Another podcast!

lloyd-bcnfpToday I was at #barcampnfp – a rather fun unconference for people working in charities and other not (just) for profit organisations. I was flying the flag for TaskSquad, the fantastic youth employment startup that Mary McKenna is leading, and where I am doing some work at the moment.

I really enjoyed the sessions I attended, and will blog more about some of the topics later on. However, one of the best bits of the day was getting to hang out with Lloyd Davis, one of my favourite and best people, and while we chatted we switched on an audio recorder and did a podcast.

The mp3 is here for you to download and listen to. Alternatively, head over to Lloyd’s post where there are some show notes.

Lloyd on GovCamp

The group blog collecting people’s thoughts is really good reading.

Lloyd hits the nail on the head here:

We do it this way because it works and because we’ve seen the alternative really fail big time again and again.  Because it’s unusual for most of us and outside of our everyday experience, it’s tempting to make two mistakes.  One is to think that because it’s the first time we’re doing it, that this is the first time it’s being done – nope – it’s a well-established technique that is probably used somewhere in the world every day to help large groups of people organise their own experience.  Secondly it’s tempting to look back at bits of the day that didn’t work for us and think it didn’t work because we got the grid work wrong and therefore we should do it differently next time.  This mostly comes up as a suggestion that “just a little bit more structure or pre-planning” is introduced.  While I’m sure that we do get things wrong sometimes and there are ways that we can make the process serve us better, I don’t think that it’s a reason to introduce pre-planning.  All that pre-planning does, in my experience is make people who are feeling anxious and don’t trust the process think that they will feel better.  The answer is to trust the accumulated experience that the process works well – this will give you much more relief from anxiety and will truly make you feel better.

Telling tales

One of my favourite sessions at LocalGovCamp was Lloyd Davis talking about his trip across the States and his upcoming project to go where the work is in the UK.

Here’s a video (if you can see it):

I speak up with a few minutes to go at the end, making the point that I am going to write about here, that the best bit about lloyd’s adventures are the stories he tells about them, whether at events like LocalGovCamp, his live shows or the blogs and videos he publishes.

Indeed, this is the lesson that public services can learn from folk like Lloyd – that having the ability to tell stories, the platforms on which to do so and the culture where stories are listened to, is really vital for an organisation to be considered healthy.

Consider feedback platforms like Patient Opinion, mentioned in the video above. It’s really a platform for service users to tell their stories and the key is that health service providers listen and act upon those stories.

Just as important though is for people working with public services to tell their stories. There are benefits internally – keeping colleagues up to date and informed; and externally – providing a human face to the world.

Telling stories shouldn’t just be something that we do with our children. Think of the best talks you have heard at conferences and other events – no doubt they will be packed with stories that contain some personal detail or humorous remark that helps you remember them.

In many ways that’s what LocalGovCamp itself should be all about. People getting together and telling stories, leaving those that hear them to take from them what they will.

Do follow Lloyd on Twitter – he is consistently entertaining and occasionally useful – and if you get the chance to offer him some work as he travels around the country, do so. You can find out what he does best here.

Clouds and culture

CloudsLloyd Davis is a lovely man, and a very clever one at that. He founded the Tuttle Club, a weekly networkingy sort of meetup for people who like the internet and other people, which is at the same time very simple but also rather ingenious.

He also sports an even more ludicrous job title than mine, for at least a part of his time – he is Social Artist in Residence at the University of London’s Centre for Creative Collaboration. What does that mean? Mary has a go at explaining here. I’ve written a bit about social artists, as has David Wilcox.

Lloyd ran a couple of sessions at last week’s Likeminds conference – he facilitated a panel session; and hosted a lunchtime discussion, which I attended, on ‘cloud culture’. This is a topic he has written about on his blog, and which has been the focus of quite a bit of attention from such luminaries as Charles Leadbeater.

I found it a really interesting topic for discussion, and I’m grateful to Lloyd – and the organisers of the conference – for creating a space where I was made to think about it properly. There are, of course, many aspects of our culture that are affected by the internet, and use of the cloud in particular.

There is the issue of cultural ‘stuff’ or products, like stories, music, films, art etc. Traditionally hosted by museums or galleries, or publishers; what effect will be had by this hosting now being performed by Amazon, or Apple, or Google?

The case of the music industry is particularly interesting, of course. People have been making music for thousands of years. Record labels have existed for a handful of decades. You don’t need the latter to make the former possible. Artists don’t need bigorgs to distribute their work any more – get over it.

There are other types of culture too. What about national culture, in the age of the internet and globilisation? If all our culture is online, in the cloud, what effect does that have on who we think we are?

One of my main interests is organisational culture, classically defined as ‘the way we do things around here’. This is an area where the effect of the internet is probably most measurable. It’s also true of course that the internet itself has a culture. What lessons can organisations learn from this internet culture?

This goes back to my constantly repeated point that the interesting thing about the use of online technology is not the technology but the implications of using it. Internet culture is open, it’s cooperative, it’s funny, it’s transparent. These are the things we should be pushing our government to be.

What I like are examples of offline activity that wouldn’t be possible without the internet. Tuttle is one of those. On the face of it, it’s an old school networking meetup. The truth is, though, is that it’s an old school networking meetup that’s been filtered through the internet and its culture. Most of those who attend know each other virtually, introductions tend to go along the lines of “oh, so you’re [insert twitter username]”.

GovCamp is another example. So we met in real life, and the agenda was put together with post its on a big blank bit of paper. But how was it that so many people were convinced to give up their Saturday’s to come and talk about government? It’s because of the internet culture of openness, transparency, collaboration and the democratisation of publishing. Just as anyone can publish online, whether with a blog or whatever, anyone can speak at an unconference.

As I mentioned earlier today, I’m hoping to run a session at this week’s London LocalGovCamp about what lessons internet culture can teach local authorities, and other public sector organisations. Anyone who is coming to the event, please do come along and join in. Those that aren’t, I’d appreciate any comments.

Here’s a video where Lloyd talks about his stuff:


I attended my first Tuttle Club on Friday morning, and it was well worth having a day off work and the train fare down to London, not least because I got to meet Neville Hobson in person, finally, after several years on chatting online. We spent a happy time talking mobile devices, video, and Qik, with Tim Davies. Tim had some great thoughts on how this kind of content creation can be used to draw young people into greater levels of participation. It has its risks, of course, but potentially great benefits too.

There was also the chance to introduce myself to Josh March, and I am eternally grateful to him for not punching me 😉 Lloyd Davis was, as always, a great host and good conversational value. Even if the Tuttle Club develops no further, as a weekly gathering of like-minded folk it can’t be beaten, and he deserves our thanks for that. Hopefully, though, things will gain more momentum and it sounds like Lloyd has a number of volunteers ready for action. With Lloyd’s vision and the enthusiasm of this remarkable community, anything is possible.

Most of my time was spent with Tim and David Wilcox, talking through ideas around increasing participation and how roles, worldviews, platforms and processes can be developed. Here Comes Everybody was mentioned, of course, and the Shirky mantra of organising without organisations is becoming central to our thinking about issues. It’s a great concept because the online isn’t necessarily given priority and the blending of offline techniques with social media will probably produce the best results. Discussions around news and journalism were interesting, especially in the light of David rebranding himself as a ‘social reporter’.

The three of us then had a chat with some ladies from Qik, the live video streaming from your Nokia people. We had a great chat recorded onto Qik which I also recorded on my traditional camcorder. I’ll bung the results up on YouTube when I get the chance. Qik is an amazing service technologically, but it also has potentially huge ramifications for citizen journalism and the setting of the news agenda. Every person with a decent Nokia phone now has a TV studio in their pockets. Amazing. I’m sure I will be writing more on this in the near future.

Tuttle Club is fab, therefore, and I’m hoping to get back down there before too long.