This isn't really a tech issue ... but we do need social technology to help.
Although there's a lot to disagree about in the Big Society approach - is it a smokescreen for cuts etc - the one area people do seem to agree on is the opportunity to support local social action more effectively and innovatively. That may be by helping community organisers learn from each others, get resources and use social technology; re-work local cross sector alliances and partnerships; and join up the disparate conversations about these topics that are lifting off in different places.
So we need better networking - something that economist Paul Ormerod says should be at the heart of policy making in future anyway. Rose Beynon gives a good summary
of his recent pamphlet here.
The problem - and the opportunity - as I wrote here
is there is no central plan for Big Society, and no one is in charge. Big Society Network
(BSN), with whom I have been working as social reporter, want to promote networking but aren't setting up networking systems until they launch Your Square Mile
So if we want to network, we have to do it for themselves ... which is just what Big Society in the North have done, using a free system
that has now attracted some 180 members. More here
on their launch event.
As I've noted in the intro to this group, representatives of a wide range of community and voluntary sector networks came together for a briefing from Steve Moore on the events BSN is planning this autumn. At the end of the event there was general interest in the idea of continuing conversations online, and opening this up to others.
It would have been technically pretty easy to set up something like the BS in the North system, or the one we are on here. But in the bottom-up, collaborative spirit of Big Society (as we hope it will be), it seems more appropriate to explore first just what's needed, and the options for setting it up.
Just for starters ... my sense is that we need something that is a neutral, common space which can link easily to other online spaces and conversations; can connect with reports of events; and helps people join up face-to-face as well as online. Not something aiming to be big, but smart.
I'm putting up this first forum post so we have something to point to when inviting people into the group. I hope we can then start discussing what's the need ... what's the problem we are trying to solve ... before jumping to any tech solutions.
At heart this is about forming relations, starting conversations, and using whatever tech is appropriate blended in with face-to-face events, phone calls and other older ways of networking.
Do jump in with a comment ... although it's probably best to hold back until we have a few more people in group. Then it doesn't feel as if the party has started without you.