Tweet #200

On October 30th I posted my 100th tweet, now 2 months later on December 26th,  I reached the 200th tweet. When I reached tweet number 100 I posted a Wordle diagram with the subjects of my last 100 posts, now at number 200 I will do the same.

What have I done in the last months, and what have been my areas of interest? I believe that twitter is a good way to find that out. So I created the wordle again, with the 150 most used words.


It is clear from seeing the diagram that GIS, MOOC, dataviz, and infographics have been main subjects. The teacher of the MOOC Alberto Cairo, that I have retweeted a lot is also very prominent. A term that is missing is web design, also the pizza that was more prominent from my food blogs last time do not make it to the most used 150 words. On the other hand a term that is special for this time of year and got listed is “Santa” this due to the wonderful Norad Santa tracker and the Google Maps interface.

All in all, a good overview, and now on my way to tweet #300

Learning path

This week I have concluded the last two courses for this autumn semester. Although I have always promoted “lifelong learning” I had not really done courses the last years beside some hands-on training in my field. After finishing my studies I have started to teach, and the preparation of these courses always resulted in staying up to date. But this autumn I started taking classes again.


This autumn I discovered the Massive Open Online Course. In total I have finished four courses, three at coursera, and one at the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. In the start it was a bit strange. Would I still be able to study, do homework on a regular base, pass the quizzes? After two weeks this fear was fully over. Classes by a number of video messages of about 12 to 15 minutes each, is good (in total about 1 hour per course each week). Doing the weekly assignments, sometimes multiple choice on the course material, but also assignments with a lot of maths, drawing, building, and designing. I even managed to build a prototype of a juicer!

design assignment

In the end I have done 4 courses, and although the subjects were all different I see a very nice learning path. Let me tell you about what courses I did:

  • Model Thinking, coursera, Scott E. Page, University of Michigan
    “Why do models make us better thinkers? Models help us to better organize information – to make sense of that fire hose or hairball of data (choose your metaphor) available on the Internet. Models improve our abilities to make accurate forecasts. They help us make better decisions and adopt more effective strategies. They even can improve our ability to design institutions and procedures.”
  • An Introduction to Operations Management, coursera, Christian Terwiesch, University of Pennsylvania
    “In short, you will learn how to analyze business processes and how to improve them.”
  • Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society, coursera, Karl T. Ulrich, University of Pennsylvania
    “The course marries theory and practice, as both are valuable in improving design performance. Lectures and readings will lay out the fundamental concepts that underpin design as a human activity.”
  • Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization, Knight Center, Alberto Cairo, University of Miami’s School of Communication
    “How to work with graphics to communicate and analyze data.”

Although the courses all look very different I found a very nice learning path in it. There have been some moments where ideas from the one course came up while struggling with the other course. For example, when needing to make a presentation on business processes in the course on Operations Management I have chosen to create an infographics to present the data and the outcomes. The model thinking course on the other side helped a lot in data organization and further exploring a way of thinking.

In my professional work I can make use of all four courses, that was in first instance not the goal. Another thing is that I have used a number of new tools to make and order my course notes. Among these tooling is Evernote and Tableau Public, tools that I had not used before and has proven very valuable. For other tools that I have used already for a long time, like Freemind and Inkscape I have found new ways of applying them.

Plans for 2013

In 2013 I have subscribed to new courses: Computing for Data Analysis, Game Theory, and Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps. Besides I have started to work on my teaching materials to create my on-line course, an introduction to GIS and Geospatial data. For this course I have started on udemy a platform for on-line courses in a wide range of subjects.

So… On-line courses and lifelong learning, it will continue.

The Day After and the Biblia Pauperum, some light reading

One of the most interesting infographics to make would be to show how many new data visualizations have been created over the last few months. In the run-up to the American as well the Dutch elections these last months I saw how images on the complex data that comes with these elections have appeared more often, and more frequently. Is this a good sign? Yes I believe so!

In Medieval times we had the Biblia Pauperum, a blockbook, explaining the holy book like in a cartoon. There are some really beautiful early examples of these “designed bibles” in Italy, sometimes in the form of a drapery that would hang over the edge of the pulpit, showing in clear (and big) images what was told from that same pulpit. Later on, mainly in 15th and 16th centuries we find some beautiful woodcuts in the Low-Countries, probably closer to the newspapers that now publish the infographics. In the last months I had to think of this quite often when being confronted with the schematics on electoral votes, swing states, and statistical discussions on prognosis.

While going through my bookmarks of the last week (in order to label them and get them into the right folder) I have collected a number of political and non-political links that would apply to the label Biblia Pauperum, plus some other things I found worth reading.

Tweet #100

The last two and half months I have not only started blogging, but have also been sending out tweets. Today, with the announcement of my new blog post on focaccia I was at tweet number 99, a good moment to tweet something special for the next one.


What I did is I collected all the 99 tweets and cleaned up the data by removing name-tags (if it was me) and common words that come with twitter. After that cleaning I ran the text document through Wordle in order to create a word cloud diagram. I thought that if it was going to be right this Wordle cloud would say something about me and my interests (like the subtitle of my blog already says: bits and bobs on a wide interest). You can see the result below.

A wordle from the 99 tweets that I did August 15 - October 30

And yes, this Wordle definitely tells something about me and my interests. Maps, mapping, GIS, and Infographics stand out in the diagram. Reading, coffee, culture, and food (pizza) are certainly a second subcategory. Words like blog, post, via, hashtag, and rt clearly come from the social media. You see a number of people that I mentioned, or re-tweeted in my tweets too (for those that do not recognize it, they start with an @).

All in all, Wordle gives a great insight in texts, and by this diagram also in my interests.

And my 100th tweet? That tweet will be announcing this new blog post.

A quiet week

Due to the holidays in Holland it is a quiet week, and when I look around on my desk I see some remains of the busier weeks before. A pile of books that I would like to read, some professional magazines. A number of things that I tore out of magazines and newspapers, among which some recipes that I had planned to make, just mainly to try them. My head full of ideas on what to write, what to blog about.

And in the end…

Tomorrow will be Friday, and I got nothing done from that list in my head, and I do not mind. I had a wonderful week.

Some of the bookmarks I collected this week I will list here:

So there is a lot to do still…

Yes, I am new… Some light reading

Yes I am new! Not so new though on Internet, but fairly new on Social Media. I never made time for it, and yes, now I do.

In the last month and a half I have started on twitter and blogging. I had done some attempts before, but it really never came through. It is not that I do not see the main advantages of social media or the Internet. No, the contrary! I was raised by the Internet. As an educator having taught courses on many Internet related things like for example web design and informatics for newbies. I have been involved in this world since the 1990’s. But sharing my thoughts in about 500 words, or even shorter 140 characters…? Nah…

But then my website needed a refreshing turn – I wrote about this in an earlier blog – and I started reading about the new (and fun) things that one can do. And I got hooked I dare to confess now. So why this blog post? Well…


Over the last weeks I have gone through many short lists that people make on almost everything: the best tools, writing techniques for blogs, the “do’s and don’ts”. I have read, reviewed, collected and learned. And no, I will not give you my list, at least not yet. It is hard to learn about the netiquette when you do not get corrected. What are the best teachers online, what blogs are the must-reads’ when it comes to building up your audience? How do you establish your own brand online?

Last week I stumbled into a blog by Susanna Gebauer on inbound and outbound content marketing. And yes, I recognized myself in the way how she described herself. Oh yes, also I can do cold calling and I am quite able to do some good sales pitch. But if I have the choice I prefer to sell by providing content. This article was a feast of recognition.

There is so much to learn as a fresh starter in the Social Media universe. All new terminology: RT, DM, and FF. And I guess that all of my readers and audience know exactly what all these abbreviations mean. I found out what happened when you start your tweet with someones tweetname. And so on…

My quest continues

But I also have so many more questions. What are the best tools? Especially when you see that everyone is referring to the bigger and well established names. What is the best time to tweet about the new blog that you wrote, and is it accepted to tell that few followers that you start off with the fact that you blogged over and over? In web design I remember there was a weekly list of “light reading” by Max Design, and I always looked forward to the new list to appear. And yes, Max Design is still sending out this list by their website, and it still has great hints, tricks, and references on it!

So here my list of light reading for this weekend, based on things I read, found, and tweeted last week:

Enjoy, have a great weekend, and keep coming back for more!