Interesting links – 18 Feb 2021

I find interesting things to read, bookmark them, save a chunk of text as a quote, and then occasionally copy and paste it all into a blog post, so you don’t have to.

Digital Inclusion Toolkit: now live

Leeds and Croydon Councils recently won central government funding to create a comprehensive and collaborative how-to guide for digital inclusion.

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Delivering and accelerating in a pandemic – DWP Digital

Within DWP Digital our Technology Services team designs, builds and operates that platform, and in the last 10 months has ‘moved mountains’ to keep those services going.

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Working Smarter Field Guide

Learning informally and socially means connecting our individual work with our teams, communities, and networks. It requires honing our curiosity and seeking out different perspectives and ideas. It takes more than individual sensemaking to understand complex situations, so we have to find others to challenge our assumptions and learn at the edge of our professional abilities.

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The tiny video toolkit

People ask me [Coté] how I do the tiny videos. I hope to do a screencast at some point, but in the meantime, here are some notes.

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Announcing our new digital skills training offer – MHCLG Digital

We’re inviting local authority staff to apply for one of 10 certified courses with FutureLearn, covering a range of topics such as accessibility, design, decision-making and leadership. We’re testing the water with a small number of licenses and courses, but if we get enough positive feedback we’ll look to purchase more and make it an ongoing thing.

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Interesting links – 9 Feb 2021

More nuggets spotted online, shared for your edutainment.

5 tips on running virtual events – DWP Digital

One of the biggest learning points for the events team was that you can’t take a plan for a physical event and simply run it virtually instead. It just doesn’t work. You need to create a way to engage attendees remotely, while they’re having to do most of their work through their screens, from their home. However, virtual events have a lot of opportunities for being inclusive and allowing people to join in regardless of whether they can travel to another location.

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Retail, rent and things that don’t scale — Benedict Evans

Part of the promise of the internet is that you can take things that only worked in big cities and scale them everywhere. In the off-line world, you could never take that unique store in London or Milan and scale it nationally or globally – you couldn’t get the staff, and there wasn’t the density of the right kind of customer (and that’s setting aside the problem that scaling it might make people less interested anyway). But as the saying goes, ‘the internet is the densest city on earth’, so theoretically, any kind of ‘unscalable’ market should be able to find a place on the internet. Everyone can find their tribe.

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Being Human – Catherine Howe

Bureaucracies are designed to protect themselves from harm – they have formal complaint routes and escalations and a hierarchy that is there to maintain the status quo. And when you look at a wider context you can see some of the drivers for this – the more we see a world based on risk and blame the harder it is for us to be human and authentic in our interactions.The first time fix of customer services is allowed for simple questions – to go there with more complex stuff brings levels of risks that most bureacracies are not comfortable with as it takes you to the place of difficult choices and trade off – the messiness of complexity.

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The Real Novelty of the ARPANET – Two Bit History

Today, the internet is a lifeline that keeps us tethered to each other even as an airborne virus has us all locked up indoors. So it’s easy to imagine that, if the ARPANET was the first draft of the internet, then surely the world that existed before it was entirely disconnected, since that’s where we’d be without the internet today, right? The ARPANET must have been a big deal because it connected people via computers when that hadn’t before been possible.

That view doesn’t get the history quite right. It also undersells what made the ARPANET such a breakthrough.

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Interesting links – 4 Feb 2021

Some bits and pieces I have been reading lately.

The relentless Jeff Bezos – Stratechery

What is clear, though, is that any attempt to understand the relentlessness of the company redirects to their founder, Jeff Bezos, who announced plans to step down as CEO after leading the company for twenty-seven years. He is arguably the greatest CEO in tech history, in large part because he created three massive businesses, all of which generate enormous consumer surplus and enjoy impregnable moats: Amazon.com, AWS, and the Amazon platform (this is a grab-all term for the Amazon Marketplace and Fulfillment offerings).

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To build or to buy – that’s the technology question – GDS Technology blog

Regardless of the route you choose, you cannot outsource risk. It’s important to make sure you have the resources, insight and knowledge to manage and oversee your products in the long-term – whether you build, buy or both.

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Users or people? – dxw

As Russell Davies said in his blog post, Consumers, users, people, mammals: “If you need reminding that your customers/consumers/users are people you have bigger problems. Changing what you write on your briefs/stories isn’t going to help.”

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Links of note 27/1/20

I find this stuff, so you don’t have to etc etc

Keep, Fix, Enhance, Swap, Replace: Five options for public service reform – Eddie Copeland

Of course, everyone knows that in the real world, options are limited by time, money and statutory responsibilities. Less obviously, the solutions we choose to implement may be constrained by our perception of what level of change is, in principle, possible.

What does good product governance look like? – Kylie Havelock

As a product community we share many of the same stakeholders and user groups, at both a national and local level. This means that teams often fall under multiple governance mechanisms, presenting new risks; the inefficiencies linked to double or triple reporting, and the risk that different boards disagree on each other’s decisions.

Our (dxw’s) guides on delivery – Richard Norris

It’s the role of our delivery leads to help the team find the right working pattern for the project. To balance the need for flexibility against the need for consistency, we’ve crafted a handful of guides to use for the various meetings (or ‘ceremonies’) and updates that we use on a project.

Why mission patch stickers matter (and how to get a Croydon Digital one!) – Annie Heath

A tribute to the humble laptop sticker, used by CDS and digital teams everywhere to celebrate good work and communicate values.

Delivering digital service: this much I have learned – Matt Edgar

…over the years our industry has got much, much better at delivering digital services. I’ve been privileged to work with high-performing teams that have both the trust and the tooling to do their best work…Sadly the good practice isn’t evenly distributed, and I sometimes find myself feeling the same frustration rising as it did that day almost 20 years ago…In this post, I’m trying to draw together the threads of good practice as I see them.


You can find everything I have ever bookmarked ever on Pinboard. I also tweet out these bookmarks as I create them.

Links of note 13/1/20

As mentioned in this post, I have started to find some time to read a bit more, and to bookmark useful stuff. Here’s what I have found in recent days (if I am honest, less than I would have expected – although maybe the time of year is to blame for that).

The coming storm – Paul Clarke

I’ve seen enough of this now to know the cycle. You all know the cycle. Government business is being done badly. Everyone’s fed up. Influential voices outside the incumbent delivery team grow and grow. Eventually they get a go at it. Rinse. And repeat.

Chrome OS has stalled out – Android Police

Nearly ten years ago, Google shipped an unassuming, totally unbranded laptop to a large group of journalists and tech enthusiasts as part of a 60,000 unit pilot program. That laptop was the CR-48, and it was designed to showcase a project Google had been working on internally for well over a year. It was called Chrome OS.

How to explain to CEOs why fixing the plumbing matters  – Eddie Copeland

Where we’re working to fix the plumbing, we should be doing so specifically to enhance capabilities that improve boroughs’ ability to tackle real-world problems. We can only determine if we’re doing that well by proactively working with colleagues to deliver some real-world outcomes.

Ethical technology? – Catherine Howe

So much of our lives are subject to the unconscious biases and technological evangelism’s of the people who create the virtual worlds and services we spend so much of our time in and our current fascination with ethics is a desire to create a controlling framework around the tools and systems which are now controlling our lives.


You can find everything I have ever bookmarked ever on Pinboard. I also tweet out these bookmarks as I create them.

LINK: “What’s happening with the service standard?”

We first talked about updating the service standard around a year ago. Since then, we’ve talked to hundreds of people in central and local government.

It’s still a work in progress, but we think we’re getting close to a final draft which supports the government’s ambition to deliver joined up, end to end services that meet user needs. So we thought it would be useful to provide some details about the direction it’s going in.

Original: https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2018/09/12/whats-happening-with-the-service-standard/

LINK: “Salesforce adds low-code tools so everyone can automate their CRM workflow”

Probably the most important aspect of the new tools announced today is that they are based on the Lightning Design System, and so form part of the entire landscape of tools used to build Salesforce CRM applications. In earlier generations of the Salesforce platform, people often came up against what insiders used to call a ‘declarative cliff’, where they would come up against one small element that couldn’t be done via point-and-click, and then the whole process would have to be coded from scratch. Because the new tools are part of a single platform, the objects and process flows they create can be fine-tuned in Lightning App Builder, or handed over to a developer for more in-depth coding as required.

Original: https://diginomica.com/2018/09/13/salesforce-adds-low-code-tools-everyone-automate-crm-workflow/