A couple of days ago my girls suddenly decided to learn coding.

Like most of the things they show an interest in, coding became an immediate obsession and for the past couple of days we’ve been writing Python on the Raspberry Pi, my phone, a laptop and a micro:bit. We’ve made an adventure games, a racing game, a version of Snake with LEDs (on the micro:bit). We’ve learned about variables and loops and inputs and graphics.

Much of unschooling involves bouncing around from one thing to another; sometimes sticking with something for a long time; sometimes picking it up and…


I asked a question on Twitter earlier today about historical novels for my eldest daughter (she’s thirteen).

Anyway, it became a bit popular (due mainly to a retweet from Twitter Celebrity Moose Allain (whom you should definitely follow if you don’t already).

Anyway, as a result I got rather a lot of responses and so I made a quick spreadsheet, which still needs a lot of work but I wanted to capture as much as I could before it all slipped by in the timeline. I’ve made it possible to comment on the spreadsheet too.

My daughter loves reading…


I’ve often found it hard to come to terms with the fact that I’m easily distracted by new creative pursuits; over many years I’ve had a go at everything from film-making and photography to coding and graphic design. Some of these I’ve properly studied while others I’ve just taught myself.

It can sometimes be disheartening to be only slightly good at things and not really good at any one of them. I’m jealous of people who have pursued a single craft, art form or creative discipline. I wish I’d started earlier, or stuck to something, or specialised.

But as I…


Someone posted an article recently about how to create a “rebel alliance” in an organisation: how to identify rebels and build a support network for them so that they can drive transformation.

There are some real problems with the very idea of rebels, not least of which is an implicit acceptance that everything must already be so bad that people have to set themselves against what exists to do anything valuable. This binary perspective isn’t necessarily the healthiest starting point for change.

And potentially, identifying rebels and rewarding them is the beginning of making them special. And this group of…


Working with a small company on a service design project has made me revisit how even an organisation with a handful of staff can be broken in terms of daily functioning (let alone any strategic capabilities) and how important it is that design work start internally.

There is sometimes an assumption in service design that the customer focus is sufficient a driving force for change that it can help an organisation reorganise internally to become better. And yes, an organisation-wide focus on purpose can be a powerful catalyst for change.

But many of the functions of good design (e.g, research)…


I didn’t want to share this post on International Women’s Day because it’s not a day for male perspectives on women (although there have been many I’m sure). But the event did make me want to write something, about someone in particular.

I’ve written about adoption once before, from my perspective; this time I felt like I wanted to try and understand things from my birth mother’s perspective. I’ve wondered what life’s been like for her, but I’ve never sat down and given it proper thought. Perhaps I should have. Ideally I’d ask her to write something herself but maybe…


At yesterday’s ThingsCamp (5) in Birmingham I pitched a session on learning and skills, which is something we’ve been thinking about for a while. As I mentioned in this previous post we’re wondering how ThingsCamp can more deliberately support the kind of learning and skills that people need when it comes to IoT and data.

From running ThingsCamp we know that it’s a pretty broad topic, covering everything from how to make and code devices to how to explore future scenarios and design with connected devices. …


The first prototype SNOFCOINS

Today we spent some time manufacturing our first physical “coins”. We’ve been thinking about how to do this for a while; it’s a little bit of a challenge. There are some basic principles we need to stick to for a start:

  • the coins need to be made from recycled materials so that we’re not creating more rubbish or buying pre-existing tokens (such as poker chips).
  • the coins need to be distinct and different from anything else we have lying around (and therefore also relatively difficult to counterfeit*).
  • they need to be relatively easy to mint so that we can produce…

Sharing work that’s a long way from finished — work that’s just the starting point or a single aspect of what we’re aiming for — is a crucial part of working with other people. And thinking of it as substandard is a useful step in getting better at that sharing.

It might seem easier to share work that’s 99% there, almost perfect, just in need of some magic fairy dust to make it better. But sharing far less developed things can be more beneficial for everyone.

There’s a pleasure that comes with the freedom to show substandard work: the implied…


This week I’ve been working with my students on a project around sports and physical activity. As part of the module we’ve been revisiting systems thinking to help us identify possible design interventions; we’ve had some fascinating discussions around positive and negative feedback loops (talking about things like whether it’s right to harness the power of addiction in this context, for example).

Feedback information is a core component of systems thinking: design interventions round reinforcing feedback loops can have an exponential impact; spotting the negative feedback loops can help us get deeply under the skin of a problem. …

Simon Gough

Design for humans and interactions.

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