Week notes: 13-19 November 2023

End current government, "twat" on the radio, finding the “so what”.

My week

A better, happier one than the last. (Aside from the unspeakable horrors humans are inflicting on one another).

Like yours, my week began with head-scratching David Cameron news. Who’d have thunk it? When we built “reshuffle mode” in GOV.UK’s admin interface we never predicted it would see this much use.

There’s also an “end current Government” button by the way. Less powerful than it sounds, it turns on warnings that policy and news may not reflect the latest position. In contrast to reshuffle mode, it’s only been needed once so far, at the end of the Cameron-Clegg coalition. [Caveat: I may be wrong about this feature still existing, it’s been a while].

I have two Cameron claims to fame, one of which I’m especially proud of (guess which):

  1. I shook his hand on his first day as PM. 
  2. Media pickup of my overlong 2009 Twitter guide made him say “twat” on the radio.

Some highlights from my work week in BFI land:

  • The BFI Player team submitted a new Android app to the Google Play Store. This is a big deal, having only had an iOS app up to now. Plus it’s the first major release stewarded by one of our newer Product Managers, Zen, who is acing it. This Pixel fan is particularly pleased to see it, and I had fun pretending to be a product manager again myself by joining the testing. Pending Google’s review process, you’ll be able to use it soon. 
  • A colleague in our Corporate Technology department wrote his first blog post for the intranet, explaining conditional access. This makes me happy. No rest until everyone blogs! And knows the difference between a blog and a blog post
  • I enjoyed a high protein conversation with some of the truly excellent bright sparks in the BFI’s marketing department. The UX work we’re kicking off on BFI Player is upping the priority of wider questions on brand and design assets – which is fun stuff to get into.

In my leadership team we’ve started asynchronous daily standups by posting notes in Slack. We’re not the kind of team agile “ceremonies” are meant for – made up as we are of people who lead different digital and tech departments rather than pull from the same backlog – but there’s lots to be gained from windows in the silos and being more intentional. It’s going well so far and I hope we stick at it. All part of our incremental pursuit of agile comms and other internet-era ways of working greatest hits.

Having said that, we do have a shared board of cross-cutting missions to work on, and this week was dominated by deadlines we had in common – for budget-setting and updating our stellar Board of Govs. A tad more teamwork made this week feel more satisfying for me, I think.

In a triumph of diary wrangling, my wife and I fitted in two trips together plus one on my own to the Nuffield gym we just joined. Turns out I’ve forgotten how to use most gym equipment under my own steam, having done group PT in Croydon and mostly HiiT or running since Covid. Signed myself up for some classes but might also need a stint with a PT. 

I’ve bought a Pact advent calendar – daily coffee treats for me this December instead of the non-alcoholic beer of the past few years. 

Links worth clicking on

Newspaper clipping from The Sun, September 18 2003. The headline reads: BLAINE SPOTTING: DAY 13. Gays launch sausage blitz. The story reads "Hundreds of gays are to attack Blaine's box with raw sausages in a bizarre internet stunt."

20 years ago my friend Log and I narrowly averted causing a mass (mostly gay) mob to throw sausages at David Blaine. I haven’t seen him (Log) (nor David Blaine come to think of it) in about 15 years so it’s most pleasing to hear his hilarious voice back online with this review of The Hobbit ZX Spectrum text adventure game slash coming out story for young gay hobbits. Carry me, Gandalf!

Speaking of which, remote work is a video game that pays. Saw that two weeks ago, thought little of it, but it keeps popping into my head. Finding it a helpful framing when things feel fraught. Save your progress, take a break, grind a while or do a side quest, then come back to it. 

Jukesie posted a reminder about this amazing old Doteveryone PDF called Finding the “So What? which I have literally never seen before in my life. It contains killer, punchy clarity like (and because) “life is too short for boring documents that don’t change anything.”

Via BFI’s fantastic head of platform development Iain Duncan (quoting him verbatim rather than writing a less good takeaway) “here’s a fascinating insight into some of the challenges with the highly autonomous squads model that Spotify is famous for and how they had to evolve new approaches to standardise ways of working across the company. Also some good stuff about ‘rumour driven development’ and using time-to-10th-pull-request as a way of measuring how easily developers can be onboarded.”

I like how Matt Edgar describes his weeknoting here:

I write weeknotes for my own benefit, as a way of reflecting on how my work is going. I publish them for two reasons:

  1. The obvious: some people might be interested.
  2. Perhaps less obvious: knowing anyone might read this, even if they don’t, improves the quality of reflection.

“I love our joy” – what an infectiously joyous celebration of Black culture this is. (I came across it 3 weeks late, but Black pride is for life not just for BHM).

Two reports relevant to us as we improve access to BFI’s incredible collections: Discovering Online Collections: Benchmark Report 2023 and Cultural Content Report 2022.

Good stuff from DXW on making team socials inclusive (no “enforced fun”)

Former colleague Alan Wright compared product work in startups and public bodies.

A couple of tools next. This, via Jem Finn, is a calm empty tab to draft words in. This, via Mark Hurrell, is a terrifying job-replacing tool that converts UI sketches into code [Twitter link]. See also Ars Technica on the same.

We BFI digital weeknoters are proliferating. As well as Jem above, here are Anna and Oliver. Make things open, it makes things better.

Couple of plum digital leadership jobs going, I see: 

Watching, reading, listening, playing

We are loving Derry Girls with the kids. 

Best film I saw this week was Femme. Tense, truthful and well-made.

Melted into Djrum – Creature Pt 1 while walking along the rainy Southbank.

For the LOLs

Needs more boom – regenerate any film scene as a Michael Bay script

Freaky antique Christmas postcards

Glory hole Spot The Ball (don’t worry, it’s just a Guardian article about contemporary art)

Like that Twitter guide in 2009, I have failed to make this short. But you stuck with me to the end anyway, so yay! Thanks for that, see you next week 🙂

Featured image credit: Giles Turnbull

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