Know Your Place – An Ideal Day In My Working Life

'Log Stock Contemplation' by dannymanic

Home-working can be lonely. Remote-working can be risky. Office-working can be stifling. In an ideal world I’d mix them up.

A number of factors – Perrin’s Blackhall concept and my new Android phone amongst them – have conspired to make me draw up this ‘ideal day in my working life’.

It’s based on my work in the Civil Service and is set in the not too distant future. I am well aware that all people in Palo Alto probably already work like this, as do many Londoners, but for Civil Servants it would be a major step. Continue reading “Know Your Place – An Ideal Day In My Working Life”

Surfing Spots… all-in-one-page debate, pupil voices and ROI

Do people still talk about surfing the web? Well, anyway…

While surfing around recently, I spotted the following:

1. BBC’s experimental online debates

This online discussion format is a departure from the normal message boards and comments used by the BBC. I liked the way they had incorporated the issue, the two sides (using rich media), an indication of sentiment, example comments, and the ability to add your own all on one page. The look of the UI is a little bit dated , but hey-ho.

I haven’t been able to find out who’s been behind them or what’s going to happen next. Any leads appreciated.

2. Involver

A former colleague, Greg Sanderson, emailed me a link to the website of Involver, the social enterprise he is working for, which promotes smarter school councils.

I hold this up as an impressive example of what agile small organisations like Involver can do with WordPress and a few well chosen social web accounts to communicate, consult and encourage communities of practice online.


SWIX is a company that ‘helps companies measure the ROI of their social media marketing campaigns’. I signed up to test their SWIX app, which is in beta. I’ve done a lot of reviews of these sorts of tools and even in beta this is impressive.

You create a dashboard capturing activity across your corporate/personal/campaign presences online, SWIX tallies them all up and calculates an ROI for each. It even gives you the choice of sharing this information in an automated report, a webpage or not at all. Would like to see a tie in with some more embedded market players, such as Netvibes.

The SWIX blog is at

One thousand five hundred and twenty-seven miles of Christmas and New Year

'Harris on reflection' by Ross Ferguson

This Christmas and New Year my fiance, Gemma, and I travelled 1527 miles within the UK to see friends and family.

It was amazing. We had a great time and we saw some amazing sights; I thought I’d share them:

12 for 12 – Professional Resolutions for 2010

I’m not really one for personal New Year’s resolutions.

But seeing as this new year is the start of a new decade and I’ve been in the Civil Service for 12 months, I thought I’d make a sort-of-exception and come up with and share my New Year’s professional resolutions.

  1. Innovation is like love – easy to say, hard to define. Best just get on with it and let actions speak louder than words.
  2. Trust instinct. Much of work is about familiar fixed patterns.
  3. Look at everything we do through the framework of behaviour change.
  4. Look at everything we do through the framework of saving money.
  5. Realise that change can happen overnight.
  6. Don’t over engineer. Remember that it’s easier to add than take away.
  7. Be frank. Have more straight-up conversations with people.
  8. Remember that people who know the rules best, know how to get round them best.
  9. If I’m looking for adventure,  go out in search of truly strategic integrated communications.
  10. Be more honest which means being more creative.
  11. Comment on other people’s opinions and work more often. Appreciative inquiry is the way forward.
  12. Being optimistic is the catalyst for an open mind.

True – it’s a tightrope between cliche and mumbo-jumbo, but I’ve looked inside and those 12 really speak to me.

Have you made any professional resolutions for 2010?

On my desktop this week… ‘Moby Dick’ by Rockwell Kent

'Moby Dick' by Rockwell Kent

Kicking off another year of ‘better than the IT-imposed’ desktops, with this illustration of ‘Moby Dick‘ by Rockwell Kent.

I was reminded of it by a post on But does it float called ‘To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme‘.

I came across the illustration on the Penguin Classic edition. It’s the best of all the visualisations of The Whale, which the synopsis on the back of the Penguin edition describes as:

‘a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself.’

Moonpig will buyover Google in 2010

'Hands free mobile' by Obi-Akpere

I won’t be making too many predictions like the one above. But one I am happy to put my name to is that 2010 will be the year of mobile.

Whether mobile will take off or not this year has been the subject of much discussion with colleagues. There’s a lot of caution; many of us have been burnt by previous false dawns. But against the evidence – massive penetration of cheap smart phones, uptake of mobile broadband and the explosion of apps –  we have to be more ambitious about mobile in 2010.

From my vantage, the world of democracy and politics will be very much part of this mobile bonanza. Here are three prime areas:

1. General Election campaigning
Every party, media outlet and activist group will make extensive use of the web – that’s a given. It will be in the use of mobile that innovations and headlines will be made.

Whether its micro-donations to parties, opposition flash-mobs at events or manifestos in 160 characters – the mobile will make the election feel closer, more personal and more accessible.

Overkill, imposition and data security will all prove problematic.

2. Social marketing
As the functionality of mobiles increases, so the costs of social marketing via mobiles will decrease.

Government marketers have long been interested in mobile, and with the ability to run cheaper, better targeted campaigns we will rush to mobile in our droves. Expect lots of location-based games and personalised advice through apps.

The challenges will be around monitoring, evaluation and creativity (i.e. how to make it look and feel cool).

3. Service delivery
Fuelled by the sudden windfall of public sector data, we can expect a boom in mobile-based interaction with public services.

It is likely that most of these will be packaged up by social enterprises but government will also get involved, especially local authorities. Prime for development will be emergency services, transport infrastructure and environmental services.

Data security, security of payments and records management will prove problematic.

Only time will tell…

What’s in your crystal ball (app)?