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.


One evening at one of Steve Moore’s dos, I rather rashly agreed to speak for ten minutes at the geeKyoto event – having no idea what it was about, or indeed what I could bring to the party.

For those of you who are not aware of it, this is the point:

We broke the world. Now what?

Mark Simpkins and Ben Hammersley announce a one day conference in central London, with designers, technologists, artists, architects, policy-makers, explorers, economists and scientists, and clever people like you, to discuss the future and how we’ll live in it.

Mark and Ben duly listed me as a speaker (thanks boys) on the website (I begged to be taken off – duly removed, but now I want to go back on :)) – hey I am female!

Mitch Sava from Polywonk is also speaking, and I hope that we can collaborate as his area is policy – and we know each other a bit.

Ben wants something about the UKGovBarCamp, therefore I roped in Mr Gould, (sorry J), and sat down to think.

Bizarrely, musing here helps me shape my ideas, and any input from you would be greatly appreciated, either here or directly to my gmail account.

So… how to apply UKGovBarCamp and policy to fixing the world? (Social Media Superheroes)

What comes to mind, and excites me, is the collaboration between civil servants, consultants and policy people. This is where the energy lies in ‘getting stuff done’. For energy and determination is required, believe you me, to chip through the quagmire of bureaucracy that we work in, (I am sure this is not limited to the public sector).

The UKGovBarCamp successfully created a virtual world where collaboration has been enabled, and the ideas seeded and nurtured; however, there is a long way to go to affect that change in the reality of public sector life.

So, what I think I want to talk about is collaboration across diverse, and often adverse, sectors/talents. It is very much a case of the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak…

Hopefully, although the running script said that I will be speaking, it will actually be a co-voiced experience, with Jeremy, Mitch and myself.

Lord knows, but it will happen, and I would appreciate any thoughts… please 🙂