Daily note for 15 January 2024

This from Dai Vaughan is really excellent on how technology failures keep damaging people’s lives, and how frustrating it is that the answers to this problem are well known, but unevenly implemented.

Mike Bracken’s take on Horizon.

Still noodling on what to do with the newsletter. Feels increasingly icky to keep using Substack but it is just so easy, and so free! Gah, ethics.

One by one, England’s councils are going bankrupt – and nobody in Westminster wants to talk about it.”

Daily note for 22 December 2023

Substack’s Nazi problem seems to be getting a lot of attention at the moment. It’s a weird one for me, because I just don’t see it. It was a bit like that for me on Twitter as well, lots of people would say how toxic it was, but that just wasn’t my experience. Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t care though! Of course, after the Musk buyout it ended up being the case that my experience on X was very affected by the unpleasantness, which is why I now pretty much never look at it.

Substack has a great writing experience, and it’s free, and it makes it easy to send e-mails to people that are nicely designed and readable. That obviously comes at a cost and I wonder if the adage that if a service is free, then you are the product needs amending to something like, if a service is free there are probably some shitheads paying on your behalf and that makes you a bit of a shithead too.

I’ve no doubt I will have to move my newsletter away from Substack at some point. It’s a faff though and the alternatives aren’t obvious. Maybe I could use my new WordPress emailing setup to DIY it? Doesn’t fill me with joy, I have to say.

dxw’s review of 2023.

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.

Daily note for 21 September 2023

I newsletter-ed and LinkedIn-ed about something I have been working on recently to help local public services increase their understanding of digital working and culture at scale. It’s an e-learning course which explains digital, user centred service design, agile, data and technology, all in a way that is rooted in the local public service context. Take a look, to see if it might help you.

What I learned in year three of Platformer – “Has the Substack revolution come and gone?”

Undertaking GOV.UK’s largest software infrastructure project – big, difficult things can be done without too much fuss, if approached in the right way.

Recoding America – “why government is failing in the digital age and how we can do better”

John Naughton reviews the recent Elon Musk biography.

How I use my RSS reader – love this sort of stuff.

I added a ‘now’ page to this website, explaining what I am working on at this moment in time. Thanks to Steve for the idea.

This morning I attended Lloyd’s first ‘parade’ via Black Elephant. It’s an interesting approach to online community building. I got to meet someone new, who I would never normally have had a chance to meet, and it provided an opportunity for some personal reflection and sharing – something I’ve been working on myself, so it came at a good time. The experience has also got my mind racing a bit about online communities, and what makes the good ones really tick.