Weeknote 27th July 2020Last updated 31 August 2020
I had a crazy week at work trying to produce some diagrams under extreme time pressure. Wasn't ideal.
Still waiting for Apple to announce a new iMac.
What have I done
I've been thinking more about how the key to transformation (in civic/government tech) is the boring work. The unsexy, behind the scenes, press release free work, the seemingly, but never actually, simple stuff.
It's is the type of work that regularly gets dismissed. People overlooking it with an "obviously we'll do that," but then never do. Or they underestimate the potential impact with a "what else are we going to do?" But it is the vital first step that, once done, will have an immediate and significant impact. It is the same sort of work people are referring to by saying "get the basics right" or "walk before you can run."
Workwise I've spent a lot of time discussing and exploring local plans. And the industry around making one. dxw ran a fascinating alpha project on local plans and, as a team, we are now exploring how we can help turn local plans into data.
That will likely be a monumental task. So remembering what I said above, I think there is value in doing the easy, simple work to compile and publish a comprehensive list of all the local plans (from England) and where they can be found. Sounds simple, but hasn't been done before. At least not publicly. Yet, it has the potential to be useful for more people than we can imagine:
- A local authority developing a new plan and wanting to find neighbouring plans or plans from authorities of a similar shape.
- Someone looking for flood policies for each area of the UK need to find the corresponding section in each local plan.
- A PropTech company, creating a prospecting tool, needs to find all the "Allocated Sites" mentioned in local plans.
All these activities start with a need to know where all the local plan are.
What have I read
- The big tech congressional grillings took place this week. Sounded like it is the start of prolonged period of scrutiny for these big tech companies. Damning take-aways: Zuckerberg’s emails about buying a competitor called Instagram, and Bezo admitting Amazon Echoes are priced below cost.
- Another point about the above. Apple seem to be claiming that before their App Store there was no digital way to distribute software. I’m not sure about that. Unquestionably, the App Store adds a level of security, consistency, experience and a guarantee of quality that pre-existing distribution channels (the internet) didn’t and still don’t. But that is a completely different argument.
What have I learnt
- 2 spaces in markdown equals a new line
- About the work my policy colleagues at MHCLG do. In particular how they keep a record of “lines” they use. Continuously tweaking and refining them for future use. They also keep a record of lines they have used with certain people and whether those lines seemed to land with the person. It seems obvious but I’d never consider this as the way “Policy” worked.
Tweets of the week
Honestly, at some point you have to ask yourself: if our economic system doesn't secure public health and well-being, and doesn't protect and regenerate ecology, then what's actually the point?