I’m just trying to get a better idea of how this site is being accessed ahead of a likely move away from WordPress at some point (to Ghost) and I’ve never known if anyone was still reading via RSS.
I was recently reading this article about the new head of open data and transparency and his mention of his conversion to Codeacademy from social gaming brought to mind this announcement from Mayor Bloomberg in NYC last year;
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) January 5, 2012
There has been no word from the Mayors office about how well that went by the way
I hugely respect the talented coders I deal with everyday – they are my colleagues and my friends and a number of them are truly amazing at what they do. It is a talent and one honed by years of practice, hard work and no small amount of inspiration. It is not for me though. My brain violently revolts at any notion of logical thinking and numeracy is an impossible dream. I am a man of letters (at least in my own head) and believe the ability to write, comprehend and analyse text is no small feat in of its self. I spend a considerable amount of time and energy using my own non-coding ability to add value to this digital community I find myself a part of and do not believe my fumbling around with nursery school level code would add any additional value to anyone – least of all myself.
I enjoyed this post from Jeff Atwood about this topic last year – Jeff was the founder of StackOverflow amongst other things and is a coder of some repute himself and he articulates things far better than I.
I was having a look at the draft for the Mozilla Web Literacy Standard that Doug (amongst others) is writing.
I like this diagram a lot – I find myself much more comfortable with the ‘exploring’ and ‘connecting’ categories than ‘building’ – though I am not without some ability to ‘compose’ on the web at this point
I have thought for quite some time that it is skills like understanding ‘security’, ‘privacy’, ‘credible’ content and just getting more out of things like search and browsers where people out there really need assistance – we don’t need to be a nation of webmakers anymore than we were ever really a nation of shopkeepers. The difference is we did know how to behave in those shops (well most of us).
I tried Evernote for the first time in the summer of 2010. It was getting a lot of hype and some people I knew and respected were big fans so I signed up but could never really get in to it.
Then when I started at the current job two things changed – 1) I was going to be working with an iPad so wanted to make the most out of that in the inevitable meeting onslaught and 2) I realised just how many notebooks I was burning through and just how many I was misplacing or losing.
I settled on Evernote mainly because it was the one I remembered and that it had a premium option – I try to avoid relying on anything free these days as they seem to inevitably disappear just when you are completely locked in!
The discovery of Penultimate and its integration with Evernote which meant my scribbles using my stylus would be indexed and searchable was a huge moment for me – I use this app constantly in meetings and it has revolutionised my note taking. They are actually useful *and* findable now!
The recent addition of Reminders means I am experimenting with to-do lists for the first time really – in the past I’ve basically just relied on a combination of my calendar, email and memory – but a combination of old age and Lotus Notes are screwing with that so this seems a good idea. Its early days though and still not natural for me.
This article on Lifehacker really made the whole thing click for me and like it suggests I chuck pretty much everything into Evernote now – I clip webpages, create notes to myself, use Skitch for screenshots – it is the repository for both my work and my blogging with scraps of notes and saved pages making up the foundation of about 90% of the content on this blog recently (for better or ill).
As Google Reader sprints towards the grave one of the big features I have been looking for in a replacement is decent integration with Evernote (and a decent Android client) so far thats been a deal breaker for the main contenders.
The fact it syncs across my iPad, Air, Nexus4 and the web version I can actually access in the office is invaluable and I think in general I am still only scratching the surface of its capabilities. I am not linking between notes or even really creating many notebooks but I am going to start experimenting more with both of those in the future.
In just a couple of months it has reached the point that I wonder what I did before it really (well I know – there is a pile of Field Notes and Moleskine notebooks on the bookshelf next to me – the ones I didn’t lose!) and I look forward to learning more of its capabilities over the next couple of months.
Ever since I saw this job ad back in November I have been waiting to see where Mozilla went with this idea of a science outreach arm to join the great work happening around education and open journalism.
Despite not having a scientific bone in my body (well apart from a liking for the fictional kind) I have spent the better part of my professional life working on behalf of scientists and researchers really – ESRC, Jisc and the MRC have all in particular been deeply involved in the open access movement at one time or another and you get a certain amount of insight just by osmosis!
My support for Mozilla is well documented on this blog and I believe their Webmaker stuff is growing into something truly impressive, albeit something I find less and less able to contribute, so I have high expectations for this programme as well.
I think the chances are that will be the case as they have chosen well with Kay Thaney leading this work. I don’t know Kay but I have attended a couple of events she organised and read her blog and Twitter over the years and she clearly has the know-how and connections to really make things happen.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this work and hope there will be some space for it around the Mozilla Festival later this year.
This is an article from January that has popped up a couple of times in my stream recently. After I mistakenly accused the Jisc website of having a carousel I was reminded of it again. The tide does seem to be turning against this feature on home pages and hopefully that trend continues.
I’ll be honest I think this is a real shame. I am a huge fan of the GDS Service Manual – I think it is a seriously useful resource for anyone running large websites particularly in Government but the previous strong endorsement of open source really could have been game changing – this not so much.
The fall out from PRISM continues and this in particular is a really interesting essay on why the ‘nothing to hide’ argument is simply not appropriate in this case. There was also a very good article from Clay Shirky in the Guardian about the scale and capacity that the NSA are likely to have from a technology stand-point – weirdly it was in response to something from David Simon, creator of the Wire and former journalist but not really an expert on surveillance of this scale as far as I am aware – now if it had been Lester Freemon speaking that would have been a different matter.
At an event I was at this week a couple of times it was mentioned that the imbalance between ‘following’ and ‘follower’ counts on Twitter in public sector and government accounts demonstrated a lack of engagement and ‘listening’ on their behalf.
Superficially I can see the basis of this thinking but the reality is it is a pretty poor metric to judge things by and doesn’t really factor in the reality of using that channel.
Are these organisations using Twitters own ‘list’ functionality to follow people? Are they using tools like Radian6 or Topsy to ‘listen’ and engage? The big test is when looking at their timeline is it just a one-way channel with no engagement or are they actually interacting with people on it? All these things and more are more important than the Twitter numbers.
In fact I’d be in favour of those numbers disappearing from public view anyway – maybe they can just be visible on the new Twitter analytics pages – as I don’t see what value they add these days with people buying followers and the celebs of every ilk getting ‘verified’.
[as an aside Susy at Department of Health wrote a great post recently about 'listening' on Twitter - well worth a read.]
Blooming heck seven weeks. Seven! Still feels like day one in a lot of ways.
I spent this week away from Newport – 3 days in Titchfield and a day in London for Citizen 2013 (working from home today). I’ve been (way) under the weather all week so it wasn’t really a great time to be living out of hotels but it was a pretty successful week nonetheless.
Recruitment is starting to go get going and I am hopeful we’ll get all the empty slots in my team filled this summer and with some really high quality candidates by the looks of things. The editorial team (soon to be retitled ‘content design’ in line with GDS) should be fully staffed in the near future and we had huge interest in our Video/Audio producer role so I’m confident of filling that with a great person as well. We will be advertising for a ‘Head of User Insight’ and a Product Manager in the Guardian as well as on the Civil Service job site in the next few days – they are both interesting roles and I hope we get a good range of applicants.
Had some very useful chats about the infrastructure and how we can get to a better place for user testing etc – particularly doing like for like comparisons with the current site vs some kind of beta version. There are a few hurdles but it seems like we are getting somewhere and everyone seems to accept the importance of the piece of work.
Yay the blog is sorted Going to ‘launch’ it on Monday and then aim for two posts-ish a week. I think it is going to be a vital communications channel for us – especially as it is clear from last weekends press that people aren’t seeing the work that is being done and so we need to be more transparent about what is happening and the decision making behind that.
User testing started this week – its a pretty sizeable card sort https://ons.optimalworkshop.com/optimalsort/test1 that can take up to 30 minutes but we have had a great response so far and it is vital work.
I’m not going to spend much time reviewing Citizen 2013 as I was feeling especially unwell during it and think it coloured my opinions unfortunately. There were some decent talks (I especially enjoyed the chap from Demos) but, for me at least, it was neither inspiring nor practical so left me a little underwhelmed. Like I said though that could well just be due to the fact I felt rotten.
Week eight is looking busy. Trips to Titchfield and Fleet, some important meetings and hopefully I’ll be kicking off some prototype projects.