Here in England, the days are getting longer, and as of the 12th of April we’re allowed to meet people for food and drinks (albeit wrapped up for fresh ‘al fresco’ dining).
For me, aside from seeing friends and getting my long-awaited haircut, this means that I have more options for reading. From plowing through audiobooks on my walks, to reading physical books with a coffee outside a cafe, my world is slowly opening up.
Still, as travel isn’t an option yet, books are my best escape to other places. One I discovered via personal recommendation is Rita Golden Gelman’s Tales of a Female Nomad. In Regan-era USA, Gelman was a 40 something mother of college-aged children, and escaping a stifling marriage. She decided to go to Mexico. From this started the seeds of over 20 years of a nomad’s life, including time in Borneo, years in Indonesia… and even a spell in my native New Zealand! (Though her audio narration belies her spending less than a year there, her pronunciation of Maori words is… not great). It’s a wonderful read for people wanting to understand how people do bold things. While Gelman is privileged (she’s a blonde American children’s writer who can work anywhere), she doesn’t shy away from talking about the mistakes she made along the way, and her struggles with judging people who had very different values from her own.
This month in digital government and design
- At the start of the month I attended the spring edition of the excellent Chicago UX Camps. Videos are coming out soon, but for me the standout was Karen Van Outen’s talk on getting wicked good in wicked environments
- GDS recently hosted Alphabet’s Obi Felten to talk about her career. She had stories on how the company encourages failure, from decoupling project success with performance reviews, to encouraging product managers to kill products if they have sufficient reason to see that they’re not sustainable. However, the final story was the most intriguing—realising that killing a project is a death that brings on grief, and inspired by Latinx colleagues, the company has a day of the dead where people can talk about death, be it acknowledging killed projects or even other losses in their lives.
- I attended a masterclass from the legendary Ginny Redish on usability testing printed documents. For those that missed the session, the video of the session is now online.
- Another pattern library for government services, this one done by two MA students (this is why I forgive the use of Wix)
- Real innovation—a social innovation company helping homeless people get virtual addresses so that they can get bank accounts and other things that help them get a job
- Discussing government IT, Wardley maps, and shared capabilities
- User-centred front-end development principles
- Last month I struggled to find the contact details for a woman I know professionally as she’d changed her last name. It turns out that a lot of women who change their name because of marriage get lost to history.
- I recently challenged a colleague to not use the phrase “cargo cult” as it’s been proven to be colonialist. This piece on the Tanna tribe’s Prince Philip movement similarly points out that what might look like simple worship is actually far more complex than Western readers care to admit
- A present for the beer-drinking graphic designer in your life - pantone colour matching beer cans
- HTML status dogs. Who knew there were so many HTML statuses? And that the dog translations could range from the cute to the disturbing?
- Finally, back in my native New Zealand, the long-awaited trans-Tasman travel bubble has been opened, and nothing says sibling love like bringing up a sporting embarrassment