My hopes for 2009

I wouldn’t be so foolish as to try and make some prediction for 2009, as they would be bound to turn out to be hideously wrong within a very short space of time. However, I feel a little safer writing a bit about what I hope will happen in the world of govweb / digital participation:

1. We start to get the most out of communities

I want to see everyone making better use of their networks, and creating new, better ones where they are needed. This can be on or offline, or even better a blend of the two. I’d like to see some real appreciation of the role of the manager, or facilitator of communities and more done to bring together the people that get how it can be done. More talking and more sharing would be very nice!

2. Better risk awareness

Believe it or not, in a previous life I was once the risk management officer for a county council. I think a lot of the talk about risk when it comes to the social web is actually just an excuse not to do things that people might find a little bit frightening. This is most true when it comes to the blocking of social websites on office networks, but it can be applied to a number of areas, whether getting involved in online conversations or becoming properly collaborative organisations. The mature approach to risk is to assess them and manage them – but also to take them. Running away leaves you just as exposed as blundering blindly in.

3. Social reporting as learning

I’m still buzzing about the stuff I wrote about here, inspired by David Wilcox. Like many, I have caught the social reporting bug, and now the connection with networked learning has been made, it makes even more sense to me. I hope we see more and more events, workshops, training sessions and conferences incorporate the creation of online learning spaces to make the sharing of stories and knowledge so much easier.

4. Netbooks for all

I’m really excited by the sudden growth in popularity of these small but (usually) beautiful machines. I now have two: an Asus Eee and a Samsung NC10 – the latter more useful than the former thanks to its bigger screen and keyboard. The small price and size of these computers make them ideal for people who might not otherwise buy a PC, and the fact that they come wireless enabled means more people will be able to access the wonders of the web than would otherwise be possible – especially with all these deals around mobile broadband and the like.

5. Digital mentors for government

I like the idea of digital mentors, obviously, as my involvement with Digitalmentor.org and Voicebox has shown over the last few months. However, I keep going back in my mind to this comment from Tom Watson, which mentioned having folk fulfilling the role of digital mentor for government – in other words, providing the coaching and resources needed to let public servants decide for themselves the tools they want to use. I think a simple mixture of awareness-raising and some practical demonstrations, and perhaps an online peer support community, is all that would be needed to get this off the ground. Maybe something to discuss at January’s barcamp?

So that’s some of the things I am hoping for. What about you?

3 thoughts on “My hopes for 2009”

  1. Hi Dave – nice list and thanks for the name check. It prompts some messages to myself:

    * now here’s more of us freelances in the field, I’m looking forward to further friendly competition/collaboration: figuring out how we are each different, yet have overlapping interests and skills, and can do the best for ourselves and clients by developing an ecosystem that is also a model for others.

    * as part of that, continuing to use lightweight tools like Twitter, that create a sense of overlapping communities, without becoming a self-regarding social media village. That is, keep looking outwards too.

    * in looking outwards, respect those who don’t get it. Ahem, don’t use “don’t get it”. Stand on the side of the non-users … how can we make things more useful, simpler

    * continuing – with you and others – to evolve planning tools like the social media game that bundle up a lots of ideas and knowledge in a simple, usable form, yet reveal complexity through play

    * developing a social reporting toolkit – hope you are up for that too

    * recognising there’s lots of really interesting stuff (most interesting?) outside London and going there

    * oh yes, and continuing to to enjoy all your posting, which means I can feel I’ve done today’s bit without a blog post:-)

  2. I’d have a shorter (but possibly more ambitious) list. I think that the general drift of how government is organised over the past forty years has resulted in a massive rearmament of bureaucrats, newspapers, single-issue pressure groups and centralising politicians – and all at the expense of local politicians.

    New media tools provide those local politicians with the option to hugely improve their ability to communicate, form policy and generally behave like representatives who are able to compete with those who would rival them in framing policy and legislation. I’d like to see this potential acknowledged -both by those who frame policy in this area – and more importantly by those local politicians who are often quite scared by the whole business.

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