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Weeknote 19/2022

Last month, when I came back from three weeks off, my good friend and fellow WAO co-op member Laura mentioned that she hadn’t worked as much while I’d been away. I thought that was odd; we’ve got plenty of client work to be getting on with, after all. But now, I think I understand.

For the past couple of weeks it’s been her turn to be away, sailing around the Mediterranean and sporadically sending photos that have turned me green with envy. Although I’ve enjoyed collaborating with Anne, our intern-turned collaborator, Laura and I gain energy from working with one another in a way that I haven’t experienced with too many other people.

So I’ve done some work this week in and around some other things. They have included:

  • Getting back to daily exercise such as running, swimming, going to the gym, and doing some yoga
  • Spending many hours trying to replace our home broadband with a 5G connection before ultimately giving up (for now)
  • Participating in a Sociocracy facilitators course with friends who are now based in New Zealand and Italy.
  • Volunteering for some user testing of Bonfire with Ivan. It’s looking good!
  • Watching a lot of football matches because it’s the end of the season and each one seems to be more exciting / important than the last.
  • Spending some time at the beach with the family.
  • Catching up with Rob Cantle who’s doing a PhD in digital literacies down in Australia which, in part, is referencing my thesis.
  • Taking most of Wednesday off, mainly to work on the aforementioned home networking “part-time job” (as my daughter called it) but also because I want to get back to working four-day weeks.

I did get plenty of work done this week, however. As I’ve said many times before, because I don’t get pulled into pointless meetings and have any of the other aspects of bullshit jobs, I can focus on getting the work done, and then do whatever I want to do. Given the weather’s been getting nicer and I’m trying to get back to my peak fitness levels, that’s meant closing the office door and going for a run or to the gym!

This week’s work included:

  • Pushing forward with some more stuff for the top-secret project I can’t mention, and one of the only ones for which WAO has ever been under an NDA.
  • Doing a quick project (with the help of Anne) for Dawn Cretney. After helping her charity as part of some Catalyst-funded work last year, she came to us asking for help plotting Google Forms responses on a map.
  • Continuing our work with Participate on the Keep Badges Weird community. We’ll be doing some advocacy work about the difference between (open) recognition and credentialing, as well as value cycles and coming up with a development model for Open Badges.
  • A business development call with Co-op Culture who are interested in potentially using badges for a range of things, including their Barefoot courses.
  • Participating in the Open Recognition working group of the OSN (Open Skills Network). We’ve got a ‘showcase’ panel session that I’m participating in next week which you can register for (free!) or watch afterwards via the event recordings page.
  • Attending the monthly product group session for LocalGov Drupal, with whom we’re just starting some community work. Everyone loves a note-taker, so I took lots of notes 🙂

I haven’t done as much non-fiction reading as usual recently, which is shown by the lack of posts on Thought Shrapnel. I’ve also listened to fewer podcasts, partly because of the BBC’s stupid decision to make their podcasts available only in the BBC Sounds app for the first month after release. Not only is this antithetical to their mission, but the BBC Sounds app UX kinda sucks.

I’ve been playing a lot more Red Dead Redemption 2 which is objectively one of the best games ever made. There’s something so satisfying about being an outlaw and doing such despicable acts such that your bounty goes high enough to get both the law and bounty hunters after you! I’m not great at the game, but that’s not the point. I’ve streamed out a couple of my sessions on Twitch.

Next week, Laura’s back which is great as we’ll really be able to get our teeth into new and existing work. I’m also attending the Thinking Digital conference, which is my favourite professional event and one that hasn’t been held for the past couple of years due to the pandemic. Other than that, it’s all about keeping up the positive regime around exercise and nutrition — and trying not to let hayfever interfere with my sleep!


Photo of bluebells in the local churchyard which I walk through on the way to the gym. (I usually try and compress photos for this blog as much as possible, but I hope you’ll forgive me the extra few kilobytes for this one!)

Weeknote 18/2022

Doug Belshaw and his father, Keith Belshaw

I have to admit to almost forgetting to write this week’s retrospective, which is unusual as I’m usually so keen to do it that I get it done on Saturday. As a result, I’m squeezing it in after my Sunday night gaming session with friends.

This week has involved a lot of football, travel, and technical frustration. The latter has been caused by my own tinkering with a 5G antenna, my new 5GEE Home Router, and our mesh network. I’m learning the tradeoffs between having amazing download speeds and a decent ping for playing online games…

In addition to the two matches I saw at St. James’ Park last week, I’ve watched a lot of football on TV this week, including taking my Dad to see the first leg of the League 1 playoff semi-final between Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday. I was down in London for the Learning Technologies conference (#LTUK22) so watched the Man City vs Real Madrid game in my hotel room. I thought the Villareal vs Liverpool match the night before had been eventful, but wow! I’ve also watched four games this weekend, as well as taken my kids to their football and basketball games. It’s wall-to-wall sport for Team Belshaw at the moment, and an exciting end to the season.


My session on badges and credentials at Learning Technologies (slides) went really well, and I had five people come and talk to me afterwards, three separately say it was the best session they’d been to at the conference, and even the cameraman filming me said he hadn’t “mentally switched off” as he usually does! I wrote a little bit about the keynote panel before my session and how I responded to it here.

On Thursday afternoon, I visited the new(ish) Outlandish offices where I got to hang out with some friendly faces and catch up a bit. Finsbury Park is more gentrified than I remember, and London in general feels even more like a completely separate country. What’s interesting is that everyone is still talking about Covid, which I can totally understand as travelling down and around there is the first time I’ve felt I needed to put a mask on for quite a while.


I didn’t do that much paid client work this week, partly with Laura being away, partly because it was Bank Holiday Monday, and partly because my London trip was largely focused on business development and networking. I’ll be getting back into the swing of things a bit more next week, but am still planning to start taking Wednesdays off again. No doubt I’ll be listing things on eBay that I unearthed by clearing out the under-eaves cupboards for better signal!

I’ve booked my flights for the Badge Summit 2022 which I’m looking forward to. I gave a keynote at the 2016 conference and haven’t been back to the conference since. I have been in Colorado since for the US MoodleMoot, though, and I do really like the area. The plan is for Laura, Anne, and I to join Mark and Julie from Participate (one of WAO’s clients and a Badge Summit sponsor) out there to run a session.


I’ll leave it there for now. There’s probably a bunch of things I’ve forgotten that I’ve been doing and thinking about, but my head is currently in networking protocols until I figure out the right configuration of 5G antenna, router, and mesh network. I’ll get there in the end…

Weeknote 14/2022

Photo of a field with sheep and trees, through a stone circle

I’ve done basically nothing this week other than walk Hadrian’s Wall path in 72 hours, recover from it, take my kids to their sporting engagements, and start reading a book recommended by Warren Ellis. I’m towards the end of my first week (of three) off work.

Next week I’m pottering around, looking after the kids while they’re off from school, and doing some household jobs. The following week Team Belshaw is heading to Croatia on holiday.

Above is one of my favourite photos from the walk, from the Google Photos album I created. They’re not my best photos ever, but it was overcast or raining most of the time…

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