On Thursday I said farewell to my friends and colleagues at the Research Council and Monday I start my new role in Newport with the ONS.
I was sad to leave Swindon in the end – an element of this is probably ‘graduation goggles‘ but a bigger part is I was lucky enough to work with some genuinely lovely, talented and hard working people.
I stayed in the role 30 months – which I know doesn’t sound like much to most people but to me was virtually unheard of. The first year plus it was a dream job in many respects but unfortunately a combination of my taking on too much (and not delegating enough) and a particularly dysfunctional project I was drawn in to made the latter half of 2012 especially difficult and left me a bit broken by the Christmas period.
I won’t dwell on that though. When I started the organisation was still a little bit uncomfortable with embracing digital and in my own little way I like to think I have helped changed that over those two and a bit years.
The success of the blog, the Centenary website and the upcoming citizen science projects that will spin out of that, the experiments with the Annual Reviews – 1st with an early responsive site built in Ruby and then publishing ebooks for both Apple and Kindle, starting to take Twitter and Facebook more seriously as genuine channels, working with Wikimedia (which is continuing being led from outside the digital team), the use of WordPress and open source throughout the wider organisation (including for commentable documents and intranets) and the increased acknowledgement of the importance of analytics and data for decision making are all things I am proud of even if sometimes my involvement was peripheral.
My failure to deliver a new CMS and corporate website in that time however is beyond disappointing and will haunt me for a while I fear.
I’m confident the future of digital there is in safe hands though and just like I still do with Jisc I’ll continue to watch with interest in the months and years to come.
So Monday. I am excited and unusually nervous about this new role. It is a bigger role at a bigger organisation and while I’m pretty confident in my own abilities it is still quite daunting. Ever since I was offered the job I notice the ONS mentioned on every TV news story and in every newspaper – every. single. day.
It is undoubtably a wonderful opportunity though and after a long notice period I cannot wait to get started. Hopefully I will also return to regular blogging here as well now.
For 33 weeks in a row at JISC I wrote my ‘weeknotes‘ – it was about the best run of blogging I have ever managed and also helped me make sense on what was going on at JISC doing a job that didn’t always make sense to me!
I’ve decided to dust off the idea but with a particular focus this time. We are [finally] about to start our web ‘refresh’ project after pretty much a year (or two depending on if you count the 1st attempt) of back and forth. A CMS has been selected, a supplier has signed on the dotted line, a migration plan has been drafted and a design refresh has been agreed.
The project has some *extremely* challenging timescales, an awful lot of dependencies and is not exactly overly resourced. All-in-all pretty much the same as usual then
My plan is to cover the project up until we launch – there will be elements I can’t blog about I would imagine but for the most part I’m sure it will be pretty transparent (though like Joe Friday used to say “the names have been changed to protect the innocent”) the idea being that maybe some of you can learn from the pain I will inevitably suffer but also it will stand as a reminder to me not to do this again! I will try and explain some of our decision making and share mock-ups, wireframes etc as we go along.
The technology is all open source so I figure I’ll run the project in an open manner as well (hopefully it will help me write my internal update reports as well.)
We’ll count this as a kind of weeknote foreword and I’ll get started properly at the end of this first week.
Klouchebag will die soon. Here’s why.
Tom Scott has a gift for making fun web ‘things’ that get a lot of attention. He also speaks a great deal of sense. This post is the best thing I have read about the latest strategic changes that Twitter are implementing. It is a clear and pragmatic response to something that has clearly peeved a great deal of the development community but isn’t (in my opinion at least) that huge deal so many are making out of it. I think it comes back to this tweet from Dave Winer again;
This little Twitter crisis has also been a boon for the fundraising efforts of app.net – a startup that aims to provide an ad-free alternative to Twitter. For $50. Personally I think it is another vanity project that is likely to be little more than a tumbleweed farm. Diaspora anyone? [though it did spawn a wonderfully funny parody site - http://ihave50dollars.com/ which is nice.]
How to Buy Digital Engagement Software by Gez Smith
I think this is a great article by Gez and is valid for any digital procurement project not just for engagement. Points (2) and (3) are particularly favourites of mine.
Funnily (not sure thats the right word really!) I have just been involved in a major procurement for digital software and we did not follow a single piece of this advice. In fact I’d suggest we did the exact opposite the majority of the time. The thing is we followed procurement rules to the letter so it just shows how far we have to go still.
“Celebrating 10,000 Followers!”: Social Media is About Nodes and Connections
Spurred by the announcement the JISC Twitter account had reached 10,000 followers Brian Kelly takes at what makes social media such a useful tool and the importance of the network effect.
As someone who helped introduce Twitter to JISC back in 2007 it is interesting to see how it has grown and also how their use of the corporate channel has changed. For a long time it was just an automated feed powered by RSS from the websites but the last year or so it has started to have much more personality as individuals from the Comms team become the voice of @JISC.
I do think the final paragraph is where Brian really hits his stride. I remain convinced that it is when expert individuals are empowered to communicate on behalf of organisations in their own voices, from their own accounts that you get the real benefits of social media and that is when lasting communities are formed. This isn’t easy and requires trust on all sides but I do believe it should be the goal. This goes back to the ‘credible voices‘ stuff I wrote about recently.
How to Focus and Stay Productive When You’re Expected to Always Be Available and Managing Email Realistically
I’m cheating a bit here as this is a 2-4-1 I have never really been a fan of all the ‘productivity porn’ thats out there and particularly dislike the cult of GTD and ‘inbox zero’. That said I do seem to be underwater an awful lot at work these days so could clearly do with a little guidance on how to keep from drowning.
Both these articles are much more based in my reality than most of the stuff out there. As a classic middle manager I pretty much have to be available to my team, my boss and my peers all the time – I use the headphones as ‘fortress of solitude’ technique more than I should I think but its tended to be the only way I can carve out some time to actually fight through my to-do list (either that or work from home but that creates a different set of problems.) I think between these two articles I I can see some tools I can use – whether I actually commit to using them is a different matter.
Terms of Service; Didn’t Read
This has been doing the rounds for a week or so. The goal of the website is to create short, rated descriptions of all those social media ‘terms and conditions’ we all accept without reading. Its clearly a great idea as it shines a light on just how terrible some of these ‘ToS’ are. Will be interesting to watch as it grows and whether if has any knockon effect to the companies named and shamed.
Humap > Young Rewired State
Last week was the latest edition of YRS – and from the Twitter buzz it seems to have once again been a huge success. I just thought I’d highlight this one winning hack just because the idea is so flipping brilliant (I have no idea if it works!). Basing directions on ‘landmarks’ is such a wonderfully human-friendly idea. I navigate Bristol essentially using pubs as points of references and I don’t think I have ever given or received directions without landmarks being used for context. Great stuff.
“If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” Jim Barksdale