Building the Tech for Good ecosystem

Mon 24 – Sun 31 July 2017

Last week was generally a good week on a personal level. On a world level, things continue to be a disaster called Brexit and Trump. The only good thing that may come out of both of these is that people see what chaos follows when you put your trust in old-fashioned thinking, be it neo-fascism (Trump, Farage) or state-socialism (Corbyn). And interesting the way bullies pick on easy targets like transgender people.

Tech for Good

One of the reasons last week was a good one is that we had my public event presenting the 10 Tech for Good projects we have been funding. Details on all ten can be found on either of these sites:

techforgoodhub.co.uk

comicrelief.com

A day of learning retrospection was followed by the open meeting. We worked hard to ensure all the projects were well prepared and kept to their allotted 8 mins. Rehearsal and practice in the afternoon paid off in the evening. Everything went perfectly to time. There is always a worry that nobody will turn up but by the time we started at 6.35 (so only 5 mins late and we still finished exactly on time) there was a room of about 120 people. We used slido to catch questions – highly recommended. It was all so impressive and the feedback has been great. I think people don’t expect charities and not-for-profits to do tech well. A nice reception and catch-ups afterwards.

And no peace for the wicked, the next day we started planning to run the third Tech for Good programme, hopefully commencing later this year.

Tech Vs Abuse

Great news on Thurs when we had the start-up day for the projects funded under this theme. The aim is to use digital to tackle domestic violence and abuse.

Meanwhile elsewhere in the Tech for Good ecosystem

illustration of an ecosystem

  • Meeting on Tues to whittle down the 24 applications for our CrowdMatch programme to a smaller number to be considered by the panel. Another tech programme that is proving popular though we need to see if people can crowdfund through a good project and a good campaign (can you be successful with just one of these?)
  • Had a big catch-up with the evaluators on the current Tech for Good programme on Tues afternoon. This combined with learning from the projects on Monday, shows a number of ways we need to develop the programme in the future. In particular around pulling all applicants into the Tech for Good ecosystem, supporting projects more in their early stages, and bringing in support around non-tech issues such as legal and data.
  • Wed morning meet-up in Kings Cross with Josh Russell and his colleagues at an Impact Breakfast. Good to talk Tech for Good with fellow passionate people so identifying new solutions to problems, and new people and agencies to link up with.
  • Thurs afternoon attended the ‘community squad’ – a monthly meeting of agencies interested in Tech for Good but not necessarily being funders. So it’s people like Doteveryone, Good Things Foundation, Newspeak House as well as Nominet Trust and Bethnal Green Ventures. We discussed how to raise awareness of Tech for Good although a key part of that is identifying why and whom we want to target?
  • More speculative phone calls and meetings, simply to explore potential connections and share learning / contacts. That is another way to build an ecosystem.
  • Getting assessments ready for our next Grants Committee including a couple on using tech to tackle HIV issues in the UK and one for us to co-fund the next Techies in Residence programme run by the Building Change Trust in Northern Ireland.

Don’t worry, we will all become cyborgs

People frequently ask why do I like tech and believe in the concept of Tech for Good – using digital technology for public and societal good? Fundamentally we face massive issues such as growing inequality and climate change. Three things can save us: huge public behaviour change (not likely), technology (more feasible) or a combination of both (also possible). For instance, I can’t see us using less energy and reducing consumption to tackle climate change whereas it is possible we could use technological advancement to create cleaner energy. Indeed, I think we will all become cyborgs eventually (part-machine) and that doesn’t worry me at all.

Let’s talk about the future not the past; the past is dead.

And don’t ever forget: it don’t matter where you’ve been, what matters is where you are going.

Health and Efficiency

Health generally was OK last week though had a little mental health wobble on Sun night. I spent a large part of the weekend dealing with work stuff on the pooter as well as personal and work emails. To the point where I felt a bit overwhelmed with everything going on and what needs to be done. I was snappy with mum on the phone and Dave in person. So simply retired to the bedroom to read and then fall into the blessed oblivion of sleep.

Weight

Bad news, up to 13-13. Depressing because I thought I had done well by skipping breakfast before going to the gym and had not over eaten generally. Perhaps I need to cut back on alcohol which apparently is a major reason for weight gain.

Yoga

So I finally went to a class on Sun at the studio where I re-did my beginners’ class. Not cheap, I had to buy five classes to use in a month at approx £7 each. But effectively the same price as going swimming and I prefer yoga. About 12 of us there (4 boys) and a good session with a lot of concentration on feet and ankles, exactly the sort of stuff I need to focus on in order to take pressure off my knees.

Gym

Twice last week. First on Tues morning which is a time I am usually at work. Different last week as I worked on Mon a normal non-work day. Good all over-weights session but no cardio. Then back to the gym on Thurs morning for another all over weights session. No treadmill again – not sure why, just not in the mood rather enjoying focusing on shifting weights to build muscles.

Jog-run

Video report on it can be seen here Overall, not an awful jog-run but not a classic. A different course because of the very disruptive Ride London. Why anybody in their right mind thinks London should host a Grand Prix… They obviously don’t live and work in the areas that would be affected.

Personal Development

Languages and emails

Managed to get some Duolingo done most days, the exceptions being Mon and Fri. Mon was just too busy with the build up to the big public Tech for Good meeting in the evening. And Fri I was too busy enjoying myself. The latter shows the need for discipline which sometimes eludes me. Also good news to report that I did manage to do a little bit (but still something) coding practice via Code Academy.

My wonderful family, friends, and work colleagues (all on Friday)

Spent Fri morning with mum just to have some quality time together. Amusing that she used the opportunity to go out shopping whilst I had to babysit my brother’s dog – ‘so he’s not lonely’. However, on Sat mum met up with me and Dave to go for a fish and chip lunch. She really is a traditional white, working class, Londoner and loves fish and chips lamenting the fact that ‘so many good fish and chip shops have gone now’. She also likes pie and mash, dripping on bread, jellied eels, stuffed lambs’ hearts, and roast belly of pork.

The play Skewed JudgementFri lunchtime I met up with my mate Jamie who has his new play being performed very shortly – ‘Skewed Judgement‘ at the White Bear in Kennington Tues 15th – Sat 26th Aug excl Sun 20th & Mon 21st. Do go along if you are able. I’m not sure which night I am going yet so let me know if you fancy coming with me.

Fri was a busy socialising day as in the evening we had the drinks farewell for my team colleagues Kate and Claire. I took some wine in to have before we went into Vauxhall for more drinks. Sad to see them go (little dying?) but they both know what they want to move onto and best of luck to them. Also news this week that my colleague Joanna is leaving, she’s been doing her job for a bit longer than me so it will be strange that she’s not there any more.

Books and Reading

‘The Land at the End of the World’ (Os Cus de Judas) by Antonio Lobo Antunes

A random book I bought second-hand from a library. I really want to read more European literature and this is by one of Portugal’s most respected authors. It covers his time serving in the war in Africa in the early 70s when Portugal attempted to stop Angola becoming independent. One of those little wars lost in history and now forgotten about. But that cost thousands their lives. It’s not an easy book to read and quite surreal flitting between the crazy African war and memories of life in Portugal. Grim and sombre, ultimately about the futility of war.

Dr Who audio adventures

‘Eldrad Must Die’ (fifth Doctor + companions Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough)

This is an audio adventure following on from the TV adventure ‘The Hand of Fear’. To be honest, it attempts to be epic covering both planets Earth and Kastria but ends up being a bit all over the place. Plus both the acting and script are incredibly wooden in places. Proof that it doesn’t always work simply to bring together the pieces of a formerly winning formula – things move on.

‘Nightshade’ (seventh Doctor + companion Ace)

An audio adventure based on one of the New Dr Who Adventures book published by Virgin Books in 1992. These books kept the Dr Who story alive during its dark period. To be honest, I have not read the book yet. And the description of the story on Wiki does not really match up to the audio adventure which is much shorter and less concise. Indeed, I found the audio quite insubstantial and I need to re-listen to it to really make a decision if it is any good. Definitely not one to instantly listen to and fall in love with.

Looking Ahead

My week ahead:

  • I’m having a massage on Monday to cheer myself up
  • Trying to keep to my paid two and a half days
  • Crowd Match panel on Tues to decide which applications go forward for our pilot crowdfunding match programme
  • My annual review with my line manager
  • More speculative phone call catch-ups and a coffee as well as regular meetings with other work colleagues
  • Catching up with Albert Kennedy Trust to find out progress on the e-mentoring project we have been funding
  • 2-3 gym sessions plus a jog-run and a yoga session.
  • INR appointment that will hopefully (if stable) pave the way for less regular check-ins
  • Lunch with my mate Philip who lives in Andalucia and is visiting London
  • Velvet Page Book Club on Thurs night at Waterstones Piccadilly where we will discuss ‘Clinch’ by Martin Holmen
  • Finishing at least one of the books I am currently reading and a couple more Dr Who audio adventures
  • Duolingo every day and some coding practice

And finally…

I came across this interesting article below last week about at what point you give up on writing a blog? It primarily sees blogging as a commercial activity. I don’t write my blog to get business – at least not yet anyway. I write my blog because it makes me feel good and I think it’s useful reflective practice that helps my mental health. It will stop at some point, everything ends. But I’m happy to carry on for the time being. I hope this makes some of my readers happy as well.

Putin and Trump in each other's arms

 

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