Week Notes: 25/02/23


I am writing these Week Notes because Giles Turnbull made me do it. And because, after years of thinking "well, it might be a good idea, maybe next week when I'm a little less busy", I am finally trying to work in the open.

I have been reading Giles Turnbull's excellent book, The agile comms handbook and one of his recommendations is to commit to writing Week Notes. Week Notes, to quote Giles, are just notes that you write each week. No other rules needed. So here I am, at the end of the week, with some notes.

MONDAY: In a neat segue, right at the start of the week, we put some changes to Giles's lovely personal website gilest.org live. I've been working on Giles's site across the last fortnight. He wanted some help making his website easier to maintain and my good friend Charles Roper suggested I get in touch. I'm so pleased I did - working on Giles's site was the most work fun I've had for a while. A handcrafted website containing lots of wonderful content spanning decades, and because of the simplicity of its design ('just' words and pictures, HTML and CSS) the site was already very high-performance - getting the kind of Core Web Vitals scores (100% for Performance) that many contemporary developers could only dream of.

So all I needed to add was a content management system (we used Kirby, which I enthuse about in a blog post I wrote yesterday) and some tweaks to the structure/design/CSS. It was very much about carefully adding layers, but leaving most of what was already there intact. Why mess with something that already beautifully fulfils its purpose?

TUESDAY: my body gave me some unequivocal feedback that I needed to slow the flip down. I won't bore you with the details, but in brief the tentative response to that feedback is as follows: my plan for this year is to slow down, get really good at a few specific things, write and share, do things I love.

WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY: I was working through the really helpful resources at https://web.dev/learn/ - particularly the courses on [Accessibility](https://web.dev/learn/accessibility/), [Images](https://web.dev/learn/images/) and [Responsive Design](https://web.dev/learn/design/). How fantastic to have learning content of this quality in the Public Domain.

FRIDAY: spent reading The agile comms handbook in more or less one sitting. So useful: made me reflect on my time as a Head of Digital trying, and mostly not really succeeding, to do communication differently. And on the way some of the organisations I work with now struggle and succeed with comms. Beautifully written and highly recommended. I'm particularly pondering Giles's advice on presentations (see the http://www.doingpresentations.com website for some of this stuff), and I've just ordered Richard Davies book Everything I Know About Life I Learnt from Powerpoint.

On Friday, after some customary prevarications, I also finally shelled out for IAWriter and used it to write my brief eulogy to Kirby. IAWriter is a deliberately simple tool for doing stuff with words, and seems an appropriate choice given that I wanted to simplify things down and do some careful writing.

I really like the feature that highlights the particular sentence you are working on. And the workflow of writing in IAWriter and then pasting the results into Kirby works nicely (copy as HTML and then paste into Kirby's content blocks - the formatting is retained).

One thing I noticed when doing the Kirby blog post: with the Style Check feature enabled, IAWriter was identifying cliches (which is very useful) and wanted me to remove the phrase 'Kirby is a breath of fresh air'. Now that is a whopping cliche, but it was exactly the sentiment I wanted - Kirby has been a breath of fresh air for me, and I couldn't think of a better way of expressing that. That's all fine: as ever, it is just understanding that tools are supposed to be used lightly.

So I've done my week note. Will I do another one next week? I hope so. Let's see..

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