Open Thinkering


Weeknote 18/2023

Eton Mess cake on a plate being held aloft over a head

I do, in conversation, perhaps over-use the verbal construction “It blows my mind that…” Nevertheless, I’m going to deploy it in written form here. It blows my mind that, despite May 1st being International Workers’ Day, it’s rarely celebrated these days as a celebration of labour and solidarity. Instead, this weekend, we have an invented holiday for a celebration of the royal family when support for the monarchy is at an all-time low.

My family are sick of me talking about it. I’m sick of talking about it! But if you’re not angry, I would suggest that either you’re not paying attention, or you have a vested interest in the status quo.

Anyway, this week there has been a Public Holiday that I have celebrated, the aforementioned International Workers’ Day. We celebrate the founding of We Are Open Co-op on that day, seven years ago. And what better way to do so, than to take the day off? Funny how you don’t get hustle culture in the co-op sector, where everyone co-owns the business. ✊

On Monday, I went for a run for the first time since walking the first half of The Pennine Way. Although a chose a muddy route along the river, I felt good, so went further than originally planned. Around 5km in, I glanced at my phone, and my ankle gave way under me. It hurt like hell, but I was quite a way from a road where my wife could pick me up.

So I gave my ankle a rub, and completed a 10km loop. Of course, it swelled up massively when I got back. I used the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) approach to treat it, which is how I ended up read Dougald Hine’s new book, At Work in the Ruins, in an afternoon. I’ve started buying more physical books from, as not only do I want to support smaller, independent retailers, but having a physical copy means you’ve got something to give people which might change their mind on an issue.

Next up, I’ve got:

The downside of a reading a physical copy of books is that it’s harder to share particular passages and quotations. I’ve found Google Books particularly useful for that, as it adds anything you highlight to Google Docs.

I’ve been doing work on the current WAO projects, which includes moving the Keep Badges Weird (KBW) community to a new home within a bigger tent called Open Recognition is for Everybody (ORE). This also includes changing to Participate’s new platform. Laura blogged about it here.

In addition, I’ve been working on setting up a test environment in Hylo with John and Laura for the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. It’s fascinating to me how small design choices and decisions you can make have profound implications for online social interaction. We found that a lot when testing iterations of MoodleNet. It’s the same with all of this kind of work; you have to have an intention in mind and know enough about both the technology and community interaction to make it work. We often help new and existing clients understand this through our Architecture of Participation.

We’ve got three projects on with at the moment as part of the Member Learning group:

  • Co-op Conversations: the beta of an MVP we tested where people could book a slot to talk to someone about setting up a worker co-op. Volunteers work on a round-robin basis to staff the calls. We’re planning to use for this (the MVP just used my Google Calendar plus a spreadsheet for coordination!)
  • Empowering Collaboration: an email-based course giving people basic information about setting up a worker co-op. This is more aimed at people who have joined the federation but still at the start of their journey.
  • User Research: this takes the form of a survey linked to a call for participation in synchronous user research sessions. The Member Learning group is interested in how and what people want to learn.

We’ve got the ongoing Greenpeace work that’s under an NDA and I can’t talk about. We were going to meet up in Amsterdam next month as part of that project, but it’s been cancelled for reasons out of the control of anyone involved. WAO decided to go to Amsterdam anyway, so we’re using MozFest House as an excuse to meet up and hang out at places like Molly’s Arena (an anime arcade and ramen bar).

In addition to this, I also:

  • Ran a brief retro with Joe about the Sport England open working project that we collaborated on.
  • Recorded a podcast episode with Laura, which was a bit of a ramblechat about stuff we’re currently thinking about and reading.
  • Had a lovely catch-up chat with Bryan.
  • Presented to an IFLA webinar about badges and Open Recognition (slides).
  • Messed about with Printify for potentially creating and selling merch to support our Learn with WAO site.

On Friday, I was going to get stuck into more work, but was derailed by three things. First, I woke up at 04:30 and, for some reason, the idea to drive to the beach and run home absolutely engulfed me. I had to do it. So by 05:15 I was parking the car and jogging somewhat tentatively back home. My ankle, with a support on it, held up. I’d tested it on the treadmill on Wednesday afternoon after taking my daughter to the gym. I was home from the 15km run before the rest of my family were up and about!

I was tired from that, so didn’t need much an excuse not to work. I motored through the things I absolutely had to get done before a message from my dad came through asking for help setting up a Hue light that I’d suggested they get for behind their TV. Hannah doesn’t work Fridays, so she took me with our other car to get the car I’d left at the beach car park. By the time I got back from my parents’ house, it was time to take her out for lunch as I’d promised I would.

By the time we staggered home, all I wanted to do was play FIFA 23, which is exactly what I did!

It will not surprise you that I will not be taking this coming Monday off, despite it being a Public Holiday. One of the advantages of having full control of your own calendar is that you can take time off pretty much when you like, and also ignore the priorities of people for whom you have zero time. Such as, oh I don’t know, kings.

Photo of the Eton Mess cake that my daughter made earlier today. I think she was actually messing with me. She likes making cakes, so I hope she won’t turn out to be a closet tory. It was tasty.

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