Two days off this week, three days working. Funny how we use the word “off”. How work focused are our lives, eh.
Two days not doing work
Two days off for the kids’ half term and My Birthday. I am now 45 years old and in these times of Stay At Home I was whistled back to my 40th, spending the day at the Barbican and going to Leicester Square to watch Spectre. The new Bond film was due to be released this week, and yeah so I’ve been enjoying the Craig era Bond films. I just felt a little meh about the wider world.
I spent my birthday painting my son’s room, having filled in holes and smoothed them over the day before. IT FEELS LIKE A WORK METAHPOR but I am not going there. And my son now feels happier in his room, so mission accomplished.
Last weekend I asked on Twitter for suggestions of non-fiction/loosely based on real events/snippets of real life graphic novels. I used some birthday cash to add to my collection from the suggestions. Sharing the list here as it is quite a good list. You might find it useful. The links are to Goodreads author and book pages, but please think about buying from an indie bookstore. Thye’ll appreciate your custom more than tax-dodging Amazon.
- They Called Us Enemy
- Guy Delise: Shenzhen, Pyongyang, Burma Chronicles
- The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist Coltrane by Paolo Parisi
- Jeffery Brown’s autobiographies Little Things, Funny Misshapen Body and A Matter Of Life
- Josephine Baker by Bocquet
- The collected works of David Squires
- From Hell
- Maus 1 & 2
- March (available as three books or one volume)
- Ghetto Brother
- All the Scott McCloud books on making comics, including Understanding Comics
- Sheriff of Babylon
- Rent Girl
- Pride of Baghdad
- Brought To Life
- Tetris, by Box Brown
- The Photographer
- Weapons of Mass Diplomacy
- Fun Home
- The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
- “Pretty much anything by Lucy Knisley but I’m very fond of Relish.”
- Alice in Sunderland
- “Two Allie Brosh books, although they’re more like illustrated books than graphic novels”
- The Best We Could Do
- Capote in Kansas
- The Art of Flying by Antonio Altarriba
- Nick Cave: Mercy on Me
- Genevieve Castree’s Susceptible
- Michel Rabagliati’s Paul series
- Sarah Leavitt’s Tangles
- Joe Sacco books
- Marisa Acocella Marchetto’s Cancer Vixen
- Mizuki’s Showa series
- The Arab of the Future
Continuing my policy of start finishing, finish starting I finished reading the last three volumes Ex Machina this week, just over 14 years since I read volume 2. It’s never too late. Absolutely amazing read.
Three days of working, three days full of working
I swapped the chair in the shed. As long as I’ve had the shed to work from I’ve had a nifty stool from Ikea, back to it, no arms, goes up and down, swivels. My daughter put her old bedroom chair in the attic and I just fancied a change. The height isn’t adjustable, but it’s a comfortable height, it’s got arms and it’s pretty decent for slouching in once in a while. I felt too rigid sat most of the day on the other chair. Yeah yeah your back, Si but sometimes slouching jsut feels right.
It was a few days of head down making things (maps, in-browser prototypes) to get thoughts together and invite responses. There are some gaps in the thinking, some assumptions, but making something early to share and talk round is always the winner. Reminder: Designing is literally the act of making something tangible, so tangiblise your thinking and problems.
Had a remote workshop, which was alright. Trying (as ever) to avoid workshop bullshit and try to keep it real, making sure it’s about the stuff we do rather than the razzmatazz of The Process. Some decisions were made to move things along, so solid outcome. Reminded not everyone wants to go along on A Voyage Of Designing And Making Software-For-Services journeys and Just Show Me What We’ll Be Using, Thanks. Totally understandable and totally fair.
For all the “move fast” of agile working had to get some of the team to take the foot off the gas on Friday and get some of us thinking through the options. Younger me would probably have kept going, but older me is aware there are implications. It’s problematic. Accessing services safely deserves some stewing time. A product owner I am working with was bang on, I’ll get down the options to analyse and we’ll go through it on Monday.
Kind of related: I started scribbling down what are good (ie. useful) service patterns. I am looking at stuff that is just way too skimpy. It’s just not…useful enough for those wanting to lean on ressearch and other work done already. I am hoping the local gov project I am on can do the sharing well.
An intro for some of the team to the gov prototype kit and the gov design system was top of my list to of things to do once I’d got some design work out of the way. There’s no mystique to these things, lower the barriers for entry (which the kit and design system help with massively) but at the same time they’re tools for designing. Always always keep a mindfulness on better designing to do good design work.
The last working afternoon of the week featured the words “typeface”, “grids”, “spacing” as well as discussing the meaning of colours (as long as you can see colours) – which made a refreshing change. Designing, at least the designing I mainly do these days, doesn’t dip its toe into that pool too much, enough.
Typically just as things are getting super interesting on the local gov project my time on it is going down. But live in the moment and enjoy while you can, eh.
Had a good session in one of my open half hour slots. Starting to have both my half hours every week booked out a week in advance, which is nice. The variety of people, topics and types of chats keeps it all interesting. Feel free to book one yourself.
I did a little work and promoting the second local gov research and design meet-up. We did the first earlier this month, initially just Annie and I putting some time in the diary to chat and then inviting others. It ballooned quite quickly, 25 people on the call on the end. In the first meet we put down some topics to talk about, voted, and talked through. We decided to look into design systems and playbooks in the second meet, so here we are. There are already 35 people signed up. We are doing it remotely, Thursday 5 November, from 1pm GMT until 2pm GMT. Let’s see how it goes. You can “book a place” on Eventbrite. Come!
Some interesting reads
- Nobody told me UX would be like this
- Do not write off human centred design before it has started
- Prototyping with slides
- Principles for Designing Sustainable Services (I had to skip a meet-up this week about these, but there’s more to come. Head over to designandclimate.org for more info.)