Last night Steve Moore asked me to speak briefly about ideas for a Big Society Commons or Store, which I wrote about here, and here. I said we need space with different levels … information, conversation, exchange, products and services. Maybe it is a mall plus a market, some high tech, some low. It is absolutely not created by government, but by those with something to offer.
Then I started to wonder about the role of the skilled, creative, passionate people at the Open Night. Perhaps one analogy for part of the store is an Apps store, where you can download smart ways of doing things to your mobile phone. Some are free, some you pay for. The fee goes to the developer, with a percentage to the store owner.
It works because there is a framework for the way apps are developed – tight in the case of Apple, more flexible in open sources stores.
So perhaps some of the people at the Open Night were potential developers for the Social Apps Store. If the Network can help to create the store, it will provide a much bigger market for those with social action products and services to sell – or offer free.
The Apps Store offers one metaphor to help us think how we bring good stuff together, what’s in it for the different interests involved, what rules and frameworks we need to make sure things work together.
The idea of a Apps - or is it just App? store - got some attention on Twitter, and among the Network team. It has led to a couple of invitations to discussions in Government, so I have developed it in more detail over here on the wiki.
As I explain there, although I'm using a mobile phone app store as an analogy, the content should not be just tech. For example, I really like the offline Social Spaces that Tessy Britton and collaborators will be launching this autumn through the Travelling Pantry.
There's lots of possible threads for discussion on Big Society ... so this is just an open invitation to suggest some that you might wish to follow here.
I'm hoping I'll continue to do some work with the Network, so I can put some effort into providing support by updating on what's happening. Just to provide some balance, it would be great to have some other facilitator/reporters whether enthusiastic or sceptical.
Anyone up for that? Key issues? Questions?
Here's something on social media Surgeries as part of this discussion. With full acknowledgements to Nick Booth, progenitor, and inspiration.
In some ways, I think Social Media Surgeries are a pure manifestation of the Big Society concept. The original idea from Nick Booth was truly inspirational, and I have been fortunate, through the Digital 20/20 programme, funded by Yorkshire Forward, to be able to take it on and roll it out in nearly all the main cities and towns in Yorkshire now. We have managed to persuade people, from a variety of backgrounds, with social media knowledge, to pass on their skills and knowledge to people who will make good use of it in local communities and support organisations. The main reward they get, is a sense of well-being at having done a good deed, and, time and again, the “Surgeons” have told me how good it makes them feel. The Surgeries we have established in Yorkshire have effectively become support mechanisms and networking opportunities for the Surgeons, as much as they have been of assistance to the “Patients”. And, not only do we get the “Surgeons” for free, we always manage to get the venues, and often refreshments too, for free.
I think we can make Social Media Surgeries centrepieces of the Big Society approach. They are, in themselves, demonstrators of the Big Society, as well as being sources of knowledge, skills, expertise and inspiration for the individuals and organisations who will develop Big Society initiatives. Social Media will be vital in connecting people together, providing them with opportunities to collaborate, and amplifying the results of their collaborations. It will allow them to do more with less, gain access to sources of advice and support for doing things differently, and telling the stories of their successes. In this context, I don’t think it is too fanciful to say that the establishment of a social media surgery in an area can be a catalyst for a new forms of community development. I would certainly like to look for resources to kick start social media surgeries in the four Big Society pilot areas. I know Nick has been doing some of this stuff working with Neighbourhood Managers in Birmingham, and I amy talking to a local authority in Yorkshire about an approach which takes Social Media Surgeries into neighbourhoods and uses them to connect people together.
I hope this is useful – I suppose what I am saying is that – in Social Media Surgeries, we could see a manifestation of the exhortation to “be the change you want to see”.
Sorry about that last bit, it was quite late when I wrote it!