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2017 Holiday Newsletter

This is the first installment of what became a yearly email I sent to my colleagues at Enthought.

Hi everyone,
I’ve been collecting these things for a while with the intent of sharing with some of you, but I decided why not share them with more people. I thought now’s a good time because you will maybe have some time during the holidays. It’s a grab bag of interesting things. Some of them are tangentially related to what we do here, some others not at all. I hope you find one or two good ones.

Happy Holidays,


Some great podcasts episodes:
- This episode of The Knowledge Project with Naval Ravikant, CEO and co-founder of AngelList.
- This two-part series from Reply All. A a telephone scammer makes a terrible mistake. He calls Alex Goldman. Seriously, listen to part 1. And then there will be part 2.
- The Dollop talks about Uber. You probably know how terrible they are, but they’re terribler than that.
- And an “old” one, one of my favorite 99% Invisible episodes. It’s about high heels.

Blogs and particular posts

Loren Shure is probably the most well known public face of The MathWorks. She’s been blogging forever about “cool things one can do with MATLAB”, or nice features of MATLAB. It runs every two weeks. I think it’s a great example of content marketing.

A nice application of the Heath brothers’ “SUCCESS” approach from “Made to Stick” (Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotion, Story) and how it applies to teaching: How to break the first rule of systems thinking | thinkpurpose.

Some articles about leadership, from the great Michael Lopp, aka Rands, who was a manager at Apple, Palantir, Pinterest, and now Slack. Also the author of “Managing Humans” and the “The Nerd Handbook”. Here are some recent good posts. His Don’t Skip This is also a good place to start.

Laurel Norris wrote a great post on “Working-Learning Research” called Robust Responses to Open-Ended Questions. It’s a bit of a sales pitch for, but it’s convincing. It’s about picking good questions for post-presentation and post-class surveys.

This article by Marc Cranney from Andreesen-Horowitz provides an interesting framework for doing enterprise sales. I particularly liked how the language changes when one targets executives vs VP/directors vs group leads/regular employees.

Joey H is the developer of git-annex, was a core contributor to Debian, writes a really interesting blog, and lives off-grid in the North East (he used to live in a yurt). He wrote this really nice post about finding old bitcoins, and receiving positive user feedback. Here’s what he added at the end of his bug report template: “Have you had any luck using git-annex before? (Sometimes we get tired of reading bug reports all day and a lil’ positive end note does wonders)”. He shares some of the replies.


New Directions in Open Education is the transcript of a Keynote Mike Caulfield gave at Metropolitan State’s TLTS conference in Denver, CO. Here are my notes from the talk:

  1. The student’s sense of belonging is extremely important. Belonging increases engagement and enhances learning. Belonging is affected by how the class is taught, but also by the class content. The material should be targeted to the audience. A drawing class to kids who like manga should be about manga, not renaissance painters. The students should be able to relate to the materials.
  2. Students should be able to share the result of their work. It gives them an audience, and then their output can itself be used as teaching materials. He mentions a class where students had to do an assignment (do something that makes you uncomfortable and then write about your experience and why you were uncomfortable) and post the results in a bank of assignment outcomes. The next batch of students could see those assignments and either “replicate them” (do the same thing that makes them uncomfortable) or simply get inspired. If they choose to replicate an assignment, then we get two “solutions” to the same assignment. If they choose to do something else, the assignment bank just got bigger. That’s genius!

Again, this is what I think about, when I think of this human core of open:

  1. We are encouraged to modify materials to create a sense of local belonging
  2. We use the power of the open internet to create work that is relevant and impactful, with a real audience
  3. We see the diversity of our students not as challenge to be solved, but as potential to be tapped