Week 9

Monday was a Bank holiday. Tuesday was enjoyable as it was our second introduction to the visitor services assistants combined with a floor walk. Long story short a fair amount of our AV needs revisiting. The VSA staff use the kit and see the public using it all day and quickly pointed to poor interaction design, missing content and failing kit. The whole experience made me very glad I am taking the time to listen to the tiniest problems as there are some patterns emerging.
On Wednesday the guys setup for a special session at M Shed to celebrate 50 years since the Bristol bus boycott. Really good talks followed my my schoolboy error of lifting cables which were held down by masking tape… never again. Also the recording failed so we need to figure out exactly what caused this.
Thursday was a meetings day around our future data management planning.
On Friday me and Tom went out to Blaise Castle Museum to have a flying tour and then to discuss options for digital on-site. I think with a little investment we can make lots of impact on-site for the public whilst using the site as a testing ground for wider deployment e.g. Nexus 7 vs iPad.
Throughout the week our funding bid was shaping up quite nicely.

Week 8

This was my 8th week in the job and I think writing about what I do is useful for myself and hopefully some of the weeks will be helpful to others in similar roles as me. Plus I really like following Matt’s weeknotes.

This week I got asked “what I have actually fixed” since starting which reminded me that documenting the teams progress should help with our visibility and I can point to these weeknotes.

The week can broadly be split between thinking about our current audio visual offering (AV) and beginning to simmer and reduce my thoughts towards our digital plans.

AV kit, which covers items such as tv, projectors, touchscreens, and interactive interfaces (buttons to smash in kid talk) in the public areas get a hammering. From general usage being turned on for 70 or so hours a week plus anything that can be touched many hundreds of times a week, will inevitability be a point of failure at some point. I have been asking people within all parts of the service about their digital problems and aspirations. This week was the turn of the ‘front of house’ staff, all the helpful people who see the public in action and therefore are best placed to give me direct insight regarding the AV.

The team is quite large so I need to see more staff but the first group have said that out of order kit is the biggest issue – no surprise but is very helpful to have this confirmed. Kit that has out of order signage or is ‘off’ for no apparent reason makes us look bad and of course is required to aid the interpretation of displays.

So next week we’ll do a floor walk at our primary site to review every item of AV kit and also make usage instructions for each item widely available. Giving the staff the confidence that we are actively on the case is critical. Fixing, maintaining and future planning our AV will continue to simmering in the background.

One of my key tasks is to raise our profile within the digital sector, locally at first and then the world! As part of this I met with a few local arts organisations looking at partnering on a funding bid which will hopefully progress well in the next few weeks.

I also attended a local social media meetup run by Sift Digital which had a great session by Teresa Chinn an agency nurse who started @WeNurses. The gist of the session was that a community was built from the outside, not an organisation led initiative or under control of the biz – reminds me of unofficial fan clubs which is no bad thing. After the session we all had a good discussion so i’ll be attending future sessions when possible.

An example in a similar vein of relinquishing control is our Red Lodge Museum and their twitter account. Within a few weeks of starting I was doing the rounds of introducing myself to each museum and staff when I got a request from Mark at The Red Lodge Museum asking to tweet on behalf of the museum. I heard a straight-forward elevator pitch of what Mark and The Red Lodge Museum wanted to do and gave them the green-light the same day. Over the past few weeks The Red Lodge Museum account has been churning out very interesting items about the museum and its history. In fact it has been running so well that all of this week The Red Lodge museum took over the main Bristol City Council twitter account and even held a tweet-up.

By Friday I had decided our Make Mantra should be: cause a ruckus, something Ill talk about in the near future.

I have started to distill my digital strategy thinking and begun to draft some principles to share internally very soon. if we agree then these will under-pin our digital strategy and be public.


Force Kindle to display frontmatter first

When you first load a kindle file it may start on any number of pages as set by the book designer. I am not sure if an ebook should start on the cover as this is visible in the library.

Anyway, a problem I had today was that my book kept starting on the first chapter and bypassing the frontmatter, foreword and introduction.

After various wimperings on the #eprdctn hashtag I stumbled across the solution and am documenting it before I forget.

To control/force the kindle to start on your page of choice you need to do the following it seems:

  1. open content.opf
  2. scroll to the GUIDE section
  3. You only need three items in here – i originally had all chapters but reading around seems to say this is pointless: cover, toc, and your chosen first page as references.
  4. Change/add a reference for your chosen page to <reference type=”text” href=”frontmatter.html”/></reference>
  5. Done

Setting the reference to type fixed the problem. I had read that you need to use “start” but that seemed to be where I failed.

It is interesting to think about what page should be first, would a reader care about frontmatter or just the author and publisher?…. a post for the future me thinks.

Thanks to Tom for leading me to the correct path.

DIY Multimedia Ebooks for Distance Students

Seeing as I constantly lose track of the comments I make on other peoples websites I think I may try and make a note here.

Read about how Phil Wood and Terese Bird from the University of Leicester are getting on with an interesting ebook student programme and then feel free to read my comments.

Read the post.

Event: Accessible Bristol launch

Last week I attended the launch of Accessible Bristol, a local group who are hoping to gather anybody with an interest or expertise around accessibility. After an introduction from Steve Hilton, director of futures for the Bristol City Council, there were three talks and here are my notes from their talks.

Leonie Watson, Director of Accessibility at Nomensa with a talk called Digital inclusion reasons, challenges and action


  • Liberty – Our day to day is now digital – Shopping, council services and travel
  • Economy – 20 percent may not have access and this is money being lost
  • It is digital common sense ( SEO, speed of access is important) to reach a wider and larger audience and is no longer a luxury.


  • People’s attitude
  • Technology – we should ensure we kick out all the old technology that doesn’t aid accessibility
  • Lack of education


  • As a nation we can use the equality act, hopefully give the legislation more weight
  • As individuals be vocal to call out bad practices and technology
  • Change one thing about some technology that you have control over

Joshua marshall, Developer and accessibility lead for Gov.uk

  • Digital by default without leaving anybody behind
  • Getting 30 million visits a month which is the equivalent of everybody in the UK over 16yrs old
  • Why should we care ?
  • All gov.UK stuff needs to meet wcag 2.0
  • They started from scratch to purposefully leave behing crap tech and make it inclusive from the start.
  • Small teams, build fast and iterate, agile with a small a.
  • Aim to deliver the minimal viable product and get it in front of users.
  • Got developers? Ask really nicely or lie, cheat, beg, steal to get stuff done.
  • Start small, making tiny changes is still a step in the right direction and won’t be noticed if you didn’t ask for permission.
  • Add aria roles.
  • Have an ideal. Not all gov guidelines are equal, a WCAG double aa may not be best just because it passes
  • There is always more work to be done
  • Gov are trying to help by being an example.
  • They have the design principles
  • Trying to position digital by default by April 2013 as a service standard similar to BIS.
  • New and redesigned services that no need meet the standard will not be hosted on gov.UK
  • If he can do it for millions so can you for our smaller audiences
  • Gov.uk has had over 1000 releases since launch in October
  • Keep it lean as much as possible, hence no images until everybody complains ha!

Tim Taylor

  • Lloyds bank has around 103,000 employees and has been behind.
  • Laying the foundation for IT accessibility
  • Battery on phone dies…

Comments from blogs in an ebook

I have just begun work on making an ebook using a blog as the source material. Almost immediately I stumbled across my first problem – how should I include blog comments and the related tags/categories?

My first thought is to simply include any comments at the end of the blog post (chapter) with a link to the original post in case any further comments are posted after the book is released.
I wonder what the copyright position is of this, if the blog is a flavour of creative commons does this include comments too?

When I decide what to do i’ll update this post.