Seriously Civic Social Media in Brum

Today’s the last chance to comment on the Birmingham Big City Plan, so in case I have one or two readers up that way I’d better get this posted, and also endorse Nick Booth’s recommendation to click over to the independent Big City Talk. There you’ll find a “plain English” version of the plan and a host of comments from Brummies who care about how the City Centre may change over the next 20 years

More generally, it’s an opportunity for me to flag up the buzz of social media activity in Birmingham, created by people like Nick. We met up the other day at UKGovCamp09, and I took the chance to interview him on why online journalist Paul Bradshaw says Birmingham is “the sort of social media haven that has people around the world scratching their heads in curiosity”.

Paul was writing about the move of Birmingham Post’s Development editor Joanna Geary to London to become The Times Web Development Editor. Apparently Jo, with the likes of Jon Bounds and Pete Ashton and Nick has helped create the “haven” with its social media cafes, surgeries for voluntary organisations … and a paper that really sees the value of encouraging local bloggers.

Then there’s how bloggers put together a really understandable online consultation process for the Big City Plan, without antagonising the council, and getting a link. Nick explains how it was done.

Real Civic Media … passionate, sincere, hyperlocal … and so different from much of our mainstream media.

More here on hyperlocal media, including Will Perrin’s plan to train thousands of local activists in the use of social media, which I gather is likely to get funding soon. I would love some of that to happen in London … but I think Birmingham has the edge. Or maybe I’ll think it is Manchester, after I’ve visited Gary Copitch and the team at People’s Voice Media in a few weeks.