Monthly Archives: December 2008

Bookmarks for December 30th through December 31st

Stuff I have bookmarked for December 30th through December 31st:

Best of DavePress 2008

Here are the posts in decreasing order of popularity that seem to have caught people’s attention in the last 12 months:

  1. The UKGovWeb Twitterverse
  2. WordPress.com widget guide
  3. 10 Cool WordPress themes
  4. 8 tips for beginner bloggers
  5. Macbook Wireless Problem
  6. Effective collaboration with wikis
  7. What is a ‘Digital Mentor’?
  8. ReadWriteGov
  9. Digital mentor update
  10. The different types of blog post

What a year!

There’s not long left of 2008 now. It’s been one of the most remarkable years of my life.

I started it living in Mawsley, near Kettering, which I and my family hated. We then moved to Broughton, also near Kettering, which was better. Now I’m typing this in the study in our house in Cottenham, near Cambridge. I’ve always wanted to return to living round here, yet never thought I would manage it. I love it here.

I started the year in a proper job, which I was starting to find limiting and restrictive. At that time, I didn’t know where else I could go. Over the year I got the confidence to realise that working for myself was what I needed to do. Thanks to the tremendous support I have received from several people – many of whom I have only really known since relatively recently – I’ve been able to find myself a bit of a niche and off the back of that, plenty of work.

So, (deep breath) massive thanks to Steve Dale, Jeremy Gould, David Wilcox, Simon Dickson, Steph Gray, Shane McCracken, Nick Booth, Dom Campbell, Lloyd Davis, Tim Davies, Emma Mulqueeny, Paul Johnston and many others… I literally couldn’t have done it without you.

A quick word about Jeremy – he posted today on his blog that he is leaving the civil service, to take some time off with his family and to return some time in 2009 in some capacity as a freelancer. His blog post hints at frustration in his day job and I think he must have felt pretty under appreciated there during the last months. I don’t think this does his department any credit at all and it is a pretty damning indictment that one of the most passionate and able people I have ever met was unable to find a role that suited him and his talents within the UK public sector. He’ll do very well out of the system, of that I have no doubt, but what a shame! If civil servants with a bit of vision and enthusiasm continue to be treated like this, there will be no good ones left. Simon has blogged his thoughts too.

Apart from my terrific friends, there is one other thing that has had a remarkable impact on my workloads, and that is this blog. During the whole of December 2007, DavePress got a measly 67 hits. December 2008 saw it receive 5,328 views. I think it is fair to say that every single bit of work I have picked up has started with a conversation beginning with, “Hi Dave, I’ve just been reading your blog and…”. Here’s some advice for anyone who might be thinking about going it alone at some point in 2009 – start blogging. It’s a remarkable way to build yourself a reputation from scratch.

I’m hoping that I stay busy in 2009, obviously, and that I start to develop a bit more of a business brain than I currently have. I want, as I think I mentioned in my ‘resolutions’ post, that I want to find the time to think a bit more about how all this digital participation stuff actually works, and what it really means for the government of this country. I’m not so sure than government is going to be ‘fixed’ any time soon, but the tinkering around the edges that’s starting to happen now can only help improve things a little bit for a lot of people.

Happy new year, everyone.

Some resolutions

Or maybe just stuff I’d like to get round to doing in 2009…

  1. Get more collaborative: I’d like to spend more time working with other people, and I’m hoping that in 2009 there will be plenty of opportunities for this to happen
  2. Be more helpful: I’m envious of Dominic and his projects like AccessCity and Enabled by Design. I’d really like to get into the social innovation space and dedicate some time to making things better for people that need it.
  3. Start podcasting: I’m already in danger of over-committing content wise, with this blog and my newsletter, but I’d really like to start doing a regular podcast, whether audio or video based.
  4. Make my blog posts nicer: at least by having more pictures in them. Steve Bridger, amongst others, always has a nice big photo introducing his posts. I need to spend a bit more time making my posts a bit more, well, pretty.
  5. Write something more substantial: than just short, quick blog posts. Maybe an ebook or something which lets me take the time and use a bit more space to develop my ideas a bit more (if that doesn’t sound too pompous).
  6. Develop the idea of communities: which ties in a bit with social learning spaces too. Really sell the idea of developing communities and community-based approaches in the public sector, and build up some resources people can use to help them.

Well, that’s six and I had better stop typing now so as not to set myself too big a challenge!

What things are you planning on doing more of next year?

TwitterHack

Twitterhack is a new blog I have started. And it’s horrible.

 

I hate ads on blogs, and this one has lots of them. It even has ads in the RSS, and the RSS isn’t even full text!

Here’s why I have inflicted this abomination on the world: I found myself writing – or wanting to write – more and more about Twitter as different stuff came to my attention, but didn’t want DavePress to become overwhelmed with that sort of thing.

Also, I’m kind of interested in how ads can be used on websites, how how you can use metrics to find out which bits of sites people visit and where they are most likely to click on the ads. So, why not turn my new Twitterblog into an ad experiment too?

So, if you are interested, feel free to sign up for the RSS or just visit TwitterHack now and again. But don’t send me emails telling me it’s horrible – I know it is!

FriendConnect

I hadn’t really had a chance to have a proper play with FriendConnect before today. It’s basically a Google service that lets you add social functionality to your website, based on the OpenSocial framework. This means that if you have an account with Google, AOL, Yahoo! or OpenID you can interact with the various services.

What does this actually mean? Well, it enables you to add (sort-of) social networking capabilities to your site, whether it is a blog or a traditional static site, by simply pasting in a bit of code. I’ve added two bits so far: one is the (rather pointless but kind of nice) ability to become a ‘member’ of this blog:

Which a marvellous four people had done at the time of typing (one of whom, er, is me). I suppose this is a little like MyBlogLog territory.

The second is hidden away on the Community page – it’s like a comment wall that you might find on a Facebook profile. I have been umming and ahing over adding a forum to DavePress to enable a bit of interaction between folk here. They do have a habit of looking a little empty, though, and this might just keep the barriers to entry low enough to make it work rather well.

I’ve never had a proper look at KickApps, who seem to offer a similar service. Can anyone share experiences on them?

Bookmarks for December 28th through December 30th

Stuff I have bookmarked for December 28th through December 30th:

Community facilitators

From Rich Millington:

A moderator keeps things normal. A moderator removes the extremes from the community. Moderating isn’t as hard as moderators would have you believe. You can typically find community members to do it.

A facilitator makes it easier for the community to communicate. A facilitator takes the community through a process, and does it well. A facilitator points out common objectives. A facilitator draws out opinions from less-vocal members. A facilitator helps the community tackle any stumbling blocks.

I think you should be a facilitator.

(I love Rich’s blog, by the way. It’s a recent find for me, but his short, pithy, confident posts containing an idea and very little flannel just work for me. Wish I could write this way…)

Bookmarks for December 21st through December 28th

Stuff I have bookmarked for December 21st through December 28th:

Tom Watson’s Christmas Message

Our Minister for Digital Engagement’s blog has a stark message:

Globalisation in a connected world did for Woolies. When my son is a teenager, his friends will arrange to meet online and share their music tastes before pressing the ‘buy’ button. They’ll discover the world from their shared trust in favourite web sites.

We are entering an era of profound and irreversible change to the way people choose to live their lives and organise the world around them.

And there isn’t a politician on the planet who is going to stop this.