A little game for World Philosophy Day (now with answers)

It's World Philosophy Day, so last night I smashed together bits from 15 paintings of philosophers.  Some are easy to identify; others less so.  Obviously, your job is to work out who they are.

Ok, it's been up all day.  So answers are as follows:

OA Australia graphic

This week is Open Access Week.  Here's a quick graphic I whipped together with Ashley Steele and Melissa Tate at QUT.  The original Koala outline was created under CC by Dmitry Sychkov.

Here's the image to download.

Incidentally - for fun - we brainstormed a bunch of silly ideas (some below).  The Kiwi one is not ours. We just pasted it there for inspiration.  It was made by someone excellent for the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group.

And here's a GIF, because I just learnt how to make GIFS in After Effects, so.... why not.

Elisabeth of the Palatinate (biographic)

Here's a new draft biographic - of Elisabeth of the Palatinate (1618 - 1680).  If you're not familiar, she's worth looking up.  Amazing human.  Among other great things, she was the one who wrote to Descartes asking:

"Tell me please how the soul of a human being (it being only a thinking substance) can determine the bodily spirits and so bring about voluntary actions..."

That's a damn good question, and Descartes didn't have an adequate answer.  Indeed, it's the chief criticism of substance dualism to this day.

Subway diagram about academic publication

Here’s a training resource I designed at work for a workshop about academic publishing.  The content for the course was provided by a whole group of people, of which I was only a part.  Most notably, expert guidance was provided by Professor Ginny Barbour

This subway diagram presents the issue in all its complexity, but the workshop broke down all the information into very simple parts – in a series of 3-minute talks and videos.  It was great. The sessions sold-out, and we are going to run more next semester.

Of course, this work is owned by my employer, QUT – but it is available for use under a CC Attribution-Non-Commercial license.

Data Placemats

You’re running a 2-hour workshop for, say, 6-10 people.  Have you tried Data Placemats?  Here’s how to do it.


  • Put everything you’re going to discuss on a single A3 page.
  • In particular:  have some graphs, diagrams, and big questions that need answering.
  • The last item, in the bottom right, should be:  “So, where do we go from here?”  or “So, what can we do to help you?”
  • Make the sheet look nice – like an infographic
  • Mail it out a week early, as a PDF, and tell the participants to think about it.

On the day

  • Put coffee on the table.
  • Discuss the items in order.  Have a Chairperson who can keep discussion focused.
  • Forget having a PowerPoint. Don’t even turn the projector on. this is a round-table discussion.
  • Ask participants to scribble their ideas on the sheets as you go.
  • At the end, collect the sheets.


  • Collate the participants’ ideas and incorporate them into the same design.
  • Make it look nice.
  •  Email it back to them.

Why this is a great way to host a workshop

  • It doesn’t ask the participants to do much prep.
  • Because they don’t have to do much prep, they will do the prep.
  •  It keeps discussion focused.
  • By supplying data on the sheet, you can lead the discussion where you need it to go.
  • The participants feel ownership of the sheet, because they provide the answers.
  • If the sheet looks nice, the participants might actually keep it.
  • It’s fun.

First time designing an animated video like this

Here’s a video that I scripted, story-boarded, and animated.  My colleagues also contributed a whole bunch to the script and the storyboard. The still-illustrations were provided by a guy who trades under the name Pencilcase.  He is very talented and great to work with. 

The voices sound a bit dodgy, but not too bad since it was just my iPad mic.

I used a combination of:

  • VideoScribe
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Audition
  • Voice Record Pro

First time I’ve ever done anything like this.  It was quite fun.

Desire paths

I was told a story about an architect who designed a university building with no footpaths leading to it. The idea was to let students trail their own preferred paths through the grass, and then build the real paths over the well-worn dirt.

The story is probably apocryphal, but it's a cool idea.  Anyhow, today I learnt that this basic idea is called 'desire paths'.  And there's a subreddit dedicated to it, with lots of cool pictures, like this one. www.reddit.com/r/DesirePath/top/

The Roman rule...

"We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bellyful of words and do not know a thing. We cannot use our hands, or our legs, or our eyes, or our arms. We do not know an edible root in the woods. We cannot tell our course by the stars, nor the hour of the day by the sun. It is well if we can swim and skate. We are afraid of a horse, of a cow, of a dog, of a cat, of a spider. Far better was the Roman rule to teach a boy nothing that he could not learn standing."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

My first crack at designing fonts

Pretty lame, but I had a lot of fun.

I also made a font for kids who like codes. You type them a message, then switch it to this font. It rotates all the letters with others in the alphabet. A becomes J, B becomes K, etc.

Download it here, drag it into your Fonts folder, then use it in Word (or whatever) like any other font.
http://2ttf.com/7rwREJZpL6 .  I scrawled the whole set in 5 minutes this morning, so it’s ugly, but I doubt your kids will care. Try it! That would make me happy.

We (JAMTANK) designed a new card game: "BLANK"

Card game by JAMTank

Card game by JAMTank

Some collaborates and I have a little side project called JAMTANK.  We try to complete new creative projects from start to finish within a month (in any spare time we can find).

Anyway, in December we designed and printed a very simple card game.  It's a creative social game in the style of Cards Against Humanity, designed for 3-8 players.

Players design questions according to certain constraints, and then take turn answering. Creativity is required at both stages.  The game can play out according to the mood of the group.  It all depends how you choose to create the questions.

We have a web version on Alex's site.

Our dinner game: "Sommelier"

Briohny and I play a game called "Sommelier". The rules are straightforward:

1. Buy cheap wine.
2. Put it in a brown bag and don't read the label.
3. Put Posy to sleep
4. Drink, and guess how the wine is described by the label.

The game was supposed to be fun because we would pretend to be haughty, get it horribly wrong, and laugh at ourselves.

Truth, though: Briohny fricking *kills* at this game. I kid you not, this just happened...

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Container puzzles

While I worked at the port, I'd send around a puzzle every Friday. Something to talk about in the kitchen.

This one is about weighing shipping containers. I blatantly stole the idea for this puzzle from the mathematician Paul Salomon.

Anyhow, try them. They’re fun. Kids would be good at them too.  For each of the six questions, you have to rank the coloured containers from heaviest to lightest.  The results will be different for each puzzle.  For example, it's not the case that green is always the heaviest.

Assume that if the colour is the same then the weight is the same, and that the fulcrum of the scale is always in the middle.