A profile photograph of Jamie McHale

Jamie McHale

Fire Starter Festival: Working in the Open

05 February 2019

Today I attended Working in the Open as part of the Fire Starter Festival.

The Festival is for "Celebrating creativity and innovation in public service". I attended as I am interested in seeing how our public services could be improved, but also to lend and borrow ideas to and from the tech community.


The session was a general discussion of the reasons why someone might want to work in the open, the obstacles to doing so, and the tools that people can use. Slides and resources are available from the session here.

The intersection between organisational knowledge and self-reflection is a key area of interest. I think writing is a great tool for thought, particularly with hyper-linked resources. Open working can help both personally and organisationally to learn, drawing together networks of interested people and ideas.

There are challenges with open working around tone of voice, professional image, and workplace rules (particularly in the public sector).

Blogs, personal sites that contain 'live' documents, wikis, and good social media feeds are useful. Wether it's documenting what you are doing, signposting your work, or maintaining a reading list, you can act as an entry-point or nexus to an organisation or community.

Here are some links and examples that I have found interesting over the past few months illustrating this type of work:

  • Buster's Wiki - an example of someone curating their thoughts on various topics, possibly for self-reflection, but also to build a community to feed and challenge those beliefs
  • Katy McNeil - an excellent example of someone in public service who mixes professional information and insight with personal authenticity and stories (lovely photos of Scotland!).
  • Winnie Lim "The Power of Writing" - also Winnie's personal site is a great example of curating projects, ideas and self-reflection. Very powerful, very useful.
  • Dave Perell - curation of learning on how the world works, for example, Dave's reading list, highlighting strands of thought (other peoples!) on topics of interest
  • Visakan Veerasamy on Twitter - an awesome example of knowledge curation, learning and experimentation using Twitter threads. Jump in!

If you have any more interesting links, tweet me and I'll add them here.

With thanks to Leah Lockhart and Niamh Webster for running the session.

A profile photograph of Jamie McHale
Jamie McHale

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