More on micro-participation

There was an interesting response to my post on micro-participation, in a number of spaces – which goes to show the value in seeding your content on sites other than your own!

The most active conversation was on GovLoop where the concept of micro-participation seemed to strike a chord with many people. Even better, it uncovered the work of Jennifer Cowley at Ohio University, who has been working on micro-participation for a little while.

Here’s a slidedeck from Jennifer about using micro-participation in planning.

Here’s a video of Jennifer talking about micro-participation:

Some examples of micro-participation were also shared:

Not all these examples fit exactly with what I had in mind for micro-participation. Several fall into the reporting category – a bit like FixMyStreet. This is important, but I was thinking about getting people involved in democratic and government processes at a slightly more engaged level.

In other words, this should be more than just pot holes.

Over on the Communities of Practice (sign in required), some real-life concerns and issues were shared.

Adrian Short shared the example of Speak out Sutton, and also challenged me to come up with some concrete proposals. Fair enough, though I try to avoid specifics on this blog 😉

Dawn Iverson provides some great pointers to increase participation and overcoming barriers:

1) Make a specific, small call to action. Start with asking people to do something very small like a litter picking day at the local park or distributing leaflets locally. Maybe provide tea and biscuits afterwards.

2) Make the call to action in a number of ways. Knock on peoples doors during daylight hours, deliver leaflets, contact the local PCSO and either ask them to come along when knocking on doors to allay fears, or ask if they can send out your ‘call to action’ in their community email messages. Put information on the local council website, the Parish council website, the local Volunteer Centre website.

3) Have a small number of people who can be the face of community involvement. This will make those newly involved feel like they have a connection. Those who knock on doors / have their photos on the leaflets should be the people there to welcome new volunteers when they do respond to your call for action.

4) Once a volunteer feels connected to the community, give them more responsibility and ensure that their ideas are taken further.

5) Local councils / NHS services could identify plenty of people who would be fantastic involving themselves with local services. These are the people who send frequent complaints, the people who send thank you notes, the people who have made big changes in their lives, those who are lonely and don’t know anybody in their community.

There also need to be some ‘calls to action’ that can involve those with busy family lives. This could be asking someone to proofread a webpage, take and upload pictures of their local community, referee at a local under 13s football match, organise a fundraising event for mums and daughters. There’s a lot that could be done, but unfortunately it does need someone to coordinate this type of thing. Hopefully the new Community Organisers will be that person 🙂

Finally, going back to the GovLoop discussion, some attempts were made to define what is meant by micro-participation. Mine was “Providing a means for citizens to interact with democratic and government processes at a time, in a place and in an medium that suits them.”

I think I prefer Jennifer’s much simpler: “participation at the convenience of participants.”

Anyway, I’m pleased this has sparked interest in a few folk. I’m going to plug away developing some ideas and see where it ends up.

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Dave Briggs

I'm an experienced senior manager in digital and ICT, looking for interim engagements to modernise technology teams to help organisations transform.

3 thoughts on “More on micro-participation”

  1. Something that’s been bugging me for ages – why is the Communities of Practice website locked away in a walled garden, accessible only to people who have gone through the hassle of signing up (assuming they are allowed to join at all)? Surely it would have more impact if ordinary people could access the content, read and share in the discussions, and share web pages with other people via email. It’s not even as though it provides a confidential forum for discussion – otherwise I guess you wouldn’t have felt able to copy and paste the large chunk of text written by Dawn Iverson. And yes, I know it’s not your fault, but I don’t think it will change unless insiders push for more open-ness.

  2. Nice update, and some good examples. I would add http://www.manorlabs.org as a great tech led example that could easily be adapted to increase online and offline microparticipation.

    This post chimes with a blog I have just put up around defining engagement, especially online and using social media.
    My final paragraph bemoaned the fact that organisations (especially the police, which is my field of interest) haven’t yet managed to come up with effective ways for using social media and new technologies using it for working together with the public and other local agencies to achieve common goals and real world outcomes. The examples here are perhaps the start of that trend. After all if we can’t achieve real world change all this blogging, tweeting and facebook posting is pointless…which I guess ultimately none of us want to be.

  3. Let’s pay volunteers with coupons, cash or gifts from merchants to pick up litter.

    Never let anyone stop you from imagining a clean environment.

    Health is a result of environmental signals to your DNA.

    Every time you make a good choice against litter, positive chemical reactions happen instantly in your body & brain that make you more

    healthy and alive.

    In other words… Picking Up Litter = Free Drugs created by your brain.

    Future generations will not tolerate litter.

    Feel free to contact me if you want a free link from my website. http://LandStakes.com

    In hope of Peace & Synergy & Holo Pono

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