Shropcamp Report

Shropcamp was a great success. It brought together people, not just of like minds but of shared curiosity and I am hopeful that the curiosity will spread. There is also a side benefit; for many this was their first ever unconference and I came away feeling that the format had found new friends. For those of us in a supporting role there was a great sense of anticipation at the start of the day. While a very busy Ben Proctor rushed around finalising everything from wifi login to coffee and biscuits we stood and wondered what people might make of things. We needn’t have worried, the room filled up, food was consumed, networking commenced and the unconference was underway.

My own session on The Geek Layer attracted a room full of curiosity. For some it was a maiden unconference session and it took a while for the idea to take hold, it’s not about the body at the front of the room – it’s about what the participants have to say. It didn’t take long and they were soon getting stuck into the issues. By lunchtime there wasn’t a maid to be found.

I went to three excellent sessions. Nicki Getgood and  Benjiw’s session on storytelling took an idea that’s close to my heart, personal stories and looked at how they can be cathartic but also a call to action. When we put real stories with open data we get new insights into the how people’s lives can be affected by what we do.

The session by Jon King on Open Data for Social Gaming was truly excellent; using QR tags and GIS data as part of the work of museums and archives in Shropshire as a way of enhancing experience was interesting but the possibilities of linking with things like bus routes and user generated content opened up all sorts of possibilities.

Dave Briggs talked about micro-participation how using the potential of the internet and social media could create a big impact from small contributions and hence make complexity manageable was a refreshing view of how local government could become accessible thus promoting participation – simples.

The whole day was brought together by Ben Proctor and Andy Mabbett who deserve a huge round of applause for a magnificent effort. The other big plus was meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. The experience of meeting people in the flesh whom you have only previously known through Twitter still amazes me; media is truly social in this way. So I have to finish by saying Hi to Jools Payne, Jan Minihane, Jennifer Deacon, Jane Edwards, Chris Pritchard, Fay Easton, Phil Oakley, Paul Masterman, Kevin Campbell-Wright, Roger Greenhalgh and Dawn O’Brien. There are those with whom I have had good conversations and haven’t listed here because you are too many but you all made it a great day.

I am hoping that this will become a vibrant community of interest which will drive the use of open data and social media in helping to engage and empower communities in rural areas such as Shropshire so that next year’s Shropcamp will be bigger yet and who knows, it may take on a wider rural participation.


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