Post #ukgc11 – an experience

Going to a ukgovcamp #ukgc11 is an enlightening experience! Meeting people for the first time that you know and respect online is also uplifting. I was really thrilled to be meeting up with some of the people that were going to be there, as I have been passionate about using social technology in local government for some time now. Chatting to, following, listening to other people who are also enthusiastic about the subject on twitter is very empowering.

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govcamp badge

I have wanted to attend the big annual event for a couple of years now and to my excitement I was able to this year. When the big day of travelling down to the big smoke at Microsoft London offices finally came I was ready for all that going to camp had promised to bring, new ideas, fresh thoughts, sharing and inspiration to keep on keeping on with working out solutions.

Participants of an unconference set their own agenda which gives the day an entirely different feel and therefore the discussions have many different themes.

I thought it would be a good idea to take my video camera along and record some of the sessions, which I did – this did however put me in a different mode for the day and I found that tweeting/filming and trying to contribute to anything was proving difficult all at the same time.

It was a little overwhelming being in the room with so many incredible people all in one day. I did find myself doing more listening than talking (for a change). I have taken the day as one of soaking up the feel of a govcamp and reflection on what I have gained from attending.

govcamp agenda by @paul_clarke
govcamp agenda by @paul_clarke

The sessions I attended were Flickr and Wikipedia which was run by @danslee and @pigsonthewing and Hyperlocal websites and councils with @willperrin and co. and Blogging for the Community with @ingridk all areas I am particularly interested in both personally and professionally.

Theres a great write-up on what the Flickr session covered here on Dan Slee’s blog. Dan is well-known among the localgov community for his now invaluable guidance on how to do Flickr in Local Government. The session is based around how Flickr is being used in councils, how images can improve communication with the public and encourages collaboration. Dan as usual explains things in plain English along with some great examples with no jargon – just good old practical advice on how you can do this stuff – something I admire greatly.

I also had some fantastic informal discussions which is what I really love about unconferences – an informal atmosphere generates honesty, the barriers come down and people are willing to share their ideas with others no matter who they are. Such a positive vibe.

Here’s the video of @willperrins session. It covers an explanation of what a hyperlocal website is and how this fits into the localism bill. The conversation then turns to how councils could get involved.
The most interesting part of the session was discussing how councils can bridge the gap between locally run websites and local government. @micheleidesmith explains how Cambs County Council have developed a website to do just that. @willperrin has blogged about the session on the talkaboutlocal site here.

Instead of producing a static pdf format to push information out to the public – create a hyperlocal site or blog that could be built between citizen and council. Use social media surgeries to help people gain the skills they need to build sites. I have found by helping @808kate to run the first set of Warwickshire social media surgeries last year that the public do want to get involved and really appreciate the “surgeons” giving up their time to share knowledge in this way. Local website creators and bloggers have a lot of knowledge to share with councils. #warkssms

One thing that has come out of the day is that there is a need to revisit the success of the local government barcamp (BigLocalGovcamp) possibly to be held in the Summer this year around June. Details about scheming here. I highly recommend this type of unconference, going to a barcamp is a huge learning and development opportunity for anyone and it’s free to attend! Don’t miss out!

Some of the people I would like to give a virtual high-five to are @808kate @soulsailor @pigsonthewing @siwhitehouse @getgood @jvictor7 @podnosh @mike_rawlins @sashastaylor @paul_clarke @loulouk @mmarymckenna – for hugs @carlhaggerty @liz_azyan @danslee @abeeken obviously @davebriggs tons of other people I would have liked to have chatted to – next time I hope.

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