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Things we love 4

At FutureLearn, we’re always on the look out for new sources of inspiration. Each month, we share what we find in a “Things we love” post. Here, our team talk about some of their favourite things from around the web and their writing elsewhere.

Hedy Lamarr, Hollywood actress and mobile communications pioneer,
Hedy Lamarr, Hollywood actress and mobile communications pioneer, is one of our sources of inspiration this month.

Our inspiration

Ten Stories of Science and Tech Hollywood Should Tell Next

After “The Theory of Everything” and “The Imitation Game,” which historical science and engineering characters should get the Hollywood treatment next?

I love this article’s suggestion of Hedy Lamarr (pictured above) – while most know her as the glamorous movie star, she also co-invented the technology for spread spectrum and frequency hopping communications, which formed the base of both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

– Melinda Seckington, Developer

This Is What Impactful Engineering Leadership Looks Like

Successful startup founder and software engineer, Jessica McKellar, provides real insight into leadership, what it involves and practical suggestions for change. This is essential reading for anyone who is leading a team.

– Joel Chippindale, CTO

Intercom on Product Management

Lots of great practical advice on product managment is clearly presented in this book by the legends at Intercom.

Codes that Changed the World

These five BBC programmes, hosted by Aleks Krotoski, look at the history of five different programming languages.

The Message is the Medium

An insightful piece from The Economist, charting the demise of SMS and the rise of ubiquitous messaging apps like WhatsApp.

Not Fit to Print: When Good Design Goes Bad

An analysis of a New York Times interactive article and the dangers of misleading with numbers.

– Simon Pearson, Product Manager

Design Matters

In the latest Design Matters podcast, we hear from Lynda Weinman about her career and achievements, including the creation of “online video tutorials & training” site, It’s fascinating to hear how the progressive school she attended (where lessons were optional) influenced the vision for her product.

– Laura Kirsop, Product Manager


Total Reading Time

Medium’s Ev Williams talks about their more sophisticated approach to metrics than old-fashioned page views and how it drives their business.

– Matt Walton, Head of Product


The Sartorialist

A fashion blog by Scott Schuman in New York, after he left a fashion sales position to take care of his daughter in 2005.


Saving the world, one room at a time.

– Minji Xu, China Consultant


Martha Lane-Fox’s Dimbleby Lecture

Available on BBC iPlayer until 29 April 2015, Martha Lane-Fox used this year’s Dimbleby lecture to talk about the importance of the internet and taking ownership of its power.

She discusses tackling the ethical dilemmas the internet poses, ensuring that everyone can access the power of the internet, and – an issue increasingly close to my own heart – putting women at the heart of the technology sector.

She’s petitioning the UK Prime Minister to form a new institution to shape this – you can sign her petition here.

– Kathryn Skelton, Head of Strategy & Insight

The Last Mile

This short documentary, co-produced by WIRED, looks at a six-month programme run inside California’s San Quentin State Prison, which is cutting re-offending rates, by giving inmates the skills to start their own tech businesses when they’re released.

The remarkable thing is that internet access is banned within the prison and many of those involved are serving such long sentences that they’ve never even used a computer or been online. Despite this, the passion and eloquence they have about their business ideas – and the transformational power of the web – is incredible.

– Luke Nava, Copywriter

Us elsewhere

How I Make Animated Gifs

Want to know how to programmatically make animated gifs? Chris Zetter, a Developer at FutureLearn, has written about the tools he uses to capture images and how to join them together, to make a gif (like he did for the FutureLearn steps).


SxSW Interactive

A couple of weeks ago, Matt Walton headed out to the biggest tech gathering in the world in Austin, Texas,  to seek inspiration and a different perspective. He’s written a post on his blog about seven subjects that it inspired him to think about, plus seven general recurring themes of the festival.

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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