Tag Archives: knowledgesharing

Realising the knowledge assets of research for the rest of us – how about a set of recipe cards?

This piece is about making academic and professional research as useful as possible to the intended beneficiaries – in this case people later in life and/or with disabilities, and those helping them – a well as professionals. It’s about doing that by involving beneficiaries in how knowledge from research is shared, as well as in the design of products and services. I’ve used the final event of the KT-EQUAL programme to spark some ideas … but there are outstanding questions in my mind, and the ideas are half-formed.  So in the spirit of the piece I’m making this a draft and inviting amendments, additions and comments from the KT-EQUAL team and others. I hope I’m not too far off track, and that this contributes positively to “what next” for the programme if there are plans for a further stage.

For the past four years a consortium of researchers on the KT-EQUAL programme have worked “to ensure that years of investment in high-quality research translate into real benefits that have an impact on people’s lives”. The focus has been extending quality of life for older and disabled people – which relates in part to the #dtlater work that I and others have been doing for Nominet Trust on digital technology later in life.

This week provided an opportunity, through the end of programme celebration event in Whitehall, both to catch up on the highlights of the work, and reflect on where next with the body of knowledge that’s been gathered.

I love these sketch notes of the event from Ross Atkin. Visual knowledge exchange. Click for larger image.

Over the past four years the programme has run some 150 events, developed publications, blogged and tweeted, involved older people and influenced regulations, good practice and product design. I went to one of the events earlier, and can confirm it was an excellent creative workshop. The objective of the £1.8 million programme has been:

To transfer the knowledge out of funded research so that it reaches the intended beneficiaries. The aim of KT-EQUAL is to ensure that research findings reach industry, professionals, policy makers and older and disabled people.

So it’s not about the original research, but about making that useful. The celebration was a fairly formal do in Portcullis House, but it included good opportunities for networking and a chance to chat with researchers.

As a result of KT-EQUAL there’s some very useful guidance available from the i~design consortium in the form of the Inclusive Design Toolkit, and the Designing with People website. I’DGO examines what Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors means for older people, and Smart2 has created a personalised self-management system – “an integrated system for use in the person’s own home, consisting of a touchscreen ‘home hub’ and a mobile device.”

The SUS-IT team has developed proposals for a network of community hubs to support older people learning to use the Internet. PDF download here.

The online content is in addition to the impact the programme has had during the past few years through collaborating with wide range of public and private service providers and product developers. As I understand it, that wouldn’t have been possible without KT-EQUAL: it funded exchanging knowledge, rather than the original progammes.

It is an impressive body of knowledge – particularly if added to the many other areas of research in the field. For example, we gathered our #dtlater references here, and Shirley Ayres found some 65 papers produced by more than 30 organisations exploring ageing, innovation, digital technology and access to information and resources. As Shirley has previously observed:

There is so much potential for digital technology to enable people to make new connections, contribute to person-centred support, develop community networks and new models of care so an obvious question is what is stopping more widespread adoption?

There is no shortage of innovations in digital technology and millions of pounds are being spent supporting further developments. It is less clear about the application, impact and usage of these innovations. One problem is the limited awareness in the sector and amongst the public about what is available and it’s value. I believe that a big deficit is the lack of a strategic approach to embedding digital technology in the range of options to support people to live more fulfilling lives.

The KT-EQUAL programme has not been mainly about digital technology, but since the aim is exchanging knowledge it provides a chance to reflect on Shirley’s question, and the issue she (and I) have raised elsewhere – who is research knowledge for, and what will be done next to help people learn? Taking KT-EQUAL as an example, it looks as if the knowledge transfer to professionals in their objectives has been successful, but I’m less sure about how far “older and disabled people” can continue to benefit from, for example, the way publications are presented. There’s an email newsletter, but no continuing online community. However, see later for my ideas on recipe cards.

I framed the challenge in a piece a wrote during our Nominet Trust exploration: We know lots about innovation, digital tech, social care and later life. Now who will make it useful?

Although research programmes like KT-EQUAL may involved older people and those who support them in their studies and workshops, the content that they generate is usually designed for other professionals. It isn’t generally much use, for example, if you are a carer, friend or child of an ageing parent trying to figure out how to apply the lastest innovations. It may not necessarily be well-configured for civil servants and Ministers desperately looking for ways to support an ageing population with diminishing resources.

That’s not to under-value, for example, the importance of knowledge exchange for companies developing new products, but we are entering a period when carers, care services and individuals will need all the help they can get in taking lessons directly from research work – and so will policy-makers. As one civil servant remarked at the event this week: this shouldn’t be the end of knowledge exchange – it should be a beginning.

It looks as if the KT-EQUAL programme has provided great professional value during the past few years, but the key themes in this week’s event were “impact and legacy”. So – is there scope now for another phase of KT-EQUAL to re-purpose its kits and findings for wider audiences, showing the way for other programmes? And what might that involve?

I got one idea from an interactive diagram on this page in the Inclusive Design Toolkit. It summarises all the activities in creating, designing and testing a product, in association with a range of stakeholders including users.

Suppose researchers now considered a wider range of stakeholders and users for their knowledge products … and applied this sort of methodology to developing some that would appeal, for example, to policy makers, older people, and those supporting them? The use of personas and user journeys has some similarity to processes I was discussing the other day with a team developing mobile phone apps. A quick search shows other reference to its use.

To be more specific, suppose we took one sort of information product that’s familiar to everyone – recipe cards – and used that metaphor to explore what sort of decks of cards we might need to help people choose on their own, or in discussion, the sort of products, tools and technologies would suit their personal needs – or start conversations on policy options?

Cuisine and cooking gives us a range of variables: personal preference, dietary needs, cost … coupled with availability of ingredients, skills needed, occasion etc. Through a mixture of pre-prepared dishes, home cooking, canteens and restaurants we manage to meet the challenge we identified in our work on digital technology in later life: everyone needs a different solution … but we also need to move to scale.

I know cards work well because Drew Mackie and I have used them extensively in helping people choose social media methods, and we explored what’s involved here during our Nominet Trust work: How to organise ideas about digital tech in later life: invent some characters and tell their stories.

On another front, the Transitions Towns network has turned their process of developing local projects into a set of cards detailing ingredients and tools, and I was fascinated to see How Google Unified Its Products With A Humble Index Card.

I have no doubt that older people – let’s just say “people” – would be keenly interested in a process that involved them in co-design – as I reported here. It’s about doing things with people, rather than to them or even for them.

That’s very much in line with the ethos of the team at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, who created the Designing with People site.

Anyway, this piece has turned into a bit of a ramble – or hopefully the start of a conversation. I hope the KT-EQUAL team will take my extension of their knowledge exchange ideas in good part, correct any misconceptions, and ideally join in a discussion about these or others ideas for extending the impact of their work.

I wonder if it would be possible to run a workshop to explore extending the benefits of research through co-design of information products and advice with non-professionals. I expect someone has funded that idea already … but how to find out?

Want contributions? Work together

How do you Get People to Contribute Their Knowledge… by Incentivising them? You don’t says David Gurteen – it just puts them off, makes things worse. David says “Stop doing
things to people and start to work with them!” Rather than “Hello I am
here to help you!” (Oh yea!) Take the attitude “Hello, lets talk and
see how we can better work together.”

Shock! Socialreporter joins the information professionals

At the end of 2008 I had a lot of fun doing some social reporting at the big annual Online Information event, as you can see here. I was there with my chum Ed Mitchell, who actually knows something about knowledge management and such things. I was mostly just pointing the camera.
This year I’m hugely flattered to be invited by organiser Lorna Candy to join the executive conference committee to help plan the event next December. You can see information about last month’s event here.
Steve Dale is chairing the committee this year, and I’ve been spending some time with him on work around the IDeA knowledge hub. I’m not a committee person, but Steve is a great social media and social reporting enthusiast, as well as being an expert on Communities of Practice facilitation and technology. I’m sure our meetings will be conversational and creative. read more »

Rethinking networks as passionate human clouds

A meeting in London with Peggy Duvette, chief executive of WiserEarth, and also with Ed Mitchell, sparked some thoughts about networking – global, local, and organisational. Well, questions mostly. Warning: this is a bit of ramble that also takes in the RSA, NCVO, cloud computing and the local government knowledge hub.

I met up with Peggy at an evening event organised last week in London by Mike Zeidler, that was in itself a pleasure as these things go. It brought together people broadly interested in environment, social justice with a bit of tech as well. The presentations were minimal, facilitation light-touch, wine sufficient, and conversations engaging. Peggy’s visit to the UK was the spark, and some of the substance.

Anyway, I was thinking I would skip the usual video reporting chores when Peggy came over and said hello … maybe it was three tag words during the circle of intros: socialreporter – dot – com. A bit promotional, I know. Anyway we got to talking about what makes networks work, and I pulled out the iphone 3gs as you can see above.

I asked some pretty standard questions, to which Peggy added substance by sharp insights and the weight of experience in WiserEarth, which “helps the global movement of people and organizations working toward social justice, indigenous rights, and environmental stewardship connect, collaborate, share knowledge, and build alliances” and has some 30,000 members, and thousands of groups. It is “the world’s largest free and editable international directory of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and socially responsible organizations (over 110,000 in 243 countries, territories, and sovereign islands)”.

Three observations stood out for me from our chat: mix face-to-face and online networking, go where people are already gathered rather than expecting them to come to your place, and what makes it all work is passion for an issue. If people are passionate, concerned, and want to meet others then they will make the effort to use the tools.

This led me to reflect upon one of the other networks I have written lots about: the RSA. It has some 27,000 members (Fellows) around the world, with a diversity of interests to match those on WiserEarth, and some high ideals going back to its foundation in the elightenment years of the 18th century. There’s currently an exhibition to make the then-and-now links.

I used the interview with Peggy as a peg for a slightly provocative piece on the RSA City London network – “Is the network quiet because we have no shared passion? Do we need one”? Everyone says the RSA Fellowship has great potential because people cover so many interests … but there isn’t any one focus, and the online networks are very quiet. But then, WiserEarth covers a lot of ground, and people network there. I guess the difference is that WiserEarth presents itself as a place for action for the environment and social justice, while RSA has broader aims and a host of other activities to engage people.

Just before the event with Peggy I had spent a very enjoyable couple of hours with Ed Mitchell, who is currently developing a online network for the Transition Town movement.

As the wiki explains: A Transition Initiative is a community  working together to look Peak Oil and Climate Change squarely in the eye and address this BIG question: “for all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?”

While there’s a primer, and a 12-step process for the transition journey, the movement is about as bottom-up as you can get. Dan McQuillan, speaking recently at the mypublicservices event, reckoned Transition was a good example of the way we’ll have to go for new-style public services in future. Do watch the interview for this, and his general reflections on power and transformation of public services.

Anyway, Ed and his team are evolving a system that will provide a central Drupal-based site, and also aggregate tagged content from just about anywhere (first pilot here). Ed’s doing that with a specially-formed group of developers in a way that looks set to be a model of tight-budget creative collaboration. Plenty of passion among both system user/contributors and developers, within a strong  framework of values provided both by Transition and the Open Source approach (sustainability, resilence, collaboration, distribution).

In conversation with Ed I recalled an excellent event run by the NCVO Foresight team a few weeks back on what tech changes will mean for nonprofits. It was organised in part by Guy Yeomans, who write here about ubiquitous connectivity – allowing us to be online anywhere anytime. An associated development is cloud computing, explained at the event by Robin Gear of PAconsulting. It means, among other things, that you can have all of your email, documents, networking etc handled by Google and other big players, storing your stuff in massive data warehouses in California. Or somewhere. You won’t know.

We discussed this and other issues at tables: ours was focussed on membership organisations. I remember two insights. One was that organisations may need two divergent strategies, for those connected and unconnected; the other was that we should think about the “human cloud”. By the human cloud we meant that people will be less and less tied into formal communications relationships with membership organisations – for example – popping in and out of discussion forums set up in some prefined groups. Those who are connected, using social media, will cluster around topics wherever people of shared passion may gather. If their membership organisation offers the facility, fine, if not they go elsewhere. Or probably do both. What’s then important if you are acting as a convenor (like Transition Towns) is being able to both offer a central platform and also aggregate content tagged from elsewhere. (I later discovered discussion of the human cloud over at Sun Microsystems).

Twitter – explained here – is proving both a tool and a model for connecting clouds of people who cluster around events and interests defined by tags. You can also use lists, as Beth Kanter explains here. So, if someone is using Twitter it’s fairly easy to talk about clouds, more difficult if not. Maybe the analogy is a very fluid conference, or party, where conversations group and regroup. Anyone got some good metaphors? I think that the technical term is knowledge ecology.

The other place I picked up some really useful thoughts on human clounds and networks is the advisory groups for the IDeA knowledge hub. The overall aim – as I’ve written before – is to help local councils and other public bodies be more conversational in knowledge-sharing among themselves and with citizens. The project is being driven forward by Ingrid Koehler and Steve Dale, and they have blogged at SocialbySocial here and here.

When we met the other day we worked on a couple of realistic but fictitious scenarios, where a local strategic partnership was gathering people and knowledge around issues where they had to deliver results (these are known as national indicators). I was in a group looking at reducing alcohol-related harm. You can see from video of the report back, and Steve’s analysis here, that success depended partly on good knowledge-sharing but substantially on development and maintenance of the network of people – the cloud – that formed around the task.

So yet again the components for knowledge-sharing and action were a framework of values or target; some focus in an issue or task; flexible ways to contribute and access knowledge; processes to develop relationships and create a trusted social space, the power to convene, the capacity to facilitate. The tools were then whatever was needed to support this.

The challenge for local government, in developing the knowledge ecology model, may be whether people will have the same passion to make it work as those using WiserEarth or the Transition system. I’m really delighted that I’ll be working with Ingrid, Steve and others on these issues together with Amy Sample Ward over at SocialbySocial.net. IDeA will be using that shared space to explore where next, with links to the groups there working on community-based blogs and online systems. More soon on that.

The challenge for RSA may be whether it can offer its diverse membership something that makes it worth clustering around online (as well as the excellent public lectures programme, which you don’t have to pay for). Maybe there could be closer links with the lectures, and the strong programme of projects developed by staff. Anyway, the good news there is that the new Fellowship Council is going well – as live-blogged here by Jemima Gibbons – and Tessy Britton has been elected chair. Tessy is very positive, and there are some 40 others highly capable Fellows on the council.  One group is looking at communications and engagement, and there’s also plans for meetings of smaller interest groups in London, that could link to online development.

This is one of those blog pieces I felt I needed to write to get stuff out of my head … and in the hope someone might come up with good links to better explanations of human clouds and knowledge ecosystems. Please. And also so I can later write shorter pieces with reference to human clouds. Meanwhile thanks to Peggy, Mike, Ed, Dan, Ingrid, Steve, Tessy, Guy, Robin, Beth, Jemima, Amy and many others for conversations in the cloud.

Social media for public services: how about an Open Innovation Exchange?

The Crowdsourced Council event earlier this week was for me interesting at three levels. First for the idea expressed in the name – that councils should use a variety of different methods to find out people’s opinions, engage with them, and improve performance in doing so. Secondly, for a useful demonstrations of tools showing how this might be done. And thirdly some insights into just how difficult it is to introduce these innovative new methods to councils, even when costs are low.

I came away with a new/old idea: that we need an open innovation exchange to help entrepreneurs, councils and customer/citizens collaborate to find new ways forward.

The event was organised by FutureGov in partnership with Capital Ambition, and we had demonstrations from  Uservoice, Best Before Media, YooskDebatewise, GovDelivery and Quiet Riots. Follow the links to see the goodies on offer. They provide a terrific range of ways in which people could discuss issues, vote on their preferences, create audio and video content, get updates and more.

In the four video interviews Dominic Campbell, of FutureGov, explains the thinking behind the event, and we hear from Tim Hood of Yoosk, Dave Worsell of GovDelivery, and also Shane McCracken of Gallomar. They just been award £200,000 from the Wellcome Trust for I’m A Scientist, Get me out of Here – explained here. (You’ll see the four videos in the frame once you start playing, or mouse-over).

As well as the cleverness of the tools in front of us, what really intruiged me was the background story I heard from those developing them: they were often prepared to make some of their offer free; they would collaborate to see how they could offer councils a menu of options and ways of making things work together; some were taking big personal risks to develop something of real social benefit. Yet whether big or small they found it difficult to get their products and services in front of the people who could make decisions, or find ways to test and evolve new tools with both citizens and councils.

A number of barriers emerged. The big one was procurement procedures, which could meant that if you weren’t on the approved list of suppliers you didn’t get a look in.  In theory councils would specify what they needed, and then go out to tender: but that doesn’t work well for innovative products. As one developer said: “If you don’t know what you want, because you haven’t seen it yet, how can you specify it?”

Another problem was that decisions usually involved a lot of people in the organisational hierarchy, and often in partner organisations. You couldn’t get them in the same room together. They didn’t even go to the same conferences: “The senior people will be at the old-style big ticket events, while those lower in the hierarchy who may know what’s needed are at the informal barcamps and unconferences.”

You might find one council officer prepared to take an interest, but they would change jobs. If you didn’t get everything lined up at the right time of year, you could lose six months because of holidays and other delays.

All this might be of little concern if it were just a bunch of profit-hungry corporations trying to sell products that councils could better develop in-house – or that tough competition would ensure a better deal for us all.  A few years ago it was perhaps the case that councils had to specify major development work through big suppliers. But these days there’s a vast array of social media tools – like those on show – that can be delpoyed rapidly, and at relatively low cost, provided councils can make fast and informed decisions. That means really getting to know what’s available and working collaboratively with suppliers and citizen-users.

Tim Hood summed it up: “People think private companies are just concerned with profit. That’s clearly not true. People risk their livelihoods to try and innovate for public good, and there’s no shame in trying to make some money out of it. There no shame in the decision makers and people in procurement being in the same room and talking through collectively how they can make the whole process work more efficiently”.

But that often isn’t happening. I heard that it can be just as tough for council officers. Unless you are passionate about social media it’s really difficult to see what’s available, and get your ideas adopted. Of course there are brilliant exceptions … officers and whole council departments around the country who are doing great work: Devon, Kent, Barnet, Barnsley keep getting mentions, and there are quite a others as I explored at another conference about knowledge management. It just doesn’t seem sensible to have such clunky systems when it’s desperately important to improve public services and reduce costs at the same time.

Is this a fair analysis? Or did I just happen on a group of people – developers and officers – who, by their interests and enthusiasms,  find the current system particularly frustrating and unproductive?

Let’s say the analysis is right at least in part. What might be done in a small, collaborative, organic, social media-ish sort of way? I’m really impressed by the work that Ingrid Koehler, Steve Dale and others are doing on the IDeA knowledge hub, which I’ve written about here. In the longer term the new system and associated development and training should help move all councils, not just a few, across into new ways of working.

But that’s going to take years. Meanwhile Amy Sample Ward and I have been talking to IDeA about ways in which we could use the Social by Social network as a space in which to pilot some ideas. There’s already some groups there. Out initial thinking was on three fronts: how to combine discussion and knowledge sharing, with a market place, linked to events. The aim would be to bring together people working in public bodies with social media developers and suppliers, and with those working in the hyperlocal programmes and third sector. And anyone else interested in how to use social tech for social impact … the substance of our book Social by Social (buy or download free here).

During the Crowdsourced Council event these ideas crystalised into thoughts of an Open Innovation Exchange. It’s not new: Simon Berry, I and others first proposed something like this back in 2007 for third sector organisations, in an open bid to Cabinet Office. We didn’t win, but generated a lot of interest as you can see on the original site here. My friends – and clients – at the Innovation Exchange are now doing a great job in taking forward the winning bid, but it’s focussed on third sector organisations, and social media is only a part of their business.

In essence we would create a complementary space into which anyone could pitch an idea, request, product or service … whether free or paid for. It would be up to IDeA and other public sector organisations – if interested – to promote the exchange to their sectors and interest groups. Similarly for the hyperlocal and third sector interests. We would run some associated workshops and turn up to events like Crowdsourced Council to do some social reporting, broker connections, and recruit people to the exchange.

When I floated the idea to a few developers at this week’s event they sounded seriously interested, and even said they might contribute some seed funding if public sector interests would come in.

That’s as a far as I’ve got with the idea. At this stage I just want to check out if it makes sense. If so, I’ll discuss further with our friends in IDeA, NESTA and other bodies. If they are interested I would suggest that we run an open workshop in January to co-design what’s needed, with the key interests. Let’s model the collaborative exchange process we propose.  At this stage I’m not suggesting that the current Social by Social platform would do what’s needed … but it could be a gathering space for those interested.

What do you think? Do drop a comment here, and I’ll also post across on SocialbySocial.net.

Next Big Thing in KM – workshop report

I’ve just finished running a workshop on What’s the Next Big Thing at the KIMPS09 public sector knowledge management conference, and succeeding (I think) through the simple expedient of asking participants what think. As I explained earlier I came up with the some conversation starters, then asked people in groups to imaged what advice they would give to a friend taking on a new KM job in a local authority, with an emphasis on social media.

You can see the conclusions people reached in the video report back above,  together with video interviews of speakers below. Roll mouse over lower part of video frame below for more speakers.

You can find all the videos from KIMPS09 on YouTube separately here. Main speaker names are in the video info. If slides become available, I’ll link.

Twitter stream here.

Help! What's the Next Big Thing in Knowledge Management?

What’s the next big thing in local government knowledge management? I could do with some help on this topic because tomorrow I’m running a workshop at the big annual KM event run by the Ark Group – KIMPS09 – and I’m not a specialist in the topic.

The invite to contribute came in months back – courtesy I believe of a recommendation from my friend Steve Dale, who really is an expert in KM, and developing the Knowledge Hub for local authorities that I’ve written about here.

My first reaction was to say no, I don’t have the expertise. Then I thought – how can I do this in a socialreporter-ish way? With agreement from the helpful people at Ark I came up with a three-stage process: first, look at what the experts are saying; then take some key points to the first day of the conference and check out with participants; finally run my session as a workshop with revised points as conversation starters at the tables. Relax, let the crowd do the work.

To give it some focus, I’ve taken this possible situation as a starting point: a friend has just been given responsibility for knowledgement management in their local authority department – and they are panicking. They are OK with data and project reporting systems – but apparently the boss has heard social media is the next big thing. What could you tell them?

I’m just off to the conference, with the following points to check out with anyone I can find to chat with at coffee. Then I run the workshop tomorrow. What do you think? Is this a useful guide to the Next Big Thing? In summary … Conversations and Stories. More simply – Talk to Each Other.

1 Create conditions for collaboration
You can manage information – but you can’t manage the most useful knowledge. What you can do is help people to share what they know. That requires leadership to develop a culture of trust where collaboration is encouraged.

2 Encourage conversations

The best way to help people share knowledge is to give them plenty of chances to talk to each other. The richest conversations usually happen face-to-face, after which people are more likely to open up and contribute online.

3 Add new roles
Online knowledge sharing among a diverse group of people requires appropriate tools – but more than anything it needs appropriate people to help. They may be variously called community manager, technology steward, digital mentor, social reporter … and it’s unlikely one support person can do it all.

4 Listen carefully, connect widely
Use light-weight social media tools like social bookmarking, Twitter, Netvibes, Ning communities to scan what’s going on outside. Build relationships with useful people, follow and share with them.  Then the network is your new library.

5 Talk failure, tell stories about success
If you really want to understand what works in any situation, help people talk about what failed, and  to tell stories of success in their own words. Case studies from consultants won’t connect nearly as well.

6 Open up, cross boundaries
Communities of Practice behind a login are excellent for sharing knowledge among specialists. If you also want to understand what service users need you have to engage with the wider community out in the open.

7 Mix and blend your media
Work both on and offline. Run semi-structured events like knowledge cafes and unconferences. Shoot some video, blog and tweet the event … then use digital assets to spark new conversations online. Cultivate a knowledge ecology where learning can flourish.

8 Dive in, try it, change it
You can’t learn to swim outside the pool … or learn to fly watching the instructor. Find time to explore. Many of the tools you need are free, so you can experiment and build on what works, or drop anything that doesn’t. Invest in people rather than technology.

9 Decentralise, foster resilience
Encourage teams and groups to take responsibility for their own research and learning, then share with others. That way you should have a more resilient system less dependent on central services.

10 Three Ps before T
It’s easy to get caught up in the how and wow of new tools. Think Purpose, People, Process – and only then Tools.

I did check out these points with three experts in the field – thanks David, Steve, Ed. Full acknowledgement if it all works out. I’ll report back.

Local government knowledge hub – much more interesting than it sounds

Yesterday I went along to a meeting that, on the face of it, was about how UK local government and public agencies might share knowledge in future. Limited interest? No, because it generated a discussion touching on how far all citizens might have access to much “official” information; the impact this could have on local democracy and traditional participation; and the role of social reporters in telling (helpful) stories across sectors.

The event was a meeting of the IDeA Knowledge Hub Advisory Group – a project that I’ve written about before with enthusiasm – led by Ingrid Koehler and Steve Dale

I shot some video, and last night the traditional reporter in me thought: get blogging, get your video up there. Then the social reporter took over, and when I saw Ingrid tweet that she was just finishing a blog post, I tweeted back the link to my video in YouTube, which Ingrid then embedded in her post with fulsome tribute. Ta!

Carl Haggerty made some really interesting contributions  to the discussion, so I was hopeful he would blog about it, and he has. Steve Dale has said he will follow up later.

So I’m holding back a bit, in the hope that Dave Briggs may add to his earlier thoughts and Carrie Bishop will expand at Futuregov. I’m thinking: mainstream reporter – be first, be exclusive. Social reporter – be a thoughtful second or third, and distributed.

Meanwhile the links above will get you to the slides Ingrid and Steve presented, my video, and some really helpful perspectives on the event. Find more through Friendfeed.  I’ll be thinking through some expanded/additional storylines to post about a bit later, including:

  • If the knowledge hub is – as discussed – partly open to the public, using conversational, story-telling social media, how far will local government officers be comfortable in that environment?
  • Will the hub conversations be mined by journalists looking for negative stories … thereby making it riskier for council staff to contribute? But if there’s nothing about what doesn’t work, how useful will it be?
  • Could councillors play a bigger part, being prepared to take the heat of any dissent/bad news, and use the hub to engage more fully with local and national interests?
  • What could all this do to help fertilise the local digital garden (or knowledge ecosystem to give it a proper description) that I wrote about here?
  • Does this provide lots of job opportunities for social reporters, as I first envisaged here? (Certainly hope so:-)

Ingrid and, I hope, Steve and Dave, are coming to our local communities workshop on Monday, and that should give us a chance to follow these and other lines of enquiry.