Out, Damn’d Filter Bubble! Out, I Say!


Made available under Creative Commons Licence

Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of research into the trade-off between digital personalisation and information privacy in preparation for my digital essay on the filter bubble. I’m really enjoying learning about the algorithms that service providers such as Google and Facebook use in order to provide the user with the most relevant information at that particular time in that particular context. EdgeRank anyone?

An interesting side effect of all of this is that I’ve become a more conservative Internet user and I’m starting to notice things that were probably always there but which didn’t seem to register previously. In particular, I’m really noticing advertisements on the Internet. These advertisements seem to be stalking me. No matter where I go online I see the same advertisements. This is something that would have barely registered a month ago.

In the past I would have used Google to search for information both at home and at work. Now I use DuckDuckGo as my search engine of choice. DuckDuckGo is my new best friend for the simple reason that I really don’t like the idea of my personal information being harvested, aggregated and then used to create a profile of me. This profile can then be used by vendors that I’ve purchased from in the past such as Amazon and Aussie Bum so that they can market to me via strategically-placed, personalised advertisements when I’m on Facebook or when I’m reading The Age. Moreover, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of some faceless service provider out there in the digital universe knowing more about my life than I do.

I’ve been a Google devotee for many years but not any more. I still use Google Drive to store my stuff in the cloud (I’m intending to start using BitTorrent Sync in the near future) but when it comes to searching for information I’ve been using DuckDuckGo almost exclusively for about two weeks now and I must admit its really not that different to using Google. Not only that but it’s a nice feeling knowing that such a small change may be the beginning of the end for the filter bubble that I’ve been living in for many years now.

3 Key Trends In Technology That Are Just Around The Corner

11123530043_1d28f2fa35_otechnology-1” by tec_estromberg is licensed under CC BY 2.0

There are so many groundbreaking technologies in the pipeline that its hard to know where to start. However, if I had to choose the three technologies that really excite me I would go for 3D Printing, Personal Cloud Services and The Web of Things.

3D printing technology has been around since the 1980s but it wasn’t until 2010 that 3D printers became widely available commercially.

3D printing or Additive Manufacturing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes.

In the next few years 3D printing is expected to turn manufacturing on its head with corporations spending large sums of money in an effort to develop affordable 3D printers for home desktop use. If this can be achieved then consumers will be able to print products as required. In other words, consumers won’t have to purchase a product then wait as that product is transported from the other side of the world. The consumer will simply purchase a product then take immediate delivery of that product by printing it using their 3D printer. This process will dramatically reduce costs to both the consumer as well as the manufacturer since products will be printed on demand, layer by layer, with no wasted materials plus there will be virtually no transport cost.

3D printing has many possible applications and is currently being used in a range of industries including industrial design, automotive design and aerospace. There are several 3D printing projects currently underway which are worth mentioning. In particular, a 3D food printer being developed by NASA, a 3D chocolate printer being developed by Hersheys in partnership with 3D Systems as well as the ethics of 3D printing of human tissue and organs.

As educators we’re all familiar with public cloud services such as Dropbox, Evernote and Google Drive where your data is stored on a server (or ‘in the cloud’) rather than on your computer’s hard drive. Recently however, there’s been a lot of talk about personal (or private) cloud services where users can connect machines without the help of a central server. In other words, a user can sync data between devices without storing data on any server. This development has been driven by the fact that users are becoming more concerned about privacy and the security of their data. There are a number of players in this field including Polkast, BitTorrent Sync and ownCloud.

I’ve been using public cloud services for many years now. Dropbox launched in 2007 and Evernote in 2008. I started using both of them pretty much right from the start and was a big user of both for several years. However, Google introduced us to Google Drive in 2012 and I’ve been using it ever since both at work and at home. I still use Dropbox and Evernote but not to the same extent. Personal cloud services haven’t been around for long but I did give Polkast a try about 18 months ago. I liked it but in the end I decided to not include it in my technological repertoire because it was a bit too complicated.

We’ve been hearing about the Internet of Things for a while now. This is the idea that in the future sensors will be embedded into physical objects such that these ‘smart’ objects will form an interconnected network of devices (or information network) that will communicate with each other via Internet protocols.

In ‘10 of the Biggest Trends in Technology For 2014’ (Banks 2014) the author predicts that one of those trends will be The Web of Things where…

Just about everything we interact with becomes a computable entity, allowing our smartphones to seamlessly connect with our homes, cars, and even objects on the street.

These smart objects including fridges, air conditioners and shoes will be able to do things we can’t even begin to imagine. As an example, one day in the future this technology may allow us to turn on our coffee maker in the kitchen by slapping our alarm clocks in the bedroom.



D’Aveni, R. A. (March 2013). 3-D Printing Will Change the World. In Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from http://hbr.org/2013/03/3-d-printing-will-change-the-world/ar/1

Banks, D.M. (January 10, 2014). 10 of the Biggest Trends in Technology For 2014. In The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/damon-m-banks/10-of-the-biggest-trends-_b_4725708.html

Chui, M., Löffler, M. & Roberts, R. The Internet of Things. (March 2010). In McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/the_internet_of_things

Proffitt, B. The Internet Of Things in 2014: Steady As It Goes. (27 December, 2013). In ReadWrite. Retrieved from http://readwrite.com/2013/12/27/2014-will-see-small-moves-towards-internet-of-things#feed=/tag/internet-of-things&awesm=~ozRPXJKZxZGbTT

Sharma, R. (15 January, 2014). The Future Of 3D Printing And Manufacturing. In Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/rakeshsharma/2014/01/15/1255/

3D printing. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing

7 Huge Tech Trends to Expect in 2014. (31 December, 2013). In Mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2013/12/31/tech-predictions-2014/

Cloud storage (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_storage

Internet of Things. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_Things

The Next Big Thing You Missed: A Would-Be Dropbox Meant to Thwart the NSA. (11 February, 2014). In Wired. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/business/2014/02/bittorrent-sync/

Top technology trends for 2014. (n.d.). In IEEE Computer Society. Retrieved from http://www.computer.org/portal/web/membership/Top-10-Tech-Trends-in-2014

Web of Things. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_of_Things

What Is a Personal Cloud? (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://www.seagate.com/do-more/what-is-personal-cloud-master-dm/

What’s With This Flipboard Thing?

What’s With This Flipboard Thing?
Some of you may remember me banging on about Flipboard during our recent Google hangout. Well, in September of last year I emailed the CEO of the organisation I work for to let her know about Flipboard and how it could be used in an educational setting. Anyhow, whilst she was certainly interested, for one reason or another nothing came of it.

A couple of weeks ago the CEO was in Melbourne and she came over and said hello to me. It was at this point that I reminded her of our email conversation last year. She told me to send her some information. Last Friday I did exactly that. I sent her a thoughtful email detailing why I think Flipboard is the best thing since sliced bread and why we should use it.

I thought I’d share this with you because I firmly believe that its up to us as educators to do all that we can to create an engaging, creative learning environment and Flipboard is just one of an arsenal of tools we can use to achieve that goal. Here’s a transcript of my email:

Hi X

Thanks for taking the time to come and say hello to me when you were in Melbourne last Friday. As you know, I’m now a member of the Think Futures team plus I’ve started doing a Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) at Charles Sturt University.

In terms of Think: Education Group continuing to innovate, perhaps our edge as an organisation could be to use Flipboard to actively and creatively promote who we are and what we do differently ie. our Purple Cow as Seth Godin would put it.

With Flipboard we could share content with just about anyone anywhere via an official Think Group Google docs account in which specific documents are being shared publicly (eg. PDF, Google Doc and image files) along with content that lives on the Internet (eg. YouTube videos, SlideShare/Prezi presentations, etc).

You can run Flipboard on most devices including an iPad, an iPad mini, an iPhone, an Apple Mac, a desktop computer, an Android phone and an Android tablet.

Here’s a quick rundown of Flipboard and how we could use it:

  • create a public magazine to showcase the Group as a whole
  • create a public magazine to showcase a campus or a course
  • create a public magazine to showcase our Careers and Alumni
  • create a public magazine to showcase the Student Representative Council (SRC)
  • create a public magazine to showcase graduation photos from a campus
  • lecturers and students could create and curate an endless number of magazines (both public and private) for specific subjects and modalities

Our website says that we are ‘The Leader in Innovative Education’. I say let’s prove it.

Click the Flipboard link below to take a look at some examples of educational institutions that currently have a presence on Flipboard.


Regards, Graham.

By the way, it was quite late in the day before I finally clicked the “Send” button but I was pleasantly surprised to get a response within hours. I’ll keep you posted…

I Can Remember

try this one 2

I can remember discovering social media in 2003 when I was introduced to Delicious (formerly del.icio.us) a social bookmarking service that had launched that year. I was entranced by del.icio.us because using it enabled me to save my bookmarks into an account rather than a browser. In the past, my bookmarks had been scattered across my various devices including my home computer, my work computer and my laptop.

With the advent of del.icio.us suddenly I could take my bookmarks with me wherever I went as long as I had an internet connection. del.icio.us made it possible for me to quickly and easily look for people and tags. Because of del.icio.us I became a social media addict almost overnight. I would spend hours looking through del.icio.us as well as adding stuff to my del.icio.us account. del.icio.us was the first in a long line of web services that I have experimented with over the years including Dropbox, iGoogle and Twitter.

I can remember discovering Mashable not long after it launched in 2005. I fell in love with Mashable because it provided me with social media news and lots of it. Not long after that I discovered Tony Karrer and his eLearning Technology blog followed by Jane Hart and her Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies (or C4LPT). I am particularly fond of Jane’s C4LPT website as each year she brings out her “Top 100 Tools for Learning” which is a great way for me to look at what’s up and coming in terms of learning technologies.

I can remember getting into QR codes in 2007 and putting in a grant application with the Telematics Trust in 2008 and the National VET E-learning Strategy (formerly the Australian Flexible Learning Framework) in 2009. I’m happy to report that both applications were successful and enabled me to do research into QR codes and their potential use in an educational setting. It was exciting because I was doing something that had never been done before.

Like many educators I have a fairly extensive Personal Learning Network (or PLN) plus I’m a kinesthetic learner with an enquiring mind. If I hear about a new web service or product that sounds interesting I normally do two things: I do a quick Google search to see if anyone’s reviewed this new service or product and I reach out to the people in my network to see if they can provide me with some insights about this new web service or product.

If I read a bunch of reviews and they’re all good then I’ll try the service myself. If I enjoy using the service and it meets a need then there’s a good chance I’ll start using it on a regular basis. Otherwise, I don’t bother. I also follow various thought leaders on Twitter and elsewhere since they are often discussing subjects that interest me.

As you can see from the tag cloud at the top of this post, my learning has been influenced by (e)books, people and technology. Brown and Duguid (2000) asserted that a person’s access to technology doesn’t necessarily mean that learning will occur. Learning is much more likely to occur when the technology is combined with some kind of social context.

For myself, I’m hoping that this subject in combination with the technology being used here plus the forums and blogs will see learning occur. In particular, I’m hoping that this subject will provide me with a better understanding of the theory behind concepts such as digital literacy and connected learning so that I can become a better digital citizen.


Brown, J. S. & Duguid, P. (2000) The Social Life of Information (1st ed.). Harvard Business Review Press.

OK, So Why Did I Decide to Do a Masters?

I decided to do a Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) at CSU for the simple reason that I enjoy learning (lifelong learning anyone?) and the course looked interesting. I remember I was searching for something on the internet in November of last year (I don’t even remember what it was) when I came across the Master of Education course overview page.

Anyhow, I had a bit of a read and decided there and then that it might be worth considering doing a Masters at CSU since some of the subjects on offer were of particular interest to me including INF536 Designing Spaces for Learning, INF443 Digital Preservation and INF541 Game Based Learning.

In fact, I had looked at the possibility of doing a Masters about 2 years ago but had decided to give it a miss due to the cost. However, after getting in contact with CSU I decided that I just might be able to afford to do a Masters afterall.

Anyhow, here we are and I’m about to embark on an exciting new (learning) adventure. Over the course of the next couple of years I hope to learn more about myself and what drives me. I also hope to get to know a bunch of new people and maybe make some new friends. But most of all I hope to make a positive contribution to an ongoing conversation about the future of learning.