Tag Archives: socialappstore

Developing a Lobbi kit for local agents of change

Following a Lobbi strategy group meeting yesterday – which I trailed here – it looks as if one strand of development will focus on a kit of technology tools to support local change agents … that is people doing good stuff in their community.

Those change agents might be councillors, community organisers, people running local groups, citizens running a campaign and/or generally working to revive local democracy. The tools they use (or could use) might be existing ones used by groups like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Eventbrite, Evernote, Dropbox … as well as email, texts and phones, of course.

The tools may also be new ones like the many mobile apps under development – perhaps including some by Apps for Good, who train young people to be developers.

Lobbi’s mission – led by Hussain “Hoz” Shafiei and Steve Moore – is to promote citizen engagement and action through social technology, and as I wrote earlier ” bring politics into the 21st century”.

I’m particularly pleased about this possible strand of Lobbi’s development because it ties in with some work I started last year on community enablers (for want of a general terms), and earlier ideas for a social app store further developed by John Popham. More links below on the background, and what follows.

I’ve used the term “change agents” because during our workshop discussion one group made the point strongly that it’s no good assembling a kit of technology tools to offer to community enablers unless you have some idea of how change happens. That may be through campaigning, working with elected representatives, crowdsourcing funding for new projects, building new networks and a host of other activities. You need a theory of change, and models for how stuff happens. I particularly like the thinking of Tessy Britton and Eileen Conn on that.

So far Lobbi has focused on developing a major web platform that would enable citizens, their elected representatives and officials to interact. In my earlier post I raised issues of what it might take to attract people to the platform, manage and fund it. I suggested a couple of early angles, now emerging:

First, if looking for a niche, consider focusing on how to digitally enable the enablers who help build communities. What help do they need in the personal use of technology, how can they help others, how can they enable their organisations. Go person-centric.

Second, take an asset-based approach nationally. Map who is doing what in this first, and aim to build connections both personal and technical. Use that knowledge both to advise and build kits for the enablers, and to create a strong community and movement for technology-enabled social action.

The ideas went down OK with Hoz and with Steve, who kindly tweeted encouragement:

At yesterday’s strategy workshop we agreed that developing a kit that helps you make a change in your community, with a mix of tech and others methods, could be a good start towards much wider engagement of citizens and their representatives.

The second point I raised – above – could be met by mapping who is doing what already, and developing a network for enabler/change agents to support each other.

What next? I’ll be following through on the exploration and development I’ve already started, with a view to an update on the workshop that we ran last year, which made a start on scoping out a kit. I hope to interest others in the emerging Lobbi network to develop a plan for testing and evolving a kit, with some “for real” local testing, and review that with Hoz and Steve.

Update: I’ve expanded here on the ideas behind a kit in the first in a series of posts

 

The future of online sharing is mobile, appified and people-centred

I first posted this on socialreporters.net, where John popham and I are blogging for Big Lottery Fund about development of People Powered Change. There’s a lot of links to earlier posts on this site about knowledge sharing and the Social App Store idea.

Earlier today I went to an excellent seminar on the Business of Collaboration, about online systems and support for knowledge sharing and collaboration. I wanted to find whether experience in the private and public sector could be useful in development of People Powered Change as a knowledge-sharing space.

I had high hopes, because one of those speaking was Steve Dale, who designed communities of practice for local government, and then worked on the successor knowledge hub as I reported here. The hub is built using Intelligus, an open source software platform from PFIKS, who hosted the seminar at the Dorchester Hotel. More here about Knowledge Hub development. This year Steve is again chairing the Online Information Conference. read more »

Open innovation reporters and a Social App store are needed to complement local news hubs

In my last post, on Big Lottery’s investment of some £10 million in five projects to support the People Powered Change programme, I said I would come up with ideas on how to fill what seems to me to be some of the gaps around helping community groups and citizens share experience and get the know-how they need.

On reflection that’s rather presumptuous – so my best idea is a pretty obvious one … look at the assets and skills we have already,  and open the process up to those are already bubbling with suggestions, and create some innovative solutions from there. We might build a Social App Store.

Here’s the backstory: Big Lottery have made grants to the Young Foundation, Unltd’s Big Venture Challenge, NESTA’s Neighbourhood Challenge, and Your Square Mile, announced in March. None of these was competitive. Then last week BIG announced a further non competitive grant, this time to the Media Trust for a network of local community news hubs. read more »

Presenting to myself on collaboration and social innovation

Here are some slides I developed over the Christmas holiday, not for any specific event, but just to clear my mind and provide a framework for thinking about social innovation and collaboration. I often don’t really know what I think until I write it down, and after making notes, drawing mindmaps, downloading a few iPad doodling apps, I hit on the idea of producing a presentation to myself.
(I suggest clicking view on Slideshare and then full screen because the notes are a bit small).

Towards the end of last year I was getting a bit sluggish on two fronts … what I wanted to blog about, and what sort of projects I wanted to do. And how to link the writing and doing.

I spent a lot of time last year writing about Big Society, and more recently Our Society, on this blog and also here and here. I’ve continued to do some social reporting at events, run workshop games, floated ideas like the social app store, and become increasingly convinced of the importance of developing networks blending face-to-face and online. read more »

Social App Store gains support in the North

Earlier this week Big Society in the North launched with an open event in Sheffield, and as I expected it was a great opportunity to test some ideas developed mainly in London against harder local realities – including the Social App Store. The bsitnorth group had taken the DIY philosophy of Big Society and decided they would explore the challenges and develop opportunities without waiting for any more from Whitehall.
Lucy Windmill of Amplified has done a terrific job of live blogging the event, and pulling together tweets and videos here. Organisers Julian Dobson and John Popham have blogged thoughts here and here. read more »

A invitation to help develop the Good Stuff Store

The idea of a Social Apps Store to support local social action – floated here – has gained enthusiastic support among my colleagues in the Big Society Network, where I’ve played the role of social reporter for a few week. While very welcome, this internal support wouldn’t matter much if the Store didn’t appeal more widely to those who have pioneered the use of social tech for social benefit in recent years … and those doing less shiny but more challenging work on the ground.
I’m really pleased by support so far because it seems a good example of how social reporters can operate.
Consultants are known as people who borrow your watch and tell you the time, and then walk off with the watch. Journalists are under pressure to make things just that bit more interesting than when first heard (so you may not always recognise your idea on page or on screen).  Maybe social reporting can gather pieces of conversation and ideas and present them back in ways that encourage people to say: thanks for adding … I want to help with that … now it makes sense. Being positive, joining up, making sense, helping out, as I wrote earlier. I’ve done a bit of journalism and consultancy, and this is much more satisfying. read more »

Building the Big Social Apps Store


Yesterday we had the first Open Night for Big Society Network, with more than 150 enthusiasts, sceptics and critical friends working through just what Big Society might mean in practice.
Was it a mask for coalition cuts on public funding, re-invention of the community development wheel, an unrealistic expectation about volunteering? Or could it be, in part, a new sort of Open Source Social Apps Store?
BSN chief executive Paul Twivy was frank in acknowledging the concerns. But he said it could also be a way to develop creative approaches to tackling local problems, mixing the skills and resources of existing networks and groups with social innovation powered by new technology. The BSN model for that is Your Square Mile, about which more later.

After an intro from Paul, and briefing from facilitator Steve Moore, people came to the front of the room at Communities and Local Government, pitched the topic they wanted to discuss, formed groups, and got talking. It was hot, noisy, creative and mostly very positive. You can see the Twitter stream as well as background material on the BSNopen wiki here.
In my role as social reporter I pulled Paul and Steve into the cooler, quieter, foyer for the five minute verson of what was going on then returned to the buzz to capture feedback from the groups. You can see Paul and Steve above, and all videos below.


Once you start to play the first one, the later ones appear at the bottom of the player frame. Or you can find them all here on YouTube.


Paul provided a framework for the discussions by explaining Your Square Mile – above – as a way of bringing together the best advice and services for social action in a locality, enhanced by a range of new products developed by BSN with partners. The Network will be mutually owned by its members … and Paul is talking millions of members. For a few pounds a year subscription they will receive special benefits that might include, for example, low-cost insurance cover. Paul talked about ways to encourage people to invest their saving locally, to think about time as a currency, and to reduce barriers to volunteering and social action.

One of the strengths of the  Big Society idea is that it the reverse of the centrally planned government programmes of the past, where policy-makers developed frameworks, invited people to pitch ideas within those, and attached strong guidelines and targets to any support. It’s to be Your Idea, Your Priority, Your Passion.

The problem is that it is difficult to explain just because it is so diverse. There is no one Big Voice, Big Idea … but potentially many voices, many ideas. Last night was a microcosm of that. So how do you help join up those conversation so people can learn from each other … and so there is a heightened sense of what is possible? How do you create opportunities for people to share and sell, find new partners?

Last night Steve Moore asked me to speak briefly about ideas for a Big Society Commons or Store, which I wrote about here, and here. I said we need space with different levels … information, conversation, exchange, products and services. Maybe it is a mall plus a market, some high tech, some low. It is absolutely not created by government, but by those with something to offer.

Then I started to wonder about the role of the skilled, creative, passionate people at the Open Night. Perhaps one analogy for part of the store is an Apps store, where you can download smart ways of doing things to your mobile phone. Some are free, some you pay for. The fee goes to the developer, with a percentage to the store owner.

It works because there is a framework for the way apps are developed – tight in the case of Apple, more flexible in open sources stores.

So perhaps some of the people at the Open Night were potential developers for the Social Apps Store. If the Network can help to create the store, it will provide a much bigger market for those with social action products and services to sell – or offer free.

The Apps Store offers one metaphor to help us think how we bring good stuff together, what’s in it for the different interests involved, what rules and frameworks we need to make sure things work together.

But then, I like tech stuff. What’s your metaphor?

Over the next few days I’ll pull together the blog posts written after last night, and update the wiki. Meanwhile tonight I’m with colleague Drew Mackie, and Niall Smith of IDeA, at Warwick University where over dinner we are running a version of the Social by Social game for people working in tobacco control alliances around the country.

We’ll be looking at how social media and social reporting can engage smokers and help them quit,  and build stronger partnerships among health organisations. Far fetched? Not at all – just look at the work Steve Thompson is doing in Wrekenton, where we ran a version of the game a few months back. We provided the framework – local people filled it out with their knowledge and enthusiasm.