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Updates on Networked City – and the RSA

I’m currently blogging over here about the London Networked City exploration, and also about the RSA’s own Networked Cities initiative.

In addition, I’m  helping start a Fellows’ Forum for the RSA, and have put together some history of past RSA online initiatives on a wiki about OpenRSA.

London as a #networkedcity gains support at first event. Now here’s the plan

Update: there’s now a wiki containing background on the Networked City exploration and an archive of posts from the Networked City blog

First published on mediablends.com

We had a terrific meeting at Newspeak House earlier this week, which I trailed as the launch of the London Networked City exploration. I wrote previously:

The exploration we are launching tomorrow, with the London Council for Voluntary Action, aims to complement a much bigger exercise by London funders, LVSC and Greater London Volunteering.

That initiative, called The Way Ahead, was prompted in part by the fact that traditional ways of doing good through charities, voluntary organisations and community groups face funding cuts by public bodies, who now focus on contracting.

In addition the future of organisations like LVSC and GVA is in doubt. Fresh thinking is needed on the way that the whole system operates, from individual citizens working with others to improve neighbourhoods and support each other, to borough-level councils for voluntary service, and London-wide networks of interests and support.

The next steps for Networked City are to plan further events on January 31 and February 22, develop task groups around specific topics, and set up a blog and wiki and other tools.

I’ll post more shortly, including signup details for the January 31 event.

Updates

Here is the background paper we circulated for the event. It explains the relationship to The Way Ahead initiative in more detail, offers some models for thinking about civil society, and describes how we’ll use the fictional but realistic London borough of Slipham as a testbed for new ideas.

In the last post I pondered  or  … and on reflection  wins out for now. We do of course think it will be really good…

Thanks to Matt Scott who led the way on Wednesday, and everyone else who contributed so much energy. We’ll be in touch more directly as well.

For other information please drop a comment here, email david@socialreporter.com or DM @davidwilcox

 

Help us co-design a Living Lab to show #thewayahead for London’s civil society

Recently I’ve been writing at mediablends.com about a major initiative from London Funders, called The Way Ahead. Here’s some reference to TWA. The aim is to rethink how community and voluntary organisations are supported in future – not just through funding, but by infrastructure organisations like councils for voluntary service. The original report contained no significant reference to the role of digital technology, and there is  currently no budget for engagement and communication with Londoners, as I reported here. Here’s a proposal that might help on both fronts. Originally published on mediablends.com

Word cloud of post

The organisations that fund London’s community groups and charities, and support volunteers, are exploring how best to make the capital a better place to live and work at a time of big funding cuts and population growth.

Here’s how you can contribute ideas, in a modest way, on the role of technology and network thinking in enabling citizens to play a part – something so far missing from future plans. Read on for some background and our ideas for a Living Lab …

… or signup here for our January 10 event

In summary: we are going to develop the fictional London borough of Slipham, showing the relationships between citizens and organisations.

network map of slipham

Then we’ll play through how a mix of new approaches can help them create a better life in the digital age. It will build on a workshop we ran with the Centre for Ageing Better

The Way Ahead – Civil Society at the Heart of London – a report from London Funders – emphasises that Londoners and their communities should be at the heart of any future plans, through processes of co-production:

Co-production is where Londoners work with those in power, and each other, in a way in which all voices are heard equally in developing a shared understanding of need and in crafting solutions to make London a better place.

But as I reported here the funders and other organisations face a challenge in explaining civil society**, and moving from high-level ideas towards practical ways of putting co-production into practice. In order to work, co-production has to engage citizens, businesses and public bodies as well as community and voluntary organisations.

One further issue is that there was no significant mention of the role of digital technology in The Way Ahead. That’s now recognised, and there is a group working on data sharing. In addition, as I wrote here, Drew Mackie and I are working with one of the partners, the London Voluntary Service Council, to explore how people can use new methods for social action.

This could range from people using their smartphones to connect with friends, family and other interests – and groups and organisations – to campaigning and organising, and to the sort of innovations listed by NESTA and the Nominet Trust.

Digital technology, and the networks it enables, are important to the civil society organisations themselves. It may put them out of business – as has happened in so many other areas. As one group, the Community Sector Coalition wrote recently in a position paper:

The Voluntary & Community Sector as a collection of national bodies is over. Ministers and policy ‘think tanks’ have largely concluded that they can do without it, that social action can be generated through other means. We are proposing to embrace that shift towards independent action: increasingly a new generation is using digital technology, demanding and influencing change and which takes place increasingly outside of the voluntary sector and formal coalitions.

Clusters and groupings can mobilise almost instantaneously to take collective action. In such a world we don’t need a sector, an organisation or even an alliance of organisations to move forward: we only require, the spaces, platforms, networks and technology to mobilise and take action.

There is an issue about the infrastructure to support this new direction. But the agenda cannot come from Government – it has to be a critical and reflective eco-system, created by us all acting together with a shared and emergent vision. This is something we have to do for ourselves and our suggestion is to focus on building networks, alliances and active critical spaces. We propose we do this together in a non- hierarchical way. We can co-ordinate our own organising by working together, neither above nor below one another.

This provocative scenario may overstate the ability of people to self-organise – but it’s interesting that it comes from people rooted in the community sector – not technology futurists.

It seems to me there are three challenges for The Way Ahead: explaining the idea of “civil society” to those outside the community and voluntary sector, and engaging them in change; bringing technology and network thinking into the mix; and demonstrating how people might “co-produce” creative solutions locally in future.

One way to do that would be to develop a local demonstration in a London borough. But that would take years to organise – and The Way Ahead will be reaching conclusions in a few months.

So instead we are develop a simulation, which we call a Living Lab. We have created the basis for the fictional London Borough of Slipham, with characters, organisations, and a map of relationships. We are assembling a menu of ideas for making Slipham a great place to live and work – if the various interests will cooperate and collaborate to co-produce some solutions.

You can see here how we ran a Living Lab workshop in May with the Centre for Ageing Better to play through ways to help older citizens connect with services and opportunities in Slipham.

On January 10 we are inviting anyone interested to join us in planning how we can further develop and run the simulation, with several aims.

  • to show what civil society means by creating a cast of characters and telling the stories of their lives in a fictional by realistic setting
  • exploring what challenges and opportunities they will face – and how digital technology, together with existing well-tried methods, can help
  • engaging London funders in the discussion, to help them consider where they might invest in future
  • creating a model for co-designing local solutions that could be useful in later phases of The Way Ahead.

We have organised an event on the evening of January 10 at Newspeak House, designed to brief people interested in social tech for good on our plans. We’ll explain the simulation, and invite some ideas on how it might work.

Here’s one scenario we might look at – connecting older people, those with disabilities, and others with special needs and interests with new opportunities.

If you are interested, but can’t make it on the 10th, drop a comment on this post, email me at david@socialreporter.com or tweet to @davidwilcox. I post here later other ways to engage online, and news of other events.

We’ll also be experimenting with an online version of Slipham, with a network map, and presence for groups created with the interests.me system. We hope to work with the five theme groups working on The Way Ahead. I’ve already been to three, and terrific ideas are developing.

What’s in it for anyone who gets involved with the simulation? One idea we are considering is setting up a coop to develop Slipham, so that we can bid to sponsors and funders on two fronts: to enhance the simulation, and also to back “for real” innovation we may have for using digital technology and network thinking in civil society.

How will it turn out? We don’t know. That’s the challenge and excitement of co-production.

Links

** The Way Ahead report offers this definition of civil society:

Civil society is where people take action to improve their own lives or the lives of others and act where government or the private sector don’t. Civil society is driven by the values of fairness and equality, and enables people to feel valued and to belong. It includes formal organisations such as voluntary and community organisations, informal groups of people who join together for a common purpose and individuals who take action to make their community a better place to live.

Globalnet21 and London Futurists are organising a very relevant event on Ethics and the Digital Age on January 11 2017.

  • Should the widespread disruptions of the digital age alter our conceptions about morality and ethics?
  • Which ethical principles from previous eras should we continue to uphold (perhaps with extra urgency)?
  • Are there new considerations and realisations that we would want to inform our decisions about the future of technology and the future of humanity?
  • In such discussions, what should our starting point be?

You can find out more and register here

Update on Living Well in the Digital Age 3

My recent blogging is at mediablends.com including these posts about the Joined Up Digital initiative I’ve been working on with the Centre for Ageing Better

The @agenoretirement Festival builds on #joinedupdigital connector plans: create local community coops where #agedoesnotmatter

Ideas for connecting citizens and building local communities – developed in the Joined Up Digital initiative – moved forward significantly at The Age of No Retirement Festival yesterday.

How about new #joinedupdigital as a knowledge network, open source framework, and coop for working together

There’s no sign that any organisation will take forward the Joined Up Digital initiative for technology and older people, despite six months investment of time and/or money in the first phase by the Centre for Ageing Better, New Philanthropy Capital and Age Action Alliance. Fortunately a new option is emerging.

Looks as if @Ageing_Better #joinedupdigital may be dead after failed @BigLotteryFund bid

The JoinedUpDigitalProject, initially supported by the Centre for Ageing Better, has now heard from the Big Lottery Fund that its next stage bid has been unsuccessful.

Techy lunch in the City shows community spirit of corporate lawyers

I’m a big admirer of the the techy tea party movement pioneered by Sharon Tynan for Age UK London and then developed nationally by EE and Age UK. There’s now a National Techy Tea Party Day – or you can organise your own, as I reported last year from Primrose Hill. My friend John Popham has extended the idea to a techy Christmas party.

The original format is simple – companies invite older people to their premises, rather than send staff volunteers out to do good things in the community. Or hopefully both.

Then there’s tea, cakes and some face-to-face – or shoulder-to-shoulder – learning about technology. These days that’s as likely to be smartphones and tablets as laptops, with the option to bring your own or use devices provide by the organisations.

Learning at lunch

I think that the informal, conversational approach of techy tea parties, where people decide what they want to learn about, is an important complement to more formal training courses – and useful to people who already have some tech experience and want to explore further. If you bring your own device, then what works at the tea party works at home too. Not always the case with courses. Social media surgeries are another great model.

So when I spotted two local events in the City of London Healthwatch newsletter I asked Sharon if I could come along … provided I promised to blog a piece or otherwise help out.

I’ve lived in the City for 15 years – after various moves around the Midlands, Surrey, Reading, west London and Brighton – and it’s my favourite. There’s more than 7000 residents among the 300,000 workers, and lots to do, not least at the Barbican Arts Centre which is cheaper and better than many West End venues. Cheapside is now a lively High Street, and more pleasant than most.

Although bankers, lawyers and residents co-exist fairly happily we don’t usually get invited to lunch … so I was particularly tempted by the offer of a Techy Lunch at global law firm K&L Gates. They have offices in One New Change, the big shopping and restaurant complex across the road from St Pauls.

Link to video

Sharon had introduced me to Alison Westlake, who organised the event for the City’s Age Concern . In the video that I shot at the lunch, Alison describes how useful the events are for residents, and Fez Abbas, from K&L Gates, puts the event into the context of the company’s wider commitment to service in the community, explained here.

The sandwiches and cakes were excellent, K&L Gates staff exceptionally helpful, and residents contributed their own insights about the online world.

Conversations at the event, about the difficulty of finding information even when fairly confident online, gave me an idea for some possible follow through. While the City of London Corporation has good general listing of services, attractions and events, they can’t cover the whole range of smaller groups and informal activities in and around the City.

In addition, there’s scope for bodies serving older people – and anyone else – to improve their information and communication. Age UK London is running a Tell Me campaign on this.

I’ve been developing ideas with colleagues for a Maps, Apps and Storytelling initiative to provide people with better pathways to their interests, develop stronger networks in a community, tell stories, and help develop conversations online and off. One aim would be to support initiatives to address loneliness and social isolation … which can be an issue even at the heart of the City.

I’ve had some great discussions recently about developing a project in East London, using a mix of radio, other technology and events, and possibly linking up with the City for support.

I’m now thinking that I should make a start nearer to home, and see whether a group of tech-savvy City residents – and maybe corporate volunteers – would explore how best to use tech with other methods to help connect people with local opportunities, services and sociability.

I don’t think we necessarily need to develop a substantial new local web site or forum. A recent report published by NESTA and Cardiff University’s Centre for Community Journalism shows how difficult it is for the first generation of hyperlocal community sites to sustain their activity – not least because there are now so many source of information, together with DIY personal publishing via Facebook and Twitter. It’s as difficult to evolve hyperlocal digital business models as it is to keep local papers going.

The big challenge, in my mind, is how to make the most of existing local communications and resources, with an emphasis on making sense for different interests, connecting conversations, and helping people contribute. Adopt the principles of Asset Based Community Development in the digital world … join up rather than start up. I’ll see if I can gather any support for the idea and report back. If we can’t invent something appropriate both for the City and elsewhere, combining resident and business skills, where can we?

I’ll also be looking at what’s happening elsewhere. London can be complacent.

Update on Living Well in the Digital Age 2

Over the past few months I’ve been blogging at mediablends.com about my exploration, with Drew Mackie, into Living Well in the Digital Age, and been rather remiss in failing to provide an update since April – so here goes.

The most interesting recent development has been that the Centre for Ageing Better – initially slow to recognise the importance of digital technology – has now caught up, with the welcome announcement of a Digital Initiative and recruitment of a digital manager. More here

In addition, the Big Lottery Fund, which supports the Centre with a £50 million endowment, is promising to explore how digital technology could play a bigger part in the community projects that it supports. More here.

BIG has also announced £2 million of funding for a consortium to train and support hundreds of digital champions. The consortium – One Digital – is promising cooperation with others in the field. More here

We ran a workshop in July to explore how best to take our ideas forward – report here – and then things rather died during the holidays. My next step is to check in with the new digital manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, when appointed next month, and see if we can link the exploration to the Centre’s digital initiative.

A little recap on Big Society

I’m really enjoying Paul Twivy’s book Be Your Own Politician, which champions social action and citizen engagement, informed by his insider knowledge of how challenging it is to promote and negotiate support for that within the political establishment and Whitehall.

Paul recounts how he succeeded through work with Comic Relief, Timebanking, Change the World for a Fiver, and the Big Lunch, among much else – but not so much with the Big Society Network and Your Square Mile. His chapter on how this unwound is fascinating, and generally confirms my understanding as an independent observer and also paid-for socialreporter for the Network at one stage. Here’s the Big Society Wikipedia entry.

Paul recounts the point at which the change of leadership of the Network, from his initial role to that of Steve Moore, emerged through Steve promoting the fact in his bio for a TEDx event in Athens in November 2010. I picked up the bio reference – without any briefing from Steve – and blogged a piece “Steve Moore leads new Big Society Innovation Platform“.

I aimed to provide people with an even-handed update on Big Society developments, because they were so difficult to come by,  and declared I’d known Steve for a some years and worked directly for him and then the Network. I explain that Paul had worked hard on developing Your Square Mile, and this was due to launch soon.

Unfortunately Steve had jumped ahead of any official announcement, and Paul recounts in his book the difficulty and embarrassment this caused. (I didn’t appreciate until now that Steve had used Paul’s slides for his talk). May I offer a retrospective apology for my part in the upset? I probably should have checked, since I had worked for the Network, and owed it more than a purely journalistic relationship.

On the other hand, there was considerable public interest in Big Society and the Network, and I think it’s fair to say I was one of very few people trying to get behind the politics and provide a running account. I was frustrated by the lack of briefing – although reading Paul’s account, I can now better understand the reason for that. It wasn’t an open process.

Anyway, you can read that particular blog post here, and judge its tone yourself. The tag cloud on this blog – right sidebar – shows that that over the years I’ve written more about Big Society, Big Society Network, and Your Square Mile than most topics, starting with a report of the launch. That includes a video interview with Paul and Nat Wei, as well as David Cameron’s remarks. I subsequently joined the Your Square Mile mutual, reported the launch, including an interview with Paul.

I’ll leave the retrospection at that for now, although it would be interesting to reflect on what Your Square Mile was trying to achieve, and whether there are lessons for what’s now needed for local social action, blending digital and non-digital methods.  There may be some wider value in the work I’ve been doing with Drew Mackie on Living Well in the Digital Age, and the idea of local Living Labs.  Here’s some thinking on operating systems and social apps, connecting local frameworks with the DCLG Grey Cells model.

Updating exploration into Living Well in the Digital Age

Update summary: Over the past month we’ve run a workshop with the Department for Communities and Local Government; developed some ideas on why digital innovation is important on various fronts; engaged with the new Centre for Ageing Better; and authored a paper on networks and network mapping. In addition I’ve taken a few steps to re-organise content, including moving blogging about Living Well across to mediablends.com and setting up a wiki.

Blog posts from mediablends.com

Here’s summaries of recent posts on mediablends.com archived on a new wiki.

Next steps in our Living Well exploration Briefing for workshop held with the Digital Inclusion Group and Department for Communities and Local Government, outlining our ideas for Living Labs March 27 2015

Living Well workshop report Report on the workshop held with the Digital Inclusion Group and Department for Communities and Local Government March 27 2015

Do we need Operating Systems for Living Well in the Digital Age – or a more human worldview? The new Open Policy Making toolkit from Cabinet Office helps me join up the idea of a new operating model for government with an operating system for local labs for Living Well in the Digital Age. Together they could support the emerging Grey Cells model for digital service development and citizen online engagement. However, doubts emerge about the analogy. 04/04/2015

Practical ideas for making sense of technology in Care, Living Well and #AgeingBetter Local councils and partnerships will this year be faced with the growing challenge of deciding what technology solutions to develop and promote for care, health and wellbeing in their community. We’ve put together some ideas on how to approach those issues, from our exploration into Living Well in the Digital Age. The paper is here.

Why #AgeingBetter funders and policy makers should embrace digital technology – some resources Digital technology is increasingly important for Living Well in the Digital Age. Here’s suggestions on why funders and policy makers should review existing resources. 21/04/2015

Twitter helps @BetterAgeing Centre engage with potential for digital innovation in #AgeingBetter The Centre for Ageing Better has responded positively to a Twitter discussion about the lack of reference to digital technology in its strategy. Sending a blog post in draft helped. 22/04/2015

How do we shift from yet more research and reports to innovation in #AgeingBetter? Ideas please If we believe yet more old-style research and reports isn’t the way to promote greater innovation for living well in the digital age, how can we help organisations like the Centre for Ageing Better make the change? Ideas please 23/04/2015.

Networks and network mapping

Drew Mackie has authored a really comprehensive paper on networks and network mapping

Reorganising content

Here’s how I’m re-organising content following earlier blogging on this site, and use of  a Google site.

  • First, blogging is now over at mediablends.com, on a Withknown site. The advantage of that is the site allows you to automatically post the title and a link to Twitter and other social media. Any responding tweets then curate under the post, which makes it easy to track conversations. It also uses webhooks to post to the team space we have on Slack.com.
  • Second, my son Dan set up a Git-powered wiki on mediablends.org.uk where I’m gathering content from earlier sites, archiving the blog posts, and adding longer papers with Drew Mackie.
  • Third, I’ve followed Dan’s advice in using Markdown both on the blog and wiki: that’s basically text files with simple markup like # • [] () that an editor turns into html. It’s quick to write and easy to transfer between sites.

I’ll update occasionally here, but do please take a look at mediablends.com and content on the wiki.

Two reports promote people-led local solutions – Big Lottery Fund strategy and a Locality campaign

Two launch events today promote more local control and citizen involvement in the delivery of services and the development of community projects.

  • Locality, through its Keep it Local campaign, is pressing for more public service contracts to be let to local organisations, instead of large private sector companies. They quote research promising big savings, and well as more responsive services.
  • The chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, Dawn Austwick, has launched a strategic framework Putting People in the Lead, saying “we want to start with what people bring to the table, not what they don’t have; and from the belief that people and communities are best placed to solve their problems, take advantage of opportunities, and rise to challenges”

Locality is, in part, arguing on behalf of its 500 members, some of whom supply local services under contract and would like to do more.

However, I think there is a very valid argument more generally for local contracting, because it it will be increasingly important to make the most of local assets and relationships as public bodies face more cuts.

There’s a rather good 2012 Locality essay here by Jess Steele on new-style regneration.

New regeneration will be driven by local people as agents of neighbourhood change, connected through solidarity networks, with the state and market as enablers. It will focus on the fine grain of the lived neighbourhood, abjuring all silos and proactively weaving new fabrics of ownership and responsibility for the built and social environment. It will work within its means, finding new ways to unlock resources and capture value. It will encourage and reward the grassroots virtues of thrift, impatience and sociability.

That doesn’t work so well if a lot of the resources for local delivery are controlled centrally, and directed to standard formulae.

Locality have also been playing their part in realising local assets, and building networks, with their 5000-strong programme of community organisers that has supported around 1500 new community projects and actions over the past four years. The programme has been funded by Cabinet Office as part of the original Big Society vision. A new legacy organisation – Community Organisers Ltd, or CoCo – will launch this summer.

The Big Lottery Fund framework is admirably short, with the emphasis on some key principles and general statements about the way the Fund will work as an enabler and catalyst as well as grant-maker. Dawn Austwick writes:

We also want to be more of a catalyst and a facilitator – recognising the feedback we got about our place in the funding ecology and civil society more broadly. It’s not our job to prescribe but it can be our job to link, to share, and to encourage. To be a network, or a central nervous system that people navigate around, finding fellow travellers, being surprised and intrigued by the work of others, sharing evaluation and impact stories, and so much more.

There are three specific first steps:

Accelerating Ideas: a pilot programme providing a flexible route to funding for innovative practice that can be adopted and adapted more widely to grow its impact.

Awards for All: new test-and-learn pilots are underway to simplify our open small grants programme.

Digital Community: a new function of our website which will begin to put digital at the heart of our grant-making. The community will enable people and organisations to network, collaborate and communicate, opening the Fund up to our stakeholders.

I know that these ideas have been some time in development, from work John Popham and I did for BIG on People Powered Change back in 2011–12. I don’t know if our input made much difference, but Shawn Walsh, Linda Quinn and other staff were very responsive to the ideas we were reporting, and Linda’s blog at the time foreshadows some of today’s directions *.

As I wrote earlier BIG have already soft-launched their digital community, which you can see here in test mode.

There’s a blog post about the Strategic Framework but as yet comments are not enabled (see correction**). However, Dawn is inviting responses on Twitter @DawnJAustwick.

BIG are currently interviewing for the post of Digital Community Manager, so there may be more scope for online engagement when that post is filled.

We certainly need somewhere to discuss how things will play out locally in the face of another round of austerity, which looks likely whatever the government, and pressure on local government to save money through digital services.

More ideas later on what it may take to blend digital into people-powered local developments, and help realise Jess’s vision.

* More recent, and extensive, consultations about strategy were carried out last year: Your Voice Our Vision

**  commenting is open on the post about the strategy once you join the site. Obvious really – apologies.

Open Policy Making promises engagement as well as digital innovation

A couple of posts on the Open Policy Making blog this week provide insights into how digital technologies, network thinking, and new ways for government to operate may change the way we receive services, engage as citizens – and maybe develop our own community-level innovations.

We learn that civil servants are exploring the future with specialists in in data science, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, sensors, applied programming interfaces, autonomous machines, and platforms.

Will this just lead to more top-down initiatives which will be tough for our elected representatives to understand and guide – let alone anyone else? Hopefully not, from the tone of the posts. Maybe it will help with joined-up communities for citizens too.

William Barker, Head of Technology Strategy and Digital Futures at the Department for Communities and Local Government, wrote yesterday:

Top down thinking and decision making no longer delivers the range of services that communities want. Open Policy Making is about broadening the range of people we engage with, using the latest tools and techniques and taking a more agile and iterative approach.
Open Policy Making is about broadening the range of people we engage with, using the latest tools and techniques and taking a more agile and iterative approach.
DCLG’s “Grey Cells” Open Policy Making Initiative working with the Transformation Network has been joining-up the “grey cells” of user experience, innovation, new thinking and service transformation – using a people and places centred approach to explore how digital technology and approaches can make a positive difference.

As William explains, the Grey Cells model is focusing initially on digital inclusion, Better Services, Elders as Assets and Digitising Government.

As I wrote here, with more details of the model:

I think that the Grey Cells blueprint could provide us with a much-needed framework to connect policy and programmes with the reality of what’s happening on the ground – whether through local programmes, or people’s choices as consumers to acquire a new phone, tablet or (less and less) a computer.

Today Paul Maltby, Director of Open Data & Government Innovation in Cabinet Office, writes about how ideas like nudge, digital, wellbeing, social action, open data, social finance, user-centred design have moved in five to ten years from the fringes of how government could develop in the future to become more mainstream, and asks, what will be the new norm by 2020–25?

Paul links to this video from the Government Digital Service explaining the idea of Government as Platform:

However, development could be enabling at community level too:

Platforms are about providing a (digital) framework within which others abide by rules, using data and a payment and regulatory ecosystem to unleash invention at scale. Could this notion not be applied to the wider face-to-face operation of government? Think of developments where innovative services like Casserole Club would be able to provide its amazing service in not just a handful of local authorities, but have the opportunity to develop at scale as needed by users UK wide. Consider how NationBuilder has developed a platform to organise social campaigns, and if the same organising principles were built in to the fabric of government what this could mean for democracy – particularly among a generation that expect to collaborate and create content. This brings with it an opportunity to redefine the role of government, and even create a different relationship between state and public.

There’s more about a new operating model for government, and reference to a workshop with NESTA and the Open Policy Team where they’ll be talking with specialists in data science, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence etc.

It is encouraging to get windows into latest government thinking from the Open Policy Making blog and other sources, including prototyping in the Policy Lab

What particularly interests me – together with Drew Mackie, and other colleagues – is how to help support similar open and creative thinking at community level about the impact of digital and the change it brings. We are experimenting with games and simulations evolved over the past 15 years, and well as explorations like our recent one into Ageing Well and Living Well in the Digital Age.

I’ll write more shortly about a workshop we are developing that aims to bring the Grey Cells model down to community level, with a scenario like this one.

We all need to understand a bit more about the implications of the terms and processes that Paul describes – and to do that we need creative, social spaces in communities to complement those in Policy Labs.