Open Thinkering


Weeknote 17/2021

The Hand That Will Rule the World (Solidarity, June 30, 1917)
(I’m not sure I subscribe to the ‘One Big Union’ idea, but I’m definitely in favour of solidarity)

Today is International Workers’ Day, and the fifth birthday of We Are Open Co-op, the organisation I formed with Bryan, Laura, and John, with an increasing amount of assistance over the years from my wonderful wife, Hannah. We wrote about the rollercoaster ride it’s been in this blog post that we published today.

Most of my work these days is the through the co-op, which is a wonderful thing to be able to say. There was a time when we explicitly said it was something that “wasn’t going to pay our mortgage” and was something we did on the side. Now, for half of us at least, it does indeed pay the monthly bills!

This week, I’ve had meetings for the Catalyst-funded project, Sector Challenge 9: Claiming Universal Credit remotely. I wrote a blog post about the way we’ve been experimenting on combining two of the prototypes, and we met with both charity partners and the DWP. I also attended a learning/reflection session for digital partners, which was eye-opening.

Other than that, it’s been Greenpeace work on the project that may not be named, and kicking off some work with Participate. The latter are always a joy to collaborate with, and I’m looking forward to the project we’re setting up (our codename: “Keep Badges Weird”).

Other than that, I spent the rest of my time on business development and collaborating with other co-op members on getting our new website ready. My wife chided me for casually using the word ‘snazzy’ in an email earlier this week but, dammit, I’m going to use it for our website. If this doesn’t look snazzy, then I don’t know what does:

Redesigned WAO website (May 2021)

To be fair, 90% of the work has been Bryan’s and Laura’s, after some initial designs by Hannah. As ever, my role has mainly been poking holes, messing about with WordPress, and asking “why?” a lot. Play to your strengths, etc

I’ve spent an unreasonable amount of time this week researching, thinking about, and messing about with, smartwatches. This is incredibly ironic, given that the whole reason for doing so, as I pointed out in an appropriately-titled blog post, is for me to spend less time looking at pointless stuff on screens. Sigh. You know it’s serious when I break out a spreadsheet and start getting into functional specifications…

On the other hand, I’ve discovered a new running route recently which, I have to say, is an utter delight. Running through nature, avoiding tree routes and ending up in the river keeps it interesting, and ensuring I listen to Got To Keep On by The Chemical Brothers at about three-quarters of the way through almost guarantees me a rush of endorphins. That beat drop after the repetition “And the rain / comes down / like tears” is incredible.

I’m going to the gym for the first time in over a year tomorrow. I remember going in before the first lockdown to tell them that I wanted to pause my membership “because I didn’t want to die”. They looked at me as if I was mad. This time when I went in, they were behind plexiglass screens. But hey, sessions have to be booked now, both my wife and I have had our first jab, and my muscle mass is almost embarrassing. I can’t wait to do some proper pull-ups.

Next week is, gloriously, a four-day week due to the May Bank Holiday. We’ve got some Greenpeace work to do, more Participate work, and potentially kicking off some stuff with a client. We’ll also be rounding off a lot of the Catalyst UC work, unless it gets extended.

Oh, I forgot to mention that last weekend I redesigned my personal website to be under 1KB in size. Yes, you read that correctly. It was a challenge related to, which can be filed under “a bit of fun on the internet”. However, I actually quite like the result and am seriously considering using it in production!

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