GovCamp this Saturday

Blogging has been very light here just recently – GovCamp is basically taking over my life. Will be back on track next week, hopefully.

Here’s the text of an email I sent round to members of the network last night – it’s important reading.

Govcamp is this Saturday, 23rd January. I wanted to get in touch with you all to clarify the entrance arrangements. You must have a ticket via the Eventbrite system to gain entry to the event – Google are pretty tight on security, and if your name isn’t down on the list, you really won’t be allowed in.

You can check to see if your name is down at – if you are not listed there and you really think you should be, please get in touch with me by emailing as soon as you can.

For those that are coming, please arrive in time for us to kick things off at 10am. Oh, and bring a printout of your Eventbrite ticket, just in case.

UkGovCamp 2010 – #ukgc10


The previous two UK government barcamps have been wonderful events – bringing people together to start and continue conversations about how web developments affect the public sector in this country.

If we are going to run the event in January 2010, we probably need to start organising it now. So I have kicked things off a bit by tidying up the online community, adding a blog post ‘announcing’ January’s event and setting up a form for people to register their interest in the event.

So do head over to the community and start sharing some ideas, stories and experiences. And make sure you tag your stuff with ukgc10!

Barcamping today

This morning, over 130 people interested in the way government uses the web will be descending on London to, well, have a bit of a natter.

There has already been plenty of chat on the event social network, and hopefully this will mean we can really hit the ground running with all the sessions people have been planning and discussing.

Big thanks go out to those who are supporting the event, such as DIUS, who are providing some lunch; Mitch at PolyWonk for funding the post-camp drinks, and Huddle who are providing drinks and snacks during the day.

Big props too to Jeremy, Steph, John, Jenny and others for their role in getting this thing going. For Jeremy, this will be his last hurrah before moving to Ireland and I’m sure we’ll all be able to send him off in style.

For those wanting to follow the event, Steph has created a Friendfeed room, and I have cobbled together an Addictomatic page. Whatever works for you, guys.

Barcamp on Ning

The upcoming Barcamp for UK government webby stuff now has a social network, thanks to Ning!

In many ways, this is a copycat …err… following good practice attempt after the excellent network set up by Tim Davies for the UK Youth Online event back in September. Having a more social environment for people to talk to each other before, during and after the event might help foster connections made and help get things done.

Of course, it isn’t to everyone’s taste and those that prefer email can stick with the Google Group and dedicated wiki-ers can use GovHack or the event wiki if they choose to.

I’m overcoming some of the issues I have had with Ning – a lot of the designs are now cleaner than earlier efforts, they are making a good fist (sorry) at getting rid of the ‘adult’ networks, and it’s easy to pull in content from elsewhere. Also, the simple act of paying a bit to get rid of the ads improves things.

So do swing by even if you can’t make it on the day to be a part of the conversations around this great event!

Barcamp-Teacamp this Thursday (18/12/08)

Teacamps are the rather British regular get togethers for people interested in cool webby stuff in government. They take place every other Thursday at the House of Fraser cafe on Victoria Street.

Turnout has been a little disappointing of late, so I hear – I’m one of those that hasn’t appeared for a few meets – but it would be great to have as many people along as possible this week. For  one, it’s nearly Christmas and it would be good to pass on season’s greetings in person.

Mainly, though, it seems like a really good opportunity to discuss the upcoming Barcamp, which is taking place at the end of January. From what I gather, preparations are progressing nicely, but it would be great for a pre-meet to take place, where folk can talk together about what they are planning to present, or maybe what they would like to see from others.

So, hope to see lots of you there – 2pm, Thursday 18 Dec, House of Fraser cafe.

BarcampUKGovWeb is back, back, baaaaack!

Tom Watson points us all to a new wiki for getting the next barcamp for UK (and elsewhere) government webbies going.

Sign up and start thinking about you could present about! I have already put down that I’m interested in running a social media surgery which worked so well at the UK Youth event in September, and which is being pioneered amongst the blogging community in Birmingham.

For a flavour of what went on last year, check out the aggregated stuff on the pageflake. For discussion of the event, last year’s Google Group is being used again.

I am really happy to promote and support this event as much as I possibly can – last year’s event had a tremendous effect on me, in the friendships I made and the developments I my career. It’s an easy and maybe glib-sounding thing to say, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without the Barcamp, and I encourage everyone to make as much of it as they can this time around!

Jeremy has now blogged it too.

Teacamping this Thursday

Teacamps are the bi-weekly get togethers of people interested in government and the web, which emerged from January’s Barcamp.

I don’t get along nearly as often as I would like – something that will hopefully change now I have a bit more control over my time – but I will be heading down to the House of Fraser cafe on Victoria Street this Thursday. Hope to see plenty of folk there!

Government offline

The Economist has published an interesting article on “Why business succeeds on the web and government mostly fails”:

Why is government unable to reap the same benefits as business, which uses technology to lower costs, please customers and raise profits? The three main reasons are lack of competitive pressure, a tendency to reinvent the wheel and a focus on technology rather than organisation.

That reflects another problem. In the private sector, tight budgets for information technology spark innovation. But bureaucrats are suckers for overpriced, overpromised and overengineered systems. The contrast is all the sharper given some of the successes shown by those using open-source software: the District of Columbia, for example, has junked its servers and proprietary software in favour of the standard package of applications offered and hosted by Google.

Hmmm. Thanks to John Naughton for the tip.

barcampukgovweb Developments

barcampukgovwebThe community that formed around the barcamp for uk gov web types (hence the name) has been working hard to start developing idea and connections that can start to have a real beneficial effect on the way that public services are using the web as a medium for communication and collaboration.

One of the ways this is working is through the Google Group, which is seeing some interesting discussions and some germs of top quality ideas are starting to emerge.

The trick is to capture these ideas and the various links and put them in a space where collaboration can start to happen. This can now be achieved using the GovHack wiki, set up by Adam McGreggor. A section for projects has been created, and once the discussions on the mailing list reach a point where it’s appropriate to do so, a page is created on the wiki to allow the ‘work’ to begin.

So, things are moving gradually, but at least they are moving. Mini-meets, like yesterday’s in a cafe at the House of Fraser store in Victoria, London, can only help as ideas are bandied about and possible solutions demonstrated. We need to ensure, though, that as much is documented as possible, so those that can’t engage face-to-face can still use the mailing list and the wiki to get involved.

I think it’s amazing that this is taking off in the way it has – fine, it’s incremental and evolutionary rather than there being any massive quick developments – but hey! maybe that’s just the British way. And there’s nowt wrong with that.

For Immediate Release

FIRFor Immediate Release is one of my favourite podcasts, which has Shel Holtz, Neville Hobson and a host of other contributors talking social media, web 2.0 and how it affects public relations and business communications. It’s good stuff.

Yesterday, Neville needed someone to step in to fill a few minutes, so I stepped up to the plate and spoke about barcampukgovweb. Neville has been very sweet and praised my efforts, but I think he might just be trying to make me feel better 🙂 Seriously, though, it was real honour to be a part of the show.

Anyway, you can download the episode here. I come in at about 16 minutes. I’d really like some feedback, as online audio is something I would like to do more of in the future. In other words, see this as your chance to stop me.