Mostly though, it jumped to my attention because it’s such an excellent source of project codenames.
I really enjoy watching a message coalesce in an organisation. I didn’t know that until recently. I like seeing a thing come together that defines the company’s perspective for a while.
The Transformation programme was my first at GDS. Government as a Platform was a good one after that. Sprint 16 was fun for that too. The latest is Sarah’s talk for O’Reilly (yep, like all good talks there’s a version done as a blog post).
It’s the moment the threads of what IF is and how IF talks come together.
It’s also (probably) the sign that things are about to jiggle a bit.
At GDS, these moments would be the end of a journey. We’d have written it after playing with different versions of the messages in it for a few months. The talk would spell out the mission for the next year or so, and form the basis of the script for the senior team.
But for my lot (‘Creative’, basically) it’d also mark the moment we’d move on to different problems. We could, broadly, trust that people would stick to the script in the wild, quietly thinking about the next thing in the background.
I gave a version of Sarah’s talk at RightsCon earlier. It went well! I’ll do a version of it at the next event, and the event after that. And I’ll help the rest of the team use something like it at the events they attend over the next few months. Meanwhile, in the background, it’s time to think about the next one.
A good thing: Ann and the One Life Left/Marioke gang made a Charity Christmas single. It is silly and sweary and brilliant. It’s in support of Asylum Aid, work to secure protection for people seeking refuge in the UK from persecution and human rights abuses abroad. Watch it and donate to Asylum Aid.
Have a good Winterval.
I’m joining IF.
Earlier this year I left GDS to try out a bunch of different things. In the last month, my jobs at IF have touched on transparent organisation design, R&D for consumer advocacy groups, describing governance models for automated decision making, plus writing talks for new people. Later today I’ll be standing out in the cold with a prototype to learn about things I can’t see. Different things = ✓
As I’ve said before, the team’s great. I’ve already been snapped typing with my headphones on in the middle of a corridor (I think about four colleagues at GDS took that picture at different points) which is a very good sign.
I’m properly excited.
I spent a bit of the day watching parliament.tv for the oral evidence on the Digital Economy Bill. Exciting, right?
These things are (can be?) interesting. A completely alien format to most people, these committees are how law gets unpacked in the UK. And mostly they look like this…
…a bit like a court case.
I was mostly tuning in to watch Sarah from IF, but I dipped in and out of a few sessions, including one featuring Jeni Tennison from the ODI and my old boss Mike Bracken.
All of them made me feel differently stupid. There’s a lucidity to a clarity to their arguments that makes me think ‘Oh, man, that’s obvious. Why didn’t I see that?’
I forget, when I watch, that the things they tell the MPs on the panel are the results of chats and work and arguments and a bunch of reading. That there’s rigour in this stuff. That each of them are the eloquent endpoints of a stack of reckons.
(Then, after Sarah’s session, a little snippet of audio picked up by the mic…)
(If I’ really thought about it, I’d have nabbed a screenshot, but…) I’ve just finished a quick session of No Man’s Sky, a game I’ve been playing a few hours a week since release. This last session involved finding a broken ship and repairing it, a knotty exercise in resource management and pointing a gun at stuff.
I had a pretty chill time, and by the end I’d sort of achieved something and sort of hadn’t. But the feeling I’m left with is not quite like being satisfied and not quite like being bored.
Using other feelings to try and triangulate the sensation doesn’t really get me anywhere. Like, it’s not ambivalence. It’s not irritation. It’s not delight. I don’t feel like I won or lost anything, and I haven’t come away with any residual sense of novelty or wonder.
At the same time, it is a little bit like feeling all of those things.
I don’t think I have a word for the feeling I’ve got, and that’s remarkable because it doesn’t happen very often. It’s happened a few times playing this game though, which makes me wonder if it’s something people who play things like Sunless Sea or Eve get used to. Those hours where the goal or mission gets suspended for a while, and you just exist somewhere that isn’t a place.
*flat. So, Ann went freelance last month too. For the last week we’ve been working side by side. New routines, a bit of adjustment, a list of things around the flat that need buying/changing to make life easier on us. It’s been pretty good!
I knew ahead of Ann joining me in the flat that I’d need to get better at a few routines, and restarting The Bureau of Small Observation seemed a good way of doing that. I also like writing in a different style to my freelance work.
I’ve started a longer-form bit of work for architecture firm Woods Bagot. Again, I’m basing the copywriting fairly directly off of a transcription. I found at the NHS that was an awesome way of delivering voice, tone and ideas back to a client, while still giving myself room for the restructuring, moving of thoughts and rewriting needed to make complex ideas much much simpler.
I’ve found something interesting with this one. Because it’s a much longer body of work than I usually do, I’ve been able to see patterns in thinking and content emerge from it much more clearly than is often the case. It’s an absolute gift for drafting.
Their new site is live! Lovely to be at their shindig the other week. I’ve also been helping them with blogging and pitch decks.
Stayed at a barn on a nature reserve and watched an owl hunting, that was pretty cool. Painted some ghostly things. I’ll be spending a chunk of the next month going in and out of London helping look after some family, which means good train time/thinking time.