Weeknotes S8 Ep3

Germ Soup


Hello again! Another week over and we are now fully into October and Autumn right? Chilly and wet. Yuck.

The school-germ-soup that I described last week took full hold of me over the weekend and I ended up working from home between Monday and Wednesday; much longer than I expected, but I was knocked out. So it was a bit of a strange week.

I really struggled to concentrate on Monday and Tuesday so it wasn’t until Wednesday that I started to get back to normal and I was back in the office on Thursday.

As such, I don’t feel like I’ve been as productive this week, so here’s a whistle stop:

  • Helped write some emails that went to our round 3 fund applicants
  • Helped a friend prepare a job application 🤞
  • Had a call with one of our external panel who will be joining us next week to make funding decisions for round 3
  • Worked with Rich to pull together some categorisations for the applications we received as part of round 3 and present these to our CDO
  • Looked at some great mission patches that Eni has designed to give to our funded projects
  • Had a call with Egle and May-N to talk through some of what we had learned from round 1 funding so that we can think more about how we support projects at rounds 2 and 3
  • Started pulling together some of the info we have about which LAs are partnered on the most projects and what that means in terms of where the fund money is going (mapping)
  • Egle and I created a matrix for our projects to help us define what we have, what we can achieve and the levels of support we might need to offer to each of our funded projects based on what we know about them already, the complexity of the subject area and phase of work (discovery, alpha, beta)

Anything else?

I went to a workshop session on Thursday about how we could better talk about the work of the digital directorate to the rest of the department.

It was one of those nice occasions with a range of different people in a room throwing ideas out there. It really reminded me of how much I enjoy working with Hattie because she always brings humility into the room and frames things in ways which respect the needs of others.

Paul said something that stayed with me and I wrote it down on a post-it:

A post it that says “we do the boring stuff so that other people can take the credit”

The comment is about how digital teams often do the “un-sexy” groundwork to create the conditions for others to achieve. It’s an interesting framing that I hadn’t heard framed quite so succinctly before, and it seemed useful to me at that point as we start to work with our panel to decide which projects we should fund next.

There’s always a pull to tell a great and compelling story, to show off the work. I get that, people need good news.

But fundamentally what we do can be very hard to see, complex to describe or difficult to explain. How do you “sell” the benefits of investigating data sources and seeing what happens if you unlock a small piece of functionality from a large unwieldy software system? These things sound like crumbs. But they’re like a path in the woods, lay enough crumbs and you’ll get home.

Increasingly I’m thinking that my job needs to be helping to get other people more comfortable with the things we do being boring because it means we stay on point with our vision, it’s something I’m going to keep in mind.

After that quote from Paul I saw John’s tweet which seemed like it was along a similar line:

I talk at work a lot about telling stories. Not good stories or bad stories but just stories for the sake of it, for the act of stating something and enabling others to draw their own thoughts from it. I realise now that this is what I’m talking about.


The crew from Delib took this to Westminster so I decided to head along (partly in the hope of seeing Louise who I felt like I hadn’t seen for ages!)

It made such a change to go to something and listen to speakers that I wouldn’t usually hear from.

I really liked learning more about the work that FullFact are doing. Mevan was an excellent speaker and the work that they’ve doing, tools they’re producing, and the extent that they understand the areas of mis-information and dis-information is really really impressive. I want to go away and read up more on it because it feels like the categorisations and ways of explaining the domain are really useful.

I loved seeing the realtime demo of the fact checking algorithm, it was genuinely exciting.

I took some sketchy notes, and shared them on twitter.

Notes taken at the Practical Democracy Project

In more exciting news I bought a new pen the other day and used it for the first time. It’s satisfyingly fine point and flows really nicely. You too can purchase this lovely thing! (You can get it at papersmiths and you can also get refills so it’s sustainable). Friends = Pens.

New days pen.


Thursday was a strange one. On my way into work I felt massively compelled to get off at Westminster rather than St James’ park and walk from there. After this I found out about the extinction rebellion stunt and I wondered why I’d been so compelled to Westminster that morning.

I was also having a really weird feeling that I hadn’t seen fellow weeknoter Julie for a while and that I should really get in touch. The feeling felt disconcertingly strong on Thursday morning and then when I went to the Practical Democracy project, there she was sat 2 rows in front of me!

I know these two things are coincidences. But they didn’t feel like it, I’m not particularly superstitious but, I don’t know — sometimes the world is weird.

After running into Julie, we hatched a plan with Louise to have lunch in a couple of weeks, so #weeknotes reunion! #YAY

And what else?

The One Team Gov Finland crew published a post which you will find below:

View at Medium.com

I really liked the facilitators-eye-view of an event and the thoughtfulness about how to make these things better, there were a couple of points that I found slightly problematic but we are here to have a conversation not to discount others views. I left some comments on the post which are for thought.

I published a post about my wall:

View at Medium.com

I didn’t expect it but it has been shared by a lot of people and had lead to some interesting discussions. I’m just happy that I can post something that other people might be interested in and that might be useful to someone.

It was also really useful to sit back and actually think, why do I do this? I act intuitively and it seemed useful to me, but writing it all down really got those thoughts out about why it was useful and it was a helpful thing for me to go through.

Oh and I recieved this post from Amy!

Finally I created a playlist for part 2 of the 30 Day song challenge which you’ll find below — this one was much more fun than part one and much more interesting and eclectic. Enjoy!

View at Medium.com

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