Monthly round-up: March 2016

March! Where have you gone? Are we already at that point of the year where we’re starting to mention how fast it’s going? This has been a month of adventure, illness, a return to hotel carpet documentation, and a lot of whiteboarding and post-iting.

The first full week brought with it a chance to get properly stuck in to the project that has taken up the majority of my time this month – my project with Innovate UK and the Open Data Institute, looking at how to make Innovate UK’s data more accessible (and crucially more useful), both internally and externally. After the kick-off in the last week of February I now had a full week of properly getting into background research and planning for upcoming interviews.

Just as I was getting immersed, unfortunately I was due to head off to the Alps for this year’s ski trip. I love being up mountains and this detachment from work and life is always something that I hugely look forward to – it’s always painful to go and visit the Hotelplan offices and see all of the ski theming for most of the year! I’m a big fan of Austria, but this year the snow was looking so utterly terrible in all of the places that we’d wanted to go, which meant a return to France for the first time since Courchevel in 2011. Val D’Isére and Tignes had been way out in front in terms of snow, so we booked up there to be safe. By the time the trip came around they were at 180cm in the valley and over 310cm at the peak, so definitely no worries on that front! Staying in La Daille, right in the middle of the area map, we had a glorious week of snow and sunshine.

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View down into Tignes Val Claret

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Annoyingly towards the end of the week I woke up with an incredibly sore throat, and was forced to bus into the main town to buy assorted medicines. Despite my throat feeling like razors, I decided to have an ‘easy’ day by going out on my snowblades instead. A full day out (and one natural half-pipe) later, I returned a bit broken to the hotel…and then did exactly the same thing again the next day.

Unsurprisingly, by the time I got home I was not exactly in peak condition and the next week was painful in more ways than one. Monday brought a trip to Swindon, and with it a return to my hotel carpet documentation. A sleepless night later, on Tuesday I did a full day of interviews, after which I managed to lose my voice entirely and to develop a rather vicious chest infection – not what you need when you’re spending the week speaking to people! Thankfully I somehow managed to keep to schedule and to do all of my calls, returning to Swindon the week after in a slightly better state to run a workshop.

In total I’ve now spoken to 39 people for this project, extending the scope of what was planned for Discovery because people have been so engaged and all wanted to speak to me! A mix of face to face interviews, video calls, telephone calls, a short survey, and a workshop has given a nice balance, plus I’ve had a lot of other research to do around the data structures, looking at FOI requests, and much much more. This week involved attending the board meeting to be able to speak to some of the Directors, plus feeding back my work in progress.

Outside of that I’ve spent most of this last week starting to put together some solutions, both in terms of the overall project vision, goals, and scope, and starting to get into putting together viable options for the technical side of things.

Potential options work
Potential options work
Work in progress
Work in progress

Into April…

April heralds the first of this year’s hectic conference periods for me. I’m finishing off my current involvement on this project, but will also be spending some time preparing for and giving an updated version of my talk ‘All these moments will be lost in time: the web, the future, and us‘, which I trialled at Shropgeek (R)Evolution last year. I’m travelling to Krakow for Ace Conference (building software better/building better products) in a couple of weeks, which will be my first ever trip to Poland. Fingers crossed for some exciting hotel carpets!

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Posted by Sally Lait

Sally is the lead consultant and founder of Records Sound the Same, helping people with digital transformation. She's also a speaker, coder, gamer, author, and jasmine tea fiend.