Category Archives: Tools

Gameplay as an introduction to data mining and taxonomy

Google Feud is an interesting online game using Google autocomplete. It is a good way to open a discussion into data mining and taxonomy.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 08.17.31

The game, by developer Justin Hook , is fun and surprisingly addictive. It harnesses the mystery of Google’s autocomplete search function, asking players to choose the next word in a broad query such as ‘Google…’ or ‘I love my…’, the game gives users three chances to complete the leader board, giving a big X with every wrong answer.

What’s interesting about this game is the ease with which it could be used for data mining. If the guesses are recorded and sorted by frequency, it could supply huge amounts of useful data; all from real people, giving their best guesses.

Sorting this data using techniques like those used in taxonomy and cladistics could reveal results to improve future search or autocomplete suggestions. I guess it’s a fairly safe bet Google do this type of thing, and much more, with their search data already.

Now imagine an online retailer selling thousands of products. If data is mined from the searches customers type, rather than from the point of sale, useful information could be gained to reveal the ‘real world’ language customers use to describe what they want. For example imagine two different customers entering a search, one uses ‘laptop bag’, the other ‘laptop case’, would you expect them to get the same products displayed? Or customers searching for ‘lightbulbs’ when the retailer has what they want all categorised as ‘lamps’. Change the categorisation to match the search term frequency and it’s fair to say sales will likely increase. And searches that give a zero return would reveal what a customer wants to buy that the retailer doesn’t stock.

A final thought. Here’s a different, and equally fun online game. Anton Wallén has created GeoGuessr, an experimental game that drops players into a location in Google Street View and challenges them to guess where in the world they’re located.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 07.36.43

Could useful data be mined out of it?




Interesting use of long scroll for storytelling

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 08.05.48A beautiful BBC News feature tells the story of Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov who became the first human to perform a spacewalk as part of the Voskhod 2 mission.

The story is told using long scroll to tell the story featuring photos, interviews, and video.

A few simple things, teamwork, and lots of practice

A short film of two craftsmen at work. Tom Williams happened to see them at work very early one morning and grabbed the camera.

Thanks for sharing Tom.

Neat new (and free) ebook from the eLearning Network


For the past four years, the eLearning Network has asked members to submit their tips in the run up to Christmas. These appear on the ELN Insights blog. Now Mark and Sarah Berthelemey have reviewed the last four year’s worth of material, and pulled together the most useful of them into a freely-downloadable ebook: Elearning tips from the pros

Thank you Mark and Sarah and all the experts who have kindly given their time, and knowledge for our benefit.

Disclosure: I am a member of the eLearning Network, having joined to advance my knowledge and expertise as a content creator. I can highly recommend their mentor programme and networking events.

At a recent e-Learning Network event we had an interesting challenge set by Alan Nelson from Nelson Croom on educating colour blindness and genetics.

This led me to further thinking on what might be having an affect that I hadn’t considered. It turns out there’s a surprising number of adults with undiagnosed sensory ‘distortions’ that can interfere with their ability to learn, and I’ve become much more sensitive to developing learning content that is accessible to people with these differences – things like dyslexia and colour blindness.

Researching the topic led me to a couple of resources to share.

This video does a great job of explaining what’s going on with Dyslexia:

And here’s a typical business red, amber, green report as seen through the eyes of someone with the most common form of colour blindness, Deuteranomaly.

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 19.21.34

And the same report when viewed with normal colour vision.

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 19.20.57

I made these images using a simple extension for the Chrome web browser, which does a good job of simulating how things look. Click the image below for the extension.

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 18.58.33

To conclude; a few simple rules covering things like layout, fonts and colour, can help make learning content easier to access. I guess the fairly obvious way to sign out this post; the benefit of making content easy to access for those with sensory differences is that you end up making it easier for everyone.

Thank you to the ELN for a great event and Alan for posing the challenge.

Articulate Social Media Policy eLearning from Hitachi Data Systems

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 08.07.01

Nice example of social media policy eLearning from Hitachi Data Systems.

Useful advice on localization

E-learning Localization Challenges
Started a project that will require translation into 11 languages and found this as part of preparation and research. Thank you to ingenuiti for sharing.