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Weeknote 48/2021

Tree split in half

Storm Arwen continued to wreak havoc this week. Some parts of Northumberland, the county in which I live, are still without power eight days later.

Thankfully, we were fine where we live in Morpeth, although a short walk up the hill was a stark reminder of the power of 100mph winds coming from the north.

This is the time of the year when my energy levels plummet and my wife finds an extra gear to shift into as part of some kind of Christmas preparatory drive. The mismatch is profound.

Yesterday, for example, we cut down our own Christmas tree and my wife and kids decorated it before we watched Home Alone, as is our tradition. I put up the outside Christmas lights in time for the official switch-on with our neighbours tomorrow evening, but haven’t yet checked to see if they’re still up after last night’s winds.

I just want to hibernate. Thankfully, I’ve only got a week and two days’ worth of work left to do.

Pre-pandemic, I’d say each year that this was the last December I was spending in the UK. In 2019, we went to Iceland just before Christmas, which was magical. In 2015, I spent several days in Malta as I was speaking at an event at the university.

No chance of doing anything like that for a while due to the pandemic, which is a shame. I miss travelling, I have to say. Especially at this time of year when the place I reside is dark and cold.


I had very few meetings this week, which was a blessing, as I got to work in coffee shops a couple of mornings. I know it’s a chain owned by Coca-Cola, but the Costa coffee above Next in Morpeth really helps me get into the productive spirit on cold, dark mornings. The number of windows really does make the most of the limited amount of winter light allotted to our corner of the earth. I just have to avoid sitting next to people seemingly auditioning for a role in Motherland.

The main thing I worked on with Laura this week on behalf of the co-op was the digital strategy for Julie’s Bicycle. As I’ve mentioned in previous weeknotes, and as she commented on in her newsletter this week, we have different (but often complementary) styles of working. In this particular case, we spent a while discussing how much we should ‘hedge’ our language as opposed to just straight out telling the organisation what they should do. Laura’s written a bit about what we’re up to here.

Other than that, there was a bit of community management to do in the Keep Badges Weird community for Participate. I updated the list of badge-issuing platforms on Badge Wiki and published a blog post about the last decade of Open Badges. The latter was to coincide with the ICoBC Symposium for which I was part of the pre-recorded keynote panel.


Hannah was supposed to be in Leeds this week for an NHS Digital team meetup. Instead, new Covid rules meant that was cancelled and there’s a bit of uncertainty around given the news that NHS Digital and NHSX are merging with NHS England. Her contract is until the end of March and she’ll be fine. Everyone wants good user researchers!

I’m not sure if Hannah’s Christmas party is going ahead (or if she’d want to go down to London anyway at the moment) but I’m looking forward to going for a walk with Bryan Mathers in the Peak District on the 15th. Bryan’s recent TEDx Talk in Galway was released this week and I’d recommend watching it. I quite like going back to mine from almost a decade occasionally to see the comments — especially as it seems some universities require students to watch and/or comment as part of their studies!


Next week is my last full week left at work of 2021 and I don’t mind telling you that I can’t wait to let myself go, eat my own weight in mince pies, and drink an inexcusable amount of Baileys. Before I do that, I’ve got a couple of workshops, some admin, some strategy writing, and some loose ends to tie up.

3 thoughts on “Weeknote 48/2021

  1. Hi Doug,

    I’ve just been turned on to a most extraordinary writer, a fellow countryman of yours, Paul Kingsnorth is his name.

    I wonder if you’ve heard of him, or read any of his writing? He just completed a trilogy, beginning with The Wake and concluding with Alexandria (which is written in a fabricated language much like Hoban’s Riddley Walker, and Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange) … also he is writing incisive non-fiction essays these days as well.

    Anyway, thought to pass him on, as a seasonal gift! As I understand you appreciate good reads for the holidays…

    All the best,
    Darren

    1. Thanks Darren! Yes, I’ve come across Paul Kingsnorth and really enjoyed a podcast I listened to featuring him recently. His fiction is a bit impenetrable for me though! 🙂

      1. Coming back to say that I’ve just read an article of his where he goes off on one against vaccination. So steering well clear of him from now on. There’s so many older white men who have less attention than then used to have and rely on peddling conspiracy theories in a futile attempt to get noticed.

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