in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #197 — Unplugged

A tough week. I’ve felt exhausted, like the wind has been kicked out of me. I assume that this is a post-COVID-19 malaise. Despite being ‘over it’, I’ve not felt at my best since I caught it a couple of weeks ago. I’ve struggled to keep my eyes open in the evenings.

There has been so much school governor work to do and meetings to attend over the past few weeks. I had Monday off work to spend the whole day at school with three other school governors, assessing and interviewing prospective headteachers. On Wednesday I found myself having to run out of a meeting with my boss in order to get to our Full Governing Board meeting. I enjoy being a governor but I am very fortunate to be part of such an understanding team at work when weeks like this one come up.

I find that I still have too many days at work where I feel as though my time is not my own. Either I am riding a back-to-back meeting journey for the day, or I’m in the office with too many interruptions and distractions to get any meaningful work done.

This was a week in which I:

  • Joined the final Architecture Community of Practice meeting of the year. My ongoing quest to get people across our organisation to put cameras on in meetings continues. I don’t think I am endearing myself to colleagues who are focused on blockchain technology, but I still don’t see a use case for them where a database would not be a better solution. Well, maybe there is one use case, as per the brilliant email that was sent to the hosts of the Sharp Tech podcast:

Andrew Sharp: Brandon, he says: “I think you guys are fundamentally misunderstanding crypto when Ben [Thompson, Sharp Tech co-host] talks about wanting to see “more products from crypto”. I’ve been around the crypto world since 2012 and worked full-time in crypto the last two years. The best way to think about crypto now, and for the foreseeable future, is as an ‘Internet casino’ that takes advantage of regulatory arbitrage. The mistake people make is grossly underestimating demand for that product. Back in 2013 I would have told you that an Internet casino would be maybe a $30bn industry. But no, even removing Eth and Bitcoin and other stablecoins, right now, today, CoinGecko shows there’s about $300bn of what I would consider speculative nonsense. And that’s just tokens, not NFTs etc. I think there’s just a massive underestimation of the demand for get-rich quick schemes. To lots and lots of people that all sounds incredibly silly and unproductive (and I probably agree) but it can’t be denied that it’s a massive industry with a very clear product/market fit. Maybe that’s an industry that’s not interesting to Ben or Andrew … but it’s not lacking products in my opinion.”

  • Met with members of our executive team to discuss the new products being developed by our Engineering group.
  • Attended a couple of meetings in preparation for a presentation on digital ways of working at one of our executive committees next week.
  • Joined the weekly project team meeting for closing down one of our regional offices.
  • Met with a colleague in another department to discuss how they can optimise their regular practices and tweak their culture. Any initiatives always need someone to drive them and be the ‘community manager’ until the whole group adopt them as ‘just what we do around here’.
  • Had an introductory meeting with a well-known digital consultancy. Working with them is likely to be a long play, but there are things that we can do together in the near future to get to know each other.
  • Heard concerns from our team that the planned rollout of our ‘location broadcasting tool’ may get some push-back from people that feel they are being tracked. I need to think more about this before we go live.
  • Attended an interesting lightning talk by a colleague called The Three Flavours of Innovation.
  • Went to an online presentation from the head of our internal ‘Knowledge Centre’ in South Africa. It’s quite incredible how many resources we have available to us.
  • Enjoyed being in school for our headteacher assessment day. It was a very intense twelve hours for everyone involved, with a variety of written and verbal exercises.
  • Attended the school Full Governing Board meeting. With some nudging from our clerk, we have reverted to having our meetings in person again. There were 38 (yes, thirty-eight) documents to read and review ahead of the meeting, which may be some kind of record.
  • Enjoyed listening to Eric Clapton’s Unplugged as we finally got our little work-based Album Club back together. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the whole album before. It’s incredible. Old Love is definitely the high point, but it has quite a few other songs snapping at its heels.

  • Took Friday off to go Christmas shopping and have some lunch with my wife. I hadn’t been to St Albans in many years, despite it only being half an hour away from us here.
  • Was inspired by hearing Ben Thompson’s take on what makes a good group chat on the Sharp Tech podcast and played around with some where I am an admin, changing the defaults so that messages disappear after a period of time. It makes sense to me that chats are ephemeral, don’t clog up your phone and can’t be held against you later. This was met with annoyance by some of the other participants and in one case was changed back.
  • Got out on my new bike again, managing to keep up with the 16–17mph group on Saturday morning. I don’t think there will be an organised ride next Saturday due to the freezing temperatures that are heading our way.
  • Capitulated and started watching some of the World Cup matches. I always like to say that I have “strong views, weakly held”; articles such as the one in The Economist made me think that I was being hypocritical, or at least trying to hold Qatar to a higher standard than other countries that have recently hosted major sporting events.
  • Watched more Grange Hill. For some reason I’m finding the banality of it to be quite enjoyable at the end of a long day. I’m now midway through season three from 1980; Tucker is in the third year, school uniform is optional and there is no sign of headteacher Mrs McClusky yet.
  • Found something to wear to the office Christmas party on Monday. I haven’t been to an office Christmas party in over half a decade, so it’ll be an experience.
  • Tried to get a grip on my podcast backlog by abandoning my subscription to The Bunker. As interesting as their daily episodes are, I just can’t keep up with them.

Next week: Year-end functions, a visit to Red Bull and the last Album Club of 2022.

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