Week 39 at work

Coming out of the haze of two substantial bids this week felt like light work in comparison:

  • Finally submitted the Nesta digital r and d bid
  • Agreed how we’d use our Nexus 7 tablets for the English Magic exhibition. Finally get to make an ebook!
  • Waved goodbye to Mark who has been supporting our moving image digitisation programme
  • Shared my ideas with our interim director about online tools for running projects
  • Sat with marketing to discuss their input on the new website
  • Mark P took me on a tour of the M shed kiosks as we work to switch over from using umbraco to run them to our collection management tool eMU
  • Started to use basecamp for an internal project to showcase the benefit for the service. I suspect the Council has plans for project management across the landscape but no doubt it will something different…
  • I have taken on a lot of the evaluation and performance role functions so had a positive session with Fay to look at the essentials
  • Really enjoyed meeting an English Heritage  contact to find out how they are going to be approaching digital and I’ve offered to lend a hand if they need
  • Reviewed some tenders for a local partner. Please note that if you use public money we expect open practices and sharing of the outputs. If you don’t want to play then get off our court
  • Shared the first visual designs of the website with a fairly wide group and was excited to see the design language work.


Week 38 at work

This week was tiring and well over those 37 hours:

  • Attended the Council budget training for the second time – the user experience and user interface are so poor that please note ‘user acceptance testing’ is not the same as user testing from the beginning
  • Met up with a local business wanting to pitch us selling audio services
  • Showed our new website progress to the central comms team and got some helpful tips
  • Spent A LOT of time on our Nesta Digital r and d application only for the website to crash on submission day. A HUGE thanks to Gail Boyle for carrying me to the finish line
  • Met with fffunction to get a first peek at the website visual design
  • Spoke on Thursday evening at museumshowoff
  • Discussed what the next steps were for the British empire and commonwealth collection from a digital view

Week 37 at work

This week I managed to get up to:

  • Switched from an intensive and antiquated system for organising our exhibition ‘private views’ to using eventbrite
  • Enjoyed an event to officially launch our inclusive audio guide ‘DiscoveryPens‘ which Paul organised
  • We submitted our major Arts Council bid which is a huge deal for the future of the service, wish us luck!
  • Got the news that several great folk will be taking voluntary severance
  • Switched my brain from the ACE bid to the Nesta digital R and D fund for the arts bid
  • Started to outline key objectives for 2014-15
  • Enjoyed the Pervasive Media studio lunchtime talk about using ibeacons which I hope we can begin to experiment with
  • Outlined plans for several talks I’ll be giving soon

Roll on next week.

Week 36 at work

By the end of this week I could see the light at the end of the tunnel for two of our major project bids. I still managed to get up to some mischief:

  • Had a great chat with future cities to see how we may be able to work together. The museum should have a strong role to play, being one of the few free public indoor spaces left…
  • Dipped in and out of Arts Council bid stuff
  • Met with the University of Bristol and aardman to develop our joint Nesta bid. Great to have folks to bounce ideas off
  • Discussed what the folks at the L Shed needed from me to help them – scanning equipment, staying out of their way and putting in some wifi were the main areas of focus
  • Chopped it up with David from the Watershed to find out all about their digital work
  • Attended bathcamp 44
  • Attended a lunchtime talk at the pervasive media studio from Daniel Meadows
  • Two post-doc students from the University of Bristol demo’ed a prototype combining motion tracking and a clever way of interacting with objects. I really hope we can test this approach soon
  • Fought bravely for a digital budget…

Bathcamp 44

I attended Bathcamp 44 after a fairly lengthy absence. Both sessions were from former Government Digital Service (GDS) product managers and were highly enjoyable, unlike the one hour drive to Bath. Here are my notes from both talks combined:

Sarah Prag up first

  • Fix publishing, Fix Transactions, Go Wholesale – make everything widely available and let others build services from you
  • Simpler, Clearer, Faster
  • Saved £42,000,000 in 2013/3 and they started late into the year
  • Highest priority is understanding user needs – it’s all down to understanding user needs NOT your needs as an organisation
  • Data is your friend – what to your users Google? what are the most frequent phone calls? With this data you can set your priorities
  • Following user needs enables you to choose which battles to fight
  • Data tells you the language to use, for example should a section be headed annual leave or holiday entitlement (winner from the data)
  • Tell stories – As I… I want to… So that I can…
  • Content designer encompasses more than being a writer
  • Create a style guide – plain English first, then the official term
  • If you can’t figure out the answer from the data ask real users
  • We aren’t just fixing websites we’re transforming government said Mike Bracken at Sprint 14

Ross Ferguson notes

  • His work was to change the culture and lead on organisational change – “but we can’t, I can’t, we don’t normally…”
  • Bringing the civil service with us
  • Always be shipping
  • don’t tell, don’t show, ENGAGE

Danah Boyd explains free version of her book

Danah Boyd is a name you probably come across if you scratch the surface of how people use the web. Danah has just released a book called Its complicated: The social lives of Networked Teens which of course i’ll read. Interestingly she has released a free PDF version at the same time and explains why in What’s Behind the Free PDF of “It’s Complicated” (no, no, not malware…).

As I have an interest in how folks make modern day books and how the web affects this ecosystem, this is like gold dust! Also i’ll admit that I was planning on waiting to buy this book as I have such a backlog and i’m a slow reader. But reading the blog post I can see why buying now helps Danah, so i’ll be heading over to grab a copy as soon as i’m done typing this.

Finally, its worth noting the cost of the ebook kindle version is slightly more expensive than the print version if you buy it from the Guardian. I can only guess that cost and value are at play here… which to buy…


Week 35 at work

Pretty hardcore work due to the pending major bid deadline BUT still managed to keep these little plates spinning:

  • Attended day two of the No Boundaries conference
  • Neck deep in final Arts Council bid work…80 percent of my week
  • Got permission to purchase replacement IT kit
  • Discussed how IT and digital might support the Moved by Conflict exhibition. Particularly the use of sensors for interaction
  • Discussed how I could contribute to our third and final year Paul Hamlyn Foundation project
  • We conducted a half day user testing session for the new website with real visitors.