When you are starting something new the most useful stories are often honest accounts from those who have failed – as Clay Shirky said in an interview last year. Now the social media folk in Birmingham – source of many successes – are promoting the idea of FailCamp. As Pete Ashton says “A day where you tell us about your online experiments or experiences that went horribly, terribly wrong”. More on Twitter. I’m with Pete when he says:
Meanwhile I’m getting bored. Well, maybe bored is the wrong word but I want to shake things up a bit. The way I see it once you’ve got something established it’s time to move on. Sure, there’s an important case for sticking around and solidifying this new thing but that doesn’t interest me and there’s no point pretending. I want to be excited and amused. Going over stuff that’s worked well is good and important but the notion of slapping any complacency about how utterly fabulous the Brum Interwebs community is with a big fish and turning it all on its head appeals no end.
Over the past year or so we’ve seen an enormous growth in meetups and Twittering about how brilliant social media is, and how it will change the world … but as soon as you get outside the circle of “people like us” you usually get bland stares. No good sneering “they don’t get” … you need some really good stories to tell. I love this one on the Digital Engagement network from Chris (@cyberdoyle) about how social networks can do something to replace the over-the-garden-fence conversations we have lost.
However, working out just what sort of social network or other tool may help isn’t simple … it depends enormously on the situation, the people and many other factors. The answer to “what works?” is “it depends” … and that’s when the stories of what didn’t work are so useful.
I think FailCamp will be a huge success … and that’s OK.
Update: Ben Whitehouse, who sparked the conversation leading to FailCamp, says “Failure is the stuff that glues together to create success” and suggests October 17 as the date.
Update 2. There’s a now a Failcamp blog, which is already sparking an investigation into a possible failure … a council website.