Weeknotes 2023 #01

✏️ Weeknotes 2023 #01

We made it! 2022 is done and dusted. Clear your nostrils for the fresh fragrance of a crisp sheet of A4 paper ready for enthusiastic scribbling. Oh, the opportunity! Oh, the energy!

At the Clearleft office

Starting the year on a 4 day work week was a gift I was happy to receive, as the brandy butter cobwebs were still yet to be properly swept away. I was very happy to have a change of scenery after a long and restful break. It was lovely being welcomed back to the Clearleft office by an enthusiastic turnout of Clearleft partners. Thursday, our ongoing studio day, was particularly busy and reminded me of the before times. Hybrid working is definitely here to stay though and is especially useful with the current UK rail strikes.

I’m currently focusing on the research operation improvements plan Luke and I created late last year. I’ve been looking at how we capture consent from research participants and the tools we use. The goal is to make the process easier for participants and more consistent for people doing the research.

Alongside this I’ve been setting up a chat with our current freelancers. I’m exploring how we can support them better so they can do their best work. It’s an interesting internal project which will improve our overall onboarding process for new starters too.

Speaking of which, we welcomed Alex Edwards our new Design Strategist to the team. I’m really looking forward to working with Alex and picking her brains about accessibility.

Chris How suggested the topic of AI for our fortnightly design chat in the office. We had a good turn out and it generated some interesting discussion. We concluded that AI, or in some cases machine learning, is an interesting tool for easing the busy work. A good example of this would be using Dovetail for audio transcription of research sessions, where accuracy is relatively high and frees time for the human work of analysis. We considered the benefit of generative experiments to help explore design discovery directions. After discussing the darker side of AI we agreed we should remain vigilant of the quality and reliability of any results, as Jeremy suggested, giving them a good sniff to test if they’d turned sour.

Away from the keyboard

I booked an early morning sauna at Beach Box Sauna on Brighton seafront on Thursday morning. It was an invigorating way to start the day, especially taking a plunge in the sea afterwards.

I joined the Brighton Japan Club on Friday for the new year tradition of mochi eating. A big thank you to Hide san from Kantenya, Brighton’s best Japanese supermarket, who worked hard to prepare everything for us. We were offered sweet and savoury toppings; kinako (roasted soybean flour), isobeyaki (soy sauce with nori), and anko (sweet red bean paste). It got me event more excited out our family trip later this year.

We’re only in the first week of 2023 and Grand Sumo is back with the Hatsu Basho (new year tournament). I’m playing sumo bingo again this year. I was a day out of winning last tournament, hopefully I’ll have more luck this time.

A selection of food toppings arranged on a kitchen work station with people preparing food and waiting to be served.
Hide san preparing mochi and toppings for some greedy customers.
Some small driftwood and sea-worn plastic cord placed on a towel resting on a bench with sea pebbles in the background.
My first plunge in the sea after a very hot seafront sauna.