Announcing picamp Belfast

picamp-logoOver the next few weeks, I’m going to be promoting and working on ‘picamp’ – the political innovation camp event in Belfast on the 26th of May.

This project is being done in conjunction with the Northern Ireland political weblog Slugger O’Toole, with NESTA-sponsored Amplified ’09 and Queens University Belfast who have kindly allowed us to use their premises for the day.

The event will be a unconference – it will be managed in exactly the same way as a conventional conference, but there won’t be any listed speakers, any agenda or any charge to attend.

We’ve seen a proliferation of these unconferences recently. In Washington DC, Transparency Camp took place in March and one is planned for the UK in July. New applications that drive different forms of community are widely seen to have a disruptive potential. Continue reading


The Elevator Pitch: No1 – Steph Gray

The elevator in the Empire State Building. Should give Steph long enough for his pitch...

The elevator in the Empire State Building. Should give Steph long enough for his pitch...

This is the first in a new feature for this blog. I’ve approached some of my favourite democracy / participation bloggers and given them a choice of a few questions. The first to step up to the challenge is Steph Gray.

Steph blogs at Helpful Technology, and offers a fantastically informative round-up of the things that every civil servant and elected representative should know about an effective use of online social media in promoting a more conversational democracy. As an example of the wealth of posts on his sites in recent months, here’s just a smattering:

Here’s the scenario:

Steph has stepped into a lift and found himself alone with an innovation minister. He sees that they are both traveling up all 26 floors of the building and you are likely to be uninterrupted. The Minister recognises Steph (who had the chance to introduce himself earlier and outline who his job and who he is). So the Minister already knows that Steph leads on Social Media at the department. He’s been working on how they can connect better with young people through social networks and that kind of thing. All very interesting stuff, absolutely where they need to be, being the Department for Innovation and all that.

Here is Steph’s pitch:

“You know, we can put videos of speeches on YouTube and set up Facebook profiles, but what impact do those things really have? We need to become a properly interactive organisation. For a start, people expect feedback, so if we ask them to talk to us online, we need to make the time to respond. So the people here who used to answer letters and brief the Press should be switching to new roles engaging with online debates currently going on without us. Better still, what if we opened up our policymaking for outsiders to shape and improve? People on the front line know more about what works than we do – let’s involve them, and our customers in generating ideas with us in the open. Sure, there will be some crazy stuff, but the good ones will rise to the top and people’s passion and commitment will surprise us.”

Now, what do you think that the Minister made of that then?