…and what are you going to do with yourself now that you’re no longer in the civil service? The second question is one that has been put to me by a number of people – most recently one of my local councillors – Cllr Paul Saunders who I regularly bump into at Limoncellos on Mill Road in Cambridge. (Declaration of transparency, Steve the owner has not paid me to put that link in this blogpost – rather it’s my way of saying I like this small business and it does lovely coffees).
Puffles is in no danger unless the Government tries to do something stupid like shutting down Twitter. As for me, I want to do something more productive than watching Parliament TV all day, blogging and tweeting on what I see and find out. (That said, if someone paid me to make a living doing that, I’d struggle to say ‘No’)
The biggest barrier I face at the moment is the skills gap – which is what I plan on spending part of this autumn trying to fill. Normally when I find something I like, I tend to run with it. The challenge with social and digital media is that it’s not as simple as running down one track – there are too many of them.
When I was in the civil service, I made it my business to learn the basics of as many of the specialist areas as I could so that I could spot the risks early on and refer them to specialists to nip problems in the bud. This gave me a feel for press office, document publishing (we did loads under the last administration), legal, finance, audit, procurement, and IT. On IT I was a divisional troubleshooter for a number of things involving spreadsheets and slides. I was one of those strange creatures who did a degree in economics but chose to be a generalist than an economics specialist.
The situation I find myself in now is where I have a number of ideas and small projects that I would like to test out, but don’t really know quite how to go about them. Take for example this blog. I had a number of blogposts already written but hadn’t set up the blog. In part it was waiting for my civil service exit date to pass, as well as wanting to collaborate with people who had already been there and done that with blogging. Hence over a Sunday lunch Soph Warnes and Fi Douglas gave me the kick up the backside I needed.
This afternoon I sheltered from the rain in a local pub to start making the links between all of these various things on my mind. Things such as:
- Launching my own personal website/digital CV. (Problem at the moment is that I’m trying to get a clear idea in my own mind as to what my “offer” is)
- Creating and developing an avatar and image portfolio for what would eventually be my own brand. (I can’t be known as “Puffles’ bestest buddy” forever)
- Creating and populating an online archive for discussion documents containing pieces of analysis and a number of ideas that I want to develop or to throw into the mix for wider debates
- Creating a series of digital videos on a number of subjects and issues
- Experimenting with music and music software with some local musicians to try and build accompaniments to tracks and songs that they have already composed
- To start a couple of courses that will hopefully help me fill in some of the skills gaps that I mentioned above
- Commission a ‘cuddly toy’ version of Puffles – on the grounds that people who meet me need to have something tangible that is “Puffles” – as a number of people have started referring to me as Puffles – which is not the case. Puffles is a baby dragon fairy, I’m not.
- Creating a local website for Cambridge (my home town and where I live) that brings the various disparate groups, networks and silos together that can make the city much greater than the sum of its parts – and have that backed up with offline work too
- Working with college students and local businesses to create a series of short digital video clips featuring the owners and/or those who work in small businesses – focussing on the personalities who work in, and the pressures of running a small business.
One of the other things that has struck me in recent times is just how much of a kicking the economy is giving young people at the moment – to say nothing of what the press has been doing to them over the years. So in putting all of these together, one of the things that I have also been considering is working with young people on some of these projects to given them some tangible experience that they can then put on their CVs and link to for future reference.
For the really essential stuff critical to getting me up and running, or giving me tutorials, I also anticipate properly paying them (i.e. more than minimum wage) too – it’s only fair. This is particularly with teaching me how to do various things using a Mac (which I’ve recently acquired and am slowly getting used to) that will increase my own productivity it and the software I’ve bought for it.
Any constructive ideas or comments gratefully received.