Archive for the 'barcamp' Category

Social media, digital strategy & Scottish Gov’t direction of travel

At the Scottish Public Sector Barcamp last Friday evening, it was encouraging to hear Sarah Davidson (SG Director of Communications) say a few words of welcome which included good – and intriguing – news of high-level SG interest in a recently-submitted Digital Strategy (did this include digital engagement? – from the tenor of the discussion later it would seem so, but we’ll need to wait & see the Strategy when – hopefully – it emerges blinking into the sunlight of the public domain). If the evident general support for the strategy points the SG in the desired direction, then there’s useful scope for other parts of the Scottish public sector webeconomy and IT folk to be moved along too – even in today’s devolved state of affairs.

This news co-incided with a tweet shortly before, from one of the participants, that he’d momentarily accessed Twitter from his SG account – surely an accident he thought!

One of the break-out groups on Friday evening discussed social media and the prospects for Gov’t engagement with citizens – see an able summary by James Coltham – and one of the themes within the talk was just how sustainable full engagement really is in practice. People were anxious about the resources needed – examples quoted (I haven’t fact-checked these btw) were the BBC employing fifty (5 0h!) staff to sift through user-generated photos (e.g. 15? 25?k snaps of the February snowfall), and reflective Guardian writers wondering quietly about green-ink users of Comment is Free.

But before we all give up before we start in on this, can I just check what we’re really talking about? Reflecting later, I wondered whether or not the analogy of hosting a party might not have some leverage. Being a host can be frustrating – there never seems to be an opportunity to have a decent conversation with any of your guests; but then this is surely in part because you’re doing what hosts should do: introduce guests to each other, ensure that people make good contacts, have enjoyable conversations, etc etc. The party’s deemed good if the guests have all had a good time with each other, rather more often than with you the host. So, similarly, the gov’t job here might be to frame the conversation (snacks, soft lighting, wine served at the right temperature, etc.) and to guide it, drawing people in…rather more than engaging with each and every intervention in the way that one might in a traditional consultation?

Mind you, I’m not sure how this plays out in detailed practice. Its certainly likely to be harder work than the traditional act of punting out a consultation document (when, as was wrily suggested on the day, the answers are in any case known before the questions are put…) and getting on with the day job until the deadline for responses arrives. But it might not be quite as heavy a burden as people were thinking – because the task might not be quite what they feared?

Meantime, thanks to one ‘Calgacus Wasabi’ (shurely shome mishtake, Stewart?) for a segment from his Flickrstream, on the day.


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