#UKGC12 – beyond the bullet points

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On Sunday i quickly posted some initial thoughts, albeit some very random about my experience at UKGC12…this post aims to go slightly deeper, beyond the bullet points.

- we have moved beyond an event just for geeks…I’m only a feel in relative terms…it doesn’t matter that policy folk, councillors or suits don’t attend…this is where the variety of localised events will offer and add value…another point to note is that govcamp was and should never be an event just for people on twitter…however if our not on twitter it is hard to get a ticket directly.

- i finally understand the underlying reason and motivation for the first ukgovcamp – having the opportunity to chat to Jeremy Gould was great, he was the behind the first govcamp event….the main reason was to simply connect people together…not people to decision makers…or central to local gov…this is where the constructive disruption came from…how does that sit with the new GDS, probably in my view no different to how govcamp has always been…whilst they focus on mainstreaming digital…govcamp will maintain its role on the edge providing valuable nudges and challenge…if I doesn’t we have all failed.

- Social change and supporting the development of social capital is still a primary motivator for me…technology is a distraction the majority of the time…a disproportionate amount of time is spent talking about technology first without stating the problems or outcomes people want to see. I read the some thought govcamp was about government and IT…my views has always been that govcamp is for people who simply want to push things forward and make progress.

- creating better democratic organisations which allow social capital to improve should be a focus and how internally we can empower people better to support those aims…we shouldn’t be talking about Facebook groups or social intranets in my opinion as these distract from the underlying problems and also provide too narrow a scope to think differently about how we approach these challenges…we need to start thinking and documenting the capabilities required to support more democratic and open organisations…we are assuming that simply creating a social intranet, an organisation will change…Social media inside an organisation is a facilitator…it is the presence of Injustice, inequality, repression and aspiration that stimulates progress – Social media or a social intranet does not magically force existing leadership to change or learn.

- content strategy is a game changer – changing the thinking built up over the las 10 years since the start of the egovernment agenda – this triggered the anti-user approach in developing websites in my humble opinion…it essentially turned sites that were aimed at users into mediocre corporately assimilated content waste lands…lacking in any meaning as to how to build and manager a community and help move aspects of communications and service interaction into more efficient channels…but that is the past…we can learn from it, but we must first recognise the mistakes we made…not everyone made them but most did…this is all just my opinion of course but localgov as a community needs to think about how it develops its online and digital offering better – perhaps in a similar reboot approach taken by the GDS…it does not matter what you call it…but it does need to think about some key principles, for example one might be.. getting content to people and not people to websites…this then provides the drivers for your content in social spaces as opposed to having a specific focus on social media….this does not mean you shouldn’t develop specific channel standards, in fact this reinforces the need for standards within channels…but based on managing your content flow in it and how you might monitor or measure it.

- all the conversations and activity around the networked society, participation and democracy are actually what we should all be focusing on…without effective participation, transparency and accountability, the Facebook groups, blogs, twitter accounts are all just window dressing and papering over the cracks…this is why I personally value the open data and linked data work

- without communities like ukgc and generally the social networks I’ve built… I’d feel very isolated as often my ideas come across as “wacky”, “off the wall”, “a bit out there” and with the peer review and challenge those ideas are challenged in an environment where I’m not expected to know it all…in the council you are paid to know this stuff, but without the connections I’d know very little and be less effective and more likely I’d probably not have a job. I am honoured to be able to participate in those communities and have made some really good friends.

- Reputations are not just built up online – you actually need to do something…I’m tackling that as it was noticeably lacking from the last 2 years of my working life – I developed a lot of theories and thoughts and have been lucky to have a few decent outputs – social media policy being the most popular on my blog here…but I personally need to achieve more…tackle the bigger issues, get involved on a different level and on a different scale…

- I was surprised that I didn’t hear people talking about the impact of localism and the theme most councils are looking at which is commissioning on how we tackle some of the big issues…this is another reason why i think common standards and frameworks are important…maybe this is still too early for people but recent experience of govcamps made me assume (wrongly) that it would be discussed. I should have suggested a session on simply hearing from others how the think it will change or not change things…

- Finally – tomorrow never comes, do something today…

11 thoughts on “#UKGC12 – beyond the bullet points

  1. You mentioned standards and framework implementation. Your fears are well founded. Look at the numbers who have registered for the legsb COP – less than ten. Local e-gov standards are not at the front of many minds.

  2. Terrific set of insights Carl, easily the best thing to come out of #ukgc12 so far for me. This sentence chimed especially ‘a disproportionate amount of time is spent talking about technology first without stating the problems or outcomes people want to see’.

    Reflective practice and deeper enquiry is really needed to connect the dots and initiatives of those inside gov and the constituents connected to it to get to this. That way we really can realise the kind of change that Gocvcamp is so good at stimulating.

  3. Matt

    “the anti-user approach in developing websites in my humble opinion…it essentially turned sites that were aimed at users into mediocre corporately assimilated content waste lands” <<– this maybe my favourite line on any blog ever :) I agree about the potential power of the content strategy – it really could be a game changer – but its hard and I need to see someone really get it to work :)

    the community thing you mentioned is the same for me – without things like UKGC and Twitter I'd would have really started to question my [professional] sanity years ago given the amount of people who told me "thats a crazy idea"..

  4. Some good thoughts here and I pretty much agree with all of them – particularly the content strategy one :)

    It was strange to watch people’s reaction when you first said aloud that we should u-turn on the inherited content strategy of the last ten years and stop doing the mediocre well, start doing what is right with government content. There was an initial shock, then some fear, and then I think a little delight from most people in the room.

    We need to move on with the practical output of our Saturday session – setting up an online space for content strategy discussion and community. We know what we’re trying to build so let’s find the right tool!

    Oh, and how great would a ContentCamp be that not only involved us practitioners but citizens too so the strategy was really user-centred but also acceptable to the organisation? Heh…maybe I’m a dreamer…

    • Love the idea of contentcamp we have to make that happen…let’s think about October half term around Birmingham as a starting point.

      We do need to start a community going and whilst be members actually facilitate it as well…we should seek some external input into discussions maybe some of the #contentstrategy crowd might make the odd guest appearance..

      • I certainly think ContentCamp could build on the event Ally Hook and CoventryCC put on (WebContentCamp) in 2011. This was a good event for practitions (web managers, teams etc) to really get into the nittygritty of the day-to-day stuff and how it fits into the bigger picture.

        Let’s get the online community up and running (love the idea of it being facilitated as well as contributed to by members with the occasional guest appearance from content strategy experts in other sectors) and keep thinking about ContentCamp too :)

  5. “creating better democratic organisations which allow social capital to improve should be a focus and how internally we can empower people better to support those aims…” Abso-blomin-lutley.
    Thanks Carl – a very enjoyable and stimulating read :)

    • Thanks Dave, I think people’s thinking has matured enough for us to start the proper adult conversations and to move away from the actual technologies…

      Just hope we can push this forward…your blog is a perfect example of this kind of thinking in my opinion

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