Week notes: 12 – 18 February 2024

Carbon monoxide alarm, bothering Villeneuve, cat cafe and board games.

Welly, welly, well. Another jam-packed week! Writing this one on trains to and from Nottingham. Where to start? Where we left off

Things that happened

When Airbnbs attack! 

We defied death by carbon monoxide poisoning last Sunday evening. The alarm went off in our Airbnb (in Lancs) and we got the heck out fast. ☠️

Luckily the landlord had another one around the corner. Even luckier, it was way nicer. It had a massive Ambilight TV.

Uh-oh, Ambilight TVs are amazing, I need one. 

(Ben also reminded me of my prior Airbnb horror scenario in Cardiff).

Do you want to take a leap of faith or become an old man filled with regret?

For Valentine’s this year I romantically left my wife at home and went to the Chris Nolan BFI Fellowship award dinner instead. 

What an honour to be there – along with the Prime Minister and A-listers including living legend Sir Michael Caine (who Nolan honoured as his “film dad”), Cillian Murphy (who gave a masterful speech), Ken Brannagh (in a lustrous Lear beard), Hans Zimmer and Denis Villeneuve. And some women! Most notably, producer legends Emma Thomas (Nolan’s partner in all things) and Barbara “007” Broccoli.

I hosted a table including MUBI’s CEO and folks from Reddit, Disney and Number 10. It was a fitting way to end Tim Richards‘s time as BFI Chair. There’s coverage online if you’re interested: here’s Screen, Deadline and Mail Online

Rather than regret missing my moment, I showed Villeneuve my tattoo of the heptapod logogram for non-linear time from his film Arrival. It got a great reaction from people nearby and Denis said he was moved (and he loved the shirt). One of the guests on my table caught the moment on camera. Amazing!

This job, eh? It’s frequently tough but the highpoints are astonishing. 

I’ll be the judge of that

As part of my mission to get out there more, I put myself forward for judging this year’s BIMA 100. They’ve put me on the panel for the Tech Pioneers category. Gonna be interesting!

Two days of the candour

Half term for the kids so I took time off and only had two days at my desk – just enough to reply to messages, attend an Exec board, have a few catch-ups with my Directors and get on message for Nolan night.

Also squeezed in a quick call with Dave to chat OKRs and mission command. A council he’s helping needs to break an overfacing problem down into focused, near-term achievable chunks so OKRs are likely to be very helpful.

I made zero progress tackling my overwhelm and much-needed GTD stocktake I mentioned, but will get back on it next week. 

An achievement was achieved by the team – we now have BFI Player as a “watch action” in Google results. In other words, when you search for a title we’ve got – try Scrapper or Enys Men – we come up as a suggested streamer with a direct link to start watching. Progress!

Screenshot of Google results for the search query "watch Scrapper". Shows icons for streamiong platforms under a heading of "watch film - available on:" including BFI Player as the top item.

BFI is such a busy place – the Nolan award plus his on-stage interview and trip to our conservation centre would be massive enough, but this week we also launched Flare festival, held the Future FIlm Festival, released Cymande, went on sale for Dune 2 at IMAX, and are at the BAFTAs tonight (not me personally).

Next week’s going to be super busy too – I’m praying to the gods of productivity and focus because I’ll have to blitz a bunch of things. 

Cat cafe #3

On Thursday I took the kids to a cat cafe called Whiskers & Cream – our third in London, which in order of ascending quality go: Lady Dinah’s, Java Whiskers, then this one. The food was better here, and the cats were happier and more varied including a couple of fluffy and docile Maine Coons. 🐱

A Devon Rex called Trixie jumped on my lap, nuzzled into my elbow and stayed there purring for ages. It was so nice, and my first time meeting this lovely and interesting breed. 

Merry mid-life men

Friday evening and Saturday were all about board games and extreme snacking with uni besties in Nottingham. We played Betrayal at the House on the Hill twice, Nemesis Lockdown twice, and filler games Deep Sea Adventure and Dungeon Mayhem: Monster Madness. It was non-stop sugar, carbs, meat and rules. Which, believe it or not, is my idea of a fun weekend. 

Blogging about blogging

I like how Steve made his whole feed reader content available as OPML. I’ve added it to my reader (prompting an upgrade to a paid Inoreader subscription) and will go through it all gradually and see what tickles my fancy. Considering adding a blogroll here at some point (inspired by others doing likewise as part of the personal site resurgence). Meanwhile, there’s a bit of a list here

My own feed reader structure atm is:

  • Blogging friends
  • Blogging acquaintances
  • Blogging strangers
  • BFI stuff
  • Tech stuff
  • Local stuff
  • Stuff stuff 

🔎 Found, interesting 🧐

Spotted Tom Critchlow ruminating here on something he calls “narrative strategy” leading to this earlier post he’d written on it. This resonated loudly with me – most of the value I add is in this area, I reckon. Narratives as engines of change. Articulating things clearly. Encouraging others to do the same. Tools like OKRs, mission briefs, visions and propositions, proposals. Closing those gaps between strategy and execution.  

Wonderful (ex-GDS) digi comms guru Zara is off to No 10 – a great appointment. 

Free the PAF – might this finally actually happen?

Via Jeremy, I liked this simple process for distributed decision-making

Something made me go back and reread Jo Roach’s great article on cross-functional teams.

I couldn’t for the life of me remember who was PM when I left the civil service (answer: Theresa May!) so I ended up on this GOV.UK past PMs page. Shocking when you see it laid out how many PMs we’ve had since Cameron called all this on and put his trotters up and how the 20th Century headshots are black and white like it’s ancient history. I suppose it is. 

Public Digital’s newsletter reminded me why your roadmap should have a not doing section and why you need never in your roadmaps

I read this on digital immersive arts and culture experiences – trying to keep an open mind on such things in the context of access to BFI collections, but I’m fighting a strong personal distaste for what is basically just moving images on big walls.

OpenAI Sora – ugh gen-AI really is coming for our creative souls and screen culture [Twitter/X]  

eDiscovery sounds like an interesting field (with huge potential for AI-for-good)

Listening, watching, playing, reading

🎬 Rewatched Prisoners (unaware I’d be in the presence of Villeneuve 3 nights later) and Interstellar (to get in the mood for celebrating Nolan). Neither is their director’s best film but that’s a high bar given their incredible bodies of work. I enjoyed revisiting both. Had forgotten Interstellar’s giant wave and sarcastic robots. Prisoners was intense on the big Ambilight TV

📺 Would I Lie to You? (a strong episode with Sinitta and Ivo Graham). Convicted: Murder at the Station (gripping true crime doc with meh payoff)

🕹️ Played some more Cocoon. It’s clever and satisfying. Played a few unskilled rounds of Tekken 8 which is how you’d expect, with few surprises. Watched Alex play some Cyberpunk 2077 and I am gonna jump on that sometime cos I love the milieu. 

🎧 Continued Jon Ronson’s Things Fell Apart. Lambrini Girls – God’s Country.


💊“I always thought his name was Neil” [X]

💬 Do not reply…

📸 Birds murmurating in the shape of a bird 

📜 “I’m a product manager” [TikTok]

Thanks for being here, I do appreciate having someone to write to 🙂

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