Tag Archives: Awards

No 10 wants to hear about your local digital project

If your community-benefit project would itself benefit from some endorsement from the Prime Minister, there’s a couple of days before the next round of submissions for Big Society Awards.

If, in addition, yours is a digitally-enabled project, you might have a good chance of being featured on the No 10 web site as one of 12 projects chosen each quarter, and getting an invite to a reception with David Cameron. Full details here including the nomination form.

Of course, you might say “wouldn’t touch it with a virtual barge pole” … and I share with others reservations about Big Society as brand and the many contradictions in policy it embodies, while promoting citizen-led action. Past musings here on various things Big Society-related.

However, those who have been to receptions for award winners report genuine, joyful enthusiasm, and about 500 submissions have been received since the awards launched last November. Are the activists being co-opted for political purpose? I think it is up to them, and would like to see the awards as one small way to make direct connection between the very London-centric nature of Big Society promotion and what’s happening on the ground. read more »

UK socialtech: got the PM – what next?

Projects using social technology to benefit communities received strong support from the Prime Minister Gordon Brown today at the UK Catalyst Awards. He launched the scheme a year ago, and today presented the community award to Savvy Chavvy – an online community for young Gypsy Travellers. You can find all the winners here. read more »

Catalyst awards promote web for good


A new set of awards to promote the use of the social web to meet social needs was launched this evening in London with the backing of the Prime Minister … and I think they could help make a real difference to the way new technology is used for good.

Award schemes can too often be much hype and hoorahs up to the launch, then little action afterwards. Winners find the money doesn’t go far, and the contacts made don’t turn out to be that useful after all. The UKCatalyst Awards have been designed as a two-stage process in which projects first compete, and are then given support.

The Minister for the Third Sector, Phil Hope, was at NESTA to give the awards a formal send off, and was full of enthusiasm for the potential. Dan McQuillan of Make Your Mark, who are organising the awards, explained how they will work.

As you can see here, the award categories are more interesting than usual too, including the Shock for Good Award, Chalk and Cheese, and David and Goliath.

What was just as interesting as the awards was the cluster of people involved in the “web for good” field. As I wrote recently, there’s a lot happening in London at present, and a real sense of joining up and thinking through how to ensure ideas and projects are supported.

Phil Hope emphasised the aim of the awards is to bring to the fore good projects, and make connections. Dan McQuillan is one of the team who ran Social Innovation Camp, all now thinking how best to support not just the winners, but the other projects developed there. They and other have been talking to NESTA about how to draw on their wider experience of innovation processes to achieve this.

Despite keeping to the fruit juice I’m feeling a bit too weary at present to draw out all the strands I picked up tonight, but will be able to do more in working with Steve Moore and others on a digital festival planned in London on July 2 and 3, supported by Channel4. We aim to make development of the Festival another way to do some joining up. More soon when we get the web site up.

I think the Catalyst awards are important because they are just that – ways of bringing together good ideas, good people, innovative technologies. It all felt good – which is a great start towards doing good. How cheering to be among optimistic people in difficult times.

More video, shot on phone, here, here and here. Still haven’t figured a way to get better sound …hope you get the flavour anyway.

Can social innovators join up, innovatively?

There’s a growing buzz in London around tech-enabled social innovation, with its champions circulating at events like UKGovwebBarcamp, Social Innovation Camp, Tuttle Club, and last night at minibar.

The buzz should heighten on July 2-3 at a major 4Good event sponsored by Channel4 and others. More details promised soon. There’s also new set of UK Catalyst Awards backed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown:

We’re looking for inspiring stories of people who help their community by using social technology in new and exciting ways. Can you or someone you know show how technology is already enabling people around them to connect with each other in new ways and do good things?

We’re especially interested in ideas that other people or groups might be able to use for themselves. With the right support, could your idea be reused throughout the country – or even the world?

The community you help might be people in your area, or people you know through your hobby, interest, work or any other connection. It might even be people you didn’t even know before you started!

You might have used an existing social technology or product in a new way, or you might have created a new one from scratch.

What excites me about the current round of developments is that they are not stuck in any one sector … people are coming together from Government, business, social enterprise and nonprofits. However, that means they don’t have a home. There is no one blog or web site … they are distributed (like so much of the Net these days).

In some ways I see a division between the new wave of tech-enabled social innovation and the traditional nonprofit tech crowd. There are quite a few personal connections – not least these days through Twitter – but not a lot of linking up with groups like Circuit Riders, as I found at their conference.

There was an attempt last year at the Newman Arms to set up a group loosely based on the US Netsquared community and conference, but that hasn’t moved forward as far as I know. I think it is partly because many of the social innovators are doubtful whether traditional charities are really up for it, or even broken as Dan McQuillan puts it.

Loose networking, and trying to organise without organisations as Clay Shirky has promoted, is all very well until you have to develop a business model, find backers, decide legal structures, agree leadership and so. You need at least some Organisation Lite at the project level … some way, as Dan says, of getting structure without losing passion.

That question is now emerging more strongly at the networking level: how to join up the various events, awards, projects without replicating the sort of civil society institutions that many social innovators are trying to escape.

Maybe we need a MetaCamp to figure it out.