On receiving a university medal

As some of you may know/have worked out, I’m a bit of a (self-confessed) nerd. I’m a stickler for correctness, I need to always be learning something new and I’m very specific about how things need to be (anyone that’s been in a university lecture with me knows I need to sit in a specific spot and my friends need to sit in a specific order, too). Even as a very proud nerd, one thing I don’t normally do is try to show off too much; I don’t think that (showiness) is a great trait. But in the interest of being a true inhabitant of the Internet, I’m going to be on this occasion.

Going on from the above, I was obsessed with getting straight High Distinctions for my entire degree. This fell down in only the second semester of my degree with Interaction Design. That didn’t stop me from trying to aim high for the rest of the degree, regardless of what people told me was impossible and what was realistic in terms of grades. Close friends know of a specific incident regarding someone telling me it was impossible to receive straight sevens. Didn’t I prove them wrong.

I graduated with First Class Honours from my B.InfoTech(Hons) degree this past July, being the only person to from this degree in that round of ceremonies. My final GPA for honours was 7 (how impossible is it now?!). But, that’s not all I achieved,or all the university bestowed upon me.

I was honoured with the award of a QUT Medal, which is the university’s most prestigious award for graduating bachelor students. Out of the 1,400 students graduating in the July round, just 7 were awarded with a medal. This represents the top 0.005% of students.

QUT Medal
Three years of hard work pays off. 

To say I am proud is an incredible understatement. I was lucky to have incredible family, friends and educators to get me to this pinnacle. Although it sounds cliché, I could not have done it without them.

Has someone ever told you that something was impossible? How did you prove them wrong?


Harnessing Collective Intelligence using LiveMocha

In O’Reilly’s core Web 2.0 strategies, there is a focus on leveraging the knowledge of the crowds. The Harnessing Collective Intelligence pattern is focused on developing content that can be leveraged to the strategic advantage of an individual or organisation. There is a clear focus on producing reliable and correct data from the knowledge of experts out on the Internet. Looking around the Internet, there are a lot of examples of collective intelligence; Google Docs, crowdsourcing via Twitter and suggestion engines such as Last.fm and Urbanspoon, but none mentioned really do much in the way of building the global village.

This is where LiveMocha comes in. LiveMocha is a social language learning platform, where the users are both students and teachers. All of the courses hosted on LiveMocha are written and maintained by the community; even interactive writing and speaking “exam” submissions are checked and assessed by native speakers in the community.

LiveMocha Language Lesson
Interface for learning to speak and read a language in LiveMocha

The LiveMocha experience has myriad positive factors making it a viable way to learn a language online – course content is produced by experts peers, and is checked by other course experts. Users learning a language are supported by users who are experts in the language and can actively contribute to content. There is a focus on users helping users in both cases. As the user base and active contribution accelerates, more languages and quality content becomes available, increasing application value, which is likely to attract more users, magnifying and multiplying the effect.

Users are invited to use the service and actively participate through multiple channels, encouraging growth and customer loyalty. An account on the service is free (lowering the barrier to entry), an account is designed to be social and courses are mostly free. For users acting as experts (the language teachers), there is a point reward or cash reward system for their teaching, and this is linked to feedback from student users as to the quality of their teaching. This implicitly creates an environment where good content and better teachers are rewarded and recognised more, improving content quality.

The only real negative for LiveMocha is that the quality of a course comes back to the quality and knowledge of contributions. The quality and accuracy of each course’s content comes back to the number and quality of contributors available to develop and approve content; its all tied back to the network effect.

Overall, LiveMocha is quite unique. The service deals with a topic which is uniquely innate to a global audience, and leverages the knowledge of its users well. The number, coverage and quality of course, while considerable now, will continue to grow as the active user base grows. It will be exciting to trial this product over a longer period of time to see if it is completely feasible to learn a language solely online using collective intelligence.



I have a lot of reading this semester for university. Most are white papers, so are very extensive.

I don’t mind reading when the content is fresh and interesting. But when the reading is about stuff I have learnt in a lecture, and read in a different paper last week, I’m not interested.

People I know don’t like reading stuff like this over and over. We do get it the first time. We want to actually try this stuff practically. How can I learn to do a Root Cause Analysis without trying to do one myself? Please change this. As the pie menu in The Sims 3 says “Stop Doing That”.