Steph’s been reading The Cluetrain Manifesto in the bath recently (toe-curling and brilliant in equal parts) and enjoyed this little line from Rick Levine’s chapter:
“One definition of community is a group of people who care about each other more than they have to”
That was certainly true of Mailcamp last week, where 60 or so folk gathered to share stories, tips and challenges around email marketing. It’s Steph’s last govcamp-style event as an organiser, as he retires to spend more time not buying basketfuls of Tunnocks Teacakes in local supermarkets and stressing about t-shirt deliveries.
- Howard and Steph have been preparing for their trip to The Netherlands in a few weeks, developing an interesting new hybrid training/group exercise platform for The Social Simulator and some great content drawing on Howard’s acting and journalism background.
- Luke and client Colin have been kicking off wireframes and data structure design for our new NHS project (sorry for vagueness: contracts etc).
- Luke’s also been preparing for his webinar slot with Andrew from DCMS talking about their new intranet, at Digital Workplace 24 next week. More exciting announcements about that project coming soon to a blog near you.
- Steph’s been thinking and drawing circles on maps to help kick off a planned office move in the summer, giving us a bit more room and, frankly, cool.
The reason for the mysterious turtle will be revealed in subsequent weeknotes… in the meantime, here’s what we’ve been up to:
- In amongst painful trips to dentists, Luke’s been preparing to release some of our work on a GOV.UK-style intranet, working on a demo and abstracting some of the bespoke client functionality into configurable modules. It’s open sourcing done right, we think.
- He’s also been working on work for GuildHE, designing a family of sites using WordPress child themes functionality to enable different look and feel and functionality to be easily (and cheaply) applied to several sites
- Steph’s been catching up with clients old and new, working out how to freshen up sites or help migrate or transition clients to new arrangements as their needs have changed, as part of our super-flexible support and maintenance arrangements. He’s also been setting up MailCamp, a show+tell event about email marketing in the public sector and beyond, on Thursday 9th
- Howard has been throwing himself into fictional scenario development for a Dutch client, filming video and mocking up corporate disasters across news, intranet and more, as well as helping prepare more material to help our agency partners resell The Social Simulator more effectively
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
— T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
Blimey. Thankfully few signs of such cruelty here, so far:
- Steph’s on a new Independent Advisory Panel, helping the Cabinet Office with a review of the Consultation Principles, on which there may be more on the main blog soon
- He’s continuing some work for the Government Digital Service talking to central government web teams who manage blog platforms about what they might need from a GDS blogs service
- Howard and Steph have been demonstrating and talking Social Simulator to quite a few potential agency partners, and working up more sales tools for the service including good old fashioned spreadsheets and PowerPoint decks
- They’re also planning a client exercise in the Netherlands coming up next month with a sporting theme - looks like May will continue the trend of being ‘exercise season’ with four booked so far
- Luke and Steph kicked off some work with St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust - in a new one for us, we’re working alongside the Trust’s great in-house developer throughout the process, which promises to be good fun
- Luke’s also been continuing the post-launch iterations of the DCMS Intranet and trying to extract the code into something that can be more easily repurposed. He’s also been cranking away on our little multisite project for GuildHE
- We’re all experimenting with more joined-up admin systems too, tracking our time with Eon, feeding into FreeAgent, and likewise tracking our simulation enquiries with Capsule. It’s like living in the future, or something.
And the picture? Our moving-in present from Nettie - a beautiful purple orchid we’d long-since assumed we’d killed through neglect - has come back to life. Dull roots, spring rain maybe.
Time to get back onto this horse.
This week’s been fun:
- We helped the FCO put live the 2012-13 edition of their Human Rights and Democracy Report, publishing several hundred pages of material in HTML, open for public comment, with a look and feel reminiscent of GOV.UK
- Howard Gossington’s joined the team, mainly to work our Social Simulator projects, and has made a cracking start
- We helped the Portland team with a client event to showcase their Simulo crisis simulation platform, a partnership between us - simulating some nastiness in a world sadly full of real unpleasantness this week
- Luke’s been where he likes to be: under the hood of WordPress, this time for new clients GuildHE and a rather special government body who govern a territory of sandy beaches, turtles and donkeys. All will be revealed.
- Steph had lunch with the excellent Jamie Baker, social media lead at the Food Standards Agency
This week has been lots of fun.
- Luke’s been kicking off an exciting new intranet project, applying some of the content principles and formats of GOV.UK and taking cues from the GOV.UK design, working alongside a stellar departmental team
- He’s still been chugging away at the London College of Communication delivering WordPress training to MA students there
- Steph’s been gallivanting to Paris with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Social Simulator
- …and also back home, popping over the river to the General Pharmaceutical Council, for some social media training
- Sadly, UKGovcamp had to be postponed due to the transport problems caused by Friday’s snowfall across the UK, but Steph’s still been sorting out various logistics, and hopefully a rescheduled date will be agreed with our hosts IBM soon
- We’ve also been doggedly working through the issue trackers for two big WordPress sites - for the Audit Commission and Wilton Park - which will be going live in the next 3 weeks
We didn’t miss a week, we just thought we’d roll up a Christmas bumper edition. Ahem.
- Luke’s been wireframing and testing layouts for the Committee on Climate Change, but he’s mainly been finessing his beautiful WordPress build for Wilton Park, full of elegant custom taxonomies and post types
- With Simon from Claremont, he ran GCN’s Managing Agile and User-Centred Digital Projects course last Monday, taking the delegates through the jargon of Agile and the practicalities of user stories, wireframes, user testing and iteration
- Steph presented at Claremont PR’s Crisismas event, running a little group exercise to get the audience deciding how to handle a PR problem in social media, and hearing how Change.org handled the social media crisis simulation we threw at them in September
- He’s also been putting the finishing touches to our new site for the Audit Commission going live in the New Year, which has involved a more than anticipated amount of sweary fighting with Google Site Search
- …and he’s been helping a few departments get their digital strategies online, including helping relaunch the FCO Digital Diplomacy site
- Today, he put a new site live for DCLG, enabling people to comment on the Report of Review of Planning Guidance… and we’ve released the underlying WordPress theme as CommentariatGOVUK
- And with UKGovcamp round the corner, Steph’s been lining up some cracking sponsors. We’d set ourselves a target of £7,000 this year, but the final tally stands at £9,500, which should mean plenty more grants for local and specialist govcamps through 2013
- We’re also kicking off a new project for DCMS, revamping their intranet in WordPress, taking not just the visual style, but also more of the content strategy from GOV.UK and applying it to the task and guidance-type content on an intranet, working with the DCMS team who have been doing the hard editorial work
But now it’s time for a break. Merry Christmas!
We’ve been knocking some meaty things off the to-do list recently:
- Luke and Steph have been working through wireframes with the Committee on Climate Change, working out how best to serve some diverse audiences and run a pragmatic, efficient website
- Steph & Simon ran a session on Digital Engagement at the Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency with another engrossing discussion that ranged from tweeting Directors General to following online discussion of trans-vaginal mesh
- On Wednesday we ran a social media crisis simulation for the Department of Health at Helpful HQ. Two DH staff were on the five-strong roleplay team giving their colleagues a grilling via online media, Twitter and stakeholder emails plus some challenging phone calls from our tame journalist
- Luke’s been putting in the hard work building our metadata-driven site for FCO agency Wilton Park, pushing the WordPress Pods plugin hard
- Steph’s been working with Matt Jukes at the Medical Research Council to polish off a little site which turns the MRC’s 500-strong database of projects mentioned across press releases and annual reports over the last 4 years from a spreadsheet into something more interesting and accessible
- He’s also been working with Tom at the FCO on reworking the FCO Blogs WordPress theme into something the team can use for a corporate mini-site about the work of the digital team
- The end is in sight on our project for the Audit Commission - some automated migration tools plus hard work by the AC team mean we’re almost there on content, with just under 2 months to go before launch. Chicken-counting notwithstanding, and with some functional work still to do, it’s a good position to be in
- Our mobile iPad training suite (an example of our 10 machine combos pictured above) had another outing on Friday, complete with our new 4G dongle from EE. We’ve struggled at times to get a good enough 3G network connection for the kit from one of our main training locations in Lambeth North, London. With the 4G dongle, we’re now seeing 40+mbps download speeds, which led even the well-mannered Steph to become momentarily potty-mouthed. It’s awesome to have mobile kit like that which we’re able to offer for training courses or simulations pretty much anywhere above ground
- And as UKGovcamp on 19 January hoves into view, it’s got a new mobile-friendly website which Steph cobbled together. The first batch of tickets were released on Monday lunchtime… and disappeared in 12 minutes. It may be long in the tooth, but UKGovcamp still pulls in the crowds: the waiting list for the remaining 100 or so slots runs to 200 people
Some solid office time this week:
- Luke’s been working on wireframes for our new site for the Committee on Climate Change, incorporating some interesting visual answers to the question “What’s coming up?” which media and stakeholders are keen to know
- He’s also been working on his first WordPress build at Helpful Technology, planning out the entities and relationships (and WP content types) for our new metadata-driven work for Wilton Park
- Steph’s been at the Department of Health, fixing some bits and progressing our application build around the Public Health Responsibility Deal
- He’s also sneaked out a rapid WordPress rebuild of a site for a client of seven years, Solid Management Ltd, and helped new client MediaPolicy.org to get on top of their existing site, as a precursor to a more thoroughgoing rebuild
The next two weeks see two big social media crisis simulations, two training courses, and the core build stage on a couple of meaty projects, so we’ll have earned our mince pies come mid-December.