Skip to main content

Educator, instructional technologist, tinkerer, musicmaker, hauler of bootstraps

Grant Potter


0 min read

Grant Potter

U.S. National Archives' new curated page of GIFs

1 min read


Grant Potter

@doctorow parable - the echoes of norms

2 min read

The state of Roman metallurgical science determined the maximum length of a chariot’s axle and hence its wheel-base

The Roman-chariot’s wheel-base determined the width of the Roman roads

The width of the Roman roads determined the width of modern carts

The width of modern carts determined the width of modern roads

The width of modern roads determined the width of wheel-bases for cars and lorries

The width of lorries determined the width of containers and the parameters of rail-cars and container-ships

And since the Space Shuttle’s reusable fuel-tanks had to be transported on these roads and railroads, they, too, were ultimately determined by the state of Roman metalurgy, thousands of years ago

This is, of course, a gross oversimplification, but it is intended as parable and not as history

The reason to recount this parable here, now, at this early, liminal moment in the future history of the information age is that:

  • We are presently building the electronic nervous system of the modern world, and

  • We dwellers on the electronic frontier have it on our power to establish the norms, laws, and practices that will echo through the ages to come

Grant Potter

The Zen of Making

1 min read

1. Don’t make something you don’t use yourself.

2. Know who you are making it for.

3. Know what you want out of it.

4. Make projects, not platforms.

5. Respect the intelligence of the beginner.

6. Experts are not the best advisors when you want to make tools for beginners.

7. If nobody complains you're doing something wrong.

8. Including people is hard (but necessary)

9. Good hardware, good software, good explanations, and generous users make a great project

10. If you're not prepared to have someone adapt, improve, clone, or trash your work, don't share it.

11. Open source software doesn't necessarily translate into a business model... open source hardware must.

12. Expect resistance... and conspiracy theories.

13. Don’t let the fact that you don't know what you're doing stop you.

Grant Potter

"#encryption is a benefit of enforcing rights to which you're already entitled"

1 min read

It's important because people have to have the chance to talk about what they care about, what the domain of their rights should be; where the boundaries should be drawn and to draw them themselves. Our rights are inherent to us, as a people, as a society. They're inherent to our nature, not granted by governments, merely guaranteed by governments. When you talk about encryption, they're missing the point. It's not really about encryption, encryption is a means to an end. Encryption is a benefit of enforcing rights to which you're already entitled. The real question here is - Do you have a right to have a conversation only with yourself? Do you have a space to develop your own ideas before you're comfortable sharing them with the world? Do you have the right to enjoy the fruits of your own intellect in the privacy of your home, your community, and your associates, without it having been intercepted, analyzed, and fundamentally, in a basic sense, prejudged by others who are not entitled to it?

Grant Potter

Technology should be used to create social mobility – not to spy on citizens

1 min read

There’s an implied max/min problem here: the intersection of a curve representing the amount of wealth you need to spend on guards to maintain stability in the presence of a widening rich/poor gap and the amount you can save on guards by creating social mobility through education, health, and social welfare is the point at which you should stop paying for cops and start paying for hospitals and schools. 

This implies that productivity gains in guard labour will make wider wealth gaps sustainable. When coercion gets cheaper, the point at which it makes “economic sense” to allow social mobility moves further along the curve. The evidence for this is in the thing mass surveillance does best, which is not catching terrorists, but disrupting legitimate political opposition, from Occupy to the RCMP’s classification of “anti-petroleum” activists as a threat to national security.

Grant Potter

Weekly Roundup: Feb 15 - Feb 22

2 min read

I love the 'Week in Review' summaries I am seeing at blogs like:, and so I am going to give it a shot as a method of ensuring I get to my blog more often.  I'm going to start with a few things I have bookmarked this week and hopefully work towards regular updates on work-related items I have in the mix.

How Did They Make That? 

  • Many students tell me that in order to get started with digital humanities, they’d like to have some idea of what they might do and what technical skills they might need in order to do it. Here’s a set of digital humanities projects that might help you to get a handle on the kinds of tools and technologies available for you to use. 

How I Taught My Computer to Write Its Own Music

  • I wanted to build the ideal collaborator. Was I ever surprised.

  • First, students owned their means of production. They weren’t writing in discussion forums in order to get 2 points for posting to the weekly prompt. They wrote to communicate with audiences within the class and beyond. Second, everyone’s thinking could be found in the same place, by looking at hashtags and our syndication engines on Finally, this design allows our learning to be permeable to the outside world. Students could write for audiences they cared about: fellow librarians or English teachers or education technologists working in developing countries.

  • beauty, freedom, technology and morality get dissected by a team of thinkers. 

  • Burroughs radio documentary narrated by Iggy Pop.

Grant Potter

Dis \ Connect

1 min read

We are afraid of the moments when we are truly alone, because it is in these camps that regrets and worries come flooding in.

DIS \ CONNECT from Doug Hindson on Vimeo.

Grant Potter

Barrett Brown’s allocution / sentencing statement #freeBB

1 min read

"So now the dozens of people who have given their time and expertise to what has been hailed by journalists and advocacy groups as a crucial journalistic enterprise are now at risk of being indicted under the same sort of spurious charges that I was facing not long ago, when the government exposed me to decades of prison time for copying and pasting a link to a publicly available file that other journalists were also linking to without being prosecuted. The fact that the government has still asked you to punish me for that link is proof, if any more were needed, that those of us who advocate against secrecy are to be pursued without regard for the rule of law, or even common decency."

Grant Potter

Blade Runner - The Noir Cut #noir106

1 min read

"I was brought out of retirement for one last job .."