I was fortunate enough to attend Local by Social South West in Bristol last Friday. Allotment 5 and a half has done a detailed round-up of the day, and the hashtag #LbyS is the best round-up of the how the day itself progressed for those interested.
Here I just wanted to capture a few, brief and generally unrelated reflections on the day.
- Being in a room of people with diverse interests and perspectives is always fun. Pretty much every set of stakeholders was represented on the day, leading to a rich debate on the topics put forward.
- Being in a room of people with the common interests of data, apps and gov2.0 was great. For me, it takes me out of the “frontline feeling” of constantly working through people to put ideas into practice and gives me time to think about ideas and draw energy and enthusiasm from other like-minded people. (“Frontline”, after all, is most commonly applied as a war metaphor, suggesting a break from it every once in a while is no bad thing.)
- I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard accessibility present itself as a theme so much in an event. I often need to make the point about access – in its widest sense – at various events I attend; Local by Social was a very welcome exception to this rule.
- Though I was fairly pleased with the talk I gave – on how one well-known, existing group of apps (location-based social media like Foursquare and Gowalla) could be used to contribute to the solution of poor information in social care – I don’t think it got much traction in the room. I’ll confess to being a bit disappointed by this, since I think it is a practical solution using apps to one of the most pressing public policy and public sector reform issues we currentl face and are likely to face. My talk is embedded below, so you can judge this assertion for yourself.
- I always have a slight frustration with days like Local by Social, and this is that ideas seem to be king. I take the view that it’s not ideas we’re short of, it’s the ability to turn them into differences in practice in the toughest of environments – organisational settings. When asked what my one reflection for the day was, I wish I’d said this instead of whatever I did say. (I wish also that I wasn’t always the pessimist in the room; this, sadly, is my nature.)
- Attracting someone like Emer Coleman – Director of Digital Projects at GLA – to the day was a real coup, and Emer presented a fantastic talk. You can access it here, and I’d thoroughly recommend you do.
- Ditto Tim Davies’s presentation. For an underpinning and understanding of open data and applications, you can do no better than follow Tim on Twitter and also check out his slides.
- The organisers of the day – including Ingrid from IDe&A, FutureGov (Carrie, Francis and Lauren) and Connecting Bristol – did an amazing job.
I’m conscious this sounds like an at-best lukewarm view of the day. It’s not meant to be, because I thought the day was valuable; I suppose it’s just a reminder to myself that, alongside the ideas people, there will always be those needed to translate them into (1) actions and – for commissioners – (2) demonstrable (and cashable) benefits.