I’m giving week notes another go as a way of trying to kickstart my blogging mojo and thought this time I’d go with a bit of a comic book theme to brighten things up (learn about DC 52 here..)
This week I started my new job at the ONS. At the moment there is some slight confusion about what my job title is but it seems to start with ‘Head of..’ and then be a pick and mix from Rich, Digital, Content and Media
I am responsible for the social media, analytics, design and web editorial teams and am operating as part of a major change programme. It is all very exciting with all sorts of opportunities but it is clearly a challenging environment with some unique constraints around publishing and security that effect everything on the digital side.
A lot of the topics for discussion so far have been very familiar (social media policies, podcasts, video, blogging, accessibility, CMS improvements…) but a major strand around visualising data (rather than Data Visualisation which is a respected department in its own right) is something I need a more in-depth understanding of so I am reading ‘Facts are Sacred‘ by Simon Rogers, late of the Guardian, on my commute and have the ‘Digital Journalism Handbook‘ waiting on my Kindle (funnily enough I was a Mozilla volunteer at the event that spawned that book and watched it unfold a little!). I have also signed up for ‘An introduction to visualising data‘ which is a Guardian ‘masterclass’ on my own dime and am hoping to learn a little at OpenTech in 2 weeks.
The team have been great so far – I am very much the new boy – a lot of people I am working with have been at the ONS a long time and have an incredible depth of knowledge about how the organisation ticks but they have all been lovely so far and made it easy to settle. The tendency for meetings to be booked in over lunch and people starting at dawn (well 7!) is going to take some getting used to though.
The team I am a part of is once again split over two sites but this time instead of the commuter train to London I catch the little chugger down to Fareham once a week. Prettier journey and less commuter angst seems like a positive so far. My daily commute to Newport has also turned out to be much easier than I was expecting (and even cheaper).
All in all it was a good, if intense, first week. I’m not sorry that this is a long weekend thats for sure
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.
33 weeks of constant blogging has been achieved – the best unbroken run of my blogging career and it worked even better than I hoped as a way of getting me thinking and identifying other things to blog about. It is also an interesting record of my year in the JISC Innovation team to look back on in the future.
As it happens my maths were a little out and I have 10 more days at JISC – so it should have been /35. That said I am going to draw the weeknotes to a close now. I haven’t decided whether I will start up again at the MRC – I don’t know their feelings on this sort of thing yet and I’ll need to get a feel for things first. Also it is becoming clear that I have more to say often about my side projects so maybe the focus needs to shift there.
I have written a post that is sort of a ‘leaving interview’ – well if I interviewed myself – that I will publish on the 15th October. It looks back at the last 12 months and is pretty honest I think.
This week the focus has been getting the Briefing Day sorted – and I think that is looking good. I visited the venue today – it is a bit Hogwarts in places but I reckon it is going to work well. Also I continue to have a series of ‘handover’ meetings as I try and justify and explain what I’ve been doing this last year so someone can pick up the few things left.
The team is releasing a pretty sizeable call for funding document on Monday which includes an explanatory briefing paper which I had the pleasure(?) of reading through and giving some feedback on. One section on Identifiers for web pages was actually pretty interesting to me as I retain a bit of fetish for well formed URLs – the whole human readable and hackable aspect of them anyway (I am less interested actually in the Persistent Identifier for everything aspect that is so important to Linked Data which I guess is a surprise to noone given my history of being unconvinced by LD..)
Had a couple more signups to Bettr and next week will give it a big push – starting with the launch of the new, Evenstreams powered, website and news of the Learning Without Frontiers discount offer. I’m going to ask some of the speakers to push things out via their channels as well.
Eventstreams is looking amazing – the feedback we have had so far has really helped simplify things and Stefs work has been amazing. I’m going to have to slow down my involvement for a couple of weeks once I start at the MRC just to free up some headspace but I am very proud of what Stef has built already and it is only going to get better.
I was also very pleased to get my first blogpost done for the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival – I’m hoping to get at least four more done before the Festival starts and then a couple during and after.
Today I am in London just sorting out a last few things – it will be my last visit to the London office which does feel a little weird. I’ll be heading off for a couple of beers at the tiny Savoy Tup in a bit and it will be weird coming to London and not heading for the Strand (or Centre Point) in the future.
The first half of this week was mainly defined by some weird bug that basically meant I spent alot of time throwing up without actually feeling particularly unwell. Didn’t make for a particularly productive start to the week though. I did manage to get a bit further along on organising the teams Briefing Day and also push out a survey covering the impact of JISCs work on ‘skills’ to a few people to see if my planned process has any chance of succeeding (my initial thinking by the way is nope – not in the timescales.. )
In a typical bit of timing as well I started this week to really start to get a feel for working remotely with the rest of the team – bit late in the day it has to be said and it is likely fueled by a certain amount of freedom knowing the end is nigh but nonetheless it was good stuff. I think the current restrictions and challenges that JISC is facing is going to force some innovative thinking around some activities that will be interesting to watch (from a safe distance!)
As far as the side projects are concerned I upgraded the hosting for Evenstreams this week which has made a real difference and the feedback we have received has all been very helpful and it is developing into a very slick app. In the next week or two we will start using it to manage the Bettr site as if anyone should be a true guinea pig I’m the most obvious option.
Speaking of Bettr I’ve been amazed at the support I’ve been getting from the organisers at Learning without Frontiers – they continue to astound me with their generosity.
I attended Playful on Friday for two reasons really – the first was to get a feel for the Conway Hall and what I’d need to keep in mind for running Bettr there and the second was to spark some inspiration on new thinking around doing interesting things with ‘digital’ to communicate with audiences. Unfortunately I had major transport issues which meant getting there late and, if I’m honest, in a poor mood. This might have effected my take on the 2 hours of talks I did stay for but while I thought they were fun (especially the talk about being contrary) it was even more frivolous than I expected and as such I left after lunch (though it was good to see Frankie, Ben and finally meet Mia). It was a success though as far as ideas for Bettr is concerned – got a clear picture of the day in my head now (and am more certain than ever of the need for a good ‘host’ for the event!).
I contact multiple people this week to get started with my blogging for Drumbeat as well. I am determined to have posts with all the people who were both at FUKOER and will be at Drumbeat. It will be challenging but doable I think.
I’m having a few beers in London on Friday as phase one of my leaving schedule and I also have the pleasure of tidying p and explaining the budgets I’ve been responsible this last year on Wednesday so that’ll be fun.
This has been a good week
I got the call Monday confirming that I will neither be joining the growing ranks of the unemployed nor the (seemingly equally growing) hordes of freelancing digital types. I’ve already written about my soon to be new gig so I won’t revisit that here other than to say..YAY!
I’ve also written about the fact we have opened Eventstreams up to alpha testing – this seems to be going well and we have had some useful feedback already. We are going to need to upgrade the hosting rapido and that is on me to sort this weekend but otherwise we seem to be onto something.
Bettr got both some much appreciated support this week and also a small bit of (fair) criticism. Graham Brown-Martin who runs the major Learning Without Frontiers conference got in touch with some kind words and offer of publicity which I gladly accepted. They have a pretty amazing line-up already for their event earlier that week and I think I’ll be making my best effort to attend. On the critical side it was pointed out that the speaker list was light on women. I’ve mentioned this myself and my initial invite list was much more balanced. I am still hoping the final day will be more reflective of the education space on this issue.
Back to the day job and to be honest that went pretty well. I think the fact that I am no longer fretting about what happens next means I can get my head back into a useful space again plus the fact I only have 20 days left means I can focus on just a couple of things and make sure I see them through. I’m going to lead on the logistics of the IE Briefing Day that Andy announced and also coordinate a couple of (non) communications projects through to completion before I leave. Hell, I even enjoyed yesterdays team meeting!
Oh and I also started organising my leaving do which is probably the most important thing!