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Daveslist Volume 3 Issue 17
Hello folks, it’s been a little while.
When I opened this draft to get it edited and sent, it was dated October 13th. It’s now 1st November. I appreciate the rubbishness of this, but I’ve just not been in a very newslettery sort of mood lately. Busy-ness with my day job, a few health things to contend with, and then the general messiness of life have got in the way. Let’s see if I can get back into a rhythm now, though.
On Friday - that’s in 2 days time, calendar fans - Nick and I are hosting an innovation igloo about blogging and working in the open. Do please sign up if it is something you might be interested in.
At LocalGovCamp last week, Jukesie ran an impromptu session on this topic, which was lightly attended due to it’s slightly delayed appearance on the schedule, but even so, was very interesting and there was some great discussion.
My good friend Neil Williams made a welcome return to the blogosphere (I’m not sure anyone says that anymore) recently, and it is great seeing him getting back into that groove of talking out loud about the stuff he is doing.
Neil is following a kind of weeknoting style (albeit monthly), which is very popular with public service blogging types, particularly since being promoted by Jukesie via the web of weeknotes. Basically an individual or sometimes a team summarises what has been going on that week, often following a template of sorts, and often involving a bit of reflection as well as description.
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I think weeknoting is a great format to use if having a format to use for your blogging is useful to you. I’ve just never been able to stick to it myself. When chatting to Neil about blogging styles, I wrote in a text that:
I think it’s just a case of finding a rhythm that works. I find posting little snippets – or aggregations of snippets – works well for me at the moment. As soon as I try to write 500 words on one topic I seize up.
One of the things that came out of the LocalGovCamp session for me was that while the above quote is true for me now, it wasn’t always. I went through a period of writing irregular, lengthy posts that I’d probably now classify more as ‘articles’ than blog posts, which I’d frankly agonise over before hitting publish. I wouldn’t recommend this approach now.
Workshops and training days work brilliantly with small cohorts of people - but if you want to get your whole organisation on board with digital, what do you do? One option might be my 'Digital Essentials' e-learning course!
We did talk a bit at the LocalGovCamp session about technology, and Jukesie seems to agree with me that Medium is not a great place for open working. It’s a lovely experience for writers, less so for readers, as it can demand that you log in to read content, and sometimes even asks you to pay.
A thing in Medium’s favour though was that it was quick and easy to get going, which is a big part of the reason that I put localgov.blog together for people and teams in councils to have a place to experiment with blogging where they would never be charged, never have ads served against their content, and never have paywalls or anything like that. West Northants are the latest council to take me up on the offer.
I suspect the fundamental question about blogging is: why? The answer to that depends on who is answering, I think, but for me these are the big ones:
My blog acts as a scrapbook for me. Stuff others have written, stuff I have written, all gets posted there for posterity. Sometimes I write something in an email and I think, “oooh, this is good stuff” so it gets a quick copy and paste into the blog so I can find it, use it, and point to it later.
Blogging helps me figure out what I think. By writing for a public audience, I am forced to explain myself, to ensure as much as possible that the point I am trying to make is understandable and as correct as possible. Taking half-formed thoughts and writing about them is a brilliant way of refining your thinking
I like signposting stuff to people. There’s an awful lot of content on the web and sifting through it is something not many people have time for. I don’t really have time to do it, but over the years, I have managed to come up with ways of doing it that speed it up. I’ve mentioned in these pages before that there’s a dearth of decent sharing of good practice in our sector, and I like doing my bit.
Come to the igloo on Friday to have your say on all this stuff, and see if blogging might be a way of helping you!
This issue’s links
Hackney are recruiting for an Assistant Director - Customer Services, Digital & Data. I would love this job, but it just isn’t the right time for me, even if I were to be considered a suitable candidate!
I have been putting together a kind of minimum viable project documentation thing in Google Spreadsheets. There are so many projects on the go in local authorities in particular that require a certain amount of documentation, no matter how old school it might feel. Often though it just doesn’t get done, and that’s largely because there’s often a gap between project document templates, which tend to be large and overblown, and just keeping a list in a notebook, which sometimes turns out to be inadequate.
“Full Stack Service Design is a model to help people break services down into the parts that make them and understand how all of these parts impact the user experience.”
Abort Retry Fat is a brilliant newsletter about the history of various bits of IT. This one on Lotus, from 1–2–3 to Notes, is a belter.
How to run a daily stand-up – very useful from Alan Wright (as always).
Internet Artefacts - a delightful, whimsical trip down internet memory lane.
The Tyranny of the Marginal User – this is excellent:
What’s wrong with such a metric? A product that many users want to use is a good product, right? Sort of. Since most software products charge a flat per-user fee (often zero, because ads), and economic incentives operate on the margin, a company with a billion-user product doesn’t actually care about its billion existing users. It cares about the marginal user – the billion-plus-first user – and it focuses all its energy on making sure that marginal user doesn’t stop using the app. Yes, if you neglect the existing users’ experience for long enough they will leave, but in practice apps are sticky and by the time your loyal users leave everyone on the team will have long been promoted.
That’s it for this issue. Don’t forget to hit reply if you have any feedback, or forward this on to anyone you think may enjoy it.
Also, if I can help you with anything, you can hire me!
Until next time,