Archive for the ‘Digital Daydreams and Networked Nightmares’ Category

Important news: The Future for #lgovsm

April 16, 2013

Louise Kidney (@loulouk) began the #lgovsm initiative several years ago, as a far-sighted opportunity for local government people using fledgling social media opportunities for a variety of purposes. The aim then, as now, was to help people use social media to share information and intelligence, to grow a network of users, and to raise awareness.

Things were generally rather different back then, of course. #lgovsm was a major lobbyist for the emancipation of social media – Twitter in particular – for it to be seen as far more than a new comms team tool, for example, and to push for responsible experiment with the many opportunities unlocked by social media generally.

With a few gaps in its timeline, a key part of #lgovsm has been the Tuesday evening, hour-long Twitter “discussions” on a series of given topics, or sessions with a guest host. Past and ongoingtopics have been revisited from time to time, to test progress and growth.

Local government has changed a lot during the life of #lgovsm. Social media, and the use organisations and individuals make of it has changed even more so. Both, of course, will always evolve. And so must #lgovsm. For many, the hashtag has already assumed more importance than the Tuesday evening discussion sessions.

It’s obvious to say local government has no monopoly on good ideas or good practice in using social media. What constitutes “local government” itself has also changed a lot. An ever widening range of public services are being delivered by agencies and partnerships, rather than by traditional “in house” local government structures. Sharing information and innovation on the use of social media as an element of digital public services has never been more important, and a wide view of what local government is nowadays needs to be taken to do this properly.

Those of us who have hosted #lgovsm discussions for the last couple of years have for some time recognised that the role of social media in the delivery and management of local services would continue a path of inexorable growth. We also kept an open mind on the added value that the once a week, “are we all sitting comfortably”, Tuesday night session would bring. We feel the point has now arrived critically to question the value of this.

The #lgovsm Twitter hashtag enjoys wider usage than just as a rallying point for those able to sit in on the Tuesday sessions. We want to see this continue, of course. However. we feel it has become increasingly artificial to attempt to corral wisdom and opinions on a given topic into one hour a week. There is no shortage of topics, of course, nor of knowledgeable hosts, advocates and participants, and we’re not suggesting twitter gatherings like that using #lgovsm be abandoned altogether.

We are, however, proposing that the Tuesday evening #lgovsm hour should end, but that the hashtag itself should be used more and more by those tweeting about local services and how local services use social media. The hashtag needs to remain a valuable rallying point for information and sharing.

Maybe this will free up those minded to do so occasionally to set up one-off #lgovsm discussions at other times (and for some, more convenient times). We will ourselves look to occasional good opportunities for others to share their wit and wisdom in this way from time to time – just not regularly at a fixed time once a week.

These proposals are aimed at evolving #lgovsm, not undermining it. The 8.30 #lgovsm session already advertised for Tuesday 16 April will serve as a chance to unpack some of these issues.

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To Blog, or Not to Blog. Is that a question?

November 29, 2012

I’ve written this blog for a specific purpose. That’s not true of all of them, of course!

Very shortly, I will be helping to run the first training course about social media that those lovely people at the award-winning Voluntary Action Within Kent have laid on. The audience will be drawn from several local voluntary organisation. This blog is one of my visual aids.

We’re taking a simple approach in this introduction. It isn’t a social media surgery; we’ve no time and not got the facilities for that. No, it’s a basic introduction to what social media is, and how it can be used in the voluntary sector.

Basically, we’re breaking the whole social media world down into four blocks:

Social networking
Media sharing
Blogging
Fundraising

Yes, I know there are things that sit outside these categories, and several which occupy a place in more than one category, but we have a little over half a day for the session!

I’m going to use this blog as a visual aid in the session about blogging. No surprise there. I want to use it also to advertise a very useful piece of work that’s recently been published by Honey Lucas on her The Very Tiger’s web site.

This is an online training course for the voluntary sector about why charities etc should be blogging, and how they can go about it.. You can find out more about it here.

It’s great that there are resources like this around. We could probably have run the whole training session around online resources other people and organisations have posted on the web!

What could a National Park Warden do with Social Media?

November 14, 2012

My pal Dan Slee (@danslee) today posted that question on Twitter today.

I was, frankly, a bit amazed at the thought that our National Parks and/or their staff weren’t already exploiting social media. A quick search on Google revealed that there were some National Park Chief Executives or “admins” blogging and doing other things on line. But not Wardens. It’s clearly been thought about. These were sad finds, for example:

http://www.breconbeacons.org/environment/helens-new-folder/wardens-blog
and
http://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/index/looking-after/rangers.htm

A thousand and one thoughts started racing through my mind, which I’ve distilled down to this short list of possible uses. I hope these might set further thoughts running in the minds of others. I offer it simply to get a discussion going and other ideas to be put forward. It seems to me most of it would apply to local authority country parks as much as to National Parks.

1) Every Warden to have a smartphone and a Twitter account of their own, and be encouraged to tweet about everything they do. (I do realize I am taking mobile phone reception for granted here, which it might not be throughout some of our National Parks). The opportunity for tweeting weather conditions, traffic and parking problems, photos of work they are doing, safety issues, appeals for help, and so on. Real time news is a reality via Twitter. There are some really good examples of people tweeting really interesting stuff about the job they do.

2) Every Park to have a Facebook page and to encourage visitors to use this for comments, photos, discussions, etc, etc. The National Park authority to play an active part in turning these things into discussions, to encourage visitors, responsible behavior, environmental awareness, and so on.

3) National Park Wardens should be blogging! Regular pieces, with photos, from Wardens, would be a fabulous way to share the important work they do. Hats off to the voluntary wardens in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park for this, as an example.

I’d love to read a regular blog from a Warden working in any of our National Parks. Just think of the wealth of information they could share as the year goes round, even blogging, say, once a month?

4) Photo and media sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube are social media. National Park Authority web sites should have online photo and video galleries, and be encouraging Wardens and visitors to be feeding material to these.

I have no link with any UK National Park, though I’ve visited them all, some many, many times. I hope someone find this helpful.

Who was that Masked Man?

June 27, 2012

That title (a hat-tip to the 1960’s Lone Ranger tv series) might date me, of course!

I spend breakfast-time most days listening to music and reading up on the latest on social media, plus links stored up from the previous day. It kickstarts the brain. Well, it does mine, anyway. However, today, my reading was tinged with sadness.

Out of the blue, the bloggers at We Love Local Gov announced they were closing the site down. No more will there be piquant, thought provoking, occasionally hilarious daily chapters from people who have always “got it”, to send me on my way once the final dregs of tea have been drained.

The news came just hours after the end of the #lgovsm tweet up about encouraging more blogging in and about local government. Particularly from within it. That made the We Love Local Gov news all the more of a shock, though I have to say I was quickly in agreement with this blog post from Dave Briggs of Kind of Digital.

I posted on the final WLLG blog my thanks to them for setting what I described as “the gold standard”  Three years of a solid, well-written and well-argued daily blog is one hell of a legacy. I hope that, as Dave Briggs said, they do end up being an inspiration and encouragement to others, and that others will want to, as it were, carry the torch from here. That is, of course, what the WLLG bloggers hope for, too.

The #lgovsm session suggested that although there are many local government bloggers, there are even more would-be ones who are being held back, or are feeling held back, by poor IT infrastructure at work, or (more commonly) by fear of what senior management might think, say or do, the moment the blog goes in some way “off message”. This is desperately sad, of course, especially as the view is often based on an un-tested assumption about that management reaction.

This is leading many to blog anonymously and outside their work context, but is leading many more to conclude that blogging is just too risky at a time of highly politicised, cash strapped local government. I understand that, of course, having been on the receiving end of my fair share of idiocy and knee-jerk reaction in my time. WLLG contributors remained anonymous, of course, but in their case, it enabled them collectively to convey a far broader context and content than any one blogger doing one job in one local authority could ever do.

So, thank you WLLG. All power now to the likes of Comms2point0  and Weekly Blog Club and a gauntlet thrown down to the rest of us.

Digital Dreams and Networked Nightmares, and “To blog or not to blog?”

March 16, 2012

That is the question.

I’ve recently been working with a couple of organisations who want (and need) to start blogging. To be honest, the technicalities of this are pretty straightforward these days. There’s quite a small choice of good, adaptable and easy to use blogging platforms. A blog is far easier to set up than, say, and email address, and when you demonstrate how easy a blog is to create and maintain, there is a definite “wow factor” for those who have not been there before.

In one case, I was also able to show how one blogging platform could serve as a substitute for an RSS feed, a photo gallery, an adjunct (rather than a threat) to a well-established newsletter, as well as a basic blogging platform for managers, staff, volunteers, stakeholders, and so on and so on…. For both, the discovery that you could compose your content almost anywhere and cut and paste the content into the blogging platform was an additional eye-opener.

So, I hear you ask, what’s the issue then? Just get on with it.

Well, to a greater or lesser extent in both cases, neither body has really twigged what a huge difference a regular blog will make to their organisation. More than a newsletter, more than their slowly emerging Twitter feed, far more than an RSS newsfeed, and probably far more even than the web site on which it sits.

I get the impression that in some cases (and have one case in point in mind) the birth pangs of a web site are so horrendously challenging for an organisation that, once published, there is a real tendency to sit back, relax, and feel that the work is, basically, now over. If you ask how their web site will be discovered, the answer is usually “by browsing”, “Google” and so on. Great care always goes into web site home pages, and the cacophony of links that run from this, but few web site owners seem to realise that it’s normally a minority of users these days who navigate into content via a home page.

We’re in the day of posted hyperlinks, links in tweets, links in blogs and the like. These don’t say “go to such and such home page, click topic A, then sub-topic B, and you’ll find what you want”. They post links direct to content, bypassing home pages altogether. And that’s possible because we are into a growing culture of information sharing. I spend (aka “waste”) far less of my time nowadays browsing for and through web sites. I read blogs. Usually blogs containing links. I use aggregators like Instapaper to create a reading list that takes me straight to what I want, rather than casting me in its general direction and leaving me to search.

Like any social media, actually “doing stuff” is often well rewarded by a prior spell of “reading stuff”. It’s amazing who is blogging and what you can find regular blogs about. But unless you have an inkling of this, it can be hard to appreciate two key issues about blogs:

  1. they are THE way at present to get your views out to readers; and
  2. they will reward you with more feedback, comment and recirculation than you’ll believe before you begin.

And still they ask “But who will read it?”. This becomes an opportunity to stress the value of blogging and tweeting as partner activities. One of my organisations has 160 followers on Twitter and an e-mail list for its newsletter of about 200 others. That’s more than 350 potential readers for a start, before adding in the retweets etc that will share the content with ever outwardly rippling lists of others.

I’ve also been asked “should we tweet or should we blog?” My answer is that it isn’t either/or. Yes, Twitter began as a “micro-blogging platform”, and there are many users who are still satisfied to use it that way, condensing all they have to say into 140 characters. But how many of these are in your everyday timeline now, really? Anyone with anything to say is blogging elsewhere, and using Twitter as one of the most effective instant messaging services around, to post links. I’m increasingly aware that this is happening with newspaper articles (where the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” is setting a standard) just as much as it is happening with individuals and small organisations.

So, back to the original question. To blog or not to blog? How can you afford not to?

Digital Daydreams and Networked Nightmares….and Social Media Policies

February 28, 2012

Lately, social media policies and guidance have been recurring themes in things I have been reading. Some has been wise stuff, but wise or not, a lot of it was contradictory. I thought I’d see what happened when I tried to write about it, in an attempt to get a few things straight in my mind. Note that point well, please. I am not trying to write a social media policy. I am trying to get some points clear to myself about social media policies in general.

I worked for an organisation that went several years without any formal, written “social media policy document”. That may still be in that position – I’ve not asked. I added the word “document” there quite intentionally. I think there will be many organisations like that. In reality, they do have a policy or policies about social media, but they have just never captured or consolidated them on paper. So far so good? Well, that had me thinking. If it’s not gathered, organised, drafted, refined, shared in-house and maintained, can you really call it a “policy” at all? Isn’t there, for example, the likelihood that such an organisation will just be making rules up as it goes along? And what will those be based on? Will they be related to a careful prior view of what the organisation is about, what it intends to put into social media, what it hopes to get out of it? Will they be based on, or even acknowledge, perceived best practice elsewhere? Or will those rules be a constantly moving quicksand of precedent, fears (rational or otherwise), organisational culture/hierarchy/power struggles, and even ultimately, regurgitated myths, legends and folklore?

There seemed to me at the time I was there, relatively few dis-benefits in having no single place in the organisation that one went for “chapter and verse” on how to approach social media use. Okay, social media was a little bit more of a frontier town then than it is now, and it might have taken some bold thinking, and more than a few leaps of faith, to capture the whole organisation’s needs in one document back then. However, at the same time, there were people elsewhere who felt they had managed this to their own organisation’s satisfaction, and had even made their work freely available to others. Several of these so-called social media policies were perhaps, to quote Basil Fawlty, statements of the “bleedin’ obvious”. That point was made to me several times when I started to suggest our own organisation might actually be well-served by the discipline and potential insight of constructing some form of policy, guidance, rules, or whatever.

But obvious to whom? There were all kinds of reasons, methods and motives that led to people in our organisation becoming interested in social media. Some wanted to dabble and see whether there was value. Others were already persuaded and wanted to reap the benefits. Could there ever be something that set out clearly and succinctly some adequate guidance for both camps? It goes without saying that these were not the only camps, either. If there was a need to teach skills, was that the role of a policy statement? Probably not. But if the need was to identify good practice and set boundaries around its use, was that the role of trainers? Again, in my view, no. Was it not evident that a policy document was quite a useful way to bridge theory and practice, aspiration and reality? Wasn’t it a good way to set expectations show how social media might be relevant to the many working practices of the organisation to whose stakeholders such relevance had not yet dawned?

If what you had instead was a set of tensions between “JFDI” culture and reputation-management fears, between nurturing innovation and appeasing die-hards, even between younger members of staff and their elders, how could anyone be clear what was a) expected and b) allowed (if you will again permit me to boil the issues down to their most basic)?

Looking back, I can see that not having any form of recognised social media policy statement was ultimately likely to prove a bad thing. It meant two crucial questions couldn’t be answered. They were basically “What’s allowed around here?” and “What’s not allowed around here?”. That sounds unintentionally black and white. The truth is there are many shades of grey that also went unanswered, such as “What’s expected around here?” or “Where do I go for advice?”

Having thus persuaded myself that, liberal though I am on many things, I’m in favour of social media policies, I started thinking about what sort of policy I’d favour? Not specifically what content, but what scope, tone, voice, length etc.

I’ll not embarrass those whose encyclopedic policies have come my way in the last 18 months or so, but I’m happy to share this, from the Citizenship Foundation  and this, quoted on the Forbes website . Both are at the other end of the scale, and are examples of other, briefer routes. The first of these deals specifically with issues arising when “someone” says “something” online about an organisation. It’s novel and a model for advice on other situations. I dislike the “policy” quoted in Forbes quite a lot, however. It’s a sham. It needs an article to explain what it means, and ends up basically admitting that it’s just a gimmicky way to manage an organisation’s reputation. However, what it, and the Citizenship Foundation flowchart both have in common, is that they show how social media creates a need for a multi-faceted set of advice, guidance, rules, remedies and outlooks. That is to say, I might concede that a social media statement for, say, community engagement, might need to look and feel different to one dealing with media relations.

But I will admit to not yet having reached any conclusion about how to balance “length vs brevity”, “generality vs specificity” or even “rules vs guidance”. The journey continues.

Digital Dreams and Networked Nightmares…and the death of hope.

February 10, 2012

I think part of me died today.

Let me explain, but at the same time, try to keep it general, because there’s a general point at issue here, not just one specific to where I live or to what I’ve been involved with myself.

For many years, in one role or another, I have been involved with local authority elected representatives. I have had no regrets about that at all. Many of them are great people, with vision and a real social conscience (as I think we used to call it). However, the breed contains its fair share of overly self-opinionated, moralising throwbacks, too. Most work hard for few rewards. Some do very little and expect the world to fawn at their feet.

For many years, the aura in local authorities attaching to the status of elected representatives was out of all proportion. For the genuine, no-nonsense, task-focused councillors, it was easy to make far too much fuss. These were straight with the officers with whom they worked, open to being briefed, and prepared to be persuaded by facts. At the other end of the scale, though, were those for whom the local authority was no more nor less some form of “gentleman’s club” (for they were mostly male), and officers no more than bidden servants.

I did an induction event once for newly elected councillors. My theme was “Your journey starts here…” This went down well with most, but my good reception was spoiled, by five or six out of the dozen, who wanted to leave me, and their colleagues, in no doubt that they thought, having been elected, they had “arrived”.

It is a truism of democracy that the people get what the people voted for. I still chuckle at that line that says “It doesn’t matter who you vote for in General Elections, because it’s always the government that gets in.”. It’s also true (although more than a little theoretical in some areas) that if you don’t like what you got, the only recourse is to vote them out next time. But in the meantime, those in place are accountable to the electorate as a whole, and need to be seen to be so.

My own work in the field of community engagement gave me opportunities to try to make this so. I was well aware that the job would throw up issues of public apathy or  things like  the sense of powerlessness that can go with living in a traditionally downtrodden area. What I was much less prepared for was the force with which some elected representatives loudly, and often, (though seldom in public) voiced the view that the electorate could “take it or leave it”. Having voted, they were seen as having no more rights to be involved, engaged, consulted or otherwise encouraged to participate in decision-shaping, much less to be involved in decision-making.

Small wonder that many of these “representative”people were virtually unknown, even in their own electoral areas, or that many local authorities found themselves needing launch profile-raising initiatives for them. Sadly, some of these ventures simply had the effect of pandering to the egos of those who saw themselves as some form of neo-squirearchy, and  for whom personal recognition was a fruit of having (let’s be kind) 15% of a local population vote for you.

One battleground in which I seemed to find myself frequently involved was the issue of whether consideration of Issue A, or Development B etc should take place in public, or behind closed doors. It always surprised me too, that where electoral majorities were most secure, one would find the strongest desires to keep the press and public well out of the frame, and certainly out of the room.

The qualified rights of the public to observe local authority business have been with us for many years. The right of the public actually to take part in discussion about an issue as part of decision making, or even to help shape an outcome through things like participatory budgeting, are far newer in most areas. As such, they are delicate and vulnerable concepts which I, my colleagues and our managers often trod eggshells to nurture and help to take root. Some of us have even been trying to encourage those we voted for, as well as those we didn’t, to take social media seriously. After all, what better than to be able to have on-line dialogue about local matters with the people who put themselves forward as your representatives? Heavens; didn’t that nice Mr Pickles even exhort local authorities to be more open like this, barely a year ago?

But always, there was a sense of reluctance. The “just let us get on with it our way” voices seemed to grow louder. Some of those dedicated to social media in public engagement began to look (or rather, were made to look) a nerdy minority. Public meetings began to falter. It was always “the wrong time”, “too soon”, “too late”, “too difficult”, “too token”, “too cold” for them, especially if a feisty and pertinent debate was pretty much assured.

And then it happened.

Today. The senior politician responsible for localism and community engagement in my local authority decreed that the new partnerships created across the patch, to discuss and decide on a wide range of vital local issues, would not be open to the public. That was bad, really bad. But then, when not a single elected representative in the whole local authority raised any objection to that travesty, part of me died.

Digital Daydreams, Network Nightmares and Convergent Technologies

January 30, 2012

Do you remember “convergent technologies”?

Actually, I’m sure they’ve not gone away, but I’ve heard the expression rather less often lately. I think my introduction was as a mountaineer. I had a watch, I had an altimeter. Separate. Then someone started selling watches that were also altimeters, and soon there were altimeters that were also watches. One of these saved my life once, skiing alone in a sudden white-out in a remote part of Norway. Another story.

Then we had GPS units, and wished we could have a GPS that we could use like a wristwatch. Wish granted. I now have a GPS-altimeter-watch-MP3 thingy. A bit of me loves convergent technologies like this, even if it was basically the same stuff that gave us abominable music centres in the 1970s. Remember, one bit broke and all the rest were, in effect, useless?

I suppose that smart-phones are where it’s at right now with convergent technologies, upping the game to an extent that was probably inconceivable even ten years ago, when we had PDAs, Psions, etc.

Now, despite the impression I’ve given, I am not that much of a gadget freak. I describe myself as a devout non techie too. Early adopter of good stuff at best, but I am increasingly interested in the convergence possibilities of the apps that run on our modern shinies. And that’s made me realise how much tunnel vision there is on these things in the public and voluntary sectors, where my experience lies.

For some things I am doing these days, I’d been mentally mapping out the strengths and weaknesses of some of the basic components of public and civil engagement for a while. You know, Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, public meetings, webcasting, and so on, and on, and on. My reverie was halted by the elegant simplicity of something friends in Monmouthshire did recently, which was to post on YouTube something which has, I bet, in almost all local authorities, up to now been the province of public meetings – a presentation on the prospects for the forthcoming year’s budget, and the considerations behind precept setting.

Forgive me, those who have been doing this for years and keeping it a secret, but Monmouthshire’s piece nicely un-picked for me the view that some things are best at one thing, and other tools are necessary for other things. A quick test where I used to work confirmed that, say, YouTube was simply not seen as being “for” stuff like budget consultations. No, that was fodder for public meetings, where a highly polished, pre-packaged product could be launched according to script. Duty done, go home, move on. My personal cynicism extends to wondering whether there is a fear that putting something on YouTube might lead to it being seen by “the wrong type of people”.

I bet Monmouthshire have seldom found a more cost-effective way to get their budget proposals seen by more people, either. Yes, cost effective. The overheads for webcasting seem to me to be huge. The tech needed to webcast even the simplest meeting amazes me, when a couple of Flip cameras, or a few smartphones could do just as well for many events if the need is just to capture flavour, key issues and a few video-bites. Yet there is a mindset that web casting is “the way”. Like Twitter is “the way” if all you have to say will fit 140 characters, of FB is “the way” to get a young audience. You know these myths.

Now, I’m not claiming any Damascene revelations here. You and I see YouTube clips linked to tweets every day. But do we see them from government and local authorities? If not, what’s holding that back?

Unscientifically, I just did a quick search of ten local authority web site sections about Freedom of Information Act requests. Actually, it started out as more than ten local authorities, but there were several where I just got bored and gave up looking for their advice for would be FOI enquirers. All of the ten know very well that it’s legal and permissible to put in an FOI by Twitter. One of them even mentions this. However, in none of those I looked at (and it was a completely random trawl) did any give the Twitter address to be used in such cases. My conclusion? That deep down, those in charge of that content would really just prefer you didn’t use Twitter, thank you very much. It’s not “for” that sort of thing, is it?

Hardly a week goes by without me hearing from somewhere, of a local authority or voluntary organisation web site that encourages users to pick up the ‘phone to further an enquiry, rather than use e-mail to a specified address. Again, usually for the sort of stuff that those in charge deem to be best done (within their own comfort zone) by a telephone call. And so on.

I’m not saying there aren’t good people out there who are trying to get truly convergent with their communications and engagement channels, but I do think they are being held back by a rather limited tunnel view of “what works best”.

I suppose that now, I need to put this out on YouTube or tar myself with the same brush.

Digital Daydreams and Network Nightmares?

January 23, 2012

That good chappie Dan Slee was really on to something when he suggested folks should reflect on their experiences at the recent UKGovCamp in the form of a list of their top 20 points. Several others have since done this brilliantly, and left me in awe. However, I needed an incentive to start blogging from time to time on stuff other than my running and training, and I think Dan has given me that.

I’ve been to a number of unconference events now, and was at UKGovCamp last year too. This was, however, the first one I’ve been to since choosing to step off the local government (not so)merry-go-round last August. That meant I saw things through slightly different eyes to previously.

1. Has anyone done the sums yet? I got the impression that overall, people actually working in government (central and local) only amounted for about 50% of the attendees, and that local government was really quite a minor presence. I make this point because it’s an ongoing sadness with me that much of local government is so far behind the beat on this sort of stuff and these sorts of events.

2. Memo to self for next time: don’t expect to find much time for sitting chatting with people. I had a small list of people and issues we had said we’d discuss. We never did. Too many competing demands, lots of new friends to make, plus the inevitable temptation to simply crash from time to time.

3. Putting names and faces to Twitter identities is great. I used to think it a good week if I met one person I followed, and had not actually met them in person before. I reckon I met more than 50 over the two days of UKGovCamp.

4. Take care when you pitch for a session. I slapped my Post-It on the board early on, and thought I’d selected Friday’s slot 4, giving me plenty of time to prepare and talk the session up. With two minutes to go, I discovered I’d actually put it in Room 4 for the first session of the day. Sorry to those who came, if it looked like I was winging it. I was.

5. Don’t ever take for granted who might come to your session. I’d anticipated a certain range of participants, but 50% of those who came were actually opponents of the theme, in one way or another. They were, of course, polite and sustained a good case, but it still threw me, and might have frustrated a few participants.

6. Individually and collaboratively, Catherine Howe and Anthony Zacharzewski are a formidable pair. They also have that huge skill of being able to get the best out of everyone when facilitating a session, couples with the ability to make one forget coffee breaks and (nearly) lunch too. They’re that good.

7. Networks are seldom, if ever, two dimensional, no matter how well you draw them.

8. By a similar token “government” and “governance” is seldom single stratum. What seems right in a London Borough or a Unitary authority is just going to have to be done a different way where there are parishes, districts and counties all contributing to the process. That is a Universal Law.

9. I don’t mind if people like Mike Bracken come to speak at UKGovCamp. I have no real idea what connection they have to what I am doing day to day. They seldom leave me any wiser. That’s as much my fault as anything, but I don’t do squee.

10. I have never seen two conference promoters looking as relaxed during the event as Dave Briggs and Steph Gray. That can only be down to hard work at the times it really mattered, in preparation etc. I am envious of their skills in that respect, because you can never just hope “it’ll be all right on the night”.

11. Talking to Shirley Ayres made me realise how much our networks intersect and overlap. I suspect that is true for anyone who lives in more than one world. This makes for some delightful serendipity and coincidence. The world can be a small place at times, but I’d still not want to have to dust it.

12. I covet one single photo taken at UKGovCamp this year. It is this, by @ashroplad   Am I jealous? The sin of covetousness will suffice!

13. What I am jealous of is the ability of London based people to sustain something like #teacamp and do the necessary face to face stuff regularly and often. So, YES, to those who say local government needs a regular unconference of its own. Count me in as a participant, and  as a willing pair of hands in the preparation.

14. The jury must be out on the two day experiment for UKGovCamp. Steph has posted here about it, and I have added my two penn’orth to the debate. But even if it turns out to be a one off, we’d not have known without trying.

15. I see more and more geeks getting excited about QR codes, and Terence Eden ran a brilliant session about them, stripping bare many of the myths. However, I still don’t see their use catching on in some simple, basic local government uses.

16. It is far too long since I commuted to and from London. Travelling home on Friday evening was an unfortunate necessity made awful by a broken down train and a one hour trip taking two and a half. To the fellow travellers who said it was the third time that week, I can only say, “Surely to God, your physical presence in London is not THAT vital every day, is it?”

17. Steph’s blog points up the need to spend more time on setting each day’s agenda. I’m also wondering whether the introductions stuff can’t learn something from the world of speed dating?

18. A lot of “open data” sessions just seemed to me to be variations on a theme, and didn’t sell themselves to me at all. I am therefore worried that some of those discussions are either very esoteric, or insufficiently informed by people who understand the issues rather than the tech.

19. Can someone please point me at stuff about Reflective Practice that I can read up on, please? Missing the sessions on this is a great regret, which Carl Haggerty’s blog has impressed on me very much.

Like the lovely, relaxed Sarah Lay, with whom I did manage a few moments to chat, I’m leaving it at 19. In my case it’s because, as in real life in relation to keys, wallet, coat, etc, there will usually be something I’ve forgotten and need to go back for. It’s my age, you know.

(Oh, and if you’ve still not seen them, my photos from the event are here.