Open Thinkering


Month: October 2023

Weeknote 42/2023

Aha! The same number weeknote as my age. Awesome.

This time next week we should be partly moved into our new (temporary) house. Thankfully, it’s not next to the River Wansbeck, which very nearly overwhelmed the flood defences installed after the events of a decade or so ago. The tree being swept away by the river in the above photo used to stand at the bottom of the garden of the house mentioned in this post. That sound you hear is of us dodging a bullet in deciding not to go ahead with purchasing it πŸ˜…

I’m composing this post pretty early on Sunday morning having just done some last-minute edits to Thought Shrapnel newsletter #444. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. Or maybe you do, which is why you unsubscribed. Or maybe you use the RSS feed to get the posts without my additional solo waffle? You do you.

This week I have been mostly:

  • Completing a badged course in preparation for the postgraduate study I’m starting next month. I wrote about that here.
  • Pleased that Laura is back from her three-week sailing holiday. She seems to have had a good time and is well-rested. Laura’s moved her excellent newsletter to Substack, which you can subscribe to here.
  • Having a Covid booster jab. I’m in a ‘vulnerable group’ because I’m asthmatic, which means I get extra protection. I’m not complaining, although I feel a little achey this morning.
  • Packing boxes, given that we’re moving next week. We… have a lot of stuff and we’re moving ourselves by hiring a van. The house we’re moving to must only be about 500m away from where we currently live, as the crow flies.
  • Helping my daughter prepare for, and then interview, my parents about some family history. I wrote about it in this post.
  • Planning for the first Community Conversations workshop that WAO is running with Participate. We’re using the ORE community as an example to talk about value cycles. It’s free, so please do sign up!
  • Setting up a new project with MIT Digital Credentials Consortium (DCC). We’re getting onboarded and then helping with documentation and asset-creation.
  • Catching up with various people and talking to others I’ve never had the pleasure of talking with before via my virtual coffee calendar slots. Please do take one if you fancy a chat β˜•
  • Getting involved with our monthly WAO co-op half-day. We did some reflection and planning, which was useful.
  • Attending a great SI Networks session entitled How to Communicate with Systems Maps. This is going to be an important practical part of my upcoming MSc, so I wanted to get a head start. There are some really interesting people doing some fascinating stuff!
  • Viewing some houses. People are still being a bit unrealistic about pricing, I think, given the state of the market.
  • Putting together a significant follow-up to Part 1 of Using Open Recognition to Map Real-World Skills and Attributes. In Part 2, which I’ll publish after my colleagues have added their thoughts and feedback, I not only provide a flowchart for the system I’d like to build, but wireframes for the main user experience workflow. I’m looking forward to publishing it, because I want someone to build this!

My children’s football matches were called off this weekend due to the storm, but my son’s basketball game went ahead. They absolutely smashed the opposition, and he scored three baskets and made three assists, playing Point Guard. I’m saying that as if I have any clue about basketball; I don’t, but enjoy watching him play, and he played well.

Next week, we’re following up some potential new work with Greenpeace, starting the work with MIT DCC, and running the workshop with Participate that I mentioned above. I’ve also got plenty more packing and logistics to get sorted, and then on Friday we should be exchanging contracts on our house and getting the keys to our rental. We’ve then got a week to move everything across before completion.

I may get some time to work on MSc-related things, in which case I might have a go at the Mastering Systems Thinking in Practice short course through OpenLearn. I do like a badge, after all πŸ˜‰

A bit of family history

I spent part of today at my parents’ house with my daughter, their grandchild. She had an English assignment from school which involved find out about relatives who were involved in either of the World Wars.

This led to a fascinating conversation with my parents, which she recorded using an app which gave her a transcription. My parents, either because I’d never asked, or because they’d done some preparation, told her things they’d never told me.

My paternal grandparents

The above is a photograph of my paternal grandparents taken in July 1948 in Blackpool. My grandfather was in the Royal Medical Corps during the Second World War but was a baker by trade. He started smoking due to the war due to the stench of dead and injured bodies. My dad also told me how he’d been strafed by a Messerschmitt despite driving a van with prominent medical ‘red cross’ markings. He only survived because he had a bit of a premonition of what was going to happen and so dived out of the van into a ditch.

My grandfather died of angina in the mid-1980s, meaning I never really knew him. My grandmother, however, lived into her nineties, dying only a few years ago. She was a very matriarchal figure.

I don’t have a photo of him, but my dad also told us about his grandfather, who fought during the Great War. He was on the big artillery guns so wasn’t near the front line, and the only injury he received was to his thumb after getting it jammed in the breech. Apparently his thumbnail grew ‘weirdly’ after that. Having only been around my son’s age when he signed up (17) he was still only in his early forties when the Second World War broke out. However, he was a miner by that point which was deemed an essential service.

My maternal grandfather

My maternal grandfather is pictured above. He had some significant mental health issues after having what my mum described as a ‘difficult childhood’ and being conscripted as a firefighter during the Blitz. We don’t know a lot about him, but he died of emphysema before I was born. He was in his fifties, and my maternal grandmother was forty when they had my mum, which was extremely unusual in those days.

Although I’d always meant to do it, apparently my sister did actually talk to my paternal grandmother before she died about her family tree. I’m really glad, as although both my parents were only children, their parents and grandparents had plenty of siblings! Some emigrated to Canada, and others to New Zealand. My mother has been in touch with some over the years, but many have passed away.

I found the conversation really interesting and I’m glad my daughter had this assignment. I’m looking forward to following it up at some point in the future.

Earning a badge in preparation for my MSc

I’m due to start my MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice on November 1st. In preparation for this, the Open University (OU) suggest that I take a short badged open course entitled Succeeding in postgraduate study via their OpenLearn platform. I completed the course today and was issued an Open Badge.

Although my focus is more on Open Recognition than microcredentials these days, I’m delighted that taking this badged course is part of the recommended workflow when pursuing postgraduate study through the OU. It’s a perfect use case, as otherwise I’d probably only have glanced at the preparatory materials.

Between work and preparing to move house next weekend I’m reasonably busy, but if I get any spare time I’ll probably have a look at the Mastering systems thinking in practice course on OpenLearn.