Looking for people to interview about remote work

I’m working on a book about remote work and I’m looking for people who work remotely to interview for it. The book is based on my experiences of working remotely but I’d like to include more varied viewpoints than my own. I’m looking for:

  • freelancers
  • people who work for distributed companies
  • people with children
  • people whose partner doesn’t work remotely (and those who do!)
  • people who have just started working remotely
  • people who have been doing it a long time
  • anyone with insight into their own experience of working remotely and the impact it has had on their life.

Some quotes from the interviews will be used throughout the books. I’m happy to maintain anonymity if you request it.

If you’re interested drop me an email and we can chat about it.

Speakers, sponsors, attendees, and volunteers, gather for WordCamp London 2016 #WCLDN

WordCamp London: A Parent’s Experience

A few weekends back I had the pleasure of attending the third WordCamp London (and the first one that I haven’t organised! ). The organisers this year had a big focus on accessibility including live captioning, hearing loops, a multi-faith room, a lactation room, and a creche. These things are usually an afterthought but they were placed right at the heart of the organisation this year.

At the last WordCamp London I was four months pregnant, and so this time around I had a six month old baby, Benjamin. I knew I wanted to attend the event, but since I’m breastfeeding it’s impossible to leave him for longer than a few hours. Without a creche, my only way of attending the event would have been to have him with me all day, and he’s not yet a big fan of presentations about WordPress. Continue reading →


RIP David Bowie

When I was a teenager we used to get high and listen to Andy Warhol; at nineteen, in my gap year in Canada, one of my go-to minidiscs was Young Americans; in University I started reading Nietzsche and nothing summed his thought up better than Life on Mars; during my a summer in France I discovered Low and wandered the streets of Lyons with it on repeat; the soundtrack to my master’s thesis was the bootleg A Lad in Vain; on a roadtrip with my husband one of the few CDs we had was Station to Station, which we played constantly. So many moments in my life are accompanied by the songs of David Bowie, so many memories are evoked by listening to his albums.

Today, D and I are listening to Blackstar, which is a sore reminder of what we had and what we’ve lost. But it comes at a time of immense change in my life, shortly after the birth of my son. I’ll no doubt listen to it a lot over the coming weeks, as I hang out with B and watch him discover new things and learn new tricks. And one day, when baby B is just a memory, I’ll listen to it again and it will bring back oh-so-vividly, like so many Bowie songs, a happy time in my life.

RIP David Bowie. Thanks for the soundtrack to my life <3


Working on a new book for Repeater Books

Today I signed a book contract with Repeater Books. My book, with the working title Life Lived Remotely, is about how the internet has changed how we work. It’s based on my experiences of working remotely, and the experiences of other people doing it. It collates my thoughts from the past five years, since I took my first tentative steps to working remotely, to today, when I can’t conceive of doing otherwise. It’s a book about how the internet has changed our day-to-day experience of work, about the way that technology has become totally embedded in our lives, and the implications this has for our relationships with others, both online and offline, and with ourselves.

2015-09-17 19.00.23

Welcome Benjamin <3

On Thursday 17th September I produced a human: Benjamin Bartleby Ambrose was born at 18:47 and weighed 7lbs 7oz. He was delivered by emergency caesarean section when, at the very last minute, we found out he was breech. Having a c-section was a very strange and unexpected experience, but I can safely say that it resulted in the loveliest baby in the world.

An Honest Post About the WordPress Community

Everyone is getting honest about the WordPress community. Everyone is telling it like it is, calling the community out for generally being an asshole. What an asshole community (not pointing fingers at anyone of course). What a bunch of pathetic people, what a lot of meanness. You’re a bad community, a nasty community, a naughty community. Isn’t it great that everyone is getting so goddamn honest?

I wanted to play along. So time for me to bring in some hard-hitting, hard-facts. Are you ready for it? Can you handle it?

Here are some of my truths:

A few months ago I quit my job. I didn’t announce it on my blog. I just did it quietly. I was ready to move on, I was happy about it, but I didn’t feel the need to post about it. What I do in my job is my business and besides, I didn’t think that anyone would really care. A few weeks afterwards, I started getting emails, DMs on Twitter, and messages on Slack. “Are you okay?” they asked. These were people that I don’t see very often, but who were genuinely concerned about my wellbeing. They didn’t pry into my reasons, they just wanted to make sure that everything was alright. I didn’t think that anyone would care, but they did, and I was moved by that.

Two weeks ago, myself and seventeen other people pulled off one of the biggest WordPress events in the world. We were eighteen people from different background and cultures, who spoke different languages and who had different ways of doing things. We didn’t always agree, and sometimes things got heated. But when we all arrived in Seville, we greeted one another like old friends and we pulled off an amazing event. Nearly a thousand people joined us for that long weekend; for many of the attendees it was an opportunity to rekindle old relationships, for others was the start of new friendships, and who knows what could come of them?

At the end of 2014, a friend to many of us, Kim Parsell, passed away at her home in Ohio. This was a huge shock to many in the community; it was so deeply sad. There was an outpouring of grief across the project, on Twitter and on Slack and on our public blogs. I received many emails and messages checking on my welfare, asking if I needed any help. I remember one in particular, from someone I greatly admire and respect, saying how shocked he was and how it reminded him of the importance of keeping in touch. I spoke with community members then about the need for being vigilant, to make sure that no one just disappears, to check in to make sure that everything is okay. These lines of communication between us are fragile. We all have lives outside of this online community, lives that we keep to ourselves. It’s easy for someone to just drop off the map, but there are people around who won’t let that happen.

Here’s some more honesty: there are things that piss me off about the community, the snark and the backbiting, and the poisonous people who dominate conversations and make it so that I feel so uncomfortable that I can’t even raise my voice. I don’t particularly like how the project is structured, and I have problems with how it is run. Problems go from root to branch. But, to be honest, I don’t dwell much on those things. What I value is this: the email from New Brunswick that bears the gift of a quilt, the friend who jumps on a plane to spend a weekend, the messages of support and care when suddenly I’m not around as much anymore, the out-of-the-blue emails to keep in touch; the people around the world who support me through the many changes in my life, those who have taken a chance on me and are supporting me in my future; the big get-togethers where I make new friends, and the quiet dinners when I can slip away with old(ish) ones. The constant surprise that there are people who live in more countries than I can count on my fingers and toes who actually give a shit about me.

Write your posts. Wring your hands. Join comment mobs. But the sheer number of posts of late that are overly critical and snarky and angry gives the wrong impression. When all we have are posts about the bad things, it’s easy for the good to get lost. Every community is both, and we should celebrate the good as much, if not more, as we bemoan the bad. Otherwise we misrepresent ourselves, we misrepresent this community, and we misrepresent those that we care about.


Want to Work With Me? Here’s How…

Over the past week I’ve had the great pleasure of hanging out with my friends from the WordPress community at WordCamp Europe. The event was a huge success and I’m really proud of everything that we achieved. One of the things that people kept asking me is what I’m doing next.

Two months ago I left Audrey Capital. I was ready for something new in my life and I didn’t feel that I had any room to grow in my current job. So I decided to move on. This post will answer some of the questions I’ve been getting, and also give you information on how you can work with me.

Are You Reviving Words for WP?

No. I spent 18 months researching and writing a book about WordPress, and for two years before that I wrote content and documentation about WordPress. The niche is still there, but I’m not interested in filling it. I am done writing about WordPress. Besides, I’m not one for moving backwards, only forwards. If you do send me a request for writing WordPress content or documentation the quote will be eye-wateringly large.

That’s not to say I’m giving up writing. I love to write; I’m just done selling my pen. When you write for a living you spend all day writing stuff that other people want you to write. This saps you of any energy for writing things that you actually care about. I don’t want to write marketing content or documentation. Writing for other people eventually becomes soul destroying. I have some writing projects in the works that I genuinely care about and any creative energy I have will be reserved for those.

Organising Events

If you were at WordCamp Europe 2015 then you know that I’m good at organising events. Or if you were at WordCamp Europe 2013, or WordCamp London 2015, or WordCamp London 2013. Or even WordCamp San Francisco 2014 (where I wrangled speakers). Those are some pretty big, and some pretty successful, events.

Outside WP I’ve organised research seminars, workshop series, academic conferences, graduate conferences, public lectures at the British Academy and British Museum, parties at diplomatic embassies, retreats, and (my own personal favourite) my wedding*, which was amazing.

Not only do I enjoy organising events, but I’m good at it. I like tiny details that make people happy. I like getting people together and giving them a memorable experience. I like orchestrating something from the background and watching it coalesce into something awesome. Best of all, since organising events uses a complete different type of energy and attention than writing, it leaves me with mental space to pursue things that I care about outside my working life.

Working with Me

I am available to start work on projects starting in January 2016, so for events to be scheduled from May 2016 onwards. This may seem like a lot of lead time but my schedule is busy with projects that I’ve already started working on (more on that later) and from September -> December I’ll be pretty distracted with the birth of my son (yay!).

If you’d like me to organise your event, let me know now by sending me an email. We can have a chat, and I can make sure I have space in my diary for the early planning stages in January.

Here are some ideas for things I can organise for you:

  • tech conferences of any scale, from 20 people to 2000.
  • company retreats. I’m particularly interested in working with remote companies and communities who want help building their remote culture.
  • community retreats – for getting away and working on something together
  • business retreats – for getting people together to brainstorm on business
  • networking events – for creating connections.
  • community building events – either for broad OS communities like WordPress, niche communities, or for a community associated with your company.
  • workshops with a strong educational focus.
  • hack days, charity hacks,  parties, lectures, seminars.

If you want to work on any of the above with me, or if you have any other ideas, send me an email. I’m available for working on interesting projects, with interesting people (which might just be you 🙂 ).

*That doesn’t mean I’m available to organise weddings. I’m not that crazy.



Open Support: A Panel Discussion

To Firefox: does the contextual help for different platforms ever hinder users? For example, someone may be on a Linux machine but be fixing the Windows system beside them.

When you’re logged in you can grab the instructions for a different platform, but not if you’re not logged in. They did have that option but more people were confused by it than helped by it.

Linux questions – are there local communities that form within it?

There is traditional forum hierarchy but there is a tagging taxonomy for navigation. There are 7 distributions supported but input from 35 distributions.

What are you doing specifically in wikimedia help?

The “oh shit” graph shows a big decline in people contributing. Some of it is a technical issue, some of it is a social issue. If you come to Wikipedia and write an article, often the best thing that happens to you will be that you are ignored. More often than not, someone will come and yell at you for doing it wrong.

They are looking at different solutions. One of these is looking at how they support new contributors. They had a help desk for that but no one was friendly, no one really answered questions. There are 6 different places with 12 different ways to contribute.

Launched Teahouse as a way to get new people involved. People would be nice to you and take you seriously no matter what. They wanted to surface people and show off profiles. They wanted to show off that there was real people. Set this up as an experiement. Does this encourage new people? Does it keep new people?

When you were talking about people who make tutorials and you moved them to a wiki, the rationale for people not wanting to contribute makes sense. Discussion forums provide feedback, there is someone who provides feedback

If forums are like a watercooler, stack exchange is the opposite of that. It’s not for fun.


Is there a way to better feed your Q&A into your documentation?





Slide Background Images

Inspired by Scott publishing the WordCamp London assets, here are the slide backgrounds that I created for WordCamp Europe last year. The theme was vintage book covers. I’ve been meaning to publish them for a while. All of the images are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial. Please link back to this website if you make use of them.

Final slideshow:




































Here I am presenting with them:



Burnout in Free Software Communities

Free software, by its nature, attracts self-driven people who like to be involved in diverse and challenging projects. I know, I am one of those people. I work with those people, I hang out with those people. But there’s a danger, when you’re a self-driven, motivated person, of over-committing to too many projects, and burning out.

Free software projects are places where burnout can happen, moreso than other places. The bazaar style model is fertile ground for burnout. There are always new projects starting up, always exciting things going on. New projects always need volunteers and, with a limited number of contributors available, it’s unlikely that a project will turn down someone who has the requisite skills and who is enthusiastic. This is particularly a danger when a contributor first comes to the project. You want to make a big impact, are super-excited, and think that the best way to become enmeshed in the community is to do everything. Continue reading →