.
0619154_4Vladimir Nabokov, author of many novels including Lolita, composed his work using an index card-based method, assembling stories in fragments. In an interview with The Paris Review, Nabokov described his card method: “The pattern of the thing precedes the thing. I fill in the gaps of the crossword at any spot I happen to choose. These bits I write on index cards until the novel is done. My schedule is flexible, but I am rather particular about my instruments: lined Bristol cards and well sharpened, not too hard, pencils capped with erasers.”
Visual Thinking Tip: Save your thoughts in fragments – a memorable quote, a midnight brainstorm, a crucial statistic, a sketch – to maintain a pool of content that can be assembled or reassembled for multiple possible uses. Communicating your ideas to audiences that vary in their perspectives and needs is much easier when you can rapidly pull the most relevant content or storytelling approach for each audience.
Learn more about how to make and use card decks at

Monday, December 2, 2013

Liberating Structures: Farewell to the Traditional Small Group Breakout?

Here's an interesting group process that I wanted to "bookmark" on this blog.

At CompassPoint, we've been exploring and testing out methods to liberate our group work from processes that feed us into routine patterns and default ways of thinking. At our recent staff meeting, consultant Alan Silva introduced us to a few of the 33 frameworks provided on the eponymous website Liberating Structures, which offers exercises for teams to engage in group work to unleash creativity and fresh ideas. The impetus behind these frameworks is that "conventional structures are either too inhibiting (presentations, status reports and managed discussions) or too loose and disorganized (open discussions and brainstorms) to creatively engage people in shaping their own future." Do you agree? It's certainly worth a try, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

6 Useful iPad Apps for Creating Tutorials and Screen Casts

Yesterday Anna came home very excited at having been asked by her teacher to produce a Khan Academy like tutorial on multiplying decimals for her classmates using Educreations. She gave me a very enthusiastic tour of the app and proceeded to spend the next hour or so practicing with the tool to create a variety of "mock" tutorials comparing the iPhone to a Windows phone, how to do basic addition with illustrated flowers as the "prop" etc.

I was impressed and inspired to find out more about "screencast" tools and did a bit of web research to find out what else was available. The best, most concise article I found (in my extensive 20 minute research) was in a website called Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. I don't want to forget these resources (I'd like to start using screencasts in my work) so I decided to "bookmark" them here in a blog post. Here's the link  and below is the article
By definition, a screencast is a recording of your computer screen accompanied by audio narration.In the past, screencasting tools used to cost a fortune and only tech savvy people were able to use them but thanks to web 2.0 technologies, there are now dozens of easy to use and simple platforms to record your screencast. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning has already featured several of these tools in previous posts. Today, however, I am going to share with you some of the best iPad apps to create screencasts and tutorials. Check them out below and let us know what you think of them. Enjoy

Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design, screencasting, and interactive whiteboard tool that lets you annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere.

2- Teach

Knowmia Teach is a new free lesson planning and recording tool for teachers. It helps you create short video lessons on any subject and publish them on so your students and the public can find them. Knowmia Teach makes it easy to bring in visual aids from multiple sources, organize them in steps (like slides in a presentation) and use your own voice and fingers to bring your lesson to life.

3- Show Me

ShowMe allows you to record voice-over whiteboard tutorials and share them online. It’s an amazingly simple app that anyone can use, no matter how young or old!

Educreations turns your iPad into a recordable whiteboard. Creating a great video tutorial is as simple as touching, tapping and talking. Explain a math formula... Create an animated lesson... Add commentary to your photos... Diagram a sports play..

Doodlecast Pro is the easiest way to create presentations on your iPad. The app records your voice as you draw to create quick presentations. Doodlecast Pro saves videos to the camera roll making it easy to import them into popular video editors or presentation tools such as iMovie, Keynote, or iBooks Author. Perfect for teachers, students, business people and anyone needing an elegant way to share ideas.

Pixntell adds your voice to your pictures and creates a personalized video you can share on Dropbox, Facebook, YouTube, FocusTrain or email.