s2e27: Previously 

by danhon

0.0 Sitrep

7:19am PST on a plane on the way down to San Francisco after having amusingly bumped into two other friends at Portland International Airport at 5:30am in the morning, all headed down to San Francisco on 7am flights too. I say “bumped into” when actually I mean “we saw each other checked in via Swarm” and were talking over whichever app’s private message channel and publicly subtweeting, but hey, as was pointed out: this isn’t necessarily an attribute of Portland (“Move to Portland, they said. Bump into three of your friends on identically timed and yet separate flights down to San Francisco at five thirty in the morning, they said”) and more an occupational and social hazard of a particular kind of person who works on internet.

Listening to: Ellie Goulding and Taylor Swift, but obviously not both at the same time, but now that I think of it someone should do that. Also: What Do You Care What Other People Think, Richard?

1.0 Previously

Look, I’ll just go straight into it and ignore all the drafts that accumulated in, er, the drafts folder. Some short bullet-points:

* So I’ve spent the last six weeks or so working with the State of California and the Federal Administration for Children, Youth and Families to turn a giant, 1200+ page monolithic RFP for about $500m worth of new Child Welfare Service technology into a modular RFP that requires agile, iterative delivery and puts an emphasis on user research and meeting user needs. I did a writeup for the Code for America blog that’s in two parts[1, 2] and answered some questions on Metafilter[3].

Getting this done was a pretty big deal that required a bunch of work from a tonne of people who aren’t me, and has been a super nice way to end out my time with Code for America, which I’ll be leaving at the end of the year.

I’m in the progress of figuring out what I’m going to do next (hopefully some of which will involve working with California to their first alphas), but if you think you’ve got a me-shaped hole somewhere…

[1] A New Approach to Procuring Government Technology in California
[2] Child Welfare Technology in California, Part Two
[3] The Beginning of the End of Big Government IT | MetaFilter

* The Royal Statistical Society and the Open Data Institute wrote to Lord Adonis, the United Kingdom’s chair of the government’s Infrastructure Commission, to consider data as infrastructure[1] which, let’s be clear, is a) smart, and b) a good thing to consider. It is completely facetious of me to imagine fictional Prime Minister’s Questions about MPs asking about “the National Data Warehouse Strategy” and whether, for example, a stereotypically put-upon ex-shipbuilding north of England town be economically developed under the guise of it being transformed into a “National Data Port” all of which phrases of words would probably look quite smart to some people but be meaningless buzzwords otherwise.

But! Data is important, for all of the reasons listed in the ODI’s letter. Reliable, consistent, verified data with transparent access controls and permissions is *exactly* the kind of thing that can power entirely new, unimagined services and businesses. But you can only really do that if you’ve got reliable, trustworthy data to work with in the first place.

[1]  An open letter to the Chair of the new Infrastructure Commission | News | Open Data Institute

* It’s near the end of the year, which means that anyone who’s collecting any data is busy putting together their end-of-year reports (Facebook’s already out of the gate, I see), but it also means that you start getting notifications on mobile devices (I’m not distinguishing between push or regular notifications because it turns out to a user they’re the same thing, they appear in the same place, with the same application icon on iOS at least) so I’m looking at you, Nike+ Running, and your usage of an app notification to tell me about how my year’s been. Notifications as advertising communications: don’t do it. I don’t care if you’re doing “storytelling” with “data”, or even if it’s my data, if I didn’t ask for it, it’s still an interruption to me, even if it’s in your own, er, owned channel. Stop it, it’s unbecoming. And you, Apple, advertising new iPhones to people who’re accessing the App Store. What happened, hmm?

OK. We’ll see if I get to do another one of these before the crippling anxiety hits again. Oh, did I mention? Crippling anxiety is totally a thing.

Dan