Time for my annual self indulgent review of the year. This is the 4th year I’ve done this – 2009 was pretty horrible then things picked up over 2010 and 2011. Unfortunately at least work wise this year has been a bit of a step back. For the first time since about 2004 I feel genuinely burnt out this year. Without there being any single major crisis I have felt increasingly stressed and overwhelmed since about March and now at the end of the year – 10 days into a Christmas vacation – I still find myself unable to relax properly but without the motivation to do anything about it. Something is going to have to give pretty soon.
Anyway thats enough whining! I thought I would focus on a few of this years highlights instead;
Despite promising myself I wouldn’t get involved in events again after the stress-fest that was BeBettr I did find myself organising a small Govcamp related event this year as a part of the Bath Digital Festival. I enjoyed the experience and it seemed to go down pretty well with a bunch of brilliant speakers and a friendly atmosphere. I have a vague idea about running a follow up after Easter in 2013 – but hopefully in Bristol this time. Just need to get an idea for a venue.
I also helped out a bit more with Bathcamp the 1st half of the year – contributing ideas and attending more than previously. However a side effect of the issues above and the window provided by Mike moving on from running Bathcamp meant I stepped away from it completely a while ago now and haven’t attended since. Something I’ll try to rectify in 2013.
As far as attending events I had two real highlights that couldn’t be more different.
After years of wondering what the fuss was about I finally got a ticket for dConstruct in Brighton and proceeded to have my mind blown. It was a very different event than I expected but it really was a much needed shot in the arm and something that helped keep me on an even keel this year.
The other was a totally random invite to the World Government Summit on Open Source while I was in Washington DC for a different event. The opportunity to hear from such high profile speakers and to also realise that so many of the challenges I’ve faced at work are being mirrored across the pond was really interesting and enjoyable. The subtle difference in the UK & US approaches to many of the same problems was also an interesting insight.
After a few years of barely leaving the M4 corridor I did manage to get about a bit this year and in many ways that was my saving grace in 2012. I visited Helsinki, Washington DC and Copenhagen all in the 2nd part of the year and while Copenhagen wasn’t exactly an unprecedented success Helsinki was great and my trip to DC was brilliant. For all its many, many faults I do really enjoy visiting the US and am sad I have probably missed any chance of living/working there now.
This year I did buy a couple of shiny toys and my blogpost about the issues I had with the first one continues to drive more traffic to this little blog than anything else. My moaning about my Nexus7 on here and on Twitter ended up with me being quoted on the Guardian website and that link to this blog led to rather a spike in visitors! As it turned out once Google got their act together and sent me a working Nexus7 I loved it – in fact I loved it so much I also bought a Nexus4!
The Day Job:
Putting aside all the issues there were a couple of things this year I was proud of. We launched our first blog - which has since gone from strength to strength. I know this doesn’t sound like much but it was a real achievement in such a risk-averse organisation and while I was only involved around the edges I remain proud.
The other win was us venturing into the world of ebook production - this was difficult and we had to learn alot as we went along but it was something I really thought was worth doing and if we were slightly ahead of our audience this time we soon won’t be (look at the sales figures for iPads, Kindles & the Nexus this Christmas!) so we’ll be better prepared next time.
It was a huge year in the UK government digital space. The newly formed Government Digital Service not only delivered on the new single domain but also a steady stream of strategies, polices, principles and blog posts to get people thinking. They also continued to pinch staff from every corner of the web as well To be honest at times it was a bit overwhelming how much was happening considering how slow change came in the past and it did seem to create a bit of a two-tiered digital environment in the public sector – GDS and then the rest of us. Still there was considerably more positives than negatives and it guaranteed reading material for all my train trips!
2013 is just around the corner and I really don’t know what it will bring – except for my 40th birthday and don’t they say life begins at 40? We will see!