Daily note for 19 January 2024

A minor innovation in these daily notes – pulling out the occasional quote from some of the links, and then using a horizontal line to provide some separation. Also using the lines to make it clear when a multiple-paragraph comment from me is over.

Like this!:

I Made This”:

In its current state, generative AI breaks the value chain between creators and consumers. We don’t have to reconnect it in exactly the same way it was connected before, but we also can’t just leave it dangling. The historical practice of conferring ownership based on the act of creation still seems sound, but that means we must be able to unambiguously identify that act. And if the same act (absent any prior legal arrangements) confers ownership in one context but not in another, then perhaps it’s not the best candidate.


Designing service at scale” – loads of good reflection and advice in here.

Cool? No. Useful? Probably!

Daily note for 17 December 2023

Lovely bit of LocalGov blogging: Nature’s Genius: Service Innovation through Biomimicry.

This is a great story, about the wonder that was Yahoo Pipes, beautifully told… and now I am really interested in Retool, so I guess it did its job (tech marketers, take note)!

Working as a community to iterate the task list pattern:

We kicked off with an open call to join an online workshop, and had over 120 participants attend from dozens of government organisations. This helped us to understand the diversity of ways in which the task list pattern was being used, from application forms to case management systems, as well as collecting research findings, and user needs that the pattern was helping with.

From the workshops a smaller group, comprising designers and researchers from across different government departments, was formed to work on iterating the actual design.

Collaborating in this way wasn’t always fast – the work had to be fitted in around everyone’s main roles – but a dedicated Slack channel and semi-regular calls helped to maintain momentum.

Also this:

Daily note for 13 December 2023

Lloyd mentions how he likes writing the date at the top of his daily posts, as it reminds him of school. It does me too, on these posts, but also on the daily notes that I write more religiously using my Kindle Scribe. I am writing a log of pretty much everything that is happening, or that I see, or think, that feels particularly meaningful. It’s a marvellous aid to my memory, particularly as I discover more about how I struggle retaining information a lot of the time.

Indieblocks could be an easy-ish way of doing my preferred way of blogging through chunks and links in WordPress, maybe.

Am rather liking the challenging nature of some of dxw’s blogging these days: Service delivery is broken – it’s time to join it up.

Why Neil Williams writes weeknotes.

CAPE is quite interesting, collecting data and plans from councils on climate stuff.

Jeremy weeknoted. It really is just like old times.

GOV.UK Cookie banner and why it “won’t go away”

The struggles of the web browser.

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 Harold 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 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.

Daily note for 10 October 2023

Props to Doug for pointing out this free course called Mastering Systems Thinking. Am giving it a go!

Stockport Council published Towards a digital solution to reduce delays in transferring patients to social care.

Hurrah for Adele Gilpin and the West Northants digital folk for working in the open on their new blog!

Dan Hon writes in his newsletter about the imminent enshittification of Substack. This is not news I want to hear. I replied on LinkedIn:

I guess as well as Quora the other comparison is with Medium, which started out offering an amazing user experience for writers and an ok one for readers, but now seems to want people to log in just to read content.

The problem at the moment is that the experience for writers on every email platform I have tried recently has been so awful, it’s pushing people towards Substack, despite the fact that there are these warning signs for readers.

I’ve been coping with the slow death of Twitter by making more use of my blog, and maybe I ought to start archiving newsletters on there too, just to keep an open web version always available.

So expect to see a slew of posts on here soon, copied and pasted from my newsletters 😀

AI isn’t a drill, and your users don’t want holes

The Tyranny of the Marginal User – this is excellent:

What’s wrong with such a metric? A product that many users want to use is a good product, right? Sort of. Since most software products charge a flat per-user fee (often zero, because ads), and economic incentives operate on the margin, a company with a billion-user product doesn’t actually care about its billion existing users. It cares about the marginal user – the billion-plus-first user – and it focuses all its energy on making sure that marginal user doesn’t stop using the app. Yes, if you neglect the existing users’ experience for long enough they will leave, but in practice apps are sticky and by the time your loyal users leave everyone on the team will have long been promoted.