Archive for the 'govt 2.0' 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.

First steps (very) towards social media

I was talking with a friend & colleague yesterday – she had asked about a wiki I’d created for our work Green Group (the NHS has to reduce its carbon footprint by a humungous amount, and we’ve all been asked to develop ideas for achieving this). Her work context involves the creation of substantial guidelines, which when drafted tend to be published as pdf files (which also tend to be emailed to consultation lists – another mutual colleague had likened this to spamming their inboxes…). Hence the partial focus (below) on DIUS’ use of CommentPress as a consultation tool.

But to get her started individually, I suggested various guides, and would welcome corrections/additions:

If you’d be willing to fish out a couple of handy guides from my social bookmark collection, can I recommend starting by clicking on ‘guide‘ in my tag cloud. On the second page of links you’ll come across a link to ‘onepage | Tim’s Blog’ where you should find a handy set of…one page…guides to the better-known tools .

If you fancy looking at a few short (3 mins or so) videos, then the ‘Commoncraft’ series are the industry-standard – friendly & cheerful throughout. Their native server seems to be down at the moment but you can see most of the series on Youtube anyway.

Then if you felt like a wee read, you might like to try ‘How to use Social Media‘ – this is handy for starting to think about where & when to maybe use this stuff, in that it sketches out some context for using each of the main tools.

For more, and some learning-by-doing, do have a try out at the (Ning) group Web 2.0 for Learning Professionals, where Work Literacy  are running an online course/community. You can dive in, don’t have to just observe from the sidelines. It’s all free as far as I can see.

Then there are some examples of tool-use in a public-service/health context,

  • Here is a link to the DIUS Consultation. The tool itself is available for a poke-about with. And if you Google ‘CommentPress’ you’ll find various examples of it in use, as well as discussion. I like this one.
  • The best example of ‘working wikily’ that I can think of is the current development of a ‘non-profits (US-speak for ‘vol orgs’) ‘We Are Media‘ Community of Practice. The important thing about this is not so much the wiki itself, but the project, plan. diaspora, and the presence of a really superb narrator/commentator and facilitator (It’s well worth having a look at the rest of Beth Kanter’s posts too). It’s these elements that make the thing sing, rather than the tech. But you really should have a look at the resources they are collating under ‘wiki resources’, on their left-hand menu. We could surely re-use these.
  • Meantime, you should also have a look at a very ‘healthy’ theme – but one which also crosses over into emergency planning – Fluwiki (global response to avian flu threat). And while I’m thinking of emergencies, do have a look at this summary of social media resources and Hurricane Gustav.

Finally, where do I spot most of these resources? Here’s a link to items I’ve read and ‘starred’ as worth going back to in my RSS reader. I’ve made some of my tagged collections public too, for example anything I’ve labelled ‘health 2.0′.

This is just a start, for one person, in one context – it’s not a web 2.0 toolbox or anything – based on an assumption that an individual might like to read herself in a bit, then see some worked examples that she could map on to her own context. But there will be other ways in, for other individuals and groups too – games and suchlike. The risk in all this is that it’s too easy to focus on tools (you can see those) rather than people and communities )networks are nebulous things…) How to correct the balance…?


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