Owen Blacker

Weeknotes, 3 May 2024


So let’s see if I can get back into trying to write regular weeknotes…

A slightly strange week, as I’ve gone straight from 2 weeks away — in Berlin for the Wikimedia Summit and some touristing; photos to come — to starting a new engagement at the Department for Education. The culture shock of going from 2 weeks abroad (and speaking several languages every day and ADHDing my way around whatever I fancy after the Summit) to “oh yeah, I have to focus on a day job and read all this onboarding information” is a bit of a whiplash — and it’s compounded by starting on some new meds, which are making me headachey and drowsy. Still, it’s good to be doing something more concrete after a few weeks in the Chalet and the project is something that should make things easier for a significant number of schools, so impacting the lives of many thousands of people across England.

Despite being an autistic introvert, I had forgotten quite how much I actually enjoy getting to know a bunch of new colleagues and learning about a new technology project I’ll be helping build. I’m the lead technical architect, working in a programme of 3-dozen people. So far I’ve had intro conversations with only 6 or 7 of those, but there’s a big planning meeting next week where I should get to know people better and I have a handful more intro conversations coming up. All the onboarding stuff has been the bulk of my time this week.

As well as onboarding to this new project, I had to go to Bristol to pick up a DfE laptop (and show my passport 3 times in the process 😅), which meant I got to have lunch with a colleague — always nice. Also, it’s annual review season, so ran through mine with my line-manager and then one of my line reports’. All nice and straightforward, thankfully; we’ve made the process simpler this year.

Finally, with a bunch of structure changes and personnel changes within Made Tech, we had a really useful session of our ED&I Community on Wednesday. Some team-mates had prepared an email to invite other colleagues to come join the community, but our awesome new head of internal comms rightly suggested that we should be clearer about what we’re asking of people, which meant we needed to be clearer on what our purpose is now. A really useful, interesting conversation and a load of thoughts and ideas mapped out in Miro. Very helpful and will definitely help us become more effective and impactful as a group; I’m looking forward to what’s next there.

A productive, if draining, week. The 3-day weekend will be greatly appreciated, especially with the restorative effects of meeting with comrades for the May Day March, organised by the Cardiff Trades Council, and then going to see Queertet at Canolfan y Mileniwm.

Enjoy the long weekend everyone!