Making Digital

Ever since I was a teenager teaching myself to code I've been excited by the way in which computers put the user in control of their experience like no other technology - except maybe the car, in its way - has ever done before. Building digital products is all about enabling the user, making them more powerful, connecting them with other users. In a way digital products are prosthetics whose aim is to be as invisible and transparent as possible, and allow the user to think about other users or the thing they want to think about without thinking about the interface at all.

When I started in the industry the internet was really at its infancy, especially here in the UK, and I began as an evangelist for it, working at Wired magazine, trying to spread the word and get people up to speed with what was coming and how it was going to change the world. After that I moved to the BBC and spent a while designing a TV and internet drama - The Block - that used what I realise now was an early version of social media in order to put the audience in control of the show.

Then I shifted to the web team at the Telegraph Media Group, where I built a whole range of interactive digital products, starting out with quite small online planners and dynamic maps and moving up, first, to overhaul the video proposition, and then to run a complete vertical that included a newspaper, tablet, web and social strands serving British expats in 130 different countries. On the digital side the most exciting part of this was building something called the Expat Directory, a social media map I conceived to allow these users to pin and connect their businesses, giving them a real sense of the global community of which they were a part.

But video still really fired my imagination, and in the end I left the Telegraph to join a small company that had some proprietary tech for adding interactive experiences to the video player, so you could interact with web functionality without leaving the player itself, which again was all about giving the user that seamless experience mentioned above. I ended up running that company and developing it into a proper SAAS platform, in which all the features we built could be configured by subscribers.

Since that company was sold I've been working with two doctors to build an app that will healthcare comms out of the hands of hospital IT procurement managers and put it into the hands of individual doctors and nurses. Hospify has ambitions to be the WhatsApp of healthcare, a non-trivial problem because of the significant legislative and data compliance issues involved in handling comms in this area.

As you can see from other areas of my website between times I've also written several books, mostly fictions inspired by or about technology - along with a great deal of technology journalism. Writing is passion of mine and I see it as complementary to my digital product management work. Writing fiction is all about putting yourself in the heads of other people, both your characters and your readers - and product management is all about putting yourselves in the heads of both your team and your users. So for me the two things are intrinsically connected and mutual beneficial.