October is the month of Halloween, but for me it was also the month of Harry Potter. As I was in London for work, I took the opportunity to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Part 1 and 2). It’s worth it for the magic alone.
My other October theatre highlights included A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe (refreshingly bawdy), and Is God Is at the Royal Court (Tarantino meets road trip). A full list of my October theatre visits is on Twitter.
I don’t take for granted how lucky I’ve been to have these opportunities to enjoy culture, and hope that everyone can do so safely where they are, either now, or soon.
This month in digital government and design
- "UX Theatre is easy to spot: It’s the application of any design methodology without including a single user in the process, or including users but merely for show," Tanya Snook in Fast Company
- Giles Turnbull released a little book about agile comms. I’ve read it. It’s good - a fast read with no filler.
- "If you love doing your craft, then a senior role may not be for you. That doesn’t mean you are less ambitious or capable". My work has leadership talks from colleagues who are senior civil servants (SCS). Turns out it’s like the C-suite for government, with a different job and very different processes. We discussed this quote from DIT (and ex-GDSer) Anais Reding and the related article. Their feedback: don’t become SCS if the thought of not doing your current job fills you with dread.
- Matt Knight is thinking about language and service design. In particular, how to create services designed in Welsh and English (rather than just translated from English to Welsh)
- Amanda Smith (or as I call her, “the unicorn lady at MOJ") has written about her experiences of leading a policy lab in government.
- Pandora Papers & Data Journalism: how investigative journalists use tech. Spoiler: a lot of spreadsheets.
- A literal case study of the content design mantra "it's not dumbing down, it's opening up" - when a German consultation simplified its description of power lines, the number of responses increased
- What do public servants need to work in ways that centre relationships, care and complexity? This Australasian study has suggestions including advocacy, learning networks, and ways to harness diversity.
- Dunning-Kruger Effect in public service trajectories
This month the New York Times Book Review turned 125. Despite being pegged in Edwin Diamond’s Behind the Times as “A Tweedy Backwater” the reviews were anything but. In particular, early 20th century NYT reviews could be *savage*. I particularly liked Vladimir Nabokov’s start-to-end distain for Satre’s Nausea, incriminating the author and translator in the precise takedown familiar to anyone who’s read anything Nabokov has written.
Are only young people creative? Turns out the answer is no: we’re creative at any age. The difference is that younger people have more energy.
Speaking of creativity, The Souvenir Part 2 is the best onscreen depiction of a creative university curriculum that I’ve seen. (Last Night in Soho… not so much. Though the film itself is good).
I don’t really follow comedy these days so didn’t know about Rob Beckett, but do like Beckett’s take on class and comedy.
As part of the London Film festival I saw Wes Anderson’s The-New-Yorker-in-France “The French Dispatch”. It was OK. The pop-up exhibition on The French Dispatch in the Strand however, is excellent. (Open London until 14 November.)
I’m not sure that I’d want to eat timpano, but I’m sure that I’d love to cook with Stanley Tucci.
JR Tolkien’s “Bag End” of Hobbiton is a satirical translation of ‘cul-de-sac’. Who knew?
Finally, Happy Halloween
Until next time,