Social by Social

A community around using social tech for social impact


Social App Store

Discussion on how to develop an online store of tech-supported methods for local social action

Members: 32
Latest Activity: Jul 12, 2011

Designing a Social App Store

This is a temporary home for those interested in practical action to take forward discussions started in a SocialbySocial forum. Once we have the beginnings of a Store, we can move aross.
As explained there, the idea of a Social App Store originated in meetings organised by the Big Society Network, and then at the Big Society in the North launch event. Background here on the network, where I'm working part time a social innovation reporter.
David Wilcox

Discussion Forum

What app would you include in a Social App Store? 5 Replies

I've been given a quick mission1. To identify the top 100 civic / social / environmental business models that are worthscaling around the UK across a multitude of ‘sectors’ (food, energy,…Continue

Tags: models, business, apps, social

Started by Josef Davies-Coates. Last reply by David Wilcox Jul 12, 2011.

Updates on development of Social App Store 9 Replies

I'll use this discussion thread to add updates on the work that I'm doing on the Store, and hope that others will too. The aim is to make this a collaborative process, so I'm hoping ideas and…Continue

Tags: updates, socialappstore

Started by David Wilcox. Last reply by David Wilcox Sep 1, 2010.

What's your interest in the Store? 9 Replies

Thanks everyone who posted in the original forum. I hope you will recap here your ideas and interests if necessary. In…Continue

Started by David Wilcox. Last reply by David Wilcox Aug 23, 2010.

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Comment by Anne McCrossan on August 11, 2010 at 9:01
Hi Clare, thank you so much for all of this, it's great. I agree with you about 1) 2) and 3) the audience demographics segments are very useful and the 'App' word is getting bandied about a fair bit so for everyone's sake it would be a good idea to somewhere reference what we mean so we're clear and have a consistent take.

It would be great to connect and speak, I'll give you a call later if I may. Thank you for that. Best, Anne
Comment by David Wilcox on August 11, 2010 at 8:52
Clare - many thanks for sharing your ideas - and really good points. On my way out and will catch up with discussion later. I think we have two interwoven ideas here ... the Big store Anne has described as a metaphor, possible framework... and the small app store we have discussed around social media.
Comment by Clare MacKenzie on August 11, 2010 at 8:46
My first comment which is re-iterated in my thoughts below, are we need to be;

a) very careful of using terminology in the correct way. Are we all clear on what an 'app' actually is in terms of the online world, social media and smartphones?
b) One of my companies can provide technology development for some of the ideas but none of this will be able to be done entirely for free, if you can find someone then either it will be a poor job or as and when they can get it done
c) Even social enterprises need to be run as businesses models if they are to succeed, if nothing else for structure
d) There are a lot of thoughts, ideas and opinions and we will be at risk of a lot of talk and not a lot of doing, which is true of any project when there are a lot of contributors, so I think at some point clear roles and contributors will need to be defined to actually physically make things happen, and we need to decide a starting point, which needs to be kept simple. The best ideas always are.

These were my thoughts I sent to David and John;

Social Media Store – The Big Society in the North

Scope of Ideas

There are many different ideas of what this could be and I think it is very important to start with something simple.

Stage 1)

Initially I think it would be good to start with providing an area on a website that offers advice from varying levels of expertise to citizens, communities and voluntary sectors.

Advice on social media tools with links to those tools
Suggested social media tools for different activities
Local, free events that can be attended
Advisors you can touch base with online, by the phone and in person

Stage 2)

We provide an area where applications can be downloaded, bought or stored, by application I mean twitter, evernote, remember the milk, spotify etc. You have to have access to the application on your phone or computer to use it.

We could use existing scenarios within organizations or case studies where they used different types of applications to benefit their business and bring it into real life examples that people can relate to and use in their own organisation or community

Stage 3)

We may identify opportunities where people would like their own applications developed, we could recommend or work with ‘preferred’ and ‘reputable suppliers’ or ask developers to donate a certain amount of time per month to a charitable / voluntary cause.

For the last two stages I have access to development and technology.


Voluntary Sectors
Urban Regen Areas

Business Community

Market Research

I think we need to set up an initial meeting and each identify some contacts in the above audiences, then contact them to discuss what would actually be useful to them in their local networks and communities. It might be worth doing this in the format of an eshot / online questionnaire, face to face and via the phone to get a true cross section and including people who have less access to computers or smartphones.

I think we could also utilise John Popham’s supermarket idea to do this as well and libraries.

Identify Gaps

This video is on commoncraft and is American, I think it is still a bit too obtuse, we could use something similar but these things are easy to do. We could even run a competition to see who can create a video, to be understood by all, to explain social media, what it is and how it can be used by anyone and not just in the business community.

Additional Ideas

A lady in America decided there was not enough contact between different generations. I think we could adopt some of this for BSITN, for encouraging young people to train older people online and help to give them a social life.

If they don’t have access to a computer we could hold them at local libraries or ask business centres to provide access to groups once a month.

Anne, my mobile number is on my email signature if you wanted to give me a call.
Comment by Anne McCrossan on August 11, 2010 at 8:44
Hi Paul, and Phil, thank you for commenting on this.

Phil, the point about 'quality control' does need a bit of unpacking and essentially is there to make the most of knowledge sharing/lessons learned.My sense is that this is an inevitable part of a successful barnraising process for 'The Big Society Store' and so guidance and curation has a part to play.

The reason for including it is that there will be an iterative way of reducing 'the long way round' paths to invention as we collectively get better and better at this, that this way we can seed inspiration and encouragement within communities and that we can help initiatives get viable, and maybe more self-financing, more easily, more of the time.

I've done a lot on user-centric business models and have mentioned previously was one of the collaborating authors of Business Model Generation in 2008, which is about how service and product users and developers can develop viable business models collaboratively as business thinking 2.0. I've also been leading an Open Source Economics group with Seth Godin in his private online business development and marketing community for the last two years, and it's a bit of a pet subject.

Speaking personally I believe that business modeling does have a part to play so people can participate and still eat!... but it does take new ways of thinking to get the right balance to create win:win situations for all involved. I'm keen to get past the 'participation and volunteering must be for free' issue which could potentially fairly large roadblock to successful adoption in this.

Thanks for winkling that stuff out of me! I agree the converts interest into participation has more distance to run and will work on that also.

Paul, you raise a very important consideration about 'ownership', again possibly as part of a user-centric shift. The analogy I'd make in store terms is perhaps one about branding - are these 'own label' goods for example? Can the categories developed indicate the provenance about where initiatives come from and sit with? How do local crowd-sourced initiatives in e.g. Health (and peer to peer care is a huge growth area at the moment) fit in with local existing infrastructures?

You raise some very salient points, and perhaps the area of interfaces is one facet of how this develops that deserves its own debate. I'd welcome more of your thinking on this and am grateful for the input - thanks both.
Comment by Phil Green on August 11, 2010 at 8:05
Hi Anne, impressive document! A couple of phrases maybe I don't understand, but which concern me: "It ...can put quality standards in place." (p6) and "Business modeling enables quality control and the option to develop financially viable initiatives and applications" (p.11) Can see this if financially viable is the top objective, but seems old fashioned business thinking (if that's all there is) not really Big Society (?) (Is business part of, and so dependent on wider society, or is Big Society just a subset of business?) Goes back to earlier points have tried to make re inclusion and letting / enabling quality control as much as anything else develop naturally via co-production, and innovation not being discouraged by high (or foreign seeming 'cause not co-produced) entry barriers. Sorry if misunderstanding!

eg what might take it on a bit is something like "Converts interest into participation" (p9), specifically how, needs more, at least its own page, maybe its own whole document?
Comment by Paul Nash on August 11, 2010 at 7:54
I like the developing schematic, very much and think it's on the right lines. I'm not sure about the Local service initiatives and applications layer. while I accept from a user perspective it doesn't matter where these services sit (nor should it) in reality there needs to be interfaces and as I understand it, Housing, Employment and Transport now sit in the LEP, Education sits as part of the Local Authority, Health sits with GPs and Primary Care Trusts and Environment is dotted about everywhere. Of course, there may be a view that it doesn't matter and that the activity below that can exist in isolation as a gap filler but I'm not so sure. In the real world the Local Service Initiatives and Applications will also be a commissioning layer (there will be some money), it will also be a policy layer (hopefully informed and intelligent) and to me that seems to indicate a permeable membrane that needs to exist right where the boundary to the LSI&A is. In systems terms, are all of the components are there, and I accept that this is work in progress, and has the system boundary been defined in the right place. If so, what are the interfaces?
Comment by Anne McCrossan on August 11, 2010 at 7:32
John hi, I've added your proposal into the schematic here. What we are creating is an emerging way of developing a 'full' store format that, as well as doing the job of taking Big Society initiatives and elements to market, also works to develop latent local interest into engagement and participation in terms of browsing, shopping and decision-making modes.

I can't help but think that if we could mobilize around these principles there is the possibility of creating a wide-ranging set of dynamic local conversations that could engage, delight and inspire people.

Just as stores put their best offers at the front of the store, for example, each local area could highlight as their most exciting and innovative initiatives that add something new to the community could do the same and rotate this so there is an incentive for continuous development. The noticeboard concept is a great browsing area that compliments information giving and problem solving in advice giving and surgery areas and follows converted interest with ideas about how local people can find each other and connect on a practical level.

Here's the developed version. Please let me know what you think! Cheers

A Schematic for The Big Societyv2.pdf
Comment by Anne McCrossan on August 11, 2010 at 7:04
Hi John, I had a look at the other day and this could be incorporated too, as part of the (metaphorical) marketplace category. Thanks for mentioning it in this context - good idea!
Comment by John Popham on August 11, 2010 at 6:55
Very useful post Anne

I have been developing a proposal for Community Noticeboards which I hope might go some way towards engaging people beyond the "1%ers". The discussion is here
Comment by Anne McCrossan on August 11, 2010 at 0:34
Nick hi, thanks for the shopping list, it's a very useful focus.

Something that I'd also like to throw into the mix as it's potentially a thorny issue, is how to create an interest in developing The Big Society that goes beyond the '1% ers' that are perhaps already inclined to get involved.

How can we develop The Big Society in a way that people can readily make sense of, and that communicates what The Big Society is capable of encompassing, offering and being for local communities (whether real or metaphorical) as a resource for meeting local needs?

The Big Society Store can be a piece of retail estate, or a wireframe, both, or just a metaphor that's easily understood. It's value in all cases is that it's a readily accessible means of sense-making that can encourage critical mass without which local initiatives may not be able to create a cumulative effect.

Store shopping's also a handy way of focusing on the kind of behaviours that we probably ought to be taking seriously as part of buying, or creating buy-in, to this. How people navigate their way to making complex purchase and participation decisions has always been of terrific fascination to me and isn't something to be taken lightly.

Anyway, by way of stimulating the conversation I've posted a few slides that illustrate how we could apply the store metaphor as an overarching device for containing local initiatives wherever they happen to be. The Big Society Store can encompass area by area variation and also be a common and trusted point of local connection and involvement.

This could apply to your MySquareMile idea too Nick; the point is category management and ranging using store principles could help with the sense-making that can turn The Big Society into a comprehensible framework. There are also a few pertinent questions around viability and business modeling that can help shape ideas so that they can meet real needs and be sustainably maintained. A Schematic for The Big Society.pdf

If you have anything to add or any comments on this it would be great to have your input, thanks

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