Countdown to LeithChooses voting…3,2,1!

Steps to voting

  • Read through the short descriptions of all the projects.
  • Note the four you want to vote for. (Include at least one from those marked as ‘Qualifies for a  Boost Vote’.)
  •  On or after 25th January, go to the voting website www.edinburgh.gov.uk/voteleithchooses.
  •  Register with your postcode and email address.
  •  Follow the prompts and place your 4 votes.
    • You have 3 ‘normal’ votes – you can vote for any 3 projects. (You can’t give any project more than one of your ‘normal’ votes.)
    • You have 1 ‘boost’ vote, which you can give to any project that qualifies for a boost vote. You can give this to a project that got one of your ‘normal’ votes, or to a different project.
  •  Click to submit.

If you’ve already read through the projects and selected those you wish to vote for, then actual voting will only take you a few minutes.

If you haven’t yet read about the projects, you will still be able to see the information on the LeithChooses website and on the voting website, after registering.

You have a whole week (25 to 31 January 2021) to vote – but PLEASE don’t leave it to the last minute!

(Text shamelessly adapted from LeithChooses blog-post!)

Bruce and Elly’s 2020 – the EZ-read version

2020 started off fairly rubbish for Bruce and his family. Thanks to Elly for keeping him sane-ish! Then we all got hassled by lockdown. Bruce and Elly are both very grateful that they have indoor jobs with no heavy listing. Or, indeed, jobs at all.

Elly’s workload at her company (Glen Shuraig Consulting) goes, er, from strength to strength. It’s a lot easier than being a civil servant would be right now. Elly asks that we take a moment to remember all the fantastic work being done by civil servants. It’s much less recognised than the fantastic work being done by staff in the NHS and the care system, but it’s still really important, and people have been working under huge pressure all year.

Meanwhile, Bruce continues to enjoy being a part-time academic at Edinburgh Napier University; minutes secretary and IT-wonk at three Edinburgh Community Councils (Leith Central, Leith Harbour & Newhaven, New Town & Broughton – he doesn’t live in any of those areas) and at LeithChooses participatory budgeting scheme, and even doing some commercial web-design. He continues to rant into the internet via this website.

Travel has been rather limited. (Bruce has only been on campus three times since March; Elly give up her desk in a shared office in town.) Neither of us have driven to Barnard Castle, so Elly’s eyesight must be OK. (Bruce doesn’t drive.) We had planned to go to a hobbit-house in the Netherlands in April 2020, but clearly that got squelched. We hope to go in April 2021 instead – we badly miss Euro-asphalt and Doppelespressos in local-cafés. Also, Bruce plans to apply for a post-doc position in Krems, Austria when all the ‘rona-horror is over. So he has been trying to improve his German with the aid of a teacher from Austria. He is jealous that she and her ‘Schatzi’ (look it up!) have just moved to Bali!

Both Bruce and Elly have been spinning (indoor cycling), dancing on the pedals at LifesCycle’s live classes via FaceBook. Elly is better at attending – and spinning – than Bruce.

She’s better at most things, Bruce says.

Elly says Bruce is just suffering from imposter syndrome.

Bruce says that’s just a fancy way of saying he doesn’t have enough self-confidence.

Elly says we should stop this debate now for the benefit of everyone’s sanity.)

Ah well, that’s almost it for 2020. Here’s hoping 2021 is better. (If it’s going to be worse, please just count us out.)

Love from Bruce and Elly

A boy and his new bicycle!

This post is to say why I’ve been more or less off-line for a while, to thank people for their support and most importantly to thank my family for a fabulous birthday present.

Thank you!

As some of my reader might know, I’ve been in Worcester since late January, because my mother is in hospital and so she and my sister need support. It’s not been fun, but it has been made much easier by my ever-wonderful wife, eleanor.scot (aka @corrieshore). Huge thanks are also due to my colleagues at Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Social Informatics, LeithChooses, Leith Central CC, Leith Harbour & Newhaven CC and New Town & Broughton CC for their patience and support – thank you all!

Travel woes

I’ve been quite dependent on public transport to visit my mum. Journeys take a minimum of 90 minutes: bus to Worcester city centre, then an hour by bus directly to the hospital – or over an hour by train (with two changes) to Redditch, then another bus to the hospital. Coming back is complicated – and made more expensive – by direct buses not running after 4pm and buses from Worcester city centre to the house not running after 6:30pm. (They don’t run at all on Sundays!) And of course it’s all been made much less fun by the flooding.

I need to thank eleanor.scot and my brother for many lifts, especially when the hospital called me and him in at 1am one morning. Hairy in several ways!

But there is a point to this post!

eleanor.scot understood that I need an easy way to travel in Worcester that doesn’t involve bringing Lev Davidovitch Bikestein here. His home is Edinburgh, although he does love European jaunts and he has been known to take me from Birmingham New St station to Worcester. Add to that it’s just a PITA to book bike-spaces on trains. So ever-wonderful eleanor.scot has bought me a folding bike for my birthday! Accessories are from my mother, sister and brother.

‘Nikita’ is a Raleigh Evo-2 with 20″ wheels and 7 derailleur gears. (He gets his name because Mr Kruschev folded under pressure from Mr Kennedy.) Here are photos of unboxing to final assembled beast, and a video of our first ride.

The box

undo first layer

contents

contents unboxed

the bike bits

beware – small parts

nearly there

checking gear-changes

decorated

with lock and cary-bag

first ride! (movie)

second ride (movie)

Bruce of all trades

I’ve just applied for some digital democracy work. (Yes, that is a hint!) My covering email (slightly adapted below) says I can do some stuff.

I’m passionate about democracy and IT, especially in hyperlocal democracy (community councils, parish councils, and similar).

Professionally, I’m a part-time social informatics researcher at Edinburgh Napier University, concentrating on use of the internet by, and information literacy in, hyperlocal democracy. See more at https://www.napier.ac.uk/people/bruce-ryan

I’m also web-weaver, minutes secretary and general IT supporter for Leith CentralLeith Harbour & Newhaven and New Town & Broughton Community Councils in Edinburgh.

I’m also a member of the £eithChooses participatory budgeting process steering group, concentrating on written communications.

Prior to returning to academia in 2010, I was production manager at a Scottish educational publisher, running a fair proportion of the IT as well as delivering finished projects on time and in budget.

Continue reading

What has Bruce been up to this weekend?

I’m not quite sure why I wanted to record this. Perhaps it’s to assuage some of my guilt at not being in the peoples’ vote/anti-brexit march yesterday. Anyway, this has been a relaxing weekend so far.

My reward for all of this is nut roast with roasted potatoes, onions, sprouts and carrots. You have been warned!

Saturday morning

  • Spinning at LifesCycle. We cheated slightly by travelling by bus, due to the rain. I usually prefer to cycle there and back, as warm-up and cool-down from the lovely madness. (Elly and I are on the front-left bikes of that Facebook video.)

Saturday afternoon

  • much-needed coffee and lunch
  • catching up with personal and family finances, sadly neglected for a couple of weeks due to work-pressures
  • washing our manky spinning gear. That’s the only downside!
  • tidying my desk area after weeks of needing to let rubbish build up

Saturday evening

  • avoiding watching Strictly Come Dancing
  • writing a presentation on a project I’m about to finish, so I can demonstrate the outcomes to a high-powered audience. (I think I should not say what the project is just now, but I will blow my own trumpet as hard as I can when the work goes live.)

Sunday morning

  • proofreading and commenting on a tender written by my ever-wonderful better half.
  • much-needed coffee and lunch

Sunday afternoon

Edinburgh Council budget group challenge

I’m interested in local government finance mostly because of my interest in participatory budgeting (PB), especially £EITH CHOOSES. This leads to the question ‘where does PB money come from?‘ I’m also interested in how Scottish local government will ‘mainstream’ PB, leading me to consider ‘what budgets will be opened up to citizen input?‘, ‘how will this be done?‘, ‘how will citizen-control be squared with statutory requirements?‘.

On a personal level, I’m curious about how Edinburgh Council (CEC) decides how to spend its (our!) money, not least because it needs to make massive savings in 2019-20 onwards. I’m concerned about the effects this will have on me, on my adopted home city and above all, the many people who absolutely need government services and benefits. So I jumped at the chance to take part in a budget group challenge last Thursday.

Continue reading

Apply now for £EITH CHOOSES funding

(I’ve been interested in participatory budgeting since at least 2015, thanks to Ali Stoddart‘s talks at the digiCC events I organised, and subsequent conversations with the Democratic Society. Until recently, I’ve not had much direct involvement but am now on the £EITH CHOOSES steering group.)

After much hard work by the steering group and others, £EITH CHOOSES 2018-19 is open to applications. The closing date for applications is 21 January 2019. Continue reading

The good, the bad and the ugly

The good

Thursday’s tribunal decided that my sister qualifies for personal independence payments (PIP) at the standard rates for both ‘daily living’ and ‘mobility’. (These are explained here.) This qualification is backdated to the date that her disability living allowance payments ceased, and has no time limit. The tribunal judge stated that this is because her condition is unlikely to change. Continue reading

More thoughts about e-voting – and participatory budgeting

(with thanks to Liam Bell for feedback on the first draft.)

On Tuesday 12 June, I was at a workshop organised by the Scottish Government (SG) to consider how lessons from e-voting, as used in participatory budgeting (PB), can inform SG’s investigations of how e-voting might be used in Scottish elections. A key theme of the discussion was how a system that would initially be used for PB voting could be set up so that it would ‘naturally’ evolve to be used for other voting ‘use-cases’.

It’s not my aim to describe what others said at the meeting: a scribe took detailed notes and I hope that a transcript will be published soon. However, I hope this post will describe my thinking, and how it’s evolved a bit since I last wrote about e-voting. Continue reading

Some thoughts on a seminar by Professor Brian Detlor

I had the privilege of attending two seminars by Professor Brian Detlor last week. The first of these, at iDocQ 2018, recounted Brian’s work on Digital Storytelling. However, this post is about my reaction to his seminar to the School of Computing on Promoting Digital Literacy: A Social Lab Approach.

This post is the first of two – the second will be an attempt to crystallise my thoughts about e-voting that bubbled up after Brian’s seminar. However, for now, this post is an attempt to show why Brian’s seminar was such a positive experience for me, but it is not an attempt to record all that Brian said. My reactions are in blockquotes. Continue reading