Open Thinkering


Tag: anniversary

Weeknote 36/2020

Trees and path at Thrunton Woods

This week I got into a new rhythm with Thought Shrapnel, restoring it to something approaching its strapline – i.e. a stream of things going in and out of my brain. I’m pleased with the result, although it will evolve and change as I do.

As a result of that focus, I only wrote a couple of posts here, which both happened to be framed as questions: What’s the purpose of Philosophy? and What do we mean by ‘the economy’? They’re part of my ongoing contribution to the #100DaysToOffload challenge, and I’ve been enjoying reading contributions by other writers. There’s an RSS feed if you choose your reading (rather than have it served up algorithmically by social networks) ūüėČ

This week featured a Bank Holiday in the UK, so it was a four-day working week. Team Belshaw spent Monday in Thrunton Woods, which we’ve never been to, despite only being 25 minutes away from where we live. Of course, we decided to do the red walking route, despite the fact that our two children were on their mountain bikes. Cue me and our son having to carry bikes up a very steep section, broken up with tree roots. Still, it was fun, and we went out for lunch afterwards.

Despite the four day working week, I managed to fit in the same number of hours of paid work as usual. I ended up doing four half-day for Outlandish, continuing to help them with productisation and in particular developing what they offer to help teams work more effectively. There’s only a couple of places left on their upcoming Sociocracy 101 workshop.

For my home co-op, We Are Open, I’ve been mainly focusing on business development, submitting three funding bids on Friday. We’ve got some things to work through internally as the co-op expands and grows. That can lead to difficult conversations, some of which we’ve been having this week.

Those connecting with me via video conference in the last few days would have seen something new behind me in my home office: a full-size dgital piano, and a tiny Korg NTS-1 synth. Inspired by Mentat (aka Oliver Quinlan) I decided that it’s been too long since I tried making my own music. 25 years, in fact.

The piano was my parents’ and was at our house while my two children had piano lessons. Given our eldest gave up a few years ago and our youngest decided she no longer wanted to play during lockdown, it’s been sitting in our dining room gathering dust. I noticed it has MIDI ports to the rear, so I’ve hooked it up to the Korg synth and experimenting with the noises I can make. And they are definitely ‘noises’ at the moment…

This weekend, my wonderful wife and I celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. We’re pretty much middle-aged now, so celebrating it by going for a child-free long walk and having coffee and cake. Our children will be at my parents’. It’s a shame we can’t really go away, but on the plus side the pandemic has meant we’ve explored many more places locally than we have previously!

Talking of children, they were back to school this week, both starting new schools. They seem to be really enjoying it, especially being back among their friends rather than mainly connecting with them via Fortnite.

Next week I’ll be working a couple of days for Outlandish and getting started on a new piece of work for Greenpeace through We Are Open. Other than that, I’m still looking for a bit more work, so hit me up if you see anything Doug-shaped!

Image shows path through trees at Thrunton Woods

Weeknotes 18 & 19/2014

These last couple of weeks I’ve been:

  • Travelling to and from San Francisco for the Mozilla Foundation’s All-Hands meeting. It was, as expected, pretty intense¬†with plenty of great cross-pollinated ideas¬†coming out of it!
  • Taking some time off to finally¬†spend time with¬†my wife celebrating 10 years of marriage (the anniversary was actually last September). We spent a wonderful few days in Amsterdam.*
  • Catching up with email and preparing for Webmaker Training. You can read more about the latter in this blog post. It starts on Monday!

Next week I’ll be leading some sessions as part of Webmaker Training as well as¬†getting down to some¬†concrete actions for¬†Web Literacy badges.

*A special thanks to those people who leave tips and reviews on Foursquare. Our time in Amsterdam was greatly enhanced by their recommendations!


A quick look back at my first year at Mozilla

This time last year I joined the Mozilla Foundation‘s Learning team. I’d already spent a year as part of the Open Badges community so, in a way, it feels like I’ve been working for Mozilla for twice as long as I actually have been! The Learning team has been reorganised (twice!) so I’m now on the Badges Team v2.0. Things certainly don’t move slowly in the tech world.

Dog in car in space

Initially, I planned for this post to include an epic infographic showing all of the places I’ve been, the people I’ve talked to, and so on. But that task would take a whole day of my time – and that’s time I haven’t got! Working at Mozilla is exciting, but busy. Suffice to say that I’ve attended 53 events in the 52 weeks I’ve been at Mozilla and I’ve usually been speaking at or running workshops at them. When you factor in Christmas shutdown at PTO (a.k.a. holiday) then that’s pretty impressive/scary.

I’ve been many places this past year evangelising Mozilla’s mission and, in particular, the Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI). I’ve been to Canada (twice), several places in the US, the Netherlands (twice), Belgium, Portugal, Ireland, all over the UK… the list goes on. That sounds great but, as any business traveller will tell you, you don’t usually get to do the touristy things; most of what you see is the inside of airports, hotels, planes, trains and automobiles. Having said that, it beats sitting at the same desk day-in, day-out. ūüėČ


I’m often asked what it’s like to work for Mozilla. As people ask that question their eyes often light up as if it’s a magic wonderland. It’s not unicorns and rainbows all the time and I certainly recognise the ‘inability to switch off’ problem that Rob Hawkes mentioned in his post upon leaving Mozilla. In that post he talked about stress and burnout as well. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) I experienced stress, burnout and working crazy hours as a teacher and senior leader while still in my 20’s. That means both I and my family are well-equipped to spot and deal with the tell-tale signs of stress. I know when to rest and how to look after myself these days.

But working at Mozilla is, if not a magic wonderland, certainly different and pretty awesome. I’ve never experienced such freedom and devolved responsibility as I do here. Nor have I ever worked with people who are so talented, motivated and great at communicating using technology. It’s also wonderful knowing that you’re playing a part in making a difference on a global scale. Especially with the work that I’m involved in around Open Badges and the Web Literacy Standard I feel like this is stuff that could significantly improve the educational and career opportunities of the next generation. Given that’s my children’s generation, it makes me proud to work for a global non-profit where doing good is part of our code.

Hula-hooping bear

By this time next July I’m aiming for Open Badges will be a ‘household name’ in both North American and Europe, for us to be iterating on v1.0 of the Web Literacy Standard, and for Firefox OS (launched today!) to have gained significant market share for the next billion Web users.

Here’s to another year!