Life Working

Weeknote 17/01/20

Weeknote summary for 17th January 2020


This week’s main thing was a get together in our new Bristol offices with my fellow team leaders and Steve our manager to look at what the future holds for us.

Being home-based, face to face meetings are comparatively rare but allow for a different type of reflection and discussion. It was all very productive.

It’s a time of change for us at Jisc including a move to a new directorate, a change or remit that goes with that, and a reorganisation of other areas. That last one means a reconfiguring of relationships and activities. We had a great meeting with our colleagues in the “Cloud” team which was really timely given how much attention is being paid to Office365 at the moment. Very much looking forward to working with this team.

On the subject of O365, my colleague Scott wrote a post about his experience using Teams as a backchannel to support a training workshop he ran this week.


There’s been a splurge of interesting things in the Guardian about smart cities. They lean towards the sceptical view which is catnip for me.

The thing that unites the 2 pieces is flipping the viewpoint. The first is about encouraging us to build low tech “dumb” cities instead of “smart” ones. Reading it, it’s not actual about the surveillance tech city I was expecting, more about using traditional and non-Western skills and technologies to make them more sustainable.

The second by Cory Doctorow is about surveillance and proposes switching the power position of individuals from the “sensed” into the “sensor”.

This chimed with me as I’ve been trying to imagine what tech would look like had we not gone down a route of data-gathering on users to fuel and fund the system.

Such a city depends on a responsive, legitimate government, and on devices that are open and transparent, freely auditable and secured through widespread scrutiny of their inner workings. It is a city and a technology and a government oriented around its people, designed to treat people “as an end in themselves and not as a means to something else”.

Cory Doctorow

I’ve also started reading some more about Mariana Mazzucato’s ideas on Mission Orientated Innovation Policy. Her work is aimed at governments looking to create the right economic conditions for innovation that is socially beneficial. I’ll need to read more because I’m interested in whether this works at the more micro economic scale of a university or college. It may turn out not as the context is very different


If, like me, you are of the bass persuasion, you should check out Scott Devine’s latest wheeze. His online business, Scott’s Bass Lessons is running a competition to win one of a range of tasty looking basses as a vehicle for raising money for school building in a developing nation.

Entry is free, which makes the mechanism for fund raiding a little convoluted, but hey!

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