Open Thinkering


Weeknote 09/2022

It’s March! Finally, I feel like a functional human being after five months (Oct-Feb) where, each year, I’ve learned to Just Get Through It. The sun is streaming through the window as I write this, the birds are waking me up each morning, and spring has sprung.

There’s lots going on in the world at the moment, not least a continuing war in Ukraine, a related refugee crisis, and the impact of climate change being felt everywhere. I’m learning the value of Stoicism and putting it into practice by trying to separate the things I’m thinking about into those things I control, those things I influence, and those I neither control nor influence.

Red background with title 'Thing over which you have NO control or influence'.

Large yellow oval with title 'Things over which you have SOME influence'

Small green circle within yellow oval with title 'What you control'

With many big scary things, they’re in the red zone. So all I can do, realistically, is donate money, raise awareness, and try not to add to the world’s problems.

The above image is for an activity we’ll be adding to the Learn with WAO site which launched this week. It’s a place for links to our email courses, resources, and the podcast I record with Laura. Our intern, Anne, has done a great job with it over the last few months, and it comes out of work we did with a bunch of charities during the pandemic. I’m pleased we’ve got somewhere to point people towards for free, high quality, easy-to-use resources. We use them ourselves, of course, with clients!

This week’s been a relatively busy one and, to ensure I don’t bury the lede, I want to make sure that I share the first version of a report I created sharing findings from the initial user research we’ve done for the Zappa project. It’s been really interesting work and I’ve loved doing it. Thankfully, I’ve got some more stuff to do with the team over the coming weeks. Our findings were not quite what I expected when it comes to misinformation in federated networks.

In other work, we’ve paused work with one of our clients which I’m very pleased about. They’re doing a lot of work on many different fronts and we were asking them to spend a lot of time, money, and effort on something they’ve never done before. Hopefully, this pause will allow them to regroup and be able to give the time needed to the digital transformation and new product stuff we’ve been helping them prepare for.

That won’t necessarily be anytime soon, so it does mean that we’ll potentially have some availability for when I come back from taking most of April off. Our Greenpeace projects are continuing, as is our work on the Keep Badges Weird project with Participate. I’m really pleased that I can now point to, a domain that WAO has had registered for years, and now has a use for!

I started the Tethix pilot programme on tech ethics this week, which was great. It’s really well put together and the timezone differences mean that I do it at a time when I’m usually not doing anything very productive (20:00-23:00 every Tuesday). I’ve got to meet some new people, and we’re thinking about some important issues. It runs on each of the five Tuesdays in March.

I’ve been doing a lot of logistics work this week, it seems. I’ve been booking flights for my trip to the Netherlands the week after next, campsites for the Hadrian’s Wall walk I’m doing with Aaron next month, and trains for the Learning Technologies conference in May. After going nowhere for two years, I’m going to be travelling a lot in the space of just a few weeks — especially as Team Belshaw is also going on holiday to Croatia in the Easter holidays.

This weekend I went for a long walk, did some stretching exercises via Giggs Fitness, and ran a 5k on the treadmill at the gym. I need to up my game a bit for walking every day for a week along Hadrian’s Wall! My baseline is pretty good, though, so I should be alright.

Right now, I need to go and get ready because, like a civilised middle class English family we’ve got reservations for Sunday dinner at the new restaurant that’s opened down the road from us. I just hope we’ll be back to watch the second half of the Manchester derby…

Top photo taken yesterday while cutting my hair. I learned to do this pretty effectively during lockdown, and saw no reason to stop. When my family isn’t around, it does mean I need to take a photo of the back of my head, though!

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