Seven: Up


Here we are again. Season 7. Has any show ever been good at this point? Suggestions on a post-card (or comment).

I’m a bit fried to be be honest — it has been a slightly crazy few days. Good but crazy.

I was in New York for a few days (I attended a great event which I wrote about here) and returned at 9ish Monday morning. This was just the start of an adventure as while I was away were shortlisted for a project and invited to attend a pitch presentation. On Monday. In Sheffield. So I had to grab a shower and wash up in an arrival lounge and then get a couple of trains to Yorkshire (stopping at M&S to buy a shirt as I didn’t think my Killer Mike t-shirt was really the best look.)

To be honest I probably shouldn’t have bothered — I was riding a jet-lag and adrenaline buzz that led to a stream of consciousness pitch that sharply veered all over the place (I still think there was some smart stuff in there though!) and we weren’t successful. Once the adrenaline dissipated I was shattered and fell asleep on the train back to Bristol — waking it up just in time. Never done this sober before!

Tuesday I was back in Taunton at the Hydrographic Office which is my new project. Now Taunton is not as close to Bristol as you might think — all in it is almost a two hour commute each way — but it is a pretty relaxing trip. The project is really interesting — it is the purest consultancy type assignment I’ve had so far — I’m there to observe, advise and recommend. The people are pretty great, the opportunities are enormous and the culture is just a little eccentric. These are my people really 🙂

Not surprisingly given my preferences I’ll be focusing on people, product and propaganda for the immediate future. My ‘hot takes’ have identified a bunch of areas I think I can assist with so the next week or two is just observing and poking a bit at those ideas to see if they hold up before I dive into them fully. Also David Carboni will be joining me on site soon as well so we can approach things from different angles.

It was also good to catch up with Terry Makewell — he is the CTO and it is always good to know that you are like minded with the people at the top!

Something I’m trying a bit this time is a version of something the devs at mySociety do on Slack. Basically they all had open x-firstname channels where they would kind of narrate their day, capture ideas, ask themselves questions and just sort of think out loud. It is a useful discipline I find and the benefit of doing it in an open channel is colleagues can drop in, ask questions or just get a feel for what I am up to (it also helps reinforce the feeling of being part of Notbinary and avoiding going too native on these contracts!).

Thursday evening I agreed to be on a panel at the Bath Digital Festival. This was slightly weird given I really don’t like panels! It was kind of fun though — I liked the format in that we were given the questions in advance so I was able to prepare a bit and also I decided to be a little…contrary(?)…on the panel to make it a bit more fun for me and the audience.

The questions were:

1.My children have grown up in a world where we’ve been allowed to share everything we do on social media platforms we thought were relatively safe. Following a number of high profile hacks, are they now at risk of losing their identity and what can I do to protect them from ongoing identity theft?

2.Can I trust anything I read online?

3.SaaS is very lucrative, especially for cloud providers, but it’s also created tensions between the open source creators and community because popular project often don’t benefit from a return contribution of code or revenue. When does it become unethical to use open source software without contributing back?

4.Do the panel expect that when they grow old, they’re going to be looked after by robots — and are they looking forward to it?

For one and two I mainly dropped in references to the work of Doteveryone, Mozilla, James Ball and Full Fact. I also totally stole Yoav Schlesinger’s ‘road safety’ analogy about responsibility needing to be shared between the users, manufacturers (internet giants in this case) and regulators.

For the third question I was a bit feisty about the definition of ‘open source’ that seemed to be suggested so that was fun and then — amusingly — I took the side of the Cloud Big Three in the discussion about whether they contribute enough to the open source community. Not sure I believe it really but it sounded like I did I think 🙂

For question four I was last and it was the last moments of the session so I went slightly off the rails. I believe my answer was something like;

Given post Brexit we’ll be closer to The Road than Wall-E I suspect I’m more likely to be given an Eskimo style ending — left on an iceberg or something to die as soon as I can no longer contribute — than have robots looking after me in my dotage.

Always leave them on a high note!

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I watched ‘A Star is Born’ in New York. Bloody hell. Not sure what I was expecting. I knew the storyline but it still totally ruined me! The chemistry between Cooper and Lady Gaga was about the most convincing I’ve ever seen in a movie and if you have ever been around serious drunks in your life his performance was painfully real to watch at times.

I’m all in on the rapper Murs at the moment — lyrically he really is something special →