This Week #30: Week beginning Monday 27 January

Joseph Freeman
Jan 31 · 6 min read

Oh hello. Thanks for stopping by — or for coming back if you’ve been here before. If you’ve not read these little weekly updates before; I write about things I see each week that interest me. I used to email really great things to myself, pretending like I’d get around to reading them, and then obviously never actually read them. Writing about them each week forces me to read them, so I learn. And then hopefully you can learn too. Sharing’s caring.

Strap in.

Clearing your history

Facebook’s long awaited “clear history” functionality has arrived and is available to everyone. This is a really interesting Twitter thread about it.

It’s really important to know about this. I checked mine out (go here to find your own) and had 429 business or organisations that had shared my interactions on their sites or apps, with Facebook, since late November. Some were apps on my phone that don’t have anything to do with Facebook — like I don’t log in to them or socially transact in any way.

It was a handy, if not worrying, reminder about the power and transfer of data and the responsibility we have to be aware of it. And professionally, the responsibility we have to use it sensibly and compliantly.

You should go to your own Off-Facebook Activity section and tell me how may sites/apps you have listed.

I cleared my history off Facebook on 29 January and there are already 16 apps and websites back on there. A charity, other social networks, shops, news sites, the website I had to go to in order to unsubscribe from their newsletter. I’ll revisit it every now and then to keep an eye about how much data is being shared and with who.

NHS Digital service manual update

I’ve written about this absolute thing of beauty before. The NHS Digital service manual. If you’ve not checked it out before, now’s the time. I’ll wait.

Anyway. It’s had an update — it’s out of beta, has a grown up subdomain on and has generally been given a good polish. Read more about the updates if you want.

If you’re a health organisation, this really should be like some sort of bible for you, and more broadly, it should teach us all a lot about content design and accessibilty. The NHS UK site is so good, and honestly just being in the same office as the people who work on it and improve it is every-day-eye-opening.

Listen to Word of Mouth; NHS Language use
Listen to Word of Mouth; NHS Language use
Listen to Word of Mouth; NHS Language use

On that subject; pop your headphones on and listen to Radio 4’s Word of Mouth programme all about NHS language use. It’ll be a good use of half an hour of your time today. There’s chat about farting, obviously. But more seriously, discussion around the importance of plain English.

It features NHS Digital’s Sara Wilcox, who you should definitely give a follow to if you want to know more about content design.

Viral face filters

Bit late to this. You couldn’t move on Instagram Stories earlier this month without seeing people using these face filters telling them what sort of Pokemon they were. Or where they should go on holiday. Or what font they are.

This is a good bit from OneZero about how they work (although annoyingly it might appear behind a paywall, sorry).

For purely research and demonstrative purposes, here’s me discovering I should be a Seel Pokemon;

A selfie of me testing the which pokemon are you Instagram tool
A selfie of me testing the which pokemon are you Instagram tool
I wanted to be Magikarp obvs

So all good, if that’s your thing. It’s really interesting and Facebook (them again) have really worked to build this into platforms since they bought MASQRD in 2016. Their Spark AR studio seems to be picking up a lot of interest and I’m sure there are/will be some brilliant uses of this (besides tracking faces to sell ads to you, obvs). Anyone doing anything cool with it?

I saw SkyScanner made one of these filter things, telling you where you should go on holiday. Nice. And Dogs Trust are the only charity I’ve seen who have dipped their toe in the water — they’re always up there with trying out new things to see how they work, and I like that in them.

And yes. I did it. For you.

Me trying out Dogs Trust’s Instagram face filter
Me trying out Dogs Trust’s Instagram face filter
I’ll be a St Bernard

Carousels :(

Having a carousel on your homepage is very common. But they’re a bit shit and quite often not done well, so make everything rather inaccessible. Should I Use A Carousel makes light of this, and tries to teach you something. It’s also funny.

If you do want one — or have to have one — then the Web Accessibility Initiative has a guide to show how you can have one that works, is accessible and properly controllable .

And just quickly…

  • These #GovDesign posters, collected on Tumblr, are pure joy. I hope you like looking through them as much as I did and also resisted the urge to print them out and plaster them all over your office. Here are a couple of good ones, but please do have a look at the rest. Probably gonna print some and put them in my own office if I get one in my done-up house
Naming things — #GovDesign
Content is the user experience — #GovDesign
  • A long read about how open plan office are bad, via The New Yorker. A nice one for your lunch break or commute
  • Ian has updated his “user manual for me” and it’s such a great idea. We should all be open about this, and understand how best to work with other people (and ourselves).
  • I am bursting with info about my visit to Spotify this week, but not 100% sure how much I can share here. Honestly, read up on Spotify For Brands. They’re doing some incredible stuff.
  • On a similar note; I went to a lesson about mindfulness at school this week. It was interesting, learning how this is now built into the kids’ days. At the end of every day, from today onwards, I’m going to write down three things I’m grateful for. And thanks to Seb, one thing I’ve learnt too. Obvs I had to get a new book to write these in, which was nice.
  • As I’ve written here and elsewhere, service and content design is so important and ohmygodwhatthehellisthis? Knewz. From News Corp. It aggregates stories from “various” sources and displays them like this. Fonts! Italics! Weird! Maybe it’s not designed for me? Maybe it’s not designed for… Anyone?
Knewz on desktop
Knewz on mobile

I have a few more things to share but I’ll save them until next week as this is already getting a little long now. Thanks for getting this far — stay safe.

Joseph Freeman

Written by

Social & digital media lead in healthcare. London-loving husband & father of two. Social media, digital culture, charities, tech for good. Just my thoughts.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade