My hopes for 2009

I wouldn’t be so foolish as to try and make some prediction for 2009, as they would be bound to turn out to be hideously wrong within a very short space of time. However, I feel a little safer writing a bit about what I hope will happen in the world of govweb / digital participation:

1. We start to get the most out of communities

I want to see everyone making better use of their networks, and creating new, better ones where they are needed. This can be on or offline, or even better a blend of the two. I’d like to see some real appreciation of the role of the manager, or facilitator of communities and more done to bring together the people that get how it can be done. More talking and more sharing would be very nice!

2. Better risk awareness

Believe it or not, in a previous life I was once the risk management officer for a county council. I think a lot of the talk about risk when it comes to the social web is actually just an excuse not to do things that people might find a little bit frightening. This is most true when it comes to the blocking of social websites on office networks, but it can be applied to a number of areas, whether getting involved in online conversations or becoming properly collaborative organisations. The mature approach to risk is to assess them and manage them – but also to take them. Running away leaves you just as exposed as blundering blindly in.

3. Social reporting as learning

I’m still buzzing about the stuff I wrote about here, inspired by David Wilcox. Like many, I have caught the social reporting bug, and now the connection with networked learning has been made, it makes even more sense to me. I hope we see more and more events, workshops, training sessions and conferences incorporate the creation of online learning spaces to make the sharing of stories and knowledge so much easier.

4. Netbooks for all

I’m really excited by the sudden growth in popularity of these small but (usually) beautiful machines. I now have two: an Asus Eee and a Samsung NC10 – the latter more useful than the former thanks to its bigger screen and keyboard. The small price and size of these computers make them ideal for people who might not otherwise buy a PC, and the fact that they come wireless enabled means more people will be able to access the wonders of the web than would otherwise be possible – especially with all these deals around mobile broadband and the like.

5. Digital mentors for government

I like the idea of digital mentors, obviously, as my involvement with Digitalmentor.org and Voicebox has shown over the last few months. However, I keep going back in my mind to this comment from Tom Watson, which mentioned having folk fulfilling the role of digital mentor for government – in other words, providing the coaching and resources needed to let public servants decide for themselves the tools they want to use. I think a simple mixture of awareness-raising and some practical demonstrations, and perhaps an online peer support community, is all that would be needed to get this off the ground. Maybe something to discuss at January’s barcamp?

So that’s some of the things I am hoping for. What about you?