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Things we love 2

At FutureLearn, we’re always on the look out for new sources of inspiration and keen to share what we learn with the world. So here, in the second of a new series of posts, our team talk about some of their favourite things from around the web.

Bookniture, the book that turns into furniture.
One of the things we love – Bookniture, the book that turns into furniture.

You’ll Always Miss Being in the Basement

It’s more than a year since we left the dark windowless basement of The Open University’s Camden offices, and I don’t really miss it. Still, there are parts of this post by Zach Holman that resonate with me: there’s something different about those first couple of months, when you’re working on something, but aren’t quite sure what people will think of it all.

– Melinda Seckington, Developer


The Sense of Style: the Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

Steven Pinker’s take on the style guide isn’t the prescriptive list of rights and wrongs you usually get with the genre. Instead, he uses some brilliant (and not so brilliant) examples of non-fiction writing, to explain how clear, coherent prose is constructed. As a linguist and cognitive scientist, Pinker’s insight into how our brains process writing is a revelation, adding some academic rigour to the copywriter’s favourite mantra: “use short words and sentences.”

– Luke Nava, Copywriter


How to Make Sense of Any Mess

As everything becomes more complex, Abby Covert sets out to explain how to make sense of any mess, by breaking it down into manageable tasks. She uses her extensive knowledge of information architecture (IA) to illustrate how we can organise many parts to make a whole.

Easy to read, the book is broken down into chapters that focus on a particular concept, then offer exercises to practice and help apply them to your own situation. For those with no or little experience of IA, Abby delivers great insight and an understanding of the subject. And for those experienced IAs, there are still some great nuggets and suggestions.

– Dereck Johnson, Designer


Bookniture and Lumio

We love anything that transforms learning in completely unexpected ways. A new type of book by designer MikeMak actually turns itself into a piece of furniture when you open it up. Its incredibly strong, honeycomb paper structure means you can turn it into a table or even a stool. And when you’re done, simply close your “Bookniture” and put it back on the shelf.

Equally wonderful is a different type of book called “Lumio.” And yes, you guessed it, this book becomes a lamp. A beautiful, simple, rechargeable light source to bring light to the table. Check out these books of the future!

– Lucy Blackwell, Creative Director


54 Articles and Books That Will Make You a Great Product Manager

I’m wolfing through this epic compendium of links, which serve as great jumping off points for budding product managers, and indeed for seasoned professionals.

Riding Light

As a space geek (I’m a big fan of our “Moons” course), I very much enjoyed watching the lonely journey of one photon of light, as it leaves the sun to head across the solar system. It’s also set to one of my favourite pieces of music, “Music for 18 Musicians” by Steve Reich. Beautiful!

– Simon Pearson, Product Manager


Buffer’s Twitter Chats 101

Buffer is a social media scheduling tool and their blog is full of practical social media resources. When we started work on #FutureLearnAsks, this post, as well as SocialBro’s “9 Ways to be the Chief of the Twitter Chat (Without Annoying Everyone)” were a huge help in informing our format.

– David Thair, Social Lead


An Alphabet of Accessibility Issues

This is a brief and powerful reminder that making your site accessible is important for everyone. Anne Gibson offers 26 examples of people who are affected by accessibility issues, but as she says at the end, they are “not a collection of personas. These are friends and family I love.”

14 Oddly Satisfying Things for Ultimate Gratification 

And to end on, a short video to make you smile.

– Joel Chippindale, CTO

Seen something lately that you think we’ll love? Share it in the comments below. Want to know more about the way we work? Take a look at all of our “Making FutureLearn” posts.

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