“Post-It note shuffler” was one of my favourite Dutch workplace phrases

When I first began living in the Netherlands I quickly realised there were a few phrases the Dutch use almost constantly.

These include “Lekker!” (tasty), “Echt?” (really?), and “Leuk” (nice). Using a combination of just these three words can get you surprisingly far.

But I’ve also picked up a few in the workplace, and have slowly made a list of my favourites.

With a few exceptions, I’ve learned nearly all of these from my colleague Regine Reincke. As she’s leaving this week, I thought now was a good time to celebrate her language assistance by rounding them up in a…


There are many reasons to think Britain’s current situation is nuts.

But here are three particular charts I keep thinking about because they make what’s unfolding seem even stupider.

1. The vast majority don’t want a “No deal” Brexit

The latest YouGov polling is clear that most adults in the UK think “No Deal” is a bad idea.

Indeed the most popular view is that it would be “Very bad”.

Source: YouGov

The same poll also indicates that if the Prime Minister comes back with a last minute deal that maintains single market access, more of the public would grudgingly regard that as an acceptable compromise. …


Good Omens is finally coming to television. Hallelujah! But we came close to seeing it in cinemas nearly two decades ago.

The main reason I have been thinking about the unmade film version is because I interviewed two of the key people involved at the time: its then-director Terry Gilliam, and the book’s co-author Neil Gaiman.

Images of Gilliam and Gaiman from Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA)

Ever since those chats, I’d looked forward to one day watching Gilliam’s Good Omens. For me it was one of the great, tantalising unmade films, up there with Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon and Jodorowsky’s Dune.

But revisiting my notes from those interviews in the autumn…


There’s a theory that addiction is about trying, and failing, to recapture a first high. Whether that’s your first teenage romance, your first hit of heroin, or the first computer game you could not stop playing, well, that’s up to you.

My first addictive taste of grown-up comics was the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. I’d read some Marvel and plentiful 2000AD as a kid, but it was Gaiman’s series about Dream and his family (including personifications of Death, Destiny, and Desire) that blew me away as a teenager. I adored its wit, but was most amazed at how it…


I wondered if I would feel like an interloper at the first conference I’ve ever attended on Open Educational Resources (OERs).

It wasn’t a dress code issue (though in hindsight I should have worn trainers) but that most of the attendees at #OER18 were from universities, while only a few of us there worked for education businesses.

But I was determined to go. As the director of the platform that still appears to be the world’s most popular place for the free sharing of lesson plans and educational materials by school teachers it would have been weird not to be…


I used to complain about things I called “vanity A/B tests”.

Those were tests I felt were the equivalent of vanity metrics. They were experiments that had wholly obvious, entirely predictable outcomes — so just seemed a way for a product manager to feel good about themselves and show off to stakeholders, rather than genuine exercises in discovery. They could even delay getting improvements out to users.

Typically they would involve testing an existing Page That Was Obviously Broken against a new Page That Fixed That Thing.

In the “Which of these looks most like an angel?” test there might be a clear winner.

So you could take a page where, for example, a call to action…


Might remote user-testing actually be better?

It’s generally not a good sign if someone bursts into tears during a user test.

In fairness, it wasn’t the tester who was crying but their child, a three-year-old who had been playing in the background.

I was on a video chat with the boy’s mother, a teacher, who was in her kitchen at home while her toddler amused himself in front of the TV. When her boy began crying she expertly swept him up, calmed him down in seconds, and insisted on carrying on the user test. …


I frequently feel jealous of my colleagues who work remotely.

While I travel in on a crammed tube train to the same office in grey London, they join via video chat from locations all over the world. One moved to a Greek island with his family for several months, rock-climbing each morning before joining the daily stand-up from a taverna. Another is a true digital nomad, always popping up in a new city, one week in Berlin, the next in New York, Belgrade, Budapest, or Tokyo.

It looks dead glamorous to me. But I know they are not having a…


Suggesting we need another vote on Brexit is a quick way to piss people off.

For those pro-Brexit, it can seem a sinister, anti-democratic move to subvert the will of the people. “We voted to leave. What part of that do you not understand?”

Even Remain voters may greet the idea with a weary sigh. Instead of re-opening old wounds, they may argue, we should quietly accept the inevitable. Like it or not, the people have spoken.

I can sympathise with both those views. But I’m afraid we really do still need a vote on the final Brexit deal.

Let’s…


I’ve been yearning to have a proper play in virtual reality since I was a kid.

For a brief while back in the early 90s, the Trocadero in London had an over-priced arcade game where you could put on a heavy VR headset and control a robot walker.

I only tried it once. …

Michael Shaw

Education technologist (and recovering journalist). Follow on @mrmichaelshaw

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