3 (years) is the Magic Number

A hand-drawn roman numeral III, set against a background of vague written words.

I can’t quite believe it’s been three full years since I jumped into a freelance career. Three years feels specifically like a turning point – like something is now established, rather than experimental. It’s still not a lot compared to many others, of course, but there’s definitely some significance. Three as a magic number.

Freelancing will be different for everybody, albeit with a lot of common overlap at the same time, I’ve learned. I’m ridiculously glad I joined up with The Skiff as place to work around other people: I don’t think I’d have survived this long without a small but valuable network of people treading the same road and being so happy to share.

When I took the crazy decision to make the jump, it was in an effort to take more "creative control" over the nature of my work. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure that meant, and while I’m not convinced I do now, I have realised that freelancing, for me, is about finding my place in the world. A modern world which has so much promise, but which also faces some extraordinary risks and challenges.

I’m beginning to more freely admit that I find those challenges overwhelming at times. I’ve got more concerned, not less, about the world my kids and their kids will find themselves in once my generation leaves. Solutions seem like a world away, and billionaires seem quite happy with literally starting new worlds instead of fixing the current one.

It’s hard to boil all that down into something to focus on daily, but I hugely appreciate the chance to work with organisations such as The Restart Project and Helpful Digital to support their efforts. I know Democracy, Ecology and Digital Technology don’t necessarily dovetail together. But that’s where I am, and I’ve no plans to step out of it yet.

I’m also likely to have some availability coming up over the next few months, and will be looking around to see who needs some help. If you’re after someone technical, but with a strong social drive and with an appreciation of what’s appropriate at business-level, then let’s chat.

I’m particularly interested in:

  • Taking on existing "brownfield" projects to get them into shape (code, but also documentation and process)
  • Holding projects to account for sustainability, performance, accessibility, etc.
  • Reviewing the environmental impact and carbon footprints of technology, and identifying improvement plans

Examples of recent work and interests include:

  • Overhauling a large WordPress-based product to allow much easier modification and flexibility
  • Website maintenance and migration to greener hosting
  • Lightweight carbon impact assessment for website visits
  • Assessment of a 7-year-old tech stack for security and other issues
  • Usability testing to redesign the flow of a mapping service

A lot of this stuff is hard, without easy answers. I guess that’s why I like it.

Anyway, to celebrate three years (as well as recently getting older AND moving house), I thought I’d treat myself to a new skateboard. I last bought one 20 years ago from Oddballs in Brighton. They’re still there, and purveyor of finest wheeled devices, so I couldn’t resist picking up this beauty.

Photo of the top half of a skateboard on top of green grass. The skateboard is white, with a black and white snake illustration design on it.

Who knows where I’ll be in another three or 20 years, but at the end of the day, perhaps it’s all just about making sure we enjoy the ride.