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.

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