Social by Social

A community around using social tech for social impact

What do you want to talk about on September 21?

Our workshop is shaping up as a great opportunity to hear about the plans of government and national programmes to support local online communities and sites - and to explore the practicalities of setting up and running them. We'll be looking at what social technology means for local activists, local government, and local media - and how to blend new stuff with the rich mix of existing communications and relationships in any area.

Our host from the Department for Communities and Local Government, Antonio Irranca, is on holiday until next week, so David Wilcox and I have develop a loose framework which we hope you will help fill out. The idea is for the three hours to be a mix of short presentations, and conversation starters, with most of the agenda set by those attending. It's a chance to try the unconferencing format that's increasingly popular when social media types meet face-to-face. (If you aren't familiar with this, don't worry. No embarrassing games, minimum Powerpoint, lots of chance to chat to the people who interest you).

We hope some collaborations will emerge, but first conversations -> relationships -> trust -> interactions

So - how about this:

1. Welcome, introductions and networking
2. An update from Government - what's happening, what's planned within DCLG
3. The national programmes - Talk About Local, Community Voices, Local 2.0 and others
4. Social innovation supported by Government - Ministry of Justice, Innovation Fund
5. Topics that you suggest. Here's some to throw into the pot ... what do you think? what would you add?
  • what's happening in local government. IDeA have big plans on social media and knowledge sharing programme; and who's who related to local community work
  • local media - citizen journalism, community reporters. Maybe something from Manchester and Birmingham?
  • social spaces - how to blend online and face-to-face. Tessy Britton has a great project here
  • what are the skills and roles needed. I really like Steph Gray's suggestions on digital engagement
  • the Secretary of State is keen on democratic renewal ... but what does it mean, and what part might local social tech play
  • resources for local activists and others - how we might use/remix content from Social by Social and other places
The format here will be someone pitches a topic and we break into groups, with the chance to repitch/remix for a second round

6. Review how useful the workshop has been and any follow through.

There's no pre-determined agenda on next steps. If this Ning network is useful, we'll keep it going. If other events seem a good idea, let's see who might host next time. If this get-together is enough, that's fine.

What would you like to hear about - or discussion might you lead?

I hope that we can get some content up online before the event, particularly on 2, 3, 4, so that presentations can be 10 minutes or less.

So, dive in! Add your thoughts here about items you'd like to discuss, questions you'd like addressed, and so on - and see you soon!

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Comment by mark walker on September 20, 2009 at 14:34
Hey Dave [B]

I think you're right to ask about the purpose of this stuff and to question the focus on technology and media rather than outcomes and social change. Well-spotted and well said.

It encouraged me to post about my concerns, which are based on my experience of a similar wave of activity when web. 0.1 came along in 1996/7.

Whatever the appropriateness of the big pictures being painted [eg get communities online, use social media to start listening, involve service users, etc] there is a danger that it will largely be the consultants, researchers, suppliers and service providers who benefit from the 'sale' of those messages. And conversely that it will be the people who drive social inclusion policies who will be dazzled by this sexy new thing and be persuaded that a radical new way of doing things is what we need.

Whilst benefiting enormously from what I learn from the social media experts I'm pinning my hopes for social change on the involvement of Community Development Foundation, CLG and others for whom social inclusion is the day job. I hope they get a sense that they need to concentarte on what works in social inclusion, and adapt these tools to fit their needs.

I don't begrudge the Twitterati the right to making a living or to have their voice heard - and I must be clear that I think that much of what they say makes a great deal of sense. However they/we are smart people and have the means, skills, connections and political reach to amplify their voice and create a groundswell of activity.

That's made even easier by this new online stuff which can quickly create the impression that you're missing out on a VERY IMPORTANT THING, when in fact you're listening to people with similar views and experiences agreeing with each other ["I feel empowered by Twitter" "So do I" "Great. Let's ask for some money to empower some poor people" "Hey, great idea"]

I just hope that we can measure the impact of the collective energy and expertise represented in the room tomorrow by real social change in months and years to come, not workshops organised and tweets twittered.

I guess I'll know more about fair I'm being in a few months. Firstly we can see who says what tomorrow. How they describe their interest and where it leads. Then we'll have a bit of time to see who thinks what in coming weeks. The twitter crew may pick out core themes, but will we be able to discern change in the big departments and community development networks? Will they have their interest pricked and start asking for more help to understand these new tools?

And then at some point in the future we'll hopefully see who does what to change the way things work, to use these tools to tackle poverty or drive up the quality of services.

Comment by Paul James Merrett on September 18, 2009 at 12:55
Given my role in the support and development of the CLG Timely Information for Citizens project will be interested in supporting this initiative via an on-line involvement on the day
Comment by Paul James Merrett on September 18, 2009 at 12:55
Given my role in the support and development of the CLG Timely Information for Citizens project will be interested in supporting this initiative via an on-line involvement on the day
Comment by Paul Webster on September 17, 2009 at 20:12
Dave, its a well worn phrase, but one I like to use.
"A communitiy using technology efficiently enables them to to do things better and with that addressed leaves them to be more effective and able to do better things".

We do need to look at the long term, at how communities can be more effective, but along the way there are many steps to tick off, some of them on Tim's list of 50, but others around how community organisations get the nuts and bolts if basic tech right first. Thats where I'm interested, support for the supporter organisations, both in physical hardware (and broadband infrastructure) and in training and mentoring on software they use and digital skills they need.

What do others think?
Comment by David Wilcox on September 16, 2009 at 17:35
Dave - agreed, time to get beyond the tools. As Sam McLean says over here public participation hasn't generally provided the changes we need. Can social media help promote shifts of attitude ... shift of powers?
Comment by Dave Briggs on September 16, 2009 at 17:08
I think some kind of discussion around the actual ambition with all this activity. I've been thinking lately that social media stuff, whether by government, or by communities is a means to an end and not an end in itself. This is, I am aware, not exactly a staggering insight. But if we have an idea of what it is we are actually trying to achieve, it might help focus on what is really required in the long term.

I'd say that what we are really looking for from government, whether central or local, is improvement - in other words, doing stuff better. That comes through change and innovation, which is always hampered by fear of risk and fear of failure.

Where the new tools are really interesting is not necessarily just in the technology, but the attitude shift they bring with them: issues like: no longer requiring permission to publish, the sharing of information and data assets, the admission on the part of big organisations that they don't necessarily know all the answers.

If a council starts blogging, great; or if a local community gets organised around an online network, fabulous. But where we want to get to, eventually, is a healthier relationship between government and governed, where service users have a say in service design; where social enterprises deliver services on behalf of government because they are better placed to do it; where self organised citizens just get on with things for themselves. I think there is a danger that some organisations feel that as long as they have a Twitter account, they have the bases covered. That clearly isn't the case, and the change we need (ahem) is bigger than that.
Comment by Amy Sample Ward on September 15, 2009 at 10:55
That's great, Ingrid - thanks!
Comment by Ingrid Koehler on September 15, 2009 at 10:31
Happy to share what we're up to and get feedback about how we can help.
Comment by Amy Sample Ward on September 14, 2009 at 17:14
Iris - I think it would be terrific if you could share some of the information and learnings from your examinations of the digitial inclusion landscape! I think that after you've shared, we'll naturally want to discuss any tests, evaluations, etc. that go along with it.
Comment by Iris Lapinski on September 14, 2009 at 17:12
Amy, since I just finished the research for CDI about the digital inclusion landscape and oprtions for new players to get involved going I would be happy to share this at the event. For some background see: I would love to find out at the workshop if somebody has already been running tests around smartphones...

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