At the start of M Leona Godin’s ‘There Plant Eyes’, the author, who also narrates, notes that sharp-eared listeners might sometimes hear taps, or even words in the background audio. She explains that this is the sound of her text-to-speech screenreader prompting her speech, as she isn’t proficient in Braille. It’s natural for Godin to narrate the audiobook, as the book is her life in writing. As an academic she has studied how blindness has been represented in society (innocent, idiotic or super-blind are the main categories). Instead, with stories from her life and throughout history (Milton—from whom she takes the title of the book—is included, as is Helen Keller as a sexual, vaudeville adult) she urges listeners to remember that the blind are people, and learn skills to get around in the world, just as we all do.
In a moment of serendipity, my next audiobook, ‘Wild Signs and Star Paths’, also focused on honing one’s senses. Tristian Golley’s uses clues from nature—from moss to birds—to navigate. The book is full of “I sensed” and “I noticed”. After finishing the book, I started to noticed the lichen on trees was only on one side. You might notice more too.
This month in government and design
- The UK’s Ministry of Justice has released their prototype of a service design playbook. I’m calling it a prototype as it’s on Miro.
- “It’s about radiating intent” Cassie Robinson on week notes. (Though another bit made me pause: “any of us that feel able to take risk, to use our voice and our platforms, should do so.” Who feels that they can’t? Possibly more than you might think)
- For every exemplary government online response (GOV.UK, SF.gov), there have been… not so great ones. Austin is in the second category. This article unpicks what went wrong.
- “Agile as trauma” is a heck of a title. And I think that it delivers. Though I need to sit on the article more. And probably talk about it.
- Speaking of which, Hera Hussein’s principles for trauma-informed design are well worth a read.
- I’ve been doing a summer intensive on writing… and it’s been a vivid reminder of radio announcer Ira Glass’s concept of the “taste gap” (though I know it as the far more profane ‘“the suck gap”).
- After tweeting about how much I loved this New Yorker article about therapy through reading, someone pointed me towards the new BBC podcast “Guide Books”, where authors talk about books that have helped them. Guest so far have included Stella Duffy and Melissa Harrison.
- Do you think creating a UK address is easy? Spoiler: it’s not.
- Writing about loneliness. Like the author, I love the description of loneliness from the writer Maggie Nelson: “loneliness is solitude with a problem.”.
- In happier news, Forbes has introduced a 50 over 50.
- “If It Looks Like The Chaos After A Blackout Where Everyone Is Stumbling Around In The Dark Under One Solitary Emergency Light, It’s A Caravaggio”. Memorable descriptions of artists’ styles.
- Nick Cave’s newsletter The Red Hand Files is an utter joy.
- Finally, this is the only video of “doing yoga with my dogs” that I can believe in.
Until next time,