Well hello there.

On my amberatwarwick blog I’ve just announced our team’s new website.

I am itching to get blogging again, but struggling to find time. Lots of worky things on my mind: lecture capture is turning out to be very interesting, I’d love to learn how to work with linked data but I probably don’t have the foundations, I’ve been pondering the nature of learning technologists, prompted by Sheila McNeill’s post, and thinking about what it means to manage a team of learning technologists. Also I need to start christmas shopping. And do some ironing. So I don’t think I’ll be blogging again quite yet or it will all come out in a big unstructured thoughtvomit.

In the meantime, I’ll share some of my favourite online things in case you might like them too:

I notice that google+ circles seems to be picking up again, in my networks at least. I’m tweeting less than I used to, but still love twitter. I’d like to get into reddit but I suspect I would become obsessive about it. I’ve been experimenting with a pinterest board while I daydream about redecorating the lounge.

If only decorating was as easy as in the Sims. Should I tell you my husband made a copy of our house in the sims? Oh yes he did.

20131013_224246

How terrifying is that!?

 

The Lib Dems have announced a new pledge from government to make school meals free for 4-7 year olds.

School meals

I am a fan of school dinners. We pay £10 a week for my 6 year old to have school dinners, and my younger child would benefit from such a policy. I do think a well fed child is better able to learn.

Indeed the evidence has been there for a long time. A search on the academic database worldcat on “school meals educational outcomes” returns 544 results. There is a strong body of evidence that there is a link between diet and performance. But from the news reporting it sounds like it was two entreprenurial restaurateurs (we checked and there’s no ‘n’ in that word!) who were commissioned to create a report that finally got listened to. Ok, so maybe that makes the report more media friendly. The soundbite I heard was one of them saying that a pilot school they had visited was “transformed”. I have worked in education research and policy long enough to know that the first trial of any big change can create a big response: just being in the spotlight and having researchers take an interest can change the tone of the school. For a while. That first phase is not an indication of a lasting change of the same magnitude. (See “hawthorne effect“). That is why research methodologies need to be rigorous to truly assess the overall impact of proposed polices. I suspect that the literature agrees with the soundbite conclusions, but surely too much weight has been given to anecdote?

So … make free school meals universal. If they are so good for learning and wellbeing then all children should benefit. I find myself wondering which schools will get subsidised? all schools? state schools and private schools and everything in between? The boundaries are so blurred now that I fear that private schools are subsidised by my tax. I would not be happy with that.

But leaving that aside, a purported benefit of universal free school meals is to remove the stigma. Now, I remember at secondary school, there was a discrete system. I queued up with my cash-carrying friends and there was a dinner lady with a tupperware box full of plastic coin-shaped tokens and a clipboard. She handed me my token, and I paid at the till along with everyone else. I remember being curious about who else had tokens, but never felt stigmatised because it was handled sensitively. I can’t remember how it worked at primary school. And I definitely can’t remember how it worked at infant school. So, wait … is there evidence that 4,5,6 and 7 year olds suffer any stigma? And … wait … my 6 year olds meals are paid for in advance via an online system. So there is no distinguishing between subsidised and non-subsidised children in that school. There is already a way to remove the stigma: using a system like that not even the teachers or lunchtime staff need to know.

And now we get on to what I think might be the key issue here.

If you read about schools, Ofsted reports, league tables etc you will find mention of “proportion of children in receipt of free school meals”. There’s a reason for that: free school meals does act as a proxy marker for low income households. As I understand it schools don’t know the economics of a pupil’s home, the only signifier they get of a low income home is if that child is on free school meals. This allows them to direct funds for things like subsidising school trips, and rightly so.

It also means that when comparing an inner city school in an area of low income with a school from a wealthy suburb, the “proportion of children is receipt of free school meals” percentage signifies the additional challenges the former school faces. The “free school meals” marker is the main indicator of the uneven playing field between schools. It is part of how schools signal to the regulators that SAT results are not their only priority, that they are doing their best in areas where parents are out of work.

If 4-7 year olds all get free school meals what does that marker get replaced with?  I would like to think that it would just be a simple marker of “children from low income households”. There should be no shame in being on a low income. It’s not a moral issue as far as I’m concerned, it’s just an economic fact. There shouldn’t be a stigma attached to being from a low income household. (I’m less sure that the current government agrees with that, but for what its worth let’s continue to remember that being poor is not a moral failure).

My suspicion, however, is that the marker won’t be replaced by anything. Schools in challenging circumstances will not be able to point to evidence of their challenge. After all, that inconvenient fact that this is not a level playing field has made the present government a little uncomfortable. Gove would like to present schools as “businesses” that “with the right leadership and values can all compete and collectively raise their standards”. That is not an actual quote but I can imagine him saying it.

I don’t think the removal of the marker is the purpose of the policy: I think the Lib Dems probably want it for all the right reasons. But the side effect described above might be partly why the Conservatives are not challenging it. This is the government that is trying to reduce the number of unemployment claimants (which forms a major indicator of economic health) not by creating jobs, but by tightening the criteria for unemployment benefit. The government seems to treat economic statistics as key performance indicators (KPIs) to be met at any cost. I can well imagine that it would be a rather “beneficial” side effect of universal free school meals to make that marker disappear.  First for infant schools, then perhaps further. And then finally the government will be able to paint their picture of a meritocratic UK, where any school can become top of the league tables, and any child can rise to their chosen profession, if only they eat their greens and work hard. I hope I’m wrong

Free School Meals? Yes. But.

I wasn’t watching Jamie Oliver talking about poor people’s food habits last night, but I spotted some annoyance so I went to find out, and am 100% with Alex Andreou’s piece in the Guardian. I can testify that “poor people’s bread does not go stale, it goes mouldy”. In pursuit of the perfect bread-and-gruyere-topped onion soup, I made several attempts to catch my sliced wrapped loaf at the optimum staleness. I  eventually once bought a bread stick specifically to slice, leave out for the day. This for an allegedly peasant dish.

The point Andreou raises, though, is a serious one. It is all too easy to judge people and find them wanting.

Since becoming a mum I have felt pressure more than ever before to conform to other people’s views of how I should run my life. It adds up to a pretty lengthy list of things about which I feel guilty, inadequate and even neglectful.

The List of Things I am Supposed to Feel Guilty About

 

The Baby Years

  • I didn’t stick to a feeding/sleeping routine. Sorry, Gina Ford.
  • I dared to look my babies in the eye when I fed them at night. Sorry again, Gina.
  • I used disposable nappies. Because my house at the time didn’t have much radiator/airing space for cloth nappies, and because I worried about keeping up with the washing. And because £80 for a starter kit felt a lot more that the hundreds I eventually drip fed the supermarkets.
  • I didn’t make all my own baby foods. Sorry, Annabel Karmel.
  • I didn’t carry around a tupperware box full of blueberries. Or quartered grapes. Or mango slices. If they were hungry I bought them something. From a shop. A banana if the shop had one.
  • I bought rich tea biscuits instead of the cutesy packaged baby biscuits. Because they were cheaper. And actually healthier, since you raised your eyebrows.
  • I didn’t take them to tumbletots.
  • I didn’t do babysigning.
  • Some days the telly was on for hours. Some days we watched the same episode of Mr Maker twice.
  • I went out with sick on my jumper. Knowingly.
  • I parked in a layby while they slept in the back, and I slept too.
  • I drank coffee and tea during the phase I was breastfeeding.
  • I drank wine.
  • I drank guinness.
  • I breastfed with a glass of wine in my hand.
  • I went back to work at 10 months, for my sanity and my bank balance. Sure, I had choices, but they tipped heavily towards working, particularly because I’m fairly well paid.

Despite all the bad, bad, terrible things listed above, there are things I am proud of. I did breastfeed them both until they were 10 months, I weaned them to be adventurous eaters. I kept them safe, I got complimented on both of my happy, well behaved little boys. Apart from apparently poisoning them with toxins and neglecting their psychological development, I’ve done ok.

 

Chapter Two: The School Years

I had thought the worst was over, but I see now that it is just beginning. My eldest is 6 and my list is already growing fast.

  • Not dropping him off at school door, because he goes to before-and-after school club and does a 8:30-5:30 day
  • Not having insightful comments to write on his school report.
  • Not baking for the PTA cake sales. I did a tiffin once but suspect the cost:profit ratio only benefited tescos.
  • Not managing to go to the cake sales. I love cake. But I love using my annual leave up for quality time too.
  • Not going to PTA meetings because they clash with other commitments that my husband and I don’t want to sacrifice.
  • Not being able to have my son’s friends back for tea.
  • Not teaching him mindful meditation.
  • Not doing kumon maths.
  • Letting both my boys eat happy meals sometimes.
  • Letting my eldest drink cola sometimes.
  • Letting my eldest play computer games.

You see, not having delicious wholesome family meals around the dining table is the least of my problems. I feel guilty about everything. Everything.
Right now I’m writing this at the boys bedtime and should be doing that. Instead I can hear star wars on the PS2 in the kitchen and my youngest is jumping around, naked apart from socks. It is 7:40pm.

There’s always something I should be doing instead of what I want to do. If I did everything on my to do list, I would not sleep. I could not physically combine full time work and perfect parenting. By that I mean it’s against the laws of space and time.

All the time I am making these day to day terrible decisions, there is a whole barrage of lifestyle experts looking down their noses at me. And I’m middle class: I work, I pay taxes, I’m married, I have two children, two rabbits and two cars. (I’m not sure where the rabbits fit in that description, apart from a 2.4ishness). I live in a nice house on a nice estate, with nice neighbours. My life is good. And yet I am riddled with anxiety that my life is not good enough. Not healthy enough, not cultural enough, not social enough. To top it all, I am overweight. Health, food, size and guilt: don’t get me started. That’s a whole other yet-to-be-written-blogpost about the “how to be a woman” section of the List of Guilt.

And so we are back to the sins of eating chips in front of the tv. How dare they. Whats wrong with carrots and hummus sticks? And why aren’t they watching Film4?

There are too many ways to be judged and found wanting. What’s wrong with just good enough?

My son wrote a message for me this morning. Genuinely, this is not staged.

I heart mum

I heart mum

“I heart mum”. Written in dust. He obviously thinks I’m doing ok.

I had a little spurt of blogging on sunday night,  followed by what I can only describe as a migraine on Monday. Rather odd. I suspect they are linked.

Anyhow, here’s what I wrote in case you subscribe to me here and missed it there:

MOOLDs: MOOCs and Learning Designs

The Academic Politics of Data Visualisation

Academics: bring your own identity

Hopefully I’ll be blogging a bit more again now, minus migraines.

 

 

 

 

I spent 12-13th April at the CETIS conference, with a focus on OER and open practice, and 19th-20th April at Beyond the PDF 2 conference with a focus on open access and open research. I feel very lucky to have a foot in both worlds.

The view across the bridge was raised  by both Suzanne Hardy and Nick Sheppard in the OER session at CETIS. After a conversation with Laura Czerniewicz, who regularly crosses the bridge, I decided that it might be useful to share some of my thoughts on how these two worlds relate. This post is more about supporting infrastructures than it is about changes to practice. It is about some areas where the problem spaces feel similar, even if they are not exactly the same issues. To the few people that cross the bridge I hope it reflects your take. To the majority who live on one side of the river, I hope it might encourage you to borrow a little more from your neighbours where it fits.

oresund bridge

Oresdund bridge between Sweden and Denmark (image sourced and stamped via http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/xpert/attribution  )

Slight differences

OER Workflows: a) frictionless sharing OER exhaust, sharing as a byproduct of teaching, collaboration. b) open development prior to use c) collaborative tools
Open Research: Workflows: a) data management as part of research, b) open notebooks c) collaborative tools

OER: Learning designs as a) a common language to develop practice, b) a framework for executing services
Open Research: Experimental designs as a) a common language to develop research, b) a framework for executing services

OER: Repurposing (I suspect this is a red herring and an unattainable goal)
Open Research: Reproducability (Carole Goble suggested this might be a red herring and an unattainable goal)

OER: student as producer, participative learning
Open Research: citizen science

OER: information about usage: paradata
Open Research: information about usage: altmetrics

And there is plenty where they have directly in common.

  • Creative Commons Licensing. Gratis/Libre debates, the CC non commercial clause and the role of publishers. I’d like to see both groups take note of the importance of machine-readable and embedded licenses because content in this distributed open ecosystem easily gets detached from its host page (see that chapter in Into The Wild). Ross Mounce pointed out to the BeyondthePDF2 conference that we should be improving embedded metadata.
  • Reward and Recognition for reaching out beyond traditional realms of academic practice, for crafting materials, for reviewing and commenting on other people’s work. Career risks taken by digital scholars.
  • An ecosystem approach: small pieces loosely joined rather than silos, interoperating pieces of the jigsaw, jorum and humbox, figshare and PLOS, giving people choices in how to assemble their services without locking them in.
  • Identifiers – Open Research world is ahead on this, with ORCID and assignment of DOIs, OER world should take note.
  • Provenance – the ability for a user to evaluate a resource: part of digital literacy, part of research skills.
  • Bundling linked outputs – Open Research world talks about metajournals, macropapers, nanopubs, OER world talks about curations. This is potentially a very fertile meeting ground – both worlds can lay claim to slidedecks, explanatory videos: both worlds aspire to the idea of the topic being at the centre of a whole range of outputs. A research output can be a teaching resource, a videoed lecture can be a research dissemination tool.
  • Blogging, tweeting, aggregating, data mining, the social graph of knowledge. We’re all talking about the public academic, what it means, how to surface the richness of the conversation, how to be an academic online.

Lastly, and most importantly: Public engagement. I talked about this a little in my piece on 21st Century Scholarship and Wikipedia and yet I was surprised by the number of mentions of MOOCs at BeyondthePDF2. I shouldn’t have been. Open access and open education may have forked away from simple principles but at heart they both share a founding principle: the opening up of access to what goes on in universities. They are not the same, they are rife with nuance and sometimes even passionate internal disagreements. But the energy behind the activists, developers and reformers is immense and I’d love to see a little more talking across boundaries. Take a little trip over the bridge!

Interested to visit but not sure where to start? Open Research developers, read a chapter of Into the Wild, and OER infrastructure people read the formats and technologies section of the Force11 Manifesto. I’d love to hear if anyone sees something from the other side that they can use.

Hot on the heels of my blog book, here’s the main course!

IntoWildCoverThis was the result of a 2 and a half day writing retreat “booksprint” last august with my colleagues/friends from CETIS: Lorna Campbell, Phil Barker and Martin Hawskey, facilitated by Adam Hyde from Booktype. Terry McAndrew wrote an additional chapter and we had lots of input pre-publication. So a real team effort.

You can get it here!

When I was wrapping up my work at JISC at the end of 2012, I was keen to do something with my blog posts. Blogging for work had been a great pleasure, and learning experience, and I liked the idea of capturing my blood sweat and tears into something a bit more tangible than a set of urls. Luckily, I know Zak Mensah. I described what I was thinking about and he offered to create a ebook out of the posts for me. Thus this book was born.

The technical details: it was created out of the wordpress xml export of the posts I authored on the JISC digital infrastructure blog. Zak took the xml, edited it and ordered it as I requested it, created the visuals, added some wordclouds I’d generated, and provided it back to me in the two main formats for ebooks. He gave it to me ages ago but I got sidetracked and the time was never quite right to share them.

Focus

We decided to group the posts under the key themes that had emerged out of my work in digital infrastructure for learning materials:

Wordle: chapter_oerturn

Sensemaking: Conceptualising Openness

1. Rethinking the O in OER
2. The OER Turn
3. My Story of O(pen)

Sensemaking: Managing open content

4. OER: Metadata Now
5. Making OER visible and findable
6. OER and the aggregation question
7. Experimenting with the Learning Registry
8. UKOER: what’s in a tag?

Sensemaking: Use and Users

9. Making the most of open content: why we need to understand use (Part 1)
10. Making the most of open content: understanding use (Part 2)
11. Connecting people through open content
12. Sharing Learning Resources: shifting perspectives on process and product

Sensemaking: Licensing

13. Choosing Open Licences
14. Licensing Data as Open Data

We also included a section of Update posts in case anyone is interested in the chronology of the work JISC funded in these areas over this time.

Interested?

You can download it from my dropbox as epub HERE or mobi HERE. But read on …

I’m on a steep learning curve with ebooks, from this, also my work with CETIS on the book “Into the wild – Technology for open educational resources”, and my involvement in the JISC challenge of ebooks in academic institutions project. My learning so far is mainly “it ain’t as straightforward as you think”. So in case you do want to have a look, please note:

  • epub needs an epub reader. Plenty of readers are available for free: I have adobe digital editions for windows and aldiko for android. In my limited experience most PDF readers think epub is a broken pdf and freak out, so tempting as it is to assume you can open it in a PDF reader, don’t.
  • mobi is for kindle (though the route to get an mobi onto a kindle reader without being on the kindle marketplace is somewhat tortuous). If you get the mobi, follow the instructions on “manage my kindle” for personal documents.

I am indebted to Zak for his hard work and patience on this project. He did it in his own time and I owe him more than a few drinks 🙂

Obviously I would LOVE for folk to read my blog book, and comments here would be very welcome!

At some point last week my husband Tim downloaded a new game to his phone: Plague.Inc from Ndemic. He loved it, said I might I like it. I liked it. I’ll tell you about it  …

You choose how you’d like to wipe out humanity. At first it’s just bacteria, but as you gain DNA points you get more options.

screengrab

select plague type

You name your chosen killer disease, pick the part of the world to infect first, and off you go.

screengrab

infect a country

Gradually you can choose different transmission types – fancy a bird flu? insects? or just airborne? I’ve got the most experience on bacteria so I’ll focus on that. You optimise it for different climates. The trick is to keep the symptoms low key so that the health authorities don’t notice. Then as you infect the world, and they start to notice, you spend your DNA points on building antibiotic resistance and other cunning tactics to avoid them curing you. When you’re ready, you let the symptoms build up into horrible nasty medical conditions and ultimately death. It’s you against humanity. And it is BRILLIANT! And every type of disease needs different tactics and game arcs, so it builds and builds.

The intriguing thing to me is the story behind it. Apparently the creator, James Vaughan, had never made a game before. But he had the idea, got himself £5,000 in cash, an old mac and a couple of programmers working with him (for free, I think), and off they went. He was inspired by pandemic, which I haven’t played. 3 days after launch it was a top download on IoS. The game is now a massive hit on IoS and android markets. He didn’t even spend money on marketing, it spread by recommendation. A viral viral game.

There’s a long interview with him on the Ed Tech Crew website but that was before he’d even released to android. I’d been thinking he must be an epidemiologist or virologist, but I know now he’s a management consultant. And he’s not himself a programmer, he designed the game structure, then he found the people to make it happen: programming (Mario), graphics, sound. In his job “I didn’t really make solid things, I gave advice to other people”: here’s a story of an advisor becoming a maker. It took a long time to find the right people, they worked remotely, without ever having met face to face. As he put it himself, its a “story about globalisation and the power of technology to connect people together“. He used MS Excel to programme it, to tweak the algorithms.

To feed the game’s variables, to give depth to the world’s geography he used an open dataset from the UN from 2011, what a fantastic illustration of the power of open data for a simulation tool. I’ve always loved SimCity, it increased my understanding of town planning and urban regeneration. Imagine SimCity powered by open data, with simulation models by sociologists, criminologists, environmentalists. I’ve heard of serious games and I know about simulations used in education, but Plague.Inc really brings the potential to life, and it is a properly fun, engaging, rewarding, challenging game. Imagine what else could be done. Curiosity plus rich data plus talented people can make amazing things happen, I hope this a sign of more to come.

Only a few weeks ago I was lamenting on this very blog that culturally-speaking, I don’t get out much. Soon after, I spotted something intriguing. The Royal Shakespeare Company was running a special event for bloggers, at the Swan Theatre in Stratford upon Avon (which as I had blogged, is only 20 minutes drive away, yet I rarely go to the theatre). The offer was to watch the play, for free, then meet some of the cast and crew, and blog about it. Clearly, this was fate calling. I shall go to the ball theatre.

And so it came to pass that on Tuesday 8th January I found myself a guest of the press office, treated to a performance of a Pushkin play, Boris Godunov. I deliberately didn’t do any research beforehand so I found my seat, skimmed the programme for the plot précis, looked at the bios of the actors, and settled back for the lights to go down.

First surprise: the lights didn’t go down. The music came on, performed live in the gallery of the theatre, and the suddenly the stage was filled with drunken 16th century revellers shouting, kissing, drinking, rolling out across the stage and on the walkways through the stalls. Having expected a serious-strokey-beard-russian-play, I had assumed dark, brooding, with occasional bombastic shouting. Clearly I was wrong. It was so bright I had a chance to examine the faces of the audience, who, unlike me, were playing it very cool. The lights later dimmed and the play then settled into a more conventional set up and I relaxed again.

The costumes were lavish, all heavily embroidered cloaks and trousers tucked into boots. The stage design was fairly minimal, though with a careful use of height, depth and distance. The storyline started to lay itself out: the rise and rise of a middle ranking Godunov, played by Lloyd Hutchinson the jealousy of royal nobles, the carefully PR-managed acceptance of the throne of Tsar, and the emerging rumours of Godunov’s backstory as a murderer of the previous Tsar’s brother many years before. In parallel we meet the pretender to the throne, a niave but increasingly confident runaway monk, Grigory, played by Gethin Anthony. The play returned again and again to the crowd scenes, which were unexpectedly funny, often irreverant, chaotic … a key collective character, and in fact the only character that had any real power.

RSC production information includes a Trailer which gives a good flavour of it. You can also read Pushin’s text online for free here thanks to Project Gutenberg. Boris Godunov was written in the mid 1800s but set in 1605, and that is part of the reason for including it in this season: Shakespeare often used historical analogies to make politically sensitive points. As the trailer hints, there are shadows of Stalinist Russia, and towards the end of the play I even spotted a mobile phone in a crowd scene, bringing us bang up to date. My first realisation that there was some playfulness with time was an early scene with the elderly monk in the 1600s writing by the glow of an electric light suspended on a cable. Throughout the performance there were time shifts forward, sometimes in subtle cues sometimes in great leaps.

It was this time travelling that I most wanted to ask the cast and crew about in the post show discussion. The 8 or so bloggers got to meet the 4 main characters and the assistant director to ask questions …

I mentioned my light bulb moment in the monk scene and got a reply from the monk himself, Gethin Anthony.

Some serious fashion bloggers were asking about costume, and I was pleased to hear I wasn’t the only one rather entranced by the boots. Lloyd Hutchinson said that the costumes definitely make a difference to how he acts. There is a point where they put on contemporary suits and shirts, and he said he felt his body language change. Certainly all the actors nodded at the importance of the clothing. I hadn’t known that the company is also running two other productions in parallel, so the difference between the costume, the set, the spoken style must be very important to them being able to switch hats, quite literally, from show to show.

There were some serious questions too, about Russian history, the apparent preference for autocracy over democracy. There was a particularly famous monk wrapped up in the Tsar’s family that escaped reference in this production. I think you know who I’m talking about. Come on RSC, maybe after the final bow? ;-p

But it’s when we talked about ideas of the Russian character that it got most interesting for me. The production had been advised by experts on Russian culture about what characters like Godunov would or wouldn’t do. Lloyd had questioned that all Russian men can’t surely be so smiliar, that there must be regional and personality differences. If the strong controlled style is so primary, “how come Putin cried his eyes out in public?”. I said something that probably came out wrong, that when one high brow theatre elite talks to another, they are exchanging information on the theatrical conventions. Surely, I agree with Lloyd, the real spectrum of personalities is as broad in every culture: the cultural stereotypes are about the most common characteristics or the most highly regarded, they are not, by definition, the totality of self-expression.

Image

So. Did I enjoy Boris Godunov? Very much. Did I like meeting the stars of the show? Very much. What key messages would I take away with me?

  • Costumes matter
  • Timetravelling can be subtly subversive
  • You don’t have to discuss theatre in hushed tones with long words (See how I have resisted showing my knowledge of new historicism in relation to the staging of this play? I’m not a philistine I just try to wear my learning lightly. ahem.)
  • Acting sounds like hard work
  • It is true that actors go to the dirty duck after shows (I was tempted to follow them there and eavesdrop but that would probably have been sinister)
  • Boots tucked into trousers is a good look and you should try it.

Thank you to the RSC for the chance to do this! An evening very well spent, enjoyable and thought-provoking too.

Boris Godunov runs in the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon until 30 March 2013.  More information: www.rsc.org.uk/boris.

2013 brings exciting new developments for my flagship service: ambr.

First of all you will note we have lowercased the product and dropped a redundant vowel in response to market research.

Secondly, ambr has always been open source: coders have been forking me on github for months. But now I’m taking it a step forward. All the utterances of the ambr community will now be licenced as CC BY. Please cite yourself CC BY ambr 2013.

Further to the removal of the API, there are now a range of approved integration channels. We also offer a paid bespoking service for all your ambr needs. Our UK-based call centre staff are on call 24/7 to facilitate you.

But the big news is that we are taking ambrAR into production. You’ll remember the launch of the R and D programme to much acclaim: the youtube announcement trended on facetwitterin. We’re now at prototype stage. We will be putting this project up on kickstarter. If ambr is a part of your life you can’t live without, keep it that way: crowdfund me. Soon you can take ambr with you wherever you go, whenever, whether you intended to or not! You can have the full ambr experience, seamlessly, online and off. You’ll forget how you ever lived without ambr (please read the small print).

On a more sober note, following recent unfortunate events, users are reminded to check their privacy settings under our revised T and Cs. As a new year gift to our UK members, Privacy+ is currently available on a 5 year subscription at only 14p a day.

Finally, I would like to thank you: ambr is nothing without its loyal users. You make ambr what it is.

Your futr is bright, your futr is ambr.

Happy New Year