[S05 E04] “Out of My Mind”

Jumping the shark

Not going to lie gentle reader I’m struggling a bit with season five so far. I am really not enjoying it at all — in seasons gone by I have been able to fire these off pretty painlessly, rarely spending more than 30 minutes on getting something semi coherent published. It is safe to say that is not what is currently happening — they are a grind at the moment.

Honestly I am off my game. The whole diabetes thing really has knocked the stuffing out of me — I’ve had some time to get my head around it now and honestly I rarely think about anything else.

Anyway I’m just finding blogging hard at the moment. I doubt I’ll stop — it is near as I get to therapy(!) but you might want to unsubscribe until I get my shit together.

Funny thing is it is all going pretty well and physically I probably feel better than I have in ages. Oh well.

It was a pretty full on week. I spent all day Monday with Tony and Lucy downloading all I could from them about our work with Wikidata and our EveryPolitician project. There was a LOT to take it. It is an ambitious piece of work with some huge upsides but it has a fair few moving parts and I find Wikidata conceptually quite hard at times. I don’t doubt its worth as a central platform for open data of all sorts though. There are still too many silos of open data, too many ‘portals’ with too few features that will never reach critical mass. Everyone who knows me (professionally) is aware I am not a big fan of Linked Data or the Semantic Web but Wikidata feels like the least theoretical, most sustainable approach to making the ‘web of data’ a reality. I’d really like to get people I know in the wider open data community excited about the possibilities. Maybe I’ll pitch something at OpenDataCamp in Belfast.

Last week I mentioned Blooming Rose and a bit of a gap in our expectations of the project management style and my need to help fix that. So Tuesday I spent sometime pulling together something resembling a more traditional project timeline — including dates (that are a little challenging at times but should work out ok I think) and high level tasks both for us and the client. It is still far from a Gantt but hopefully it bridges the gap sufficiently.

There was also more time with Tony and Lucy plus lurking on some calls and in some Slack channels as I learned more about our work with/for Facebook. This is another important aspect of our emerging ‘Democratic Commons’ thinking and I’ll be shadowing Mark on our next project before taking a more prominent role in the relationship in the new year. Part of all this is learning so much more than I ever thought I would know about how legislatures work in other countries (and actually getting a much more detailed understanding of our own!). It is like an undergrad course in International Civics at times but all the more interesting for that.

Wednesday I spent the morning pulling together this months Better Cities newsletter — I think it was a good one this month (last months was a struggle.) Anytime I can get a Judge Dredd reference into a work output is always a good day! I spent some time plugging content in to the soon to be launched new FixMyStreet Pro website that Zarino has designed/built. It is really nice and I am so happy to be editing in a recent version of WordPress rather than some bespoke CMS. I think Zarino might have a different opinion though as it was doing some distinctly odd things to his design at one point!

Thursday was our Board meeting for the Limited Company (I’ll also be attending some of the Trustees Board meetings for the Charity side of mySociety in the future.) It went well I think — to be honest I contributed little. A couple of paragraphs in the papers and answered a few questions about my new role. I didn’t say anything stupid though (I don’t think!).

I also got a bit wound up about this blogpost from someone at GDS about why blogging is good for Government. I tweeted my disagreement and it seemed to strike a chord with a certain generation of digital gov types (and beyond). It has led to me deciding to rewrite a section of my talk for Agile Cambridge on Wednesday. When I do not know!

Today (Friday) I have been in and out as I was travelling to Leeds — I had a call with Blooming Rose first thing, was involved in a couple of Slack chats, managed to listen into the end of sprint show and tell on my phone on the bus to the train station, did some client support and then when I got to Leeds I jumped on a Hangout with our grant manager from the Wikimedia Foundation so Lucy could give them an update and I could introduce myself. They were interested in my ideas for outreach around this stuff so that should be fun — I always enjoyed my experiences doing bits and pieces with Wikimedia UK.

So here I am in a hotel room in a very wet Leeds. Maybe my environment is part of the reason the start of this post sounds so gloomy as that week doesn’t sound too bad does it!


Lost 3.1lbs this week which was an unexpected win as it didn’t feel like a great week. I also hit my 12,000 steps target a couple of days — including one when I was in the office which is a first. I also crept into the next stone down which felt like a big deal. All in all I have now lost 18.2lbs in 6 weeks.

Again that doesn’t sound too bad does it? Why am I in such a funk!


Not much to report this week — I finished Shoe Dog — the autobiography of the founder of Nike and found it a bit unsatisfying really. He really doesn’t come across that well — his management style is pretty dreadful, some of his business practices pretty amoral and generally where he thinks he is being deep and spiritual he comes across entitled and spoiled. It is an interesting story more generally though — how something as huge as Nike came into being based on the blagging of a recent college graduate with no experience and no real resources is a good story. Just with a horrible flawed hero.

I’m at Thought Bubble in Leeds this weekend so I expect the next edition will be full of stuff in this section!

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