Radical transparency. Research Note 10.

Welcome back.

Winter/Spring sunshine on Keble

I had a week of really incredibly useful thinking. I had my presentation for one thing. It went well, I think. I’ve uploaded it for comments below (excuse the Silverback watermark).

What I solidified this week was the idea of how I can do radical transparency. It’s something I’ve spoken a lot about in a government context; the belief that open evidence and auditable decision making leads to better outcomes. So I’ve been talking to the university about how I’m going to be open. I’m going to keep doing diary notes. I don’t think I’m going to publish notes from conversations, but I will publish summaries of what I was thinking about after conversations and the ideas raised. The university is at pains to point out that “you are [I am] the only person being examined and your name is the only one on your thesis”, so I need to think about how my voice as a researcher is present and positioned in the work.

I’ve noticed that people feel _really_ weird about some of this stuff. It concerns people that you might be sullying a pristine research site by letting your informants know what you’re thinking. It might close doors for you or mean you can’t get access. It might mean you say something out loud that you don’t believe later on with more evidence/experience.

I’m not sure that’s the case with civic tech. I think people are interested in hearing what happens as I go. I also think that the research I’m doing has the possibility to be “operationalised” (sorry) by civic tech groups, if they want and that is less useful with a three/four year wait time for the book. I also think that if I get something “wrong” or reach a conclusion that my informants (you) disagree with, then I’d prefer to have that conversation now rather than at the book launch.

The first set of reaction to that video (I posted it in the Democlub slack yesterday) has been interesting, especially about creating a Gov/govtech/civic tech/tech for good/private sector continuum. I’m going to have to keep coming back to how I think about this and be really aware of my own biases, especially in constructing a space based on my own participation in a small corner of it.

I’m interested in other views too though, if you watch the video, drop a note here or on twitter to tell me what you think.

Work crunch

It’s a shorter research note this week because I have a four week work crunch coming up. I have to give my “PRS document” (basically a large project plan and initial introduction to my field) to my supervisor as he’s off on research leave and wants to read a draft before he goes. The only problem is that it needs to be 20,000 words when finished. Meaning, I have two weeks to write the most academic words I have ever written. My longest before this was my MA dissertation and that was 11,000ish and… not great (although it scored well).

I also have my ODI work getting more complicated with report deadlines coming up and a new piece of work with time consuming things attached starting next month. And this all makes me feel pre-emptively exhausted.

Nice things

I had a chat with Ann Kempster this week and it made me feel actually happy. I miss working with Ann and would recommend doing so at your earliest opportunity. If you would like a chat over a cup of tea about general shit and you work remotely, give me a bell.


I want to publish the list of books I’m using at the moment from Zotero (which can output an RSS feed) to a webpage. I am loath to get a WP instance just for this one task, but I understand the laws of physics making this harder for a static site like github pages. Any ideas gratefully received.