Tom Ward by Tom Ward

Week 233

It’s hot here. Damn hot. Too hot. The sort of heat that fogs your brains and makes it hard to concentrate. And that’s just in my office in London, a balmy mid-afternoon 25°C. So I can only begin to imagine what it must be like for James A, who’s now safely settled in Austin, Texas (today’s predicted high, 37°C). No doubt he’s nursing a hangover following yesterday’s Independence Day celebrations. Maybe he picked up some tips to take back to his Scottish comrades (such as throw some Irn Bru into Aberdeen harbour)? Something to think about as he polishes the 6-shooter he was no doubt given on arrival in the Lone Star State.

Luckily it hasn’t been this hot all week, or either our productivity or ice-cream budget would have taken a massive hit. Our main client project, FutureLearn, was mentioned on Newsnight on Monday as part of a segment on MOOCs. The short piece highlighted both the promise that sites such as FutureLearn have, and the obstacles and problems they face. It seems likely that in 10 years time some form of MOOC will massively change education, but it’s much harder to predict how, or even which types of MOOC will flourish. The only way to find out is to build things and try them out, which is why it’s exciting to see invitations go out to the first batch of friendly FutureLearn learners. We already have some intrepid educators building courses on the site, but until we run an actual course, we can’t really prove anything.

As well as FutureLearn, we’ve done a fair bit more thinking about our own company and futures. The two main areas we’ve been concentrating on are how to expand Go Free Range (without becoming an agency), and how to improve Harmonia. On the expansion front, it’s obvious that we’d get more of our own stuff done if we were working with more people. How exactly to achieve this we’re still discussing, though since Kalv and Jase both emigrated we certainly have space for more members.

As for Harmonia, now it’s been running for several months (and slowly picking up new users) we’ve collected quite the backlog of things we could improve. It’s deciding which to do which is the problem. We’re trying to put some thought into a coherent strategy and mission for Harmonia, and use that to drive our decisions. Hopefully you’ll see some changes soon.

Finally we had a couple of financial advisers come to talk to us about pensions. Assuming climate change hasn’t destroyed the world in 30 years, it’s clear we all need to save more money for the future. I’m not too bothered about ‘making my money work harder’, or even having a ‘diversified spread of investments’, but I do think I should be thinking about my pension more than I have done. That said, one of the fear-mongering bullet points presented to us was the prospect of having to work beyond the age of 67 (or whatever the retirement age is by then). I actually enjoy my job, so that wouldn’t be the worst prospect in the world.

Until next time (which given Harmonia’s recent capriciousness is likely to be next week),

Tom

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