52: Week Twenty Four

Was on the road this week – two days down in Titchfield and a day in London as well as a day working from home in Bristol.

Spent a lot of time speaking and thinking about search again this week. We currently have a number of search related projects working in parallel – basically we are attacking the sites biggest failing from every direction we can think of. None of the work will be a silver bullet to fix our search but hopefully the incremental improvements each will achieve will aggregate up to something significant.

I gave a talk to colleagues in Titchfield about our new infographics guidelines. They seemed to go down reasonably well – there was some concern that we were maybe muddying the water around some existing standards for the creation of charts etc and I’ll take that on board. I think the guidelines are really useful and represent a good starting point for people – they aren’t perfect and hopefully they will evolve over time.

Honestly I remain a bit conflicted about infographics in general. I can see their appeal but I do believe they are overused (and as an organisation we are certainly guilty of that) and sometimes they just are not the best way to represent the data – just the prettiest. I think there is a growing backlash against them –>>

Thursday I attended the Government Heads of Digital Communications hosted at the Department of Business. I wrote about this in an earlier post – what I didn’t say there is that it sparked another career identity crisis in me again. Everyone seemed very much digital COMMUNICATIONS while I think I am more DIGITAL communications (if that makes sense). Maybe that is why my sympathies tend to lean more towards GDS rather than the people complaining about them.

As part of my ongoing immersion on the world of open data I also agreed this week to become the main ONS point of contact with the Open Data Institute.

For the first time I think since I took this job I started to see a picture in my head of how a future version of the site might look and work – this led to a burst of sketching ideas (mainly in my new Muji notebooks). I’m not sure if the ideas are even slightly sensible but it was nice to have something to work with.

I’m giving a talk at Social Media Southwest on Thursday which should be fun – I’m going to try and take a contrary position and say why social media isn’t always the answer. In particular I’m going to give Twitter a hard time 🙂

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