I can’t do a social media toolkit, but Obama can! (Sort of…)

Growl, possibly the only reason he is President of the US and I am not… apart from… (no OK)

Oh this is so hard to say, but Twitter has come up trumps again. The truly remarkable Oli Barrett found this gem.

It is a very wordy document, but do read it, just the headings will do if you know what you are talking about. I am interested most in how this success story can be moved into all online public engagement.

There is a very small but growing bunch of people who work in the public sector over here who have been trying to harness and do exactly what Obama has done: not for campaigning purposes, but for online engagement, digital democracy (although it is often for free and in our own time to be honest).

Hopefully very soon Government here in the UK will step up to the plate and put some serious time, money and resource into utilising the opportunity offered by social media, which I know has become a swear word, even amongst my most beloved. (And by time money and resource, I don’t mean taxing the public purse further, I mean re-directing the bleed).

I am not a geek, nor am I particularly talented at policy-making – but what I do know is how government works, big G government: as in the governing party, as well as the mighty civil service. And what I am so sure of, is that the three powers that run this country:

  • citizens
  • the Labour Party (do I need to date this post?)
  • the civil service

… must pay serious heed to how everyone is learning now. Behaviour is being influenced in a way never before seen; it is simple, it is the power of community.

I have no real idea how best to harness this, but I will give it a damn good try, but I know for certain that it does not depend on the right content management system.

The digital ‘me’ culture is not such a bad thing, you know: we start to think in Facebook/twitter updates, but it is exactly this that enables us to share our lives, and to say ‘I am willing to reduce my hours/days of work to ensure that my neighbour can bring in an income to support their family’. This is something referred to in Obama’s speech:

It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours.

I know that I have become far more conscious of my societal obligations since I started engaging in online communities. Why? Because it is real. Reality plays a huge part in this online revolution, I am not going to go down the path of fictitious reality as we can generally spot and ignore those, but each of our friends are more real to us – and so we feel an affinity and turn towards our governers to see what they are doing, how are they responding to our concerns?

Let’s see how this plays out, what worries me is that the opportunity here will be swallowed up by a fear of the unknown, and a need to be ‘stakeholder managed’ through change, which is ridiculous – we can all keep up, but can someone have the guts to show the way? Because to be honest, if someone doesn’t I can see the potential for digital civil war – and the senior civil servants, the Ministers and departments will have no idea how to address or indeed manage it; and they won’t have the time to write the project initiation document (PID).

Global entrepreneurship week has started

I have reluctantly been keeping a lazy eye on Twitter to just catch some of the flavour of what is happening. You might want to as well, follow enterpriseweek.

If you are not aware of GEW, here is a bit of blurb:

What is Enterprise Week?

Enterprise Week (17-23 November 2008), part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, is a national celebration of enterprise with thousands of events and activities happening across the UK. Last year there were over 5,000 events and more than half a million people took part!

Over 2,000 organisations run events and activities during the week to encourage people to have ideas and make them happen. This can be by starting up a new business or social enterprise, or by having ideas and making them happen in the workplace.

If you have any questions about Enterprise Week, check out our FAQs page.

What is Global Entrepreneurship week?

In 2008, Enterprise Week will be part of the first ever Global Entrepreneurship Week. It’s a worldwide celebration of enterprise, which aims to unleash young people’s enterprising ideas and address some of society’s biggest issues, from poverty reduction through to climate change. More than 70 countries are currently signed up to run their very own versions of Enterprise Week, all coming under the banner of Global Entrepreneurship Week!

As I said before, I believe that unless you have all day to watch what is going on or experience it first hand, you will quickly be lost in the energy and ideas whizzing about the place (through a groaning website). I will keep up through checking twitter every now and again, but what I am looking forward to is the output.

Please, Oli, bless us with brilliantly served up sectoral synopsis 🙂

Good luck everyone, and if you are involved, or can get involved, have a wonderful time and tell us all about it!

Oli is BACK!! Are you ready for Global Entrepreneurship Week?

Oli Barrett is back from a whistle-stop tour of the world, invigorating the great and the good with enthusiasm for Global Entrepreneurship week. (I am very proud and showy offy about knowing Oli). Here is his very entertaining blog about his trip http://unleashingideas.org/blog/

When is Global Entrepreneurship week?

November 17 – 23, 2008

What is Global Entrepreneurship week?

Countries all around the world are joining together to carry the banner of Global Entrepreneurship Week, an initiative aimed at young people everywhere. During the week of November 17 – 23, 2008, partner organizations will conduct a range of activities – from simple speeches to comprehensive competitions – designed to inspire, connect, inform, mentor and engage the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The Week is a worldwide initiative that is linking all those willing to embrace it. Host organizations in each participating country are recruiting partners and coordinating related activities. The exact type of these activities, whether online or face-to-face, is limited only by the imaginations of the partners and the participants. And while a list of suggested activities such as invention competitions, entrepreneurship film festivals, networking events, school-based activities, and local entrepreneurship summits – will be available on the website, the actual activities conducted by partners will vary greatly.

What I think

I think that this is exciting, WAY too big for a website, even the static one now trying to explain what is planned is too big for me to comprehend. It is one of those ‘happenings’ that should just be ‘unleashed’ as they so rightly put it, and then people look at how to communicate what has been learned and what has come out of it.

I would like to see the output as streams of information aimed at global sectors: government, IT, entrepreneurs, private corporations, dog breeders… whatever; so that I can come back and choose a category that interests me, and then see what has happened, or been discussed – globally – within my area/s of interest. (I secretly really hope they do this :))

Anyhoo, if you want to get involved, do – otherwise, like me, let’s wait and see what happens.

Exciting stuff, not to be ignored.

Friday funnies – probably more amusing if you know Oli Barrett

Woke up this morning to a sea of fog, cold and feeling end-of-weeky. On Fridays I try to catch up with Oli’s speed networking around the globe – in preparation for Global Entrepreneurship Week – on his blog he posts videos and musings from his recent capers and it is fascinating and usually inspiring to read.

With this in mind I rather blearily watched and read through a few of his latest posts, then he did this to me.

Really pant-wettingly briliant way to start a Friday – shocking Spanish with terrribly English pronunciation and occasionally… er terribly English English. Oli does find it equally amusing and explains how come he happened to be in this position here.

Enjoy, happy weekends, all.

2gether08: half-way mark quickie

Steve Moore has triumphed in his delivery of the long-awaited 2gether08 festival (formerly known as 4Good). Find out all about it here http://2gether08.com/

We have just come to end of day one, and I have come home (to see my children and also to recoup – I am shattered!). Looking forward to tomorrow, but sorry that some of the great people I met today will not be there tomorrow, hey ho…

The sessions were all well-received, well the one(s) I went to (I made a frog out of my Moo card, my dog just ate it), and at one point I stumbled on a conversation about the constitution – whilst hunting down a charger for my phone – and was asked whether I fancied being crowned Queen… well der (as Jess would say!).

But what is really good, (and where the energy and collaboration is really taking place), is what is happening outside of these sessions. The festival atmosphere really works: great minds, superb minds, are communing with those who are passionate about stuff (not that one cannot exist without the other but you know what I mean). The air is electric, everyone is levelled, everyone is open and some really cool bumph (cannot say ‘stuff’ again) is happening. Goodness knows if any of it will result in anything, hopefully it will – there is an awful lot of ‘OMG if only I knew you earlier’ going on.

In light of that, here are some of the people I would love to share with you:

Nicest new meet: Euan Semple

Most interesting/challenging new meet: David Barrie

Oddest new meet (sorry Andrew, but I think you will concur): Andrew Mather either Aurora is the most exciting thing to happen to the web, or it is not. Whatever it is, it was refreshing and fascinating to challenge the whole precedent of Web1. His data-information interrogation technology COULD (at very little cost and even less effort) revolutionise the way you and I search, discover and share information. I hope I have persuaded him to come back tomorrow and I encourage any of you coming, to hunt him down and have a look. I am not clever enough to pick it apart or even explain it, but an example of the technology in practice is here: www.heart-of-london.com (Ed aside: Govvy people, if you are reading this, I think you should have a chat, with a view to how government data is offered up) Andrew can be contacted at andrewdotmatheratbalaenadotcom

(H/T as ever to Oli Barrett – you have to love the man)

I have to give you a little bit of the session Mitch Sava ran on e-government, here is the gumph:

We-Gov: How the Government Should Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Web. An interactive discussion on public engagement in government and public policy led by Mitch Sava, Chief Wonk at polyWonk and Dominic Campbell, Director of FutureGov Consulting. What are the barriers and motivations to broader, meaningful participation of the public in co-creating and delivering public policy and how can social media help? With Douglas Carswell MP, author Direct Democracy; Richard Wilson, Director of Involve; James Crabtree, Head of Public Services at IPPR; Marks Earls, author of Herd: how to change mass behaviour by harnessing our true nature.

It was held in the theatre and filmed, so do go and watch it when it is live. It was great, it was all about the practicality of democracy in the digital/collaboration age; the kind of debate that enthralls me – and one to which I genuinely do not know the answer.

I will not go into detail, mainly because I am still digesting it myself, but here are some notes I took that might pique your curiosity too:

  • Collaboration is all a bit Ikea: a company took bits of wood and random technologists/artists/tradespeople and mashed them all up, created products, called them bizarre names, then trained their target market to do the hard work! Packing, delivering, building: as one chap pointed out: turned the world into a nation of amateur carpenters. So it is with ‘collaboration’, it depends on the willingness of the people to do the hard work. In policy or government issues: can this really work? Where is the bargain? Where is the ‘win’?
  • Power of Internet in policy generation – forcing accountability
  • Digital engagement (aka talking) needs to sit with the policy people – not comms, comms is marketing (:)) In this age there is no excuse to outsource democracy (it’s complicated)
  • There is a growing need for State action on climate change, all of this fluffy collaboration is not working, people need to radically change their behaviour and, quite frankly, the only way this is going to happen is if it is mandated
  • I have taken a note down that the Power of Information people have a new website out, it is here, I have not had a chance to properly have a look, but go play: http://www.showusabetterway.com/ If any of the POI gang are reading this, can you do a bit of Google optimisation? I only found the url through Tom Watson’s blog
  • What happens on open collaboration when people disagree? It can be creative, but inevitably someone will lose – in the policy collaboration space, how can this really work? (This one in particular is leading to all sorts of debate in my head).
  • Collaboration is great, but how do we encourage the general, disenchanted populus to feel that their contribution will be 1. worth the effort and 2. deliver the opportunity to shape our own communities? Not in any radical way necessarily, but what about bringing police-ing back to community level – reducing the centralisation of services and handing some of the power back to the Town Halls and local community? (Oh this one was big… I will write more on this I think!)

Looking forward to tomorrow.

PS If you think this is all b*ll*cks and nothing will happen in the public sector, meet our latest ‘e-Minister’ Tom Watson MP. He blogs here: http://www.tom-watson.co.uk/?p=2078 Regardless of party political affiliation (I am Buddhist in this regard) the guy we have right now is the one who really gets this stuff. Let’s make hay whilst the sun is shining


The problem with social media – there’s no cash to be made… so what?!!

So much has come from the last GovBarCamp in the UK public sector, believe you me – blimey, even DJ Collins from Google came to the last Heads of ecomms meeting. However, if we are to do it again – we need to do it better. The reasons I heard for why some people did not turn up were:

  • I did not know about it
  • It was a weekend and I could not leave the family

The first problem is easily solved, let’s give it a longer lead and a greater audience. The second is also exciting, bring the family. As I have shown here, people were interested in what my daughter had to say. This may not be appropriate for all of our proteges, they may be too young, our partners not so keen, but this is not insurmountable.

The problem with social media is that there is no money to be made, so people tend to off-set the value of their time spent at events against time with family or friends. But this then counts out some realy cool people that we know about – and some that we might not.

I propose a reconvene of the last BarCamp, in say October/November – somewhere where children and partners can come too and join in. A festival – with toilets.

Hopefully I will generate a small group of willing people here to help me move this on from a musing to a happening – but I think it has legs.

Let’s not forget that the kids we have are the future users of anything we try to change, and our other halves have more than a vested interest in what we are doing.

If we cannot make cash, let’s create a movement for change.

A professional poker player, a vicar and a porn merchant :)

Just another evening in Adam Street then with Oli Barrett. I have to confess that I skipped the speed networking, but the speakers were so good I thought that I would share them with you.

The first speaker was Caspar Berry, a professional poker player – amongst other things – who spoke about risk and assured us that in order to manage risk, we needed to embrace failure. (His opening gambit was a quote from a sign spotted on a boating lake: ‘Boating is fun until death occurs’). It was a bit complicated, especially when he tried to recreate Vegas, but his message was that we must not be afraid to fail, because it is the natural order of things repeated failure should statistically ensure success at some point. He described the story of Abraham Lincoln who’s early political career was a catalogue of failure before finally succeeding as one of the most celebrated Presidents of the US. (Then he was assassinated – reiterating the saying boating is fun until death occurs).

Next up was Joanna Jepson, a vicar from St Peter’s church in Fulham. Her passion was the development of slow relationships in community – so she said. But actually what she seemed more intent on talking about was the Examen of consciousness (a practice invented by Ignatius of Loyola). Best described here: http://www.freshworship.org/zine/examen.html. Essentially being clear what is bringing you joy, or satisfaction (achieving your goals) and what is not. Then stripping away that which is not achieving anything for you and leaving you with the gift of time. Funnily enough I have been doing this already, just not in a religious way (I am not especially religious, nor necessarily not – if that makes sense). Joanna promised us that by doing this, we would achieve corporate stillness! Worth a go 🙂

Last to bound to the front of the room was Shed Simove. Now, you had to be there to really appreciate this guy – he makes adult novelty toys, works on Big Brother and does a million and one things as well as being a truly energetic and amusing speaker. (Many a belly laugh, and the guy sat coding on the floor even shut his Mac and listened). His message was to give anything a go, no matter how random or unrelated to our norm – and so long as we follow through to the end and complete what we started, then we will eventually hit pay dirt. He has written a book called Ideas man and I for one will definitely be buying it 🙂