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ukgovweb barcamp

After an absolutely appalling visit to my local libraries (yes plural) where I was actually unable to find a book (not for lack of the book, but rather because their search system was dreadful), and an attempt to find some planning documents on a different council’s website I experienced  first hand that inability of the Government to complete even local tech projects, let alone national scale ones.

Both websites (Brent Library and Haringey Town Planning) are almost impossible to successfully use, display information you don’t want/ need and confuse even experienced users to no end. They are certainly not examples of perfection in Interaction Design.

Then, I stumbled upon the UKGovWeb BarCamp, and had a look through the list of suggested talking points, lots and lots on Web 2.0 (eughh),  Strategy (eughh) and Social Networking (this seems interesting atleast),  but what shocked me was that not a single person had indicated they wanted to talk about the Interaction Design of Government websites, or even the Usability. So I resolved to do a talk on this (as an outside observer) and proclaim the IxD banner out loud.

Great, so I signed up to the growing list (80 odd people already) and started nosing around the associated documentation, when it hit me. BUREAUCRACY. It was everywhere, three way collaboration on sessions, peer review, schedule shaping. They wanted people to sign up into sessions (having collaborated with others to share the 1 hour slots) weeks in advance, so that attendees could “review” the sessions in case they wanted something different!

Im really happy that UKGov Web Types want to hold a barcamp to do the stuff we do at barcamps, but don’t have a conference and call it a barcamp for the sakes of pretending you are doing something different, make sure almost everyone speaks, in their own session, about a subject area they are passionate about (even if it is one of those areas that bores me, there will be others who are interested)

Anyway, I will be going, I will be presenting on “IxD, Usability and Government Websites” or something aproaching that, and I certinaly wont be publishing my slides for peer review before hand, that takes then fun out of it.

Hope to see some of you there.

My First BarCamp

I have another first for you all today, my first BarCamp. In a word (and so that you don’t have to read the rest of the post to find out my opinion): Awesome.My only regret is that I missed pretty much all of the sessions and only had a chance to socialize with other people there (not that this wasn’t fun but sort of misses the point of BarCamp). I was stuck at Apple on Saturday and had a personal family thing on Sunday morning. Nevertheless (apparently that’s a real word, cool!) I was there Saturday night until some silly hour playing Warewolf and talking geek and Sunday for lunch (oh my, GoogleFood is good) and finish. Why oh why I haven’t involved myself in this world of real geekery beforehand I do not know, but I can assure you I will be more involved in the future.The sessions I attended were really interesting and the food was awesome but I think the best bit for me was the sense of community I was starting to feel. People I had previously met at Web2 Berlin were there and I felt a strong sense that people do see each other at all sorts of events like this.On a final note, during the session on the future of BarCamps I had an idea that there should be a Student BarCamp. I know all the arguments about not restricting groups down to specifics (thus stifling diversity) but I think students are a diverse enough group by themselves, and I really think there is a strong barrier to entry because of the fear of not being able to hold their own in comparison to some of the giants of the industry. I’m also a big fan of the concept of the ‘youth’ of today are the leaders of tomorrow and thus working with students is really important. I know I was at this (and other) events, but all of my student friends who I tell are a little skeptical about some aspects, and so a nice way to introduce them to this wonderful world might be this…..Anyway, Student BarCamp, London, February 2008 🙂

My First Girl Geek Dinner

Last night was my very first attendance at a Girl Geek Dinner. I had a really great time, met some very interesting people, and will totally be going back. Having said that (which I felt I needed to first in case this turns into a bit of a rant, and you don’t read to the end) there were some things that I found a little odd.

There was the guy (who shall remain anonymous, mostly as I don’t remember his name) (yes, guy, at a Girl Geek Dinner, I’ll come onto that later) who interrupted one of the speakers and several questioners in a rather intimidating way. Clearly I have no objection to men being involved in most (but not all) women’s events, and it can be a good thing, however I do feel that it is important that women should never feel marginalized at our own events by men trying to take over the floor, nor do I think excess amounts of time should be spent addressing a specific man’s view of our view on the world (of course talking about men and their perspectives in general is quite different). So this annoyed me. If you read this, and I’m sure you know who you are, this is nothing personal, just I felt it might have been the wrong venue to address your questions in.

So, men, know your place at women’s events, keep quiet and let us do the talking!

I was also a little shocked (as Mel said I would be) with the lack of young women there. Afterall there must be hundreds of us in London, and yet there were just a handful (out of maybe 50 women in total) of us there. It would be really nice to encourage (somehow) more young women to get involved. I’m certainly going to start pushing hard on my College friends to come.

There we go, some thoughts, hopefully not a rant, and a promise that I will return.

Bad Web Design

I’ve just received an email that made me smile. This is quite possibly one of the worst examples of visual formatting I have ever seen. And its from IC Web Design Society!!!! Ok, I know I’m not exactly the best visual designer out there, but come on guys!I’ve stuck it below the fold to avoid  scaring new readers to my blog away! Continue reading

Drama in Berlin

I started this blog for similar underlying reasons to why I have started many other blogs. Things happen in my life that I want to talk about, not necessarily to any specific people, just in general, and the web is a good space for this.

Specifically, however, it was becuase I was at a web conference in Berlin and everyone else had a cool blog and I really needed to get away from the spaces I was using and start afresh. But why the name? Well, that came from Berlin too. You see, I can’t go away anywhere without some form of drama in my life. All my friends tell me this. Its not always bad, and sometimes really cool, but I never come home without an interesting story to tell.

A few weeks ago I was filming for a new TV show (that is currently on hold due to some conflicts of interest) outside the Apple Store at the release of OS X Leopard. I interviewed a bunch of people, just random people, and it was all very exciting. When I eventually edit the footage I’ll post a link here. I thought nothing more of the people I met, they were just interviewees, I never expected to see them again. Then I arrived at the Web2Open stand at the expo in Berlin, and who should I meet but one and two of my interviewees from a few weeks earlier. How crazy is that. Whats more, it turns out that both of them (hi!) are grad students on a year abroad at Imperial College (where I go to college). In Department of Computing (where I study). Under Maja Pantic (who works in Visual Processing and HCI which I am doing my final project in). Which means I would have hopefully met them at a later stage when doing research for my project. How small is the geek world?!

All this Drama too much for you? I’m just getting started. The conference was great, and I might blog about that another time, but this is about the Drama. I headed back to Berlin-Schoenfeld airport to catch my Ryanair flight back home, last flight out of Berlin that night on any carrier at the airport. All is fine, I check in, proceed through passport control (and so out of Germany) and head to the boarding gate. I was 6″ (through some glass) from the tarmac when the ominous information noise was heard followed by “Your flight has been canceled. Please go home.” What?!?!?!?! Suffice to say that there was madness for about 40 minutes while they changed their mind a few times, then admitted to loosing the aircraft due to fly me home, and finally kicked us out the airport. I managed to find a hotel and a flight back to Stansted the following morning for close to £200, and even so I would still miss college and only have a few hours rest before heading to work. Nightmares! Nothing else, however, could be done!

But wait! The Drama is not over. The following morning, whilst sitting on the train I decided to check for my belongings. Purse. Check. Keys. Check. iPhone. Check. Laptop. Check. Passport. Oh Shit. I jumped off the train as the doors were closing, searched my bag. No Luck. I waited frantically for the minibus to the hotel, running across an autobarn to catch it on the way back to avoid a 20 minute wait. Check the room. No dice. Shit. Back to the scene of the crime, Berlin-Schoenfeld. I ran to the passport office (already almost too late for my flight, which was at an airport an hour away), and saw my passport on the back desk, but infront of me was a crazy looking German lady, and given I speak no german I thought it best to wait my turn. Eventually i recovered my passport ran to the next train, and jumped in a taxi at the other end (instead of waiting for the free bus) and managed to check in (without baggage fortunately) minutes before my flight took off.

Like I said, I always do Drama when I’m away.

Web2Open at Web 2 Expo Berlin