Daily note for 27 November 2023

Miserable day here, weather wise. Very cold and very wet. Sort of weather than makes me want to hibernate!

I newslettered for the first time in a while. Lots of lovely people replied to say it doesn’t matter if I don’t get round to it as often as I feel I ought to. Love you all.

Neil’s weeknotes really are a joy to behold.

Been using Zoom a bit more recently for online meetings. There’s something about hte simplicity of it that I really enjoy. Also the idea – not limited to Zoom, of course – that it is a simple, cheap technology that you can use for whatever you want. It’d be easy to start a business with a website, an email address and a Zoom account.

Digital and Data – Continuous improvement assessment framework (via Ben Cheetham) – worth bearing in mind as I work with others on the Local Government Digital Quality Model.

Get involved with the launch of early access to GOV.UK Forms.

Why’s it so difficult for councils to adopt the same technologies?

Chunks, anchors and textcasting

Lloyd is experimenting with adding anchor links to the chunks of text that make up his daily note style blog posts. It’s an interesting thing to do, and is very reminiscent of the way Dave Winer structures his blogging. Lloyd is doing inside of WordPress, which I can imagine must be a bit of a faff, while Dave W’s got a custom blogging platform that just works like that.

Most of my blogging here is in the form of daily notes, which are, like Lloyd’s, chunks that I write as it occurs to me to do so throughout the day. Interestingly, if for some reason I don’t open MarsEdit (the editor I use to compose all my posts here) first thing in the morning, the daily note often doesn’t get written at all. It has to be open, almost to encourage me to record and reflect as I go about my day.

I think maybe the concept of ‘textcasting’ which Dave W has been promoting recently might be a part of all this.

I would really like to find a way to improve my flow around this stuff, particularly now I have landed upon Raindrop.io as a really great way to store helpful links. I took a look at IFTTT to see if I could at least send the links automatically from Raindrop to Bluesky, but it appears that Bluesky hasn’t built out that kind of integration yet, which is a frustration.

What I would like is for Raindrop bookmarks to be pinged out to Bluesky (maybe Mastodon and Twitter/X too, why the hell not?) straight away, and then for the title and the link to be dropped into the daily note post for that day. So not a WordPress post for every Raindrop bookmark, but the post for that day is created if it doesn’t exist, or added to if it does.

What complicates this is that I use MarsEdit to write these notes, and that’s a desktop app on the Mac. Maybe there’s something I could do with Shortcuts or Automator on MacOS instead? I’ve never used those though and wouldn’t know where to start.

Daily note for 22 November 2023

Raindrop is very good for social bookmarking it turns out. Mine are here.

As well as Neilly Neil’s welcome return to blogging, Lloyd is also publishing stuff on a more regular basis. This can only be a good thing. Tuesday’s was a good one, I thought.

Some awesome advice here on how to write a blog post.

Anne McCrossan is great at lots of things and one of those things is data. Found this post from her about data as a utility really interesting.

OpenAI’s Misalignment and Microsoft’s Gain – Ben Thompson’s take on the ongoing OpenAI kerfuffle. All this stuff just makes me nervous about the whole AI thing. Potentially game-changing, yes, but currently stewarded by bozos.

Daily note for 16 November 2023

Ouch, nearly a week since my last note on here.

I’ve been having a quiet week this week and it has done me a lot of good. Slowed down the pace a bit, spent a (little) bit more time outside, made some space to work on some things that are starting to come to fruition.

The main example of that is the Local Government Digital Quality Framework, which is my attempt at coming up with a scalable framework for councils to be able to figure out where they are at with digital design, data and technology. Most importantly, it also helps them decide where they want to get to, and how.

I’ll write a dedicated post about it though, as there’s a fair bit to say.

Was feeling sad about the dying art of social bookmarking reading this by Howard Jarche. In the comments someone recommended Raindrop.io which looks neat and I am going to have a play.

Am finding my Google-powered emails are struggling to get through some organisations’ spam filters all of a sudden. Shane and Steph recommended taking a look at DKIM records and things like that, so I did.

The different ‘flavours’ of service design – by Emma Parnell (subscribed!).

The Future of the Blogosphere – “Yet, despite its very different political-economic DNA, the blogosphere has become enshittified as clearly as Facebook, Google, or Amazon. Not just at the level of aging software, but at the level of the aging people who inhabit it, maintain it, and continue to churn out content on it, though at a rapidly decelerating rate.” Ouch.

Trustworthy AI in Government + Public Services — A self assessment tool from Oxford Insights.

Daily note for 10 November 2023

Excellent technology advice. There are lots of other product categories that this could apply to, I’m sure.

This is great, from Audree at Public Digital: Changing how we change in the public sector. Business cases, big programmes and all that stuff can really hamper good work.

This is another great post from the digital team at Stockport Council: Updating our website: new brand, better performance, and a lot of TLC.

Very useful update on the really important work happening in digital social care from Alice Ainsworth.

This Transformation Programme Director role at Tandridge looks like a really good opportunity for the right person.

Daily note for 6 November 2023

Happy new week!

Am hoping it is going to be a happier week for me, and that I can put the stresses of the last 7 days or so behind me a bit. Saw the GP on Friday about it all, he upped my Sertraline dose. Obviously that’s a sticking plaster rather than a fix, but hopefully it will give me a bit of space to make improvements elsewhere.

Lots of people have been in touch to check in with me. I am hugely grateful.

dxw’s Dave Mann on what needs to happen to improve digital delivery in government.

Lauren Pope’s sharing is just amazing. Take this latest belter as an example: Prioritisation for content teams: a guide.

Fab to see the Adur & Worthing digital bods blasting out more awesome work: Using Low-Code to build No-Code: Customer Enquiry Forms.

Understanding & tackling government’s true legacy.

Daily note for 3 November 2023

I published a newsletter on Wednesday, talked a bit about blogging. Hadn’t done one for a whole and picked a fairly safe topic just to get back into the swing of things.

Today’s innovation igloo was a right laugh, as usual. Next time, Nick, me and the gang are meeting on Friday 17th November at 1pm and will be discussing the steps needed for an organisation to become truly data driven. If that sounds like your idea of quality thought-nosebag, sign up!

Have had a difficult week this week. I think I’m suffering a bit with stress, with a lot of work on and things happening at home. That seems to be affecting my blood sugar, which seems very high all the time, no matter what I eat or how much insulin I take. Tuesday I felt absolutely done in and spend the day asleep in bed.

Eddie Copeland wrote a nice post: Maintain, Fix, Equip, Create or Involve. What scale of solution do YOU need? I like stuff about levels of change and it’s helpful for people to remember that change – digital or otherwise – isn’t monolithic. It can mean different things depending on context and the outcome that is desirable and realistic. I wrote my own (sort of) version of this a while ago.

How video and images can help people complete forms – useful from Aderonke Olutunmogun at Citizens Advice Bureau (also, gah! Medium).

Nice new site from Emily Webber pulling bits and pieces together around communities of practice.

Daily note for 29 October 2023

LocalGovCamp was lovely last Wednesday but exhausting. I did very well not to drink much at all the night before which definitely helped. But… so many people to talk to, so much going on. I attended way more sessions than I have done previously and I think that was a good move. Sometimes the opportunity to sit (a bit more) quietly and listen is a way to recharge the social batteries. Anyway, it was great seeing people and as always the energy of the local gov crowd, despite all the challenges, is always an inspiration. Credit to Mr Hill for his organising skills, and the sponsors for their support.

Neilly Neil is blogging again, hurrah!

The next innovation igloo is about blogging, don’t forget.

Full Stack Service Design is a model to help people break services down into the parts that make them and understand how all of these parts impact the user experience.”

Imaginary Problems Are the Root of Bad Software.

Abort Retry Fat is a brilliant newsletter about the history of various bits of IT. This one on Lotus, from 1–2–3 to Notes, is a belter.

How to run a daily stand-up – very useful from Alan Wright (as always).

Daily note for 23rd October 2023

I’ve had a quiet couple of weeks here on the blog. Also no newsletters in that time and limited engagement in places like LinkedIn and Bluesky. A dip definitely driven by my mood and stuff going on in life, but also because I’ve had a lot of work on and achieved some good things.

LocalGovCamp on Wednesday this week, in Bristol. First time I have stayed away from home in over a year and ngl I am a bit antsy. It will be nice to catch up with people but also – I suspect – exhausting.

I have been putting together a kind of minimum viable project documentation thing in Google Spreadsheets. There are so many projects on the go in local authorities in particular that require a certain amount of documentation, no matter how old school it might feel. Often though it just doesn’t get done, and that’s largely because there’s often a gap between project document templates, which tend to be large and overblown, and just keeping a list in a notebook, which sometimes turns out to be inadequate.

Of course documentation is never the reason that work fails, but sometimes it can provide a bit of a foundation, and having reasonably nice to use and look at, lightweight documents make it all a bit easier. Of course, I would recommended people make their own copies of this thing and adapt the hell out of it to meet their needs. It’s unlikely they are the same as mine.

In a message to a chum, just now, on blogging: “I think it’s just a case of finding a rhythm that works. I find posting little snippets – or aggregations of snippets – works well for me at the moment. As soon as I try to write 500 words on one topic I seize up”

We ran an Innovation Igloo on Friday last week, on service directories, and it was well attended and people seemed to enjoy it. They now seem to be a regular fortnightly affair on a Friday lunchtime. The next one is on Friday 3rd November at 1pm, and it is about blogging and working in the open.

Service directories are a really interesting example of what is on the face of it a very simple technology answer to a policy problem, but one that with a little imagination could be scaled up and out to help design a new operating model for a whole bunch of local public service delivery – and most importantly, prevention. I need to write it up really. Anyway, well worth checking out the Open Referral standard for directories and the research Jukesie is doing on engagement with said standard.

The humans of digital transformation – a talk for Digital Government North, and reprised for the GDS Speaker Series – lovely stuff from Matt Edgar.

Nice reflective week notes from Alex.