A Case for Social Discrimination – Randy Hamilton

An article by Randy Hamilton on the social media today website is interesting as it talks about and highlights the challenges of mirroring “real” communities within a social networking or social media platform.

What Randy highlights is the fact that in real communities some people have more “weight” when there voice is heard because they are more active, have a reputation or are trusted. Contrast this to someone who might sit at the back of a room and speak only once and there only contribution is to be negative.

This isn’t to say that these voices are less important or less valid, but they need to be taken in context within the community setting. They may not have the breadth of knowledge that others have or they maybe intent of causing confusion or miscommunication.

So how do you replicate the real community within an online community to factor in that some people’s voices are worth more than others?

Are we ready to catch the social media train?

From what i can tell the people who understand social media, understand that it isn’t a community itself, although the people around it create a community of interest, but social media enables communities to connect, collaborate, communicate and empower action among other things as well.

So if that is the case, then from a public sector perspective the technology is irrelevant and only a means by which we engage. On that basis i can see why social media is placed at the back or to the side, because my perception is that public sector organisations don’t understand the communities who are using these tools yet (well not across the whole sector anyway).

So my challenge isn’t just getting my organisation on the social media train, it is in fact getting it to the station first?

Interesting, i have started getting parts of the organisation on the train, but i need to get the whole thing there so projects become easier….

I am working with our Youth Service, as previously mentioned on this blog, about youth participation via social networking sites, the easiest part of this was actually getting them to appreciate that this is where young people are, the hardest thing is to explain what our engagement in that environment looks like and how we will manage it.

We will be running a consultation event at a local youth service organised festival, where we aim to consult on 2 main areas, with the help of Tim Davies.

  1. Code of conduct (complaints, confidently & privacy)
  2. Engagement approach

The other area which i am working on, and for me this is far more significant from the organisational perspective is getting a corporate policy agreed at our corporate management board which allows all staff to formally access social networking sites in work time. This naturally presents many challenges to us in terms of managing risk, but not as risky as ignoring it and pretending it doesn’t exist.  I will keep you posted on the progress in this area as we move forward.

But back to the train in the station. One of the main challenges I face, is getting a greater understanding of all aspects of the business, so that I can then become a “Service Shepherd” who herds (i would prefer to say Lead here!) the service areas into the station and onto the train.

It will then be a challenge to co-ordinate the activities so that we ensure we benefit the communities we engage with or just simply listen to, as well as adding value and knowledge to the organisation in terms of understanding our many communities.

What do councils want to hear from us?

According to wikipedia, obviously the definitive knowledge of the universe!!

“Even though there is no universally accepted definition of ‘democracy’, there are two principles that any definition of democracy is required to have. The first principle is that all members of the society have equal access to power and the second that all members enjoy universally recognised freedoms and liberties”

Well i was having an interesting conversation with my wife last night about democracy which followed on from a discussion about a feature within the “One Show” on BBC about the British Empire and the huge role it played (Positive and negative) across the world and how, for such a small island, we still benefit from the perceived influence in the world.

What frustrated us both was that our perceptions is that there are a significant number of people in this country who don’t value or appreciate perhaps the freedom they have to say what they want and write or do what they want when they want.  Nor do they appreciate the right to vote, some people will sacrifice their lives to enable others to vote, do we really appreciate what we have? We both have strong feelings and views on this subject but i will spare you from them and try and remain balanced.

We did wonder however whether voting in local elections really did matter for most people, when for example the price of food, fuel (petrol, gas electric etc) and even our house price and stability is often subject to incidents or events that happen globally.

We did agree that we would want our voice heard should someone wish to build a house opposite our house on the green, or build new houses on our allotment.

I feel that, my views would not be needed until an issue or an event sparks me into life and then encourages or stimulates debate and discussion in the wider community of interest. Now this is where social media can really come into its best….but more on that another time..

So until something happens to spark my interest what do councils really want me to tell them?