BBC News – Diagrams that changed the world

One of the first to use the visual world to navigate numbers was Florence Nightingale.<br />
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Although better known for her contributions to nursing, her greatest achievements were mathematical. She was the first to use the idea of a pie chart to represent data.<br />
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Nightingale's diagrams were designed to highlight deaths in the Crimea<br />
Nightingale had discovered that the majority of deaths in the Crimea were due to poor sanitation rather than casualties in battle. She wanted to persuade government of the need for better hygiene in hospitals.<br />
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She realised though that just looking at the numbers was unlikely to impress ministers. But once those numbers were translated into a picture – her Diagram of the Causes of Mortality in the Army in the East – the message could not be ignored. A good diagram, Nightingale discovered, is certainly worth 1,000 numbers.

Source: here

How the Sleeper Effect Persuades You Months After the Message

What seems to be going on is this: people are convinced by the arguments until they see that the source of the message can't be trusted. But people don't tend to process the discounting cue very thoroughly. So, over time, people forget they discounted the information and the content of the persuasive message, which was processed thoroughly, does its devilish work.

Source: here

Persuasion & Competition

I like this from Christoph.

remember the study of Dr. Robert Cialdini, in which he left three different messages at doorknobs to see if they had an effect on the energy usage of recipients:

1) Save energy to save the world
2) Save energy to save money
3) Save energy because your neighbours are doing it already

Only the third note seemed to have a significant impact on the behaviour of the people. These three notes could be translated in a business context as follows:

1) Contribute and share information to make our organization better
2) Contribute and share information to gain some sort of financial reward
3) Contribute and share information because your peers are doing it already

The trick I suppose is to make those peers visible.

Pitching “Classroom 2.0” to people

Will Richardson has a good list of links that might come in useful if you’re trying to explain what social computing might offer to teachers. [Thanks to Ewan McIntosh for the link]

It’s no bad thing to try to explain it to teachers first, and let them use these tools as they will in classroom settings. A different way, which might be easier, is to reverse that. By doing so, the teachers and staff can learn from the ways the children use the technology.

Till recently I was working at a primary in Kew called The Unicorn. (It’s a great school! 🙂 ).

As a side project, I set up a blog for them called Code Unicorn. It was intended to be a blog written by them, with as little as possible involvement from me. This opt-out wasn’t laziness, but instead an effort to encourage them to write about things they were interested in (rather than stuff my thirty-something brain thought would be fun). I didn’t announce it publicly, just said it’s up to the interested parties to spread the word.

It took a little hand-holding – albeit a lot less than I’d expected – and by the end of last term there were some regular contributors, and a switched-on boy called Max had done a little ‘viral’ marketing campaign round the school. He printed out some stickers and stuck them on friends jumpers, asking them to pass them on to a friend.

Anyway, teachers and parents started paying attention, and started commenting.

A picture by Bea

By watching how the children were using it day to day, it was much easier for staff to translate research and factoids about social computing to ideas for integrating it into the classroom. Ali Lim, the art teacher, has begun to use Flickr as another way of displaying the children’s work. And the big result was one of Roberta Linehan’s comments.

“I think this is a great site! Can teachers have one too?”

Roberta happens to be the head teacher.

The Six Tendencies of Persuasive Blogs

There are apparently 6 basic tendencies of human behaviour that come into play when generating a positive response to a request. [Source: Scientific American/Special Edition: Mind]. What I thought was interesting was how these can be applied to group dynamics generally, and getting people to join in (and , erm, maybe even link to your blog).

Anyway, here are the six tendencies, and some tentative translations to the blog world

Write like you speak

I don’t know about you, but in English classes I was always told to write like I speak, or “find my voice”. And yet when I was taught how to write formal documents e.g. essays I was taught to write in a certain structure, e.g introduction, paragraph, paragraph, conclusion. Unless I’m feeling exceptionally lucid, that just isn’t how I speak.

Jerry Weissman throws some light on this disconnect in quite an interesting (but awfully titled) article here on the use of left and right brain when presenting. [Thanks Jen for this]

Some quotes:

“Building a presentation is a creative process. That means starting with the right brain.

Here’s the problem: Most presenters, when developing their stories, tend to apply a left-brain approach to what is really a right-brain process. They try to jump immediately to a logical, structured, linear end product, when their right brain is still caroming around in nonlinear mode.”

Continue reading Write like you speak