How do ants know what to do?

I was sent an email yesterday , which i didn’t get around to looking at until today, i looked at my twitter feed and noticed Dave Briggs had posted some links and one of them focused on a response to Ads on local council websites. The exact email i had been sent…..An interesting concept but something I don’t agree with, if they are purely commercial. Unless we can control what and who i don’t think we will be embarking on this journey sometime soon.

Paul Canning has an interesting perspective on this topic, which is worth a read…

There are some implications to brand and reputation which will need to be managed or at least acknowledged going down this route. BUT and i guess this contradicts myself here if we could support local businesses or even regional businesses then it maybe something we could consider, but is isn’t something to get me excited about this month.

I was reading a bit more Clay Shirky, “Here comes everybody – The power of organising without organisations”. It got me thinking about “How do ants know what to do” this is an interesting overlap in that ants organise themselves without organisations and each one knows exactly what to do….maybe an ant version of CB radio or sms exists which we can’t measure, after all they have some great antenna, they must be used for something!

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Save the cheerleader save the world

save the cheerleader save the world

Last week, they (the chair fixing specialists) had to take my office chair which had broken on me whilst i was sitting back trying to ponder some new plan to save world, yes i actually do believe that…..i am also a big fan of heroes.

Anyway, at first i didn’t think losing my chair for approximately 2 weeks would be big deal, but i must tell you that my bottom is now missing the years of moulding it had created. The temporary chair for which i am grateful does not offer no where near enough comfort and i must confess i am feeling the strain.

I noticed this this morning whilst i was waiting for my laptop to boot up and connect to the network here, i decided to take a sneak peak at the book i purchased after the web 2 event last week (Here comes everybody, by Clay Shirkybuy it now from Amazon). After about the 5th page i was very uncomfortable and found it difficult to continue, so i stopped. How can i change the world in this chair!! I will continue at home later this evening.

I had intended on doing all the things i had put aside from Monday and Tuesday, as i was distracted by the social networking meeting which has actually got me thinking about a wide range of issues. But i was distracted today as well, i decided to download flock a social web browser, as a colleague (Martin) recommended it as a way to get around not be able to install adobe air on my laptop. I am very impressed with it, it pretty much does all i need a browser to do, but it could do with some other links to more formal sites like “istock”. but i can’t complain. I recommend it, if you find yourself moving around different applications to keep in touch (twitter, blogs, you tube, flickr etc). So thank you to martin who helped point me in the right direction.

I then spent a few hours going through web 2.0 and social media with a colleague and found myself, not out of character, going off topic. But i think i succeeded in spreading the message and passing on some knowledge.

The interesting thing about web 2.0 and social media is the concepts and approaches are important for us to share with other people as they can help shape local government in the future.

Now i am not sure where i heard or read this so do point it out if you know as it has stuck with me.

There are three rules of open source:
  1. 1.Nobody owns it.
  2. 2.Everybody uses it.
  3. 3.Anyone can improve it.
Our future thinking must view government more like a giant open source community. So far government ticks boxes one and two, no one person owns it and everybody uses it. Our task is to crack the elusive third point, ensure that every citizen has the ability to improve it.
It also got me thinking about how we spread the message, a communications exercise. Earlier this year i ran a small workshop inside my council entitled “blue sky discovery session – web 2.0 and social media” The aim of which was to get a small group of key business people in a room and talk to them about web 2.0 and social media and then open up discussion about what are there key issues and challenges. How could these new approaches (not technologies) help us think differently moving forward. It went well and i now have some great support for opening up social networking sites for all staff. But it still needs to be formally debated at our ICT programme review board. but i am very positive.
The success i think of the group was that it contained a mix of people who think differently about change and new ideas. This diagram will help show what i mean.
Where are you?
It is important i believe to ensure that we get a good representation of these types of people (be honest you all know some in each area). But they are critical to the success of projects and innovations.
One last thought, is Social Networking and sites like Twitter, the death of email? or do we see this like a postcode or address, a way in which we can obtain other things. Will we be encouraged to only have one email address to make things easier…

Baby Steps

Taking Baby Steps

What a day so far, excellent morning and working lunch session with Tim Davies, who is helping and support us with a youth participation project using social networking sites.

I made a list of notes and questions which i need to digest and either ask more questions and or reflect about via this blog. Feel free to comment on any of these..

Notes and Questions

  • We need to position this as a learning experiment instead of promoting with big fan fare!
  • Whole process feels like we have reinvented the phone? We are asking ourselves what do we do with it?
  • Do we need a social networking strategy in Devon? Is this part of a wider consultation and engagement strategy? Has anyone included SNS as part of consultation and engagement activity and strategies?
  • Increase Information and knowledge about social networking sites – what can people really do in them other than network.
    – Campaigns, events and communications. What can they offer people outside of just “chat”.
  • Opportunities for increasing knowledge and access to a wide range of support and activity based information.
  • Geography and remoteness presents opportunities to engage through new methods of contact.
  • Channel Management strategies play a key role in developing and supporting the framework for engagement and participation.
  • Similarity in approach to Rural Voices in Minnesota, USA? What are the opportunities for learning.
  • Thinkuknow.co.uk great website for young people – learn how to stay safe online.
  • Is social networking the death of email?
  • Ustream.tv- personal streaming of video can provide a new opportunity to engage via small scale vox pop.
  • There is a 4th social networking space called hi5
  • What does good youth work look like in SNS

The ideas wall and matrixTim gave a great short presentation for members and colleagues on the basics and research findings. I found the following useful for focusing teh mind in terms of of how we approach young people in this space

  • What are young people doing in SN sites
    • Keeping in contact
    • Sharing content
    • Making new contacts
    • Hanging out
    • Exploring identity
    • Informal learning
  • Opportunities for youth work
    • Promotion and recruitment
    • Keeping in contact
    • Engagement and participation
    • Sharing media from events and groups

One area that people find difficult to get their head around is privacy and what it means. Safety online and new methods of engagement etc.

I found this video on you tube which is great at showing how the web has evolved and how we as users are driving that change and it poses some interesting questions around how we think about privacy, information and ethics etc. It is about 5 minutes, so if you have time watch NOW

I have also be invited to evaluate Alfresco and Sharepoint from a Enterprise Content Management perspective. If you have views in this area do get in touch or sign post me to others

Avoiding the deep end

Tomorrow sees Tim Davies arriving at work to help steer and challenge our thinking around the use of social networking platforms to engage with young people. In particular we are hoping that Tim can offer us some guidance and advice on risk assessment policies. He has also agreed to help with challenge and consultation at our Youth Service organised Youth Festival called Kongamana later this year.

The project lead has also started a blog on this topic and project called Youth Culture. Check it out if you get a chance.

On other topics I am also looking at how we can remove the internal barriers for staff accessing social networking sites. I am supporting our internal audit team on pulling together a report which will be discussed at our ICT governance group (Including Senior Managers and Elected Members). I am very positive that we will open up to this and break down some of the cultural issues associated with such sites.

One issue which is bugging me, is that people always ask the question “How do we stop staff abusing such sites?” My view is that like most technologies they can be abused, but we need to ensure we have a culture which encourages and supports managers in managing outputs and not recording time spent in the office. The issue becomes even more complex when we are encouraging staff to work from home or remotely, so how do we equip managers to monitor usage in these scenarios? We don’t we give them the ability to manage performance by outputs and acknowledge that social networking is the fabric by which work gets done….. It also requires us to take a leap of faith, like we did when we first opened up email to all staff and internet access…

I am also encouraged that other councils who attended the web 2 workshop last week have already started to implement some basic features – twitter on homepage, flickr photo directory. All great stuff i think you will agree. If you want to read the list of possible actions we can do visit Ewan Mcintosh’s blog.

My word of caution, don’t try everything at once.

I had a meeting earlier with a colleague who wanted to use powerful emotional video content to promote road safety messages. The content included victims of drink driving through to someone who was convicted of drink driving and had killed someone. Powerful and emotional stuff to watch.

Now we have like most authorities struggled when it comes to video content, who hosts, how much and how can we deliver added value. Well in light of last weeks event, I explored blip.tv, which provides a really good twist on hosting as you can create branded players and playlists to group content together and remove advertising altogether…. So that is what we are looking at doing over the next few months.

On a seperate note and if you are aware of this type of thing. I am keen to know if any local authorities are using open office? please comment or signpost me to anywhere where this information might be accessible?

Daddy Day

A short round-up of the day……The plan for a BBQ was postponed due to rain, but that didn’t stop us enjoying the day. We made a scarecrow for our allotment to protect our sweetcorn, it is only a small scarecrow and is wearing a pair of Ewan’s old jeans and an even older waterproof jacket, don’t want him to get too wet!!

Being father’s day I received some excellent drawings from Ewan who had even managed to write “To Daddy, Love Ewan” in the father’s day card he made me. Finley painted lots of cats on the front of his card, not sure of the relationship to father’s day but still it looked great.

Sharon and i were dreaming about Australia earlier and i started to go a bit over the top…I was thinking about what things could be like if we had won some money on the lottery. I would like a large bit of land that had a apple orchard, so i could make cider, a vineyard for wine, large allotment plot, tree house for kids and a huge garage/workshop for the campervan and doing odds and sods. Sharon wanted a garden nursery space and a shed for making pottery… It was a nice thought, however unlikely…..

Well my only thought for today is, if you think about something hard enough do you end up getting it or driving it further away?