‘Tech for Good’ wrap-up

Tech for GoodThe dominating feature of last week was the wrap-up event for the six Tech for Good projects I have been overseeing with my colleagues for the past six months. Their funding is now up and the idea was to come together to showcase what had been achieved. I am delighted to say that all have reached a good end point. Useful to have a look at the short video made about the bootcamp at the start of the process:

So these are the details on where the six projects arrived at

  • Wayfindr is a practical method backed up by a fixed standard that helps visually impaired people to move around difficult areas such as tube and train stations
  • Age UK Islington have developed a new means for their staff and volunteers to collect information on how older people are so potentially enabling predictive action to stop crisis situations developing
  • Relate have developed an ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) to help people in the process of divorcing and separating. With our grant they were able to investigate how far the service can be used in acrimonious separations.
  • C-app by SEAP is a means by which people with disabilities can prepare themselves for an application for either ESA or PIP with the aim of creating a benefits system people have confidence in
  • National Ugly Mugs is another name for the National Network of Sex Work Projects. They have developed and rolled out their personal safety app where sex workers can leave details on dangerous individuals to avoid physical harm and sexual assualt.
  • HullCoin ( @HullCoin on Twitter) aims to use blockchain technology to reward volunteering with a digital currency that can then be used to buy things in and boost the local economy

For me, several key take-aways from day:

  • There is a definite eagerness in parts of the traditional not-for-profit/charitable sector to deliver more services via digital and they can so some brilliant things
  • Our projects demonstrated the diversity of what ‘doing digital’ means beyond just creating an app
  • The value of giving expert support as well as hard cash was proven (big thanks to support organisers James Boardwell of Rattle Central and Cassie Robinson of The Point People)
  • The important role of bootcamp at the start of the funding period and follow-on days to bring projects together with digital experts
  • The need to provide to the participants ongoing information around what is happening in the tech world generally
  • The need to consider at the beginning and through the funding period issues around sustainability and ‘monetisation’ i.e. creating an income source, perhaps from the digital service itself, not least in order to pay for its continuing upkeep and development

5 Lessons in Developing Social Tech Ventures

The other big Tech for Good thing last week was attending the Nominet Trust and Shift event on the ‘5 Lessons in Developing Social Tech Ventures’ – the presentation can be viewed here (note it’s available via Dropbox). I could empathise with all 5 lessons apart from number 3 about not creating new categories for digital products. I see where Nick Stanhope (author of presentation) is coming from – every product has and must have competitors – but there can also be an element with any new product (including digital ones) of ‘creating itches that nobody realised needed scratching’.

My fun primary school talk

A big non-digital thing I did last week related to my paid work was doing a school talk on Monday afternoon with my brilliant colleague Golsana. I have done these in previous years and this year it was to promote Sport Relief Usually I do these at secondary schools and always really enjoy them. The kids are great fun with their enthusiasm, curiosity and energy though that in itself ultimately becomes quite exhausting for adults. And primary school children have even more energy. All went really well and it was particularly amusing to me that a big blond guy and a muslim woman turned up at Jewish school to do the talk – diversity in action!

sport relief

Mum, Dave, and my ‘lucky’ friend being made redundant

The previous Sunday was Mothering Sunday. Dave went up to see his mum and I spent time with my mum and brother. Over her place, we had a take away lunch from the nearby Indian because mum’s knee was too painful for her to walk far. Indeed, a fair amount of time was spent during the week trying to see if we can get her next hospital appointment made sooner so she can get more quickly onto the list for surgery – no success so far. I think we can safely say she is now reconciled to the idea of an operation.

A busy week for both me and Dave but we did manage to have a nice catch up meal on Thursday evening. Before that we were both tied up in work stuff and at the weekend we were both knacked and just wanted to chill and sleep.

RetirementCaught up with one of my longest known mates on Tuesday evening. I’ve known him for about 30 years. The key news was that he was being made redundant after 28 years with his current employer. A nice pay-off and his pension kicking in shortly though he will still need to have some work. A big change for him but I think he’ll be OK and I was slightly envious as I think most people would be on hearing such news.

Health and Efficiency

Good news was I got to the gym three times last week on Monday, Thursday and Saturday morning. Bad news was that my weight rocketed up three pounds to 13-11. Didn’t think I had done anything awful dietwise. Oh well, good news is that it is always easier to lose weight when you are heavier.

A quite important week around my health. Had my long awaited ENT hospital appointment on Tuesday to look into my chronic sinusitis problem. The usual NHS mix of brilliance and frustration – advice and medication provided but was seen an hour and three-quarters after my appointment time then twenty minute pharmacy wait. Also had my INR check on Tuesday – this measures my level of blood clotting and what dosage of anti-coagulants I should be on. INRIt should be done regularly (i.e. three-monthly) but I find this tiring especially as my condition is permanent not temporary like for the majority of people on anti-coagulants. The reason to get it done was because I need to see my GP next week to get my meds renewed and she will insist on knowing my last reading – that was November!

Books and Reading

I normally try to get through a couple of books each week but last week was all about ploughing onwards through Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life The book has received much acclaim but is long at nearly 750 pages. I like it primarily as it is both well written and well constructed. However, it is very American and very New York in particular. It starts as quite a wholesome buddy story about four men who are best friends at college but then the book moves into concentrating on one who has a dark secret though, to be honest, his issues feel about as secret as the Great Wall of China. I like this book but it feels contrived and like I’m being lectured. Plus it’s a good job everybody is so wealthy and nice. Indeed, sometimes they are such wonderful people they scream out for beatification. I will definitely carry on to see where this flawed masterpiece ends up and give you my final feelings on it in next week’s blog.

Carried on listening to Dr Who audiobooks as I travelled about. Time of the Daleks features the wonderful 8th Doctor (Paul McGann) in a very strange story featuring a female military dictator running the UK, the disappearance of Shakespeare from history, and the Daleks. So Daleks quoting Shakespeare and time travel based on clocks and mirrors! Latter a bit like in the brilliant Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell novel where they travel to and from fairyland via mirrors.

I did listen to a couple of audiobooks I have listened to before and not totally understood – to be honest they don’t always make much sense but it’s just nice to hear the familiar Dr Who voices. Dust Breeding is an adventure with Doctor number 7 (Sylvester McCoy), Ace, The Master and Munch’s painting ‘The Scream’. Twilight is a vampire story featuring the sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and Evelyn Smythe (wonderful older companion who only exists in audio). Also dipped into listening to the biography by Paul Magrs’ The Diary of a Dr Who Addict about his childhood. Paul Magrs is a prolific and talented British sci-fi and fantasy writer.

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