Monthly Archives: May 2009

LocalGovCamp group

Much planning is afoot for LocalGovCamp, the unconference for local government which is taking place on 20th June in Birmingham. All tickets are technically sold out, but if you are desperate to come, email me.

I took a wander around the venue – Fazeley Studios – last Friday and have to say I am really, really impressed. Plenty of space, light and airy and lots of blank white walls for projectors or post-it notes!

Remember – what is keeping this event free, and ensuring it is happening at all, is the terrific sponsorship we have received from a variety of sources. Check out the supporters page for more information on who is involved.

Anyone wanting local information about where to go and where to stay can find it on Jon Bounds’ excellent post.

To get some more discussions going around various issues at the event – including people putting forward ideas for sessions – I’ve created a Google Group for email based conversations.

All those with a ticket should have received an email invite. If you would like to join in the group – even if you can’t make the event – sign up below. Everyone is welcome. Well, not everyone. But you know what I mean.

Google Groups
Subscribe to LocalGovCamp
Email:

Visit this group

Even if you don’t fancy joining this group, I’ll still be pinging the odd email to the attendees list on Eventbrite and adding updates to the main blog, so don’t worry!

Wave power

Google have announced something really rather interesting called Wave.

(Warning: looooooong video)

Essentially,

A wave is equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

A wave is shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.

A wave is live. With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.

Lots of people are very excited about it. Take TechCrunch, for example:

Wave offers a very sleek and easy way to navigate and participate in communication on the web that makes both email and instant messaging look stale.

What is really interesting is the way that Wave will work as an open standard, with APIs available to developers to make it possible to embed the way Wave does things into other applications.

Of course, before we get too excited about Wave, we need to remember Knol, Sites (which I actually quite like, but no-one else seems to) and Base. Google gets a lot of stuff wrong.

But when they get things right, such as with Gmail and of course search, the results can be devastating. For that reason alone, it’s vital to keep up with Wave and its development.

Tech books

A year or so ago, I wrote about my dead tree web 2.0 reading list, which was all about what books were being published about the interactive web. I’ve bought most of those on the list, plus a bunch of others that folk suggested.

There are other books one can buy about this stuff though, which don’t just talk about the issues and culture of the web, but which actually tell you how to do things.

I don’t tend to buy too many of these, as a lot of the help one needs one can get from the web itself, but I got a couple through the post from Amazon the other day.

Using Drupal is a really good entry level guide to what is a fiendishly complicated, but amazingly powerful CMS. It’s genuinely readable and am really pleased I got it.

Ning for Dummies is a guide to using and setting up your own networks on Ning. As someone who Ninging is entirely based on playing with stuff, it’s great to have a resource to pick up and find out what some of those options I dare not touch do. Again, recommended reading.

One book I have had for a while, which I have to mention here, though, is WordPress for Dummies:

Which isn’t for Dummies at all, in fact it’s for very sensible people. It takes you right the way from setting up a WordPress.com blog to writing your own themes and plugins – awesome stuff.

What techie books do you swear by?

Hyperlocal alliance

Will, Dom and Kalv are starting something that has the potential to become really rather cool.

So where are we going with this? Well we want to know if hyperlocal people in the UK are up for some sort of ‘UK Hyperlocal Alliance’ (working title) dedicated to a positive future for hyperlocal content in the UK. This isn’t an attempt to form a trade body or a union or a lobby group, just a simple web resource where we can sign up to a simple statement of intent, get in touch with each other and tell our stories.

Leave a comment on the post if you want to keep involved…

Watch the whole of Us Now – now

Us Now is “A film project about the power of mass collaboration, government and the internet” and it’s also rather good.

Even better, you can now watch all 60 minutes of it.

Us Now from Banyak Films on Vimeo.

Once you have seen it yourself, do something helpful and organise a screening of it where you work. It might just make a difference.

Bookmarks for May 4th through May 16th

Stuff I have bookmarked for May 4th through May 16th:

  • Baby steps in Social Media News Releases – "The Social Media News Release (SMNR) updates the old press notice and video news release for a social media age. Factual bullet points instead of marketingese. Embedded video and images for media outlets and bloggers to use. Social bookmarking buttons to help users to spread the word. Related documents and context to help the lazy or time-poor to put the report in context."
  • Information for life – "a blog from Opportunity Links discussing the challenges of information delivery to the public. We hope to use this blog to explore how we can fulfil our mission statement: “We believe that people should have access to quality information to empower and support them in the choices they make.” "
  • Wolfram|Alpha – "Today's Wolfram|Alpha is the first step in an ambitious, long-term project to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone."
  • Digital Engagement | Director of Digital Engagement – A new blog at the Cabinet Office for the Director of Digital Engagement
  • Can’t Connect… Won’t Connect » the billblog – "Imagine how nice it would be if most wireless networks were suddenly five or even ten times faster and generally reliable."
  • socialstrategy:start [Practical Participation] – "There are many small hurdles to effective use of social media and technology in public services. In democratic engagement and participation; communications and outreach; education; or just about any other area of work – the same soluble barriers hold up action. "
  • Acorn, the image editor for humans. – I'm using Pixelmator at the moment to do my web graphic editing. @billt recommends Acorn though, might give it a go.

WordCampUK 2009: 18-19 July

WordCampUKWordCampUK – the only event in the UK dedicated to the joys of WordPress – will be taking place in Cardiff this year, on 18 and 19 July. You can find out all the details on the official blog, which has been beautifully put together by Simon Wheatley and Laura Kalbag.

To find out what some of the sessions will likely be about, check out the wiki page which lists the ideas that people have had.

The two big draws for me will be the chance to hear from Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress and the company that supports it Automattic. The other will be my old friend Simon Dickson, who will no doubt provided another of his highly motivating rants.

If you are interested in finding out more about WordPress and its possibilities, there is no easier way of finding all the people that matter in the same room. Well worth £35 in my book (and only £25 if you’re quick!). Book here, now.

And yes, I am aware that this blog has become rather event-heavy of late. Sorry. Normal, more creative, service to be resumed shortly…

Fresh ideas for tomorrow’s people

I had the good fortune to finally meet Mary McKenna at the PSF event last week. Mary is the MD of Learning Pool, e-learning providers at large to the public sector. She is also on Twitter, and therefore must be a good egg.

Mary and her team have been jolly supportive of LocalGovCamp, and a delegation from Northern Ireland will be making their way to Birmingham next month. I therefore thought it only reasonable to point DavePressers to Learning Pool’s own event, which takes place later on this month.

Called Fresh ideas for tomorrow’s people, the event promises to

benefit smart organisations who want to find out how to use new media to create efficiencies and service improvements.

Having a well trained and motivated workforce is the key for the future. This interactive, fun and unstuffy conference featuring speakers, interactive showcases and masterclasses exploring new media, will generate practical ideas to help make this happen.

You can find out more on Learning Pool’s blog, and book your place on the event page.