The effort the writer does not put into writing, the reader has to put into reading.

Stephen Toulmin

Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks professor of neurology at the New York University School of Medicine, and the author of many books, including “Awakenings” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” today wrote a beautiful, wise and heart-warming letter sharing the news that he has been diagnosed with a form of cancer that gives him months to live.

He says, very simply that his luck has run out: he is one of only 2% whose ocular melanoma metastases. There is something self-deprecating, humble and brutally honest about attributing one’s own death as being due to bad luck. We are no more or less important than the chances that govern the nature of being and not-being. Sacks frames both the nature of life and its demise in positive terms. He’s grateful for what has been and what awaits:

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

My Own Life: Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer

In the old days, your doctor had to give you all your information. Nowadays, if you think you have something, you spend an hour on some combination of YouTube and Google, and you become pretty smart on the material, so when you go to your doctors, it’s you saying, ‘Look, I saw this one video, and it mentioned the role of this hormone – is that true? Or can you tell me more about it?

Salmon Khan


One of the nice things about signing up to web services or platforms, using them and neglecting them over a period of time are the reminders that you occasionally get. So, some time ago I wrote and published a Unit outline for a course I was teaching on identity using ISSUU. It’s a platform used for publishing lots of image heavy glossy magazines and I thought perhaps the style would appeal to students and encourage more of them to read the outline.

I’m now reminded of this by an email informing  me that the outline was included in a stack (ISSUU language for a collection of publications) titled Adult Social Work. It made me revisit the work I did with colleagues in the Department – which I still think is good – and reminded me that the platform is pretty and very effective for online publications.

(That course also has an archived [closed] Moodle Area, which grew out of a Wiki which also grew out of a dedicated Netvibes portal: a very organic series of experiments in course design)

Carne Ross: The leaderless revolution

Carne Ross, author of The Leaderless Revolution: How ordinary people will take power and change politics in the 21st century explains to Bill Moyers the nine principles he thinks constitute a theory of change – not an intellectual theory but a practical theory about how to make the world better.

It’s also an interesting introduction about the ways in which new forms of power are being manifest in moments of change.

When it comes to thinking about learning, nearly all of us have a School side of the brain, which thinks that school is the only natural way to learn, and a personal side that knows perfectly well that it’s not.

Seymore Papert The Children’s Machine



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