Localgovcamp : Maple House Birmingham 14.7.12
Today was my first experience of a local government unconference when I attended#localgovcamp. If like me you didn’t know such things existed, then let me enlighten you! Unlike traditional conferences, there is no agenda and delegates pitch an idea at the start of the day to the attendees and if enough people are interested the session is slotted in. Today we had 5 slots and a choice of 6 sessions we could go along to for each one, and for someone new like me it was difficult to choose because I wanted to hear about everything! After changing my mind several times I opted for sessions on G Cloud, Blogging, New social media, Local govt websites and social media in libraries.
Also unlike traditional conferences we were not told to turn our phones off and we were actively encouraged to tweet about the sessions we were participating in. Nearly everyone was tapping away on mobile devices, laptops and tablets and it was really interesting to follow discussions in other rooms via the #localgovcamp twitter hashtag.
An event like this attracts a wide range of audience and I met suppliers of services to local government such as Jadu and Yammer, representatives of public sector organisations, Local Authorities, a local councillor and even a purple dragon (follow him @puffles2010)
Whilst I found all the sessions interesting, the two that really caught my imagination were the sessions on Local Government blogging and social media in libraries.
The session on blogging was a full house and the audience very vocal about their experiences both on a personal scale and also as bloggers for their organisation. #weeklyblogclub was talked about in some detail and there were lots of tips and advice to support new bloggers including:
- If you enjoy writing it, people will enjoy reading it
- Blogging about themes rather than individuals/organisations gives more scope
- Why not try an internal blog club – too many people in local govt don’t know what other parts of their service do! Internal blogging has greater potential than external for local government
- We all have professional standards so we can use them as internal guidelines for blogging, – don’t be an idiot rule still applies!
This session then blended into the next session on new social media platforms with@markbraggins. There are now a multitude of new sites springing up that we were encouraged to go and look at including Pinterest and Googleplus. According to Simon Penny (@simon_penny) It’s not about the social media platforms your organisation adopts, it’s the culture of use that matters and Sasha Taylor (@Sasha_Taylor) believed understanding usage seems key too – no point being on a social platform with no audience!
Having started my career as a Librarian I was interested to hear about the work Anke Holst (@the_anke) had been doing with Haringey Libraries (read about it herehttp://ankeholst.com/2012/03/15/my-guest-post-on-the-guardian-professional-website/ )
For 6 months she assumed the identity of Haringey libraries on Twitter before handing the accounts over to the library staff, a truly inspirational experiment in social media.
So I left Birmingham on Saturday with a vastly expanded list of Twitter contacts and loads of ideas about social media, blogging, shared Local government platforms and a multitude of other gems of information.
Thanks to the wonderful Dave Briggs of Kind of Digital for coordinating the event, and I can’t wait to attend my next unconference and meet more dynamic and entertaining colleagues from across the country.