Open Thinkering


Month: April 2024

Recognising oneself through the recognition of others

A person looking in a mirror with strapline: "How do you see yourself?"

Most of the stuff I write here and elsewhere comes as a result of the work I do, or the thinking about the work I do. This includes the “what-ifs” and the “imagine a world” scenarios. I try to write them as best I can, but my main objective is to get the words out there so that a) people can read them, and b) I’ve got a URL to point people towards.

Last October, I published a pair of posts on the WAO blog about using Open Recognition to map real-world skills and attributes. I spent a lot longer on them than usual, especially the second one:

I obviously didn’t get the elevator pitch quite right, because although I had a few conversations with people, it didn’t get as much traction as I envisaged. What I’m proposing is a kind of open discovery engine for talents and dispositions. It includes a way to recognise these through Verifiable Credentials, and to tag them in a way that make sense across different frameworks and rubrics.

In a spectacular example of burying the lede, my main reason for writing this post is to share some of the nice things people said about me as part of the experiment.

There were three main questions to which people in my network responded:

  1. What do they know a lot about?
  2. What are they particularly skilled in?
  3. What behaviours do they exhibit which you, or others, find useful?

The (anonymous) quotations below are taken from the above, with square brackets added to help them make sense, or to add context:

As a former teacher and senior leader, along with a Doctor in Education, he know a lot about Education as a business and how people learn. He also has a strong interested in badges and certifications. He is also big into the open economy, working for Open Source companies like Mozilla and Moodle.

He is an exceptional speaker and has the ability to breakdown complicated topics into layman’s terms.

[Doug is particularly skilled] making sense of complex systems and processes, writing clearly and engagingly, building consensus and community.

[I find it especially useful that he has a] passion for learning, daily, sharing always and enabling others to accelerate their understanding through the shared learning.

I’ve always seen him as an all-round thinker, which in turn helps him to ask poignant questions to tackle a challenge.

[Doug is] helpful, open and honest.

He is Open both in he thinking but in how he lives. He is collaborative, works well with other people. Likes to workshop ideas and bring products/services to life.

Open sharing. Transparent knowledge resource. Inclusive. Non-judgemental. — As a result, the impact of engaging with Doug Belshaw is an indirect endorsement of the work I do.

Doug is not judgemental and asks the right questions. He doesn’t have a set answer in his mind to fit your answer into preconceived ideas he has. He can often share useful resources or ideas which can help develop my own thinking processes. Forthright and although a peaceful person, he is not afraid to be upfront and challenge when there is reason to.

Doug is the person that I most associate with open digital badges. He is also someone that is genuine and open and incredibly accomplished. He has a way of explaining things that sticks.

Timely and well organised. Brings the best out in people.

Doug’s thoughtfulness as a facilitator and team member is only matched by his sharp wit in his blog posts. Thought shrapnel for the win!

[Doug has an] ability to succinctly summarise conclusions from a group of people. Interested in other people and charismatic.

I’m not sure how useful any of this is for other people, but it’s cheered me up on a day when I’ve got less work on than usual. Ideally, I would know who wrote these things, be able to thank them, and then turn them into badges 🙂

Image: CC BY-ND Visual Thinkery for WAO

Weeknote 17/2024

Adapt yourself to the environment in which your lot has been cast, and show true love to the fellow mortals with whom destiny has surrounded you.

Marcus Aurelius

I’m writing later than usual as it’s been a busy weekend. Between ferrying our teenagers to football matches, unpacking boxes, and painting walls, I haven’t sat down much.

My daughter’s team won the League Cup on Saturday in a close match due to the number of injuries they had. That means they’ve has done the double and have won every game this season, except one controversial match against their fiercest rivals which put them out of the County Cup.

My son bought a PlayStation 5 with his first pay packet, a far cry from me buying a couple of books with mine when I was about his age! It means I might actually get to play on mine occasionally now, and that it’s freed-up for my daughter to use, too.

I’m not sure there’s much of significance to share, really. I could complain more about Virgin Media, who took from Tuesday and Friday to allocate an IP address so that our fibre broadband worked. I could share intricate details of the exact shades of paint we’ve gone for to cover various walls of the house. I might even express some joy that I don’t have to go hunting for public EV chargers any more for our Polestar 2. I definitely want to thank my parents for all of their help and support while moving.

Last week, I had a meeting with someone who asked me how many hours of sleep I get per week. Their point being that I seem to do a lot. It doesn’t feel like that from the inside, other than that if I’m not doing things then I have the kind of brain that tends to ruminate. And I’m not a big fan of rumination.

We haven’t got loads of work on at the moment through the co-op. It’s easy to tie your value or worth to your job and the amount of ‘success’ you have in it. But much of this is outside of any one person’s control. To be honest, if I was on my deathbed now, aged 43, I’ve pretty much achieved all I wanted to in life. Yes, there’s more to do and I still have the energy to do it. Not to put too fine a point on it, fuck achievements.

I start my next MSc module this week, which is actually the introductory module (TB871). I’m hoping it’s easier than the last one. Client-wise, we’ve got a workshop to run for the Toro project out of CSUDH, continuing work around comms strategy for the Digital Credentials Consortium, and some planning to do with Participate around the future of the ORE community.

It’s International Workers Day on Wednesday, so although I’ll be studying, I won’t be doing any work. We set up WAO eight years ago, so it seems appropriate to sign off with this riff on the ‘A Team’ theme song.

InnovAteam van with WAO logo on the side
Image CC BY-ND Visual Thinkery for WAO

In 2016, a crack team of learning, technology and community experts founded We Are Open Co-op to help organizations thrive.

These pioneers promptly set out to build a better world from their base in the digital underground.

Today, still driven by their mission, they survive as a co-operative of fortune.

If you have a challenge, if no one else can help, and if you can find them… maybe you can hire We Are Open Co-op

Until next time! I can predict that the early May Bank Holiday weekend will involve… some DIY.

Image: Susan Wilkinson

Perhaps we should organise?

I’m not sure what’s going on at the moment in terms of the sectors I work in and the economies to which I pay attention, but people seem to, on the whole, be doing less work. Those who work for themselves as freelancers, or in agencies, or cooperatives (like WAO) seem to be finding it increasingly hard to land clients and contracts. Those who are employed seem to be battling restructuring and layoffs in their working lives.

You know, now could be a good time to organise. Usually, that word is used in the sense of “uprising against our oppressors.” While I’m not against that idea, I mean more along the lines of there’s plenty of things that need doing and fixing in the world, how about we get on and do them?

It’s difficult when you’re under-employed or unemployed. It’s easy to take it upon yourself and feel like you’ve done, or are doing something, wrong. But if lots of people are in the same boat, perhaps the problem is systemic? Perhaps this is a really good time to do something different?

We all need to put food on the table. But maybe we could dedicate some time to coming together to collaborate on long-standing issues that need fixing? Just an idea.