Weeknote 13th Feb 2023
I started back at DLUCH this week with the digital land team and had a normal first week, chatting with everyone and getting the lay of the land.
I’ve joined at an exciting time; the data platform is in public beta, ready to be productionised and we are kicking off a piece of work to explore how to improve the creation, maintenance and adoption of the data standards needed to feed the platform.
Somethings never change
I joined one meeting to eavesdrop and ended up chatting about a prototype I made in 2018! That is still up and running! How?
Perfect size screenshots
I take a lot of screenshots - as per Giles Turnbull in his book, Agile Comms, Chapter 7 → “Collect[ing] raw materials to help you show the thing”
Screenshots are those raw materials.
Most of the time I use CleanShot X which is great but sometimes I need to take a specific size shot of a webpage. In the past I’ve used browser extensions to resize it but these are a bit of a faff. And then I still need to draw the pixel perfect box around it!
This week I hacked together a python tool (screenshotr) to do it for me. I can set the exact size I want, and as an added bonus I can take screenshots that are larger than my screen. For example, if I want to take a screenshot of the full length of the page.
What I’ve been reading
The Guardian techscape newsletter talked about the impressive longevity of Nintendo and how that is down to their fun-first design; now that is an approach I can get onboard with!
I enjoyed Cory Doctorow’s follow up (I’m calling it a follow up - they feel related) to his Social Quitting piece. This time he explores how internet-era-enabled knob twiddling + unchallenged myth building by big platforms helps them extract more and more, and often obfuscates their misdeeds.
As is often the case it is a piece filled with interesting, well articulated points, ideas and stories and therefore, probably warrants more than one read. I could easily get lost down the rabbit hole.
Towards the end he recommends a simple regulation that could have transformative implications, calling it Freedom of Exit. The regulation he proposes is
If you operate a server, you have an obligation to give any user — including a user you kick off the server — their data, including the data they need to get set up on another server.
It encompasses the characteristic that you own that social connection, not the platform. The platform might be the intermediary that enables the connection but you, the user, maintain agency over it. You can use it, end it and take it with you.
That is a characteristic we have lost (or given up, or had taken off us) in the internet-era. Think about other forms of communication, if I change all mobile providers I’ve still got all my contacts’ numbers. And I can keep my own phone number too. The mobile providers don’t own that.