2017 Year Notes

2017 is a year that, personally speaking, I suspect I’ll look back on fondly. Inspired by Alyson, here’s my 2017 ‘year notes’.

My 2017 in nine photos.

My 2017 in nine photos.

Work

When I left the BBC and joined Springer Nature in September 2016, I did so with the aim of getting more experience in product management. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have ideas I’d like to bring to fruition in my career, and having a few years of product management experience would be no bad thing.

2017 certainly delivered on the promise of ‘experience’. Together with a small but determined team, we grew ‘Recommended’ from an experimental prototype to a fully launched product across all of Springer Nature’s journal portfolio, with data-informed experiment-driven product development at its heart.

It may be a cliche, but it was an excellent ‘learning experience’ for me, and the team were one of the best I’ve been a part of since the days at the BBC working on the /programmes platform.

Extracurricularly, aside from a workshop at World IA Day back in February, I made progress, but failed to finish off, parts of my main side project – A Craft of Storytelling. It’s still something I’d like to persevere with, though, and hopefully something from it will see the light of day in 2018.

The book that I’d been helping to edit, ‘Designing Connected Content’, was published in December, which was a lovely way to end the year. The book is a distillation of the domain-driven design approach to UX and content strategy, essentially summing up my practice when in an information architecture role, so it serves as a good book-end to that phase of my career.

Non-work

After a somewhat fallow 2016, I was lucky enough to go on three holidays this year – a trip to Salerno in May, a mini-tour of Europe (Paris, Girona, Barcelona and back to Paris) before my birthday in July, and a mediterranean cruise with my brother in September. Travelling through Europe (France, Spain and Italy in May) was a highlight – it was so easy and stress free, I’d certainly do it again.

Aside from holidays, what else happened?

– Saw Chelsea win the league (again) in my 23rd season as a season-ticket holder.

– Attended a ‘Parks and Recreation’ themed dinner party

– Went bouldering for the first time

– Enrolled in an ‘Introduction to Acting’ evening class

– Played Settlers of Catan for the first time, and started a ‘legacy’ board game, Seafall (still in progress!)

– Treated myself to an Ableton Push.

2017 is the year that unfortunately, social media became more of a net negative than positive for me. I’ve made many good friends on Twitter, enjoy Instagram and still use Facebook, but the move to obtuse algorithmic-driven news feeds and timelines has been hugely frustrating. I’ve increasingly grown tired of the technology industry’s fascination with machine learning and algorithms as a panacea, and viewing Twitter has become an 80% depressing and angry experience. Which is a shame.

Highlights of the year

TV

Orphan Black was my stand-out, favourite show of the year, by a mile. Sure, it drags a bit at the beginning of the third series, and the final episode was rather different to what I was expecting, but as an action-packed, entertaining thriller, with frankly amazing performances from Tatiana Maslany, it blows everything else out the water.

Parks and Recreation continues to be my go-to show when I’m in need of comfort TV; Toast of London was fun; The Good Place shined, and Star Trek: Discovery had a slow start (the Klingons are so boring!) but picked up well towards the end (I can hear you, Clem Fandango..) Halt and Catch Fire made a late run for my new addiction, but it’s not quite there yet.

Doctor Who, my first love, was…OK. Capaldi was excellent, the writing was patchy. Really looking forward to Jodie Whittaker’s stint in the lead role, though I’m slightly nervous about Chris Chibnall taking over (Bradley Walsh as a companion?), though I’d be delighted to be proven wrong on that. I’d have voted for the Orphan Black show runners, myself.

Music

A quiet year for music, partly due to swapping to Google Play Music in Spring. Discovering Matt Berry’s music (via Toast of London) was a good thing – ‘The Small Hours’ and ‘Witchazel’ especially.

‘Concrete and Gold’ by the Foo Fighters was probably my album of the year.

Books

– Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit
– Complex TV, by Jason Mittell
– The Influencing Machine, by Brooke Gladstone

Special mention, although it’s a report, rather than a book, to Claire Wardle & Hossein Derakhshan’s ‘Information Disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policymaking’ – sounds dry, but is an excellent read, and it could prove to be extremely influential and useful in the coming year.

Looking forward

Work-wise, I’ll be taking over as the Product Manager for BMC and Springer Open, and I look forward to getting more experience running a site.

I’d like to overcome my frustrations at never really grokking musical theory, in order to learn to use the Ableton Push properly.

I’ll be speaking at World IA Day Manchester in February, on the topic of what we can do to deal with the current journalistic/information landscape, and I hope to be able to make concrete contributions to improving journalism, society and culture next year, too. Something to pull the world out of the socio-political nose dive that has been 2016-17.

I’m acutely aware that I don’t do as much as I could, or as others I know, do, but I do think the things I want to do in my career, long-term, will help.

Aside from that, I need to get into the discipline of exercising more (as always!), improving my diet slightly, and overcoming my instinctive lack of social confidence to get out there, meet new people and make new friends.

Thank you to Alyson, Sian and Daniel for being travel buddies and great friends this year. Wishing you all, and everyone else reading, a healthy, happy and good new year.

Onwards!

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