Open Thinkering


Weeknote 10/2021

Beach with red sky in the distance and dunes in foreground

Our two children went back to school this week on Monday and Thursday, respectively. According to the government data, our particular area of Northumberland had between zero and three cases of Covid-19 the week before so, despite my misgivings, and due to their enthusiasm, they went back.

It’s a bit of a relief to get them out of the houses to be perfectly honest. Much as I love them, and as great as they’ve been during successive lockdowns, it’s nice to have some adult space. Due to my home office being separate to our house, I wasn’t even the one most inconvenienced, so I think my wife was the one breathing the biggest sigh of relief.

It’s been Week 9 of 11 for the Catalyst-funded Universal Credit project I’ve been project managing. This week has gone particularly well, culminating in us running a well-attended ‘show and tell’ session. We had funders, members of government digital teams, charities, and other interested parties.

The thing that’s been particularly gratifying has been the feedback we’ve had about not only the amount of work we’ve achieved but the quality of it in a short space of time. That being said, as I’ll say in the report, I think we could have achieved even more had things been set up slightly differently.

You can view the prototypes as they stood in Wednesday here and the slides from our presentation below. The recording from the event will be on the project blog soon.

In terms of the other Catalyst project, the one being led by Laura and involving 19 charities doing some work around ‘Definition’, it very much reminds me of my teaching days. There’s different levels of engagement and willingness to trust the process, shall we say. Thankfully, it’s been a mostly positive process so far.

That project has just finished Week 4 of 10 so it’s still early days for all involved. What’s interesting is that a few projects have started to realise that what they thought they knew about the people their charity exists to serve, and what might actually be the case, are two different things. Reality can be stubborn.

I wrote a blog post about the recent work we did with the cohort around system ecosystems and content audits on the We Are Open Co-op blog.

Prompted by some podcasts I’ve listened to, as well as some associated reading, this week I’ve been writing about human extinction. It’s not a cheery topic, but it’s a necessary one to discuss when our infantile and narcissistic world leaders do nothing.

  • Everyone has an eschatology — “Whatever our professed spiritual beliefs I reckon everyone has an eschatology. That is to say, we have a theory, either explicit or implicit, about how the world will end ⁠— and whether that will occur in our lifetime, our children’s lifetime, or neither.”
  • The role of the man who foresees is a sad one — “Things break down when groups within societies fundamentally differ about ontology, epistemology, or ethics. The result is a form of militant tribalism, where each tribe believes that another is stopping them saying or doing particular things. The ‘others’ pose some kind of threat to ‘our’ way of life.”

Sadly, these posts barely caused a ripple when I shared them on various social networks. Meanwhile, a photo of my tear-off calendar went viral on Twitter. I don’t understand the world anymore.

Tweet showing a photo of a Very British Problems calendar. It reads "I'll have to take your word for it." Translation: "Bollocks."

I’ve done very little in the way of exercise this week, not because I’ve been busy (which I have) but because my back has been painful. So much so, in fact, that I ended up phoning the doctor about it. Turns out that I need to do gentler exercise and take it easy for a couple of weeks.

Yep, I’m getting old.

Header image taken at sunrise at Druridge Bay, Northumberland.

2 thoughts on “Weeknote 10/2021

  1. Hi Doug,
    Unfortunately, posts containing “eschatology” and “epistemology” are likely to go over most of our heads 🙄.

    TBH although I have a vague idea of what the former means (it helps being married to a theologian), I would really struggle to explain the meaning of epistemology…

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