2gether no more

So, it’s all over. 2gether08, Steve Moore‘s vision of getting good people from the media, government, third sector, social entrepreneurs and the world of webbies together, was a fantastic couple of days in the (mostly) sunshine. There is so much to talk about, and loads going round in my head.

First up, my session. We had 45 minutes to run the social media game. It kind of worked.

Me presenting at 2gether08The room split into two groups, one looking at Tracey‘s issue of creating an online umbrella community for local low carbom networks, and one looking at supporting respite carers online. Each team produced a set of specifications, which were then passed to the other team to act as ‘consultants’ – picking out the tools which could be used to meet the challenge.

Big shouts to Lloyd Davis, Tim Davies (I think I got the surname spelling the right way round…), Matt Waring, Mitch Sava and Paul Henderson for their help in guiding the n00bs around what some of this stuff actually does.

One of the cool parts of the game is that not all the tools are techie, and it was soon picked out by both groups that a blended approach of on and offline is required for a successful social web strategy. Pretty much every organisation could benefit from taking the time to play games to figure this stuff out. I’m planning on making the leap into self-employment in the very near future, and I’d like to develop the game, and others like it, into ways of showing organisations that planning can be made fun, and that meetings don’t have to be boring.

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I also handed out a load of paper, which seemed to go down well. Tim’s social media primers were very popular, as was Paul Caplan’s Social Media Guide, and Colin McKay’s marvellous Secret Underground Guide to Social Media for Organisations.

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the session, and big thanks to everyone that joined in. I’m absolutely convinced that for events, conferences or whatever, doing fun stuff is more important that sitting and listening to people on stages.

Of course the real value of any event of this kind is in the network, which means hanging around during breaks, and while you should be in session, meeting new folk and chatting to old friends. I made a tonne of great new connections and have a wallet full of moo cards to prove it.

As Lloyd says, though, at some point the talking has to stop and the doing has to start:

I feel it physically. It’s painful. I think sometimes it’s the thing that winds me up most about events – the raising of potential and the lack of resolution. I know I’m going to feel it again tomorrow. The only answer I have by the way is something Umair Haque said this morning: “Organise something” Y’know like “just do it” but no, really do it.

Amen to that.

Thing are coming 2gether

I am looking forward to the 2gether festival this Wednesday and Thursday, lots of cool people coming, and lots of exciting sessions to attend. You can find out more at the event’s blog, or by looking around the associated social network, built on Crowdvine.

I was flattered to be asked to run a session on social media and web 2.0 tools, which is happening at around 11am on Wednesday. I probably would have preferred it to be later so that people buzzing with ideas could turn up and work out how to put them into action. This way, though, people will know what’s possible and be forearmed with the knowledge of the tools as they hear about other initiatives, which is cool.

I’m going to be running a social media game, along the lines of that developed by David Wilcox and Beth Kanter. I’m designing and making the cards as we speak, and will be printing out various guides and cheat sheets like those developed by Tim Davies, Colin McKay and Paul Caplan. I’m also going to be helped out by David, Tim, Paul Henderson, Matt Waring, Mitch Sava and Jeremy Gould, who (if required!) will be helping out the groups playing the game by explaining and demoing stuff.

That’s not all, though – I have also been drafted in by Tracey Todhunter to help develop her ideas for a ‘communiversity’ for low carbon communities. She writes about it here. We’re going to start off in my session, so Tracey and her colleagues can develop a strategy using the game; and then take the results into her session to drum up support and refine things.

Here Tracey talks to David Wilcox about the project:

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It’s going to be an exciting couple of days.

Who’s left blogging?

Charlie Beckett writes entertainingly about the state of the presence of the political left in the UK blogosphere:

The Online Socialists have various problems.

No-one reads them. Guido Fawkes and his wicked Right-wing pals are far more entertaining and they know how to write for an online audience: scurriously, succinctly, directly. They are much more committed and actually contribute facts, stories and vitriol to the debate…

The Left bloggers want to change the world but they don’t want any responsibility. In this they are a mirror image of the right-wing blogosphere in the States.

This is a topic that Simon Dickson has picked up on several occasions, once pointing the finger at The Guardian‘s Comment is Free platform as overly-dominating online debate amongst liberals and left-wingers:

My theory, still in development, is that Comment Is Free is too big. If you want to read left-leaning blog content, you could start and finish on that one website, and wouldn’t miss much. And if you’re a leftie blogger, getting an item on Comment Is Free would put your rant in front of many times more readers than any solo blog.

It’s an interesting discussion. Can conservatives really be better at online than lefties in this country? And does it fit with other media – newspapers, magazines etc? I think there is probably an argument that The Spectator is a better read than The New Statesman, but then Prospect is better than Standpoint, so that’s kind of cancels itself out.

Online is important though, especially at time of political change, and of course we have one of those coming up in the next couple of years when we have a general election. Not only will comment-based blogs come to the fore, but parties and candidates will need to leverage the online during their campaigns just as Obama and others did in the States. I would hope they are planning what they are going to do now, otherwise it can end up being a bit of a mess.

Postscript: Charlie Beckett is going to be talking at 2gether08. Am signed up to go along for what should be a really interesting session.

A Catalyst for social innovation?

The UK Catalyst Awards are BERR and NESTA sponsored initiative which aims to:

recognise everyday heroes who use technology to make a positive impact on the world around them. What’s more, you could get support to take your idea further and help more people.

Sounds like a good deal to me! They are being organised by Dan McQuillan, an all-round online social change good egg. David Wilcox attended the launch at the beginning of May, and caught up with Phil Hope MP – who is Minister for the Third Sector – as well as Dan, and in his inimitable social reporter style, managed to shoot some video:

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You can still put forward your projects for the awards – and I believe they don’t have to be underway at this stage – good ideas might be enough. It’s a chance to try and drum up some support, get connected with other interested folk and maybe snaffle a bit of funding. And why not?

In other news, Channel 4 have revealed that there will be some funding via their 4IP fund at the 2gether festival in July 2008. It will be interesting to see how these two initiatives work together.

More on 2gether to come, by the way.