A bit about #UKGC11 and some observations

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I doubt many would have escaped the huge amount of tweets on Saturday for #ukgc11 – if you did you were either not on twitter or your internet connection was down :).

Anyway, this was my 3rd GovCamp and it was held in the Microsoft’s offices in Victoria. It was a great venue and the hosts did all they could to help make the day what it was.  This years travelling companions were @martinhowitt @cosmicjulie and @kev_bo and they were excellent company.

The pre-event conversation made me chuckle with some people – new to the unconference style – asking to see the agenda – So Dave Briggs created an agenda – it simply said:

  • 10am Start
  • 5pm – Finish

Well I actually thought this was a little to prescriptive but it no doubt helped those who needed to see the plan for the day in full 🙂

My 1st observation of the day was the number of local government participants, which has increased dramatically since the first and I feel the conversations were benefiting from the different context.

I didn’t attend any sessions in the morning at all, as I spent the first two hours catching up with people and having very interesting conversations – some topic based and some social. Which is one of the best things about going – it is “sadly” the only time I get to catch up with people face to face who I have admired for some time and now consider to be friends, so it was worth missing some amazing sessions to allow me to catch up.

Lunch was spent with @loulouk, @paulhenderson, @808kate, @tomsprints, @keneastwood and others were dipping in and out having a conversations about stuff including #lgovsm.

@loulouk or Louise has created a great platform for informal & formal discussion and personal learning and development that it seemed a shame to have these conversations in isolation from the people who participate.  Louise has amazing ideas – If I were her manager I would certainly do all I could to ensure she remains in the council to help steer and lead others through a huge period of change. In fact the whole delegate list was full of people who the public sector needs in order to help lead innovation and change.

There are of course many many many more who also fit into this category and I’m glad, because the sector will need more than 179 people to move it forward…but it certainly is a starting point.

My 2nd observation was it was very difficult to meet everyone you wanted to and you leave feeling guilty that you didn’t get the chance – I had a list of people I wanted to catch up with and only managed 50%, although I also spent time with new people so that does make up for it 🙂

I attended a session led by @hadleybeeman on the social side of data. I very much admire Hadley, she is a very engaging and passionate about the topic – The session was fascinating and got me thinking about the long-term objectives and made me ask a question and raise the point about looking at ways to link the topic into curriculum activities, so young children can start to see the value of linked data and also help to create the stories behind the data – although I was only coming to this conclusion in my head and I am actually new to the topic – I knew that @timdavies was already on the case and demonstrated that point by talking about the challenges when data doesn’t reflect experiences.

This session also gave me my 3rd observation of the day, which was the level and depth of conversation has increased every year and whilst this is great, I did wonder how the people who were new to the day would have coped if they simply wanted to listen and learn. Each session is almost like a full weeks training condensed into 1 hour…It is no wonder why I feel exhausted but in a good way and I missed two hours of sessions !!

In what seemed a flash, we had reached the 5pm deadline and the day was concluded. A group of people set off for the sponsored drinks and we joined them for an hour as we needed to catch a train – The journey home is not the best part for me, I don’t really enjoy train journeys and you know you are missing even more fascinating conversations back in the pub – But this is also the time that twitter started to distract me with people starting to post early reflections and comments as well as links to photos and blogs posts.

My 4th and final observation came this morning (Monday) – I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it, as one of the last comments Dave said was that Monday morning would feel sh*t, but we could all use twitter to keep us motivated. However I didn’t feel down this morning, I felt reassured and motivated as well as determined.

After previous GovCamps I used to feel depressed and down as I’d come away hearing about all the amazing things that other people were doing that i would have liked to do, but couldn’t – This year the difference was there were more people sharing amazing stuff and even more people who didn’t get chance to share and I thought about the work I do, the work others do in my council and It makes me smile that there are people who make me proud working to make services better in the context of the worse cuts in a lifetime (that’s what the papers say).

So for those of you who do feel slightly down or depressed – Don’t – you are doing amazing stuff and people are desperate to learn from you. Keep plugging away and I hope to see you next year at UKGC12 if not sooner.

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3 thoughts on “A bit about #UKGC11 and some observations

  1. Tom Phillips

    Really nice write up, Carl. I would have wanted to say much the same. This will be one of several post event blogs I will keep, to help persuade anyone thinking about attendinga future unconference and worried about what it might involve.

  2. Pete McClymont

    Good insights, Carl. That final session was awesome, but too much to take in at the end of a long day.

    Looking forward to LocalGovCamp, hopefully in June.

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