2009 – The Year I Was Sent to Coventry

This time last year I wrote a bit of a review of the year that had just passed and was happy enough with what I wrote to promise myself I’d do it again so here I am.  2009 however was not a year I particularly want to dwell on.  Certainly from a professional point of view it didn’t really go as well as I’d hoped and I had a couple of really quite bleak periods where I wondered whether I’d have been better off just knocking it on the head and working in a shop somewhere.

I spent the first half of the year at Jiva and while I worked with great people I became increasingly unsure of what I was bringing to the table any more and some of the decisions around direction of the product at one point weren’t really ideas I felt I could get behind and I lost some of the motivation I felt I needed to make it work (that said since I left the direction has very much shifted back to an education focus!).  I also over reacted a little to issues around job stability and so I made a decision that I would be best off returning to the public sector to feel a little more secure (what can I say – when I’m wrong, I’m WRONG!)

So in the summer of 2009 I embarked on what will only be referred to as the Coventry experiment.  All references to this 3 month experience have been removed from this blog and my CV as it is something I feel is best forgotten.  Despite again being lucky enough to work with some great people I found myself in an organisation totally unprepared to operate in this digital world of ours and so obsessed with covering their backsides that nothing actually gets achieved.  Aaarrrggh – just thinking about it is taking me to a place I’d rather not return to.  The whole experience shook my confidence and seriously made me rethink the direction my career was going and if I’m honest three months later I’m not sure I really have resolved that.

Not for the first time career wise I caught a lucky break and was able to land a job back at JISC for a year covering maternity for a former colleague.  It has allowed me to end the year in a positive frame of mind and gives me some time to sort my head out while undertaking some genuinely interesting work (I am particularly interested in the OER stuff JISC is doing and also some general work around usability..) but with the massive funding cuts to HE announced recently I am not exactly confident that this will be a long term return but it is nice to be back amongst friends and doing something I believe in.

Did I learn anything this year?  I don’t really know.  I met alot of great people in person and via Twitter, went to some great events and made some realisations about myself from a career standpoint that I’m sure will help me in the long run but all in all I think in 2009 at best I stood still and if I’m realistic I think I probably took a backwards step.

So what about 2010?  Well keeping it down to only 2 jobs in the year and no moving to random cities would be a start!  I also want to spend some time putting some of my event ideas into action rather than just words written on a blog.    I have one idea that I think is really quite cool which I’ll be talking to people about soon.  I also intend to see if there is anything I can do to help out at Bristol Wireless and also the South Bristol Digital Neighborhoods stuff (though I still think a North Bristol Digital Neighborhoods initiative would be useful..)  The thing I’d really, really like to learn more about is all the multi-platform, digital storytelling type stuff that people at the Pervasive Media studio in particular seem to be involved in.  It always seems really interesting and just the kind of thing that if I was starting my career today I would want to focus on – particularly from an education point of view.

Anyway here is to a great 2010!

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