Monthly Archives: December 2015

More data visualisation inspiration

10 best data visualization projects of 2015
“Fine visualization work was alive and well in 2015, and I’m sure we’re in for good stuff next year too. Projects sprouted up across many topics and applications, but if I had to choose one theme for the year, it’d have to be teaching, whether it be through explaining, simulations, or depth. At times it felt like visualization creators dared readers to understand data and statistics beyond what they were used to. I liked it. These are my picks for the best of 2015.​”

School wellbeing ideas

Two simple mindful meditation exercises for teachers
“Teaching can be hard, and reports tell us those in the profession feel under increasing pressure. A BBC investigation earlier this year found that stress-levels have soared in recent years due to increased workloads. In my 20-years of practice as a psychologist, I’ve found that mind-body strategies such as mindfulness meditation are one of the best ways to combat stress and anxiety – especially for teachers.”​

So what is a library?

From Alexandria to Babel
“the actual concept of the library as an institution where the whole resource constitutes something infinitely greater than the sum of the parts. The parts are the individual records left by individual writers; the whole is something far more ambitious: an instrument designed to preserve intact the memory of humankind.”​

Not just storerooms for books then. A great piece about the history of these cultural memory banks, though I was a little concerned towards the end that I hadn’t come across any references to Borges. But then there was one, so all’s well.

Clever lists in Excel

Another Excel solution in search of a problem. I must be able to try this out on something…

Create dependent drop down lists in Excel
“Limit the choices in an Excel drop down list, by using named ranges and the INDIRECT function, to create dependent data validation lists. For example, select Fruit in column A, and only Fruit items appear in the drop down list in column B.”​

Re-mark remarks

More than 90,000 exam grades changed
“As data published today by Ofqual shows, each year over 8 million GCSE and A level grades are awarded to a high level of accuracy. Although the number of enquiries about results increased in 2015, the proportion of all grades changed was 1.1%,” said the JCQ’s director general Michael Turner.​

It may well be only 1%, but a considerable amount of time and expense goes into re-marks. Another consequence of league tables?

Designing placebos?

Design, white lies & ethics
“You’ve probably run into “Close Door” buttons that don’t really close the elevator, or sneaky progress bars that fill at an arbitrary rate—these false affordances and placebo buttons are everywhere, and might make life seem a bit easier. But is this ethical design? And can we build a framework for working with false affordances and designing with integrity?”​

And check out the interesting example in the comments about mobile phones and fake antennas.

Clever ways of being stupid

Read the CIA’s simple sabotage field manual: A timeless, Kafkaesque guide to subverting any organization with “purposeful stupidity” (1944)
“But in addition to human failings, there’s another possible reason for bureaucratic disorder; the conspiracy-minded among us may be forgiven for assuming that in many cases, institutional incompetence is the result of deliberate sabotage from both above and below. The ridiculous inner workings of most organizations certainly make a lot more sense when viewed in the light of one set of instructions for “purposeful stupidity,” namely the once top-secret Simple Sabotage Field Manual, written in 1944 by the CIA’s precursor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).”​