Weeknotes s02e05

Posted by: Chris Witham - Posted on:

TL:DR; Pineapple day! Goodbye Spotify. How do you publish HTML?

[week ending: 04/02/2022]

The good

Pineapple day! So what is Pineapple day I hear you ask? Well, we have a slack channel for our digital team leadership group. I suppose some teams might call it a senior team or something. But I don’t like the hierachical terminology so years ago, I think we used a random channel name generator and the channel we created was called Pineapple. It stuck! So this week, I organised Pineapple Day. A whole day to meet with my direct reports and discuss how we’re doing, what our roadmap for the next 12 months looks like and what our more immediate objectives are.

It was a fabilous away day. Although we weren’t able to meet up (we’re spread all over England), MS Teams worked really well. As well as lots of talk about roadmaps, objectives and milestones, we had some great conversations about live experience, equality, equity and how we can support one another. I really valued colleague’s openness and honesty. I was saddened to hear of microagressions that colleagues have had to deal with in different workplace settings but encouraged that we were able to discuss this together.

I liked Tony’s observation, we had asked lots of questions, but hadn’t rushed to answer them. We’d explored together and that had inspired pieces of work that will follow. This was great for me as I’m often very solution focussed and it was good to take a step back and lift my eyes up. Our roadmap for the next year is shaping up to be very exciting and I’m finding the process of putting it all together very energising.

This week has also been a week of small victories. I now have the correct Electronic Staff Record (ESR) access so I can see everyone in my team. I’ve got access to our Oracle finance system so I can approve purchases and get the reports I need and we had a good team session to update and submit our monthly KPI tracker.

I joined our #ProjectM Tweet Chat on Wednesday night. Led by the wonderful trio of Amraze, Nikki, and Beverley. I was great to see so many people from across the NHS discussing wellbeing and supporting one another. There were some great thoughts about how you bring your authentic self to work.

I met with our ICS NED and Lay Member Network this week and we had some excellent updates about the vaccine programme, recovery, social care and the development of our system. It was clear that there are some incredibly hard working people and great teams doing incredible work across our county. Our vaccination response has consistently been top 3 nationally. There are many complex and challenging issues to come, but it is clear we have some excellent people working on them. Gill and Ingrid are great to work with as ICS Chair and Trust Chair and I always enjoy the opportunity to meet with them.

A white gable end and a dry stone wall in the foreground. Green hills fall down into a valley with a band of orange sunrise amonst bands of clouds with blue sky above
9.2 miles walking and 75 miles riding this week.

The bad

I left Spotify this week. I saw some of the fall out on Twitter of them supporting anti-vax podcasts and the like. I didn’t really get into the debate but it was enough to make me consider a change. I really used to respect Spotify and I really liked how open they were about their development practices. But by many accounts, they aren’t great for artists and they seem to be making decisions purely about profit now. Apple Music had a free 3 month trial so I quickly hopped over there. I’m very connected with the Apple ecosystem so this was an easy switch. I considered Tidal as the Tesla has a Tidal app (no native Apple CarPlay yet) but I didn’t get the proposition quite as quickly.

I did a side by side comparison of Spotify through the Tesla app vs Apple Music over bluetooth from my iPhone and I honestly think the Apple Music quality is better and really makes the most of the Tesla audio system. It’ll be interesting to see if #SpotifyExodus really impacts them or if it’s just another blip. Facebook’s earnings were down considerably, so maybe even the giants can fall?

The ugly

Not necessarily ugly, but maybe plain? I’ve had quite a few discussions this week about publishing content. There’s quite a lot of desire for glossy looking documents with some wow factor. Traditionally, these are done by print designers and end up with a PDF of something that looks great but would ultimately function better as a printed item not displayed on screen. I’m a big fan on the Government Digital Service recommendation to publish in HTML first (online). But within the NHS brand guidelines and paying attention to accessibility, I think we end up with highly readable content that is easy to link to and share and looks great on mobile, but it is often criticised for not being snazzy enough. I’ve been thinking about how we might change or challenge this?

I also love authoring documents in Markdown for speed and to separate the content and presentation layers. I’ve been rethinking my previous venture into PanDoc and automatically converting Markdown into HTML, ePub and, where absolutely necessary, PDF. It can also be run through AWS Polly to create an audio version quickly and cheaply.

So I don’t have the answers yet, but I’d really value suggestions and examples of where publishing in open, accessibile formats is working well.

Noteable conversations

  • I had a fantastic end to the week chatting to Tim Ashcroft. We briefly worked together a few years ago on the Rosalind Franklin Programme evaluation. Tim’s team are doing a few research pieces with us currently and we had a great chat about the challenges of data literacy from both ends of the telescope in the NHS. How do we foster data literacy in leaders to ask the right questions and involve the right people. And how do we support data professionals with communicating messages clearly to senior leaders who are less likely in the detail. We talked about some of my challenges working with different teams curring Covid, how data can be interpreted in different ways, the Evaluating Information dimension of the Healthcare Leadership Model and some of the work GDS, HEE and others are doing in this space. I’m really looking forward to the outcomes of the research.
  • I was grateful to Rob for a catchup about my recent move into our Senior Leadership Team meetings. It was great to chat through how I was getting to grips with my new role and some of the challenges I’ve faced. Rob really helped me think about what I need to do to make the most of this acting up opportunity and how I can be most effective in the role. Lots to think about but a very valuable time. Thank you Rob.

Things I’m reading and watching

  • Andy Callow’s 12 months into the group CDIO role review– I finally got chance to catch up on Andy’s 12 month review. An excellent read and it was great to see how the firebreak had worked and Andy’s continued commitment to driving out racism. I also empathised with one handed typing after my own journey into voice controlling computers last year. I think these yearly reviews are a fantastic thing to do and even better to publish them so everyone else can learn too.
  • Smarter Every Day – Laminer Reversible Flow – some awesome science!
  • Wikipedia – Monomictic Lakes – after looking up the dimensions of the Sea of Galilee for our midweek Bible study, I took a deep dive into the sea of information that is Wikipedia. I never knew about holomictic lakes nor their varients! Fascinating.

3 replies on “Weeknotes s02e05”

  • Hi Chris,
    Have you looked at Jekyll and Github Pages as a way of publishing from Markdown?

  • I think aiming for ePUB would be a good practice to use on suitable projects because we have to meet all the other accessibility formats on the way. Although ePUB isn’t the best publication medium for the maximum possible audience it does go some way towards the widest one. We create all the accessible is other formats in doing so and we train upstream how to structure a document.

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