The difference between the 97er and Gen Y

I get asked enough times to actually publish about this.

97er is the generation of people born in 1997 or later Gen Y are the Millennials

97ers grew up with social media from as early as they can remember

Gen Y didn’t but they grew up with more digital skills than their parents – they just swerved the natural inclusion of social media

There is a marked difference

My 97er posts all link from here if you want to know more

Please mind the gap

After a few weeks of unavoidably engrossing myself in work (and family) I have neglected to blog. This is partly because of busy-ness but also because actually there has not been much to say. I tend to use this blog to showcase what I notice happening around government and the digital space, and for a while it was a struggle to keep up, now however, there is a gentle acceptance, adoption and movement in the direction of the future. The door is no longer being kicked at, it is open; the job now is to help everyone working in departments to mind that gap of knowledge.

What has become glaringly apparent is the widening gap between the use of social tools for big ‘P’ Politics and Politicians, and then public service. This took me by surprise, but explains why I was slightly frustrated by the projects at Rewired State that tended to focus on Politics and Politicians rather than public service data mash-ups that would help us in our lives (I was about to say daily but that might be a reach too far).

My focus is on the public service use of social media within the departments and by civil servants. This tends to cover four areas:

  • policy consultation – big lesson here is that the current digital environment requires earlier engagement (and more dialogue less monologue by the policy units)
  • marketing – obviously the marketing teams are already savvy to the fact that their online audience is collecting in community spaces (and most are supplementing traditional marketing media: TV, radio, print, with targeted online campaigns)
  • Press – press officers were probably the first to be baptised by fire and so now they are running with the crowd and monitoring what is happening in the social media space: following blogs, twitter streams and utilising flickr and YouTube (no comment); my dashboard-creating mates are very busy at the moment. I also think they should be the ones who gatekeep on behalf of the departments where they work, the tweeting/blogging areas of their departments should remain under the watchful eye of the Press Office (Although there is inevitably a cross over here with Political use of social tools)
  • corporate communication: in this I include information that the department/corporate produce for citizens/business/stakeholders/other departments (so transformational government and website rationalisation puts the onus here on Directgov and however it is here that the most controversial arguments happen with departmental responsibility to the tax-payer: see the ‘free our data’/’give us RSS’ campaigns and the like (both of which I staunchly support)

That leaves a glaring gap for us working in central government: local government. Centrally this is the remit of the department for communities and local government, but in reality this is a whole different ballgame and the choice to engage using social media would lie with each council. (Not going there right now, that’s a whole other post).

It also has created an interesting conundrum for the strategy units, who are perhaps not used to working in a communication world that changes society/community in quite the same way or at the same speed as the digital revolution has created. More and more I see strategy units re-checking the future, not only because of the economic crisis, but also because of the communication landscape and technical revolution. This is a very exciting place to be.

So… the update is: this is now not something ‘new’, it fits, in a way that Second Life never did; it is an external catalyst for change within departments for comms teams, marketing and press; it is re-energising strategy units and more importantly, or beautifully, it is re-humanising the public service, assisting (IMHO) democracy – not so much for the world of Politics maybe, but in utilising the democratic idealism for making sure our public services work well for us.

It is a good place to be, and although there are battles to be fought and won, creaking changes to be made and mistakes, the doors are firmly open, we just need information gap monitors 🙂 (See what I did there? I created a whole new job title).


So, the gaps are:

  1. Between Political use of social media and public sector/public service use
  2. Between central and local government
  3. Between the door being open and the knowledge needed to successfully use social tools

V-Logs from the online consultation meeting

Hermione Way,, interviewed some of the participants after the meeting on the 4th December. Whilst we set up collaborative areas for all of you to continue to add/develop some of the ideas that came from the day, I thought that is might be interesting for you to see what people said as soon as released from the room.

HUGE thank you to Hermione for doing this, and for highlighting what we are doing in this week’s (episode 3) She came in for the second half of the meeting and joined in on the discussion around social media and policy development. You may notice that I am not interviewed, this is because I am RUBBISH at being in front of a camera, much better at writing. Anyway, everyone else said it so much better than I could.

Steph Gray Department for Innovation, University and Skills (DIUS)

Mark O’Neill Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Mitch Sava Polywonk and David Wilcox Social Reporter

Matthew Cain Newscounter (Note the hesitation in the middle and the twitter conversation at end… diamond)

Alan Moore SMLXL

Euan Semple

All sorts: Paul Carr, WordPress, Toolkits and holidays

Once more, apologies for the slightly erratic blogging of late. Cutting to the quick, and following my title… here goes:

Paul Carr

His book is now available on Amazon – buy it/review it. Here is my review, unlikely to be published as I owned up to swiping one of his books at the launch (when they were there for ‘reference’ only… so, sorry):

5.0 out of 5 stars Paul Carr embarrasses me on the delayed trains from Waterloo, 11 Aug 2008

Bringing Nothing to the Party: True Confessions of a New Media Whore

I stole Paul’s book from him last Thursday – thank God I did! (I have run dry of ‘holiday reading’ and need some respite from the PID documents generated by Directgov).

I don’t *know* Paul, but I know of him and have met him a few times (enough to bully him into inviting me to his launch party, sort of).

So, to the book… I started reading it on a super-delayed train from Waterloo last Friday. The carriage was so packed that people were reading it over my shoulder (so the embarrassment factor of laughing out loud was lessened by the stifled snorts of laughter behind me). The stifled snorts were enough for an opportunist like me to start a conversation, which started with Paul and who he was, leading quickly to me and who I was.

So buy this book, it helps you network on trains.

Other reasons to buy this book:

1. It helps you embrace your inner jealousy streak
2. You take comfort from knowing that however bad your unrequited love-life is, it is not as bad as Paul’s
3. For a brief moment you step into the drunken and hedonistic world of internet entrepreneurship – and realise it’s not all that (apart from Robert Loch’s legendary parties of course)
4. You can get the gen on many of the internet billion/squillion-aires, and dine out on the stories (adopt them as your own – why not)
5. Google party description – from the point of view of a normal person i.e. you – Chapter 9.0 (all of it)

Um.. I had better now buy the book – from Amazon 🙂 – for someone else

PS I read it twice


The lovely, lovely, lovely (OK enough) people at WordPress put me as 78th on their ‘growing blogs’ list. Too cool, my standards are not high – 78th is enough for me. The tag-line for the link happens to be: Watch live streaming Beijing Olympic Games 2008, then you have to scroll like mad to get to me, but hey… it’s there!


I am STILL working on this – but in the real world, so it is taking time. I will be running an event in October that should give us the Toolkit part one… hopefully. If you want to come, email me.


I am in Africa from the 21st with my girls, concentrating on my cause: so will not be blogging, nor will I be working officially; however, I shall do sub-blog-management: sorting comments whenever I can get access.

I will post again in October, but will be managing the blog, so please do keep me entertained, horrify me, with your conversation.


Tool-kit for social media – or engaging people online

If you could put together your ideal tool-kit for engaging online, what would be in it?

By tool-kit I mean ways of finding and engaging with the people you want to do any of the following:

  • engage
  • influence
  • consult

To my rather amateur but enthusiastic mind I would say something like:

  • engage: find communities already in existence online – toolkit would contain ways of finding these communities
  • influence: toolkit would point to robust platforms already in existence, free and unlikely to fail (essentially those that depend on the robustness of their platform in order to succeed – WordPress for one), with a bit of advice on what business support would be required to use such a tool effectively (because this is key :))
  • consult: toolkit would include blogging and wiki software, alongside details of the experts in the business, their rates and how you might be able to procure them. Alongside details of how other organisations in your area, for example public sector (my bag, baby) have been using these things successfully

You can reply to this plea – as ever – personally to me – or, as I would prefer, here as a comment.