After the horror that was 2009 it has to be said this year has been pretty good from a professional point of view. It wasn’t without its ups and downs and there were some rough patches but all-in-all I can look back on it with some contentment.
The majority of the year I was still at JISC – to be honest much as I enjoyed being back there and working with so many great people I never really clicked with the role of Programme Manager. I could never really get a handle on what exactly was required of me and often found some of the tasks I was given too vague and ephemeral to really to get to grips with. I like to think there were areas I contributed to (particularly around OER and some of the events activity) but alot of the time I seemed to be expending alot of time and energy without really feeling that I was getting anywhere. Plus, and I guess I can say this now, there are some things I simply don’t ‘get’ – so much stuff seems to take place in some kind of parallel universe where the web didn’t win and the ‘not invented here’ and ‘our needs are unique’ problems are sometimes very frustrating in higher ed particularly.
The drama in the summer with my not getting an additional years contract was uncomfortable and to be honest I didn’t react as well as I should have. I still don’t think it was well handled but I don’t (and never really did) have any issues with the decision. Like I have said I never really fitted in with the Innovation team way of operating and my main motivation for wanting to stay was about the people rather than the work and I probably needed the boot in the backside to move on and get a job doing something I actually a) enjoyed and b) was good at!
Anyway despite the carnage that is happening to the public sector I managed to land a gig as Digital Communications Manager at the Medical Research Council – where I started the Monday after finishing at JISC! This job is very much a return to my roots. I’m running a large, content heavy website and a massive intranet plus starting to introduce more activity around the social web and digital engagement. Honestly I love the job – it is a great mix of the familiar and the new and as an organisation there are huge opportunities to start embracing. It is back to being quite close to Government which brings a unique set of challenges and dragging the technology up to speed in a period where money is beyond tight is going to be interesting but I’m looking forward to seeing what can be achieved.
This was also the year of the side project – Stef and I quietly opened up Eventstreams to a few people and are continuing to work on it. I think it really has the potential to fill a little niche in the market if I can just make the pitch a bit sharper. As an app it is already effing great due to the work Stef has put in. I have also been deep into working on Be Bettr which will be my last foray into the open ed / ed startup world I think. I’m looking forward to it but it has been hard work and a bit of a burden that I wasn’t prepared for.
On this blog I continued with the Weeknotes for my entire spell at JISC and overall wrote more posts than ever before. I contributed to the Mozilla Drumbeat festival and had a great time in Barca. I curated a Bathcamp evening (on the idea of a ‘Web of Data‘ of all things!) and spoke at the first Bristol Ignite about 2000AD comics. I got to know the Mild Bunch guys (and gals) at various drunken gatherings at the Canteen and the Colston Yard and also ventured south of the river a few times meeting some great folk there as well.
In many ways though I think I’ll remember this year for a sad event. Pete passing away in October was incredibly tough and even now a couple of months later I am not sure it has really sunk in.
I have decided to make a few changes in 2011 – mainly in that I am going to take on less side projects and generally go a bit quieter on both social media and the local geek events scene. I am talking about helping run one event in 2011 but that isn’t confirmed but it would be the only thing I will directly get involved in. I want to be a better writer – not just here but contributing elsewhere and on other topics as well (and maybe, just maybe see if I can write fiction like I have always wanted to!) so I’m going to focus my ‘cognitive surplus’ in that direction and see what happens!