Hello Blog, here’s an update post

This is probably going to be a short and rambling chunk of blogpost, mostly because I missed writing things and wanted to get something up on my blog in advance of my next FutureLearn course starting.

My workplace has been going through one of its busiest periods, and on top of that we had an emergency situation which meant doing a lot of press and social media work. If nothing else, this really taught me the importance of taking proper rest periods and getting away from work emails, social media etc enough to let your mind relax.

Outside of my day job, in the near future (probably from next week) I’ll be working on some front-end web design for a local music group, and getting back into keeping up with digital trends and innovations and making sure to get my thoughts down in blogpost form!

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Back to Social Learning

I’ve been doing Future Learn free online courses for a few years now and I’ve been documenting them on here, but it’s been a while since I’ve started one and I suddenly got a bit of the bug again. I’ve signed up to a slightly different  course from the usual ones that I do, but one that I think will help in the future – Intercultural Communications.

This course is intended for people going to study or work abroad, but it also looks at variations in cultural behaviours and communications which I think could be really useful in the future. However, it doesn’t start until the end of April, so like all FutureLearn courses there’s an option to introduce yourself to the other learners, which gets you used to the social and discussion aspects of the course. On each section in a FutureLearn course, there is a discussion section and this is considered to be an essential aspect of the learning process. However, with a few exceptions there is no requirement to partake, and it’s perfectly possible to be an entirely passive reader/watcher on the course.

There’s nothing wrong with this, and you still definitely learn things, but it’s something that I’ve been guilty on my last few courses, and looking back I would have benefitted from being a part of some of these discussions, as they often do help to bed a subject more firmly into my brain. So I’ve written my introduction, and by the time the course starts I’ll have made an effort to comment on a few other people’s, just to get me back into the swing of it. Then, of course, I’ll have my notes (and maybe some my comments) up on here!

Getting started on PRINCE2 Learning

At the start of the year, I mentioned that I would be working towards a PRINCE2 Project Management qualification this year, and I’ve started to read through the two introduction books that I bought. I’ve decided that I will also get the a proper copy of the official manual, it’s quite expensive but I do find it easier to read and make notes on a physical copy of a textbook.

At the moment, I’m reading the books through on my kindle and putting in highlights. Then I plan to go back through, take those highlights and make my own annotations around them, which I’ll then put up here where I can check back on them regularly to ensure that I still know the details. I’ve said this before but this is where I find that my blog really helps with self-study. If other people might be reading my notes then I have to write and explain them in a way that should makes sense to them, and will therefore for sense to me when I come back to them!

Anyway, I’m a little way into PRINCE2 Made Simple: Updated 2017 Version and the first thing I’m definitely learning is that project management is all about a clear process, with steps laid out where you check in and make sure that the project is still meeting goals and still viable.

The book does keep stressing that this is mostly common sense – of course you go into a big project with laid-out plans in place, but also it shows how a lot of projects can go wrong when you aren’t strict enough about checking back and revising the plans. Projects can go over budget and there has to be a point where you either revise the plan, or cancel it before it goes to waste. A lot of this can be human error, because who wants to admit to their bosses that estimates are wrong and costly mistakes have been made? But if there is a process like PRINCE2 that tells you, yes, you have make a report at this stage, and you have include all of these details, then errors can be corrected much more easily.

Facebook down; Internet explodes

I wonder what the loss of revenue is when Facebook goes down?

Not for Facebook I mean, though I’m sure it causes employees and shareholders considerable grief, but for the people who use it.

I don’t know if there’s any kind of public figures or even estimates for the number of Facebook ads being run, from the massive political and government advertising that makes up a huge proportion of their income (again, figures are hard to come by, even with more transparency on political advertising in some countries) to a single person local business spending a very small amount of money to engage a few new customers.

Of course, anyone who pays for advertising doesn’t (or shouldn’t) lose money while Facebook is down – though if you did, I suspect there’s no legal comeback. However, if you’d planned an ad to coincide with a particular timescale, public holiday, or offer at your own business, every moment that ad isn’t being seen is a moment where you aren’t getting in the customers that you wanted.

Also, the whole world of professional influencing has a problem when Facebook and Instagram aren’t up and running, since that’s a very fast-paced world for views, likes and attempts to manipulate the algorithm. It’s also a very sink or swim world for many people trying to make money off it – for every multi-million follower multi-millionaire beauty blogger there are thousands of small-scale influencers chasing six or seven revenue streams to make up one pay cheque. Losing out on those views, especially views promised to a particular sponsor, could do a lot of damage to their career.

This kind of dependence on one digital service is not new, nor is it something I’m criticising people for (on a professional level, I’m waiting for a Facebook ad to be put together, as it has to go out soon or conflict with another marketing campaign. It’s certainly not career or business-damaging but it is frustrating.) But it is interesting to think how much industries and lives can be affected by this.

Where things are at – Extremely quick post!

So, I’ve been about a month in my new marketing job, which has been a fantastic experience so far. There’s a lot to work on, and much like my previous roles, I’m not planning to talk much about the particular details of my job. But I’m very happy where I am, and so I realised I have some more time to work on blogposts!

I’ve started to look through some stuff on Codecademy again, starting over again with their Intro to HTML. Having been an admin for several more websites since I last tried to complete courses on here, I’m already finding the course easier to work through because I have better context for the code itself. It feels good to have a structured course to work on again as well, and especially one that goes right back to understandable basics. I’ve only ever done coding in bits and bobs and fumbling through stuff until it works, so I’d like to make sure I have a firmer basis.

Honestly, that’s about it for me! Mostly, I’m trying to exercise and get outside a lot. The only realistic way to get to my new office right now is by car so I’m having to make sure I walk to places and exercise more.

Speculating on the future of the Internet

It’s very tempting, at the moment, to assume the worst about the state of the internet, particularly when most of it is owned by a small number of companies with more leverage, data and money than many countries. This interview with Tim Berners-Lee cuts to the heart of the problem – when a small number of companies hold all the power, it stifles progress and concentrates issues such as hate speech.

Berners-Lee suggests that companies should be split up for their own good, though he doesn’t try to suggest how this would be done. Perhaps corporations like Google will fall apart of their own accord, or would outside pressure have to be put on them? There have been multiple attempts by individual countries, or blocs such as the European Union, to put checks on these companies, but it seems they will always be doomed to failure when the internet exists outside some of those countries, and it is always going to, even if the United Nations ruled on it. But Google or Amazon losing the favour of some of those countries would absolutely force them to a change of tactics (I think we have yet to see the full fall-out of the Cambridge Analytica scandal on Facebook’s bottom line). The only question is, what would prompt a political change of heart like that?

Much of the major legislation against internet giants so far has surrounded copyright law and data protection, but not so much against their financial dominance; the way they can simply buy out competition, and influence governments just by physically existing. Cities vie for Google and Amazon offices just for the prestige of the name and even if it creates little in the way of real new jobs and investment. It’s the Olympics bid of the business world, and it will take a lot more negative press and public feeling for that to change. But it absolutely could, if these companies continue to ride roughshod over communities online and offline, and disappointing people as they have disappointed the original creator of the internet.

Happy New Year

Firstly, Happy New Year!

I hadn’t planned to make a post today at all, but suddenly I felt the urge to set a few short words down before bed.

I know many people probably look on New Year as something of an arbitrary date – yes, it changes a bunch of numbers on the calendar, but in terms of turning over a new leaf, setting goals, or making resolutions, these are things that you could decide to do on literally any other day. Yet, something about today did feel like it was pushing me to be productive and feel uplifted (the unexpected sunny weather definitely helped). I went for a run for the first time in a while, and it felt great. Part of the way through, it occurred to me that my new job being in the grounds of a massive country estate opens up all kinds of possibilities for taking running more seriously as a hobby, at least once it starts to get light in the evenings.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m looking into doing a PRINCE2 Project Management qualification in 2019. I haven’t yet picked a week to do it, because I need to start my new job and then sort out time off, so in the meantime I’ve decided to get started using some of the free material available on the website, and two books I found online, PRINCE2 Made Simple and Prince2 for Beginners. I’ll fully admit that I don’t know if these will help yet, as they’ve been delivered to my Kindle which isn’t presently with me, but I’m hoping that they will get me through the basics of project management before I spend a lot of money on doing an examined course.