Or at least, about where people in public service can go to share ideas, ask questions and promote good practice.
Back in the summer of 2006, when I was working as a lowly Risk Management Officer (yes, you read that right) at a county council, I joined the nascent Communities of Practice platform, which was being developed by Steve Dale at the then Improvement and Development Agency.
I thought it was fantastic, and joined in with some gusto – so much so in fact that I did attract a little criticism from colleagues who thought – probably quite rightly – that I ought to have been concentrating on the day job.
One of the first things I did was to launch the Social Media and Online Collaboration community, which I ran until my circumstances changed and Ingrid took over. Under Ingrid’s watchful eye, the community grew into one of the biggest and most popular on the platform.
Over time though it became clear that the CoP platform wasn’t keeping up with the technological times: the interface was a little clunky and a few things didn’t really make sense in an age of hyper-sharing on Facebook and Twitter.
So the Knowledge Hub was born, to take things forward. Only, I’m not sure it has.
I’m not wanting to bash the hard work that people have put in. All I will do is describe my experience – that people aren’t using the Knowledge Hub, and activity appears to be way down compared to the CoPs.
On the rare occasions I log in, I find the site incredibly, almost unusably, slow – and the interface hard to find my way around. I mean, I spend my life on the internet, and I just don’t really know what I am meant to do on the Knowledge Hub.
I’ve been wanting to raise this topic for a while, but what made me do it was receiving a request for information on Twitter by a local government person.
I don’t mind it when this happens. In fact it’s rather nice, as it means people remember who I am, and I get a chance to be helpful. As the owner of a small business, I get that this sort of thing can be a useful marketing tool.
But I do think to myself that there really ought to be a place where good practice, case studies, stories, examples, discussions and helpful chat can take place.
Surely that should be the Knowledge Hub? But as I mention, it isn’t: hardly anyone is on there and people are using tools like Twitter to try and track down the information they need.
So what’s the answer? Given the investment so far, and the organisational backing of the Knowledge Hub, that platform ought to be the future of knowledge sharing and collaboration in the sector.
I’m sure there are a few tweaks on the technology, user interface and community engagement side that could push things forward massively on there, before the goodwill earned by the previous system is used up.
The other option is for something else to emerge to take its place. With a little time and energy, I’ve no doubt someone – maybe even me – could put the tech in place to make it happen. But the time and resources needed to engage an entire sector are huge – and if the LGA are struggling I dread to think what sort of a hash someone like me would make of it.
What are your views? Do you use the Knowledge Hub? How does it compare to the CoPs? Where do you go for your innovation knowledge, stories and chat?
Where do we go next?