The worlds longest photograph, Jump4London, at the ExCel London
I'm taking 6 months away from my day job to look after my son, Archie, who is now 8 months old. I thought it might be interesting to share my experiences.
One of the commitments I made to myself when I took on the paternity leave was to keep myself intellectually stimulated. Childcare has its own rewards but things that may be good for the child - repetitive play, having a routine, providing a safe environment - aren't always as stimulating for the parent. The super-mums and dads might be able to stay motivated purely by watching the development of their child but I think it's important for us mortals to make sure own own needs are also met. I didn't want to slide into a diet wholly consisting of daytime TV and internet browsing.
With this in mind I had a plan for my paternity leave. First up is this blog, which I'm mostly doing for my own benefit - it's both giving me a concrete intellectual task to complete each week and it's also motivating me to do things that might be worth writing about. I hope others find it interesting but I can guarantee I'm getting more from the process than anyone else.
The second part of my plan was to spend some time on my own education and broadening my skills. Most of this has been career-oriented - I've been attending Big Data meet-ups, have been to a General Assembly class on Cloud deployment technologies, and will be attending the O'Reilly Strata Making Data Work conference this coming week. I've also got ambitions to start a business some day and so have been looking for opportunities to develop skills in that area. With that in mind, I went to a free, Design Council supported, session on "Designing Demand" at the British Library's Business and IP Centre.
I've always believed that if you do interesting things then you'll meet interesting people and that was born out in the networking after the event where I got chatting to Clare Newton, who is an inventor (British Female Inventor of the Year 2001, no less) and the artist behind 'Jump4London', the World's Longest Photograph which stretches to more than a kilometre in length. It was shown in full at the ExCel Arena earlier this year and she's currently trying to get a London sports stadium to show it in full. It's a seriously impressive technical, organisational and artistic feat.
Clare told me she's doing a talk, and showing some of the photograph, at London Spittalfields Market in the coming week - 7pm on Wednesday 3rd & 4th October. Unfortunately I can't make it but it might interest some Geekdads.
Here's a video from the BBC of the photograph being manufactured.