Once upon a time…

Once upon a time a race of people lived on islands on a beautiful sea. Occasionally the people would write letters to each other and every now and again they might visit each other, making the journey on small boats between the islands. Some of the larger islands with big populations on them were able to build wooden bridges so that they could walk to other large islands close by and talk to them more often.

Then, one day, an enormous wave swept across the sea. Some people looked up and saw it coming in the distance but others were taken completely by surprise because they only looked upon their own coastline and the nearby islands and didn’t see any reason to look out into the distance. The lucky ones scrambled up onto the high ground and sheltered in the rocks as the wave swept by taking all before it. The unlucky ones disappeared and were never seen again. Following the passage of the wave there was a terrible storm and all the people on the islands could do was shelter as best as they could.

When the storm had passed the people emerged from their shelters to find that the sea had been completely transformed by the wave. Many buildings had completely disappeared, the bridges between the larger islands had gone and as if by magic, the smaller islands were no longer just islands but had become nodes in a huge nexus that reached out in every direction as far as the eye could see.

Some of the people on the islands ignored the nexus because they said it was a bad thing; they didn’t see the point of it and it wasn’t for them. They longed for the days when they would walk along their coast line and look out to the island next door. They missed the occasional boat trip to see their neighbours and all they could do was sit and talk about the way things were. Eventually these people left the islands leaving behind their empty homes and the small, grey box that was part of the nexus.

For others it seemed that the nexus was a good thing. They realized that the nexus could carry messages far beyond their immediate neighbours to nodes that were far away, to islands where organisations had new ideas and new ways of thinking that they had never even considered before. Before long ideas were flowing through the nexus and as messages passed through the nexus people added more information so that the nexus became a rich source of ideas and information.

western telecom

With the nexus there was no need for wooden bridges so that even the smallest island could link to islands with similar interests. There was no need to be a big island with lots of people. In this way groups of small islands could appear as one very big island with lots of connections that improved their knowledge and understanding but even more importantly allowed them to speak with one, strong voice.

Very few people had seen the wave coming; only those that looked up and out to sea. Nobody knew if there would be another wave and so it became important to scan the horizon. Those islands that were on the edge of the great sea were able to look out and then, through the nexus tell everybody what they saw. The people could then discuss these things amongst themselves and with other nodes on the nexus so that they understood the world beyond their island and prepare themselves for what the future might bring.

It’s fashionable to prefix everything with “Social”; we have the social web and social media but it’s a mistake to think that a social organisation is a passing trend. Social is not just about gossip though the role of gossip in establishing and maintaining relationships should not be overlooked. Social is about maintaining contact, about exchanging information, about sharing experience and it has a role in the larger organisation in disrupting silos.

The twenty first century organisation cannot exist in isolation. Why would it want to? This applies not only to businesses but also to public facing organisations and the voluntary sector is no exception. It is not enough to invest in word processing, a copy of Publisher© for newsletters and a spreadsheet for the accounts. Nor is it enough to have a web site for the purpose of telling people what you do. It’s not even enough to have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. The investment in ICT should be strategic and its use should be embedded into the fabric of the organisation.

Investment in an organisation’s ICT should focus on content management. A single collection point for content that drives the communication channels using the principle of create once and use many times. An organisation’s back office system should understand that there are many channels and it should be able to use data to drive the right content through the right channel.

Communication is not only outbound. Inbound messages come via comment, via social media and via direct channels. The systems should take in feedback, encourage social engagement, allow for comment and push all of that back through the organisation and out to a new group of stakeholders. The modern organisation ‘is’ a node on the nexus and the nexus can work for the organisation.

The information available to organisations is vast and constantly updated so we need tools that keep it relevant and manageable. The combination of high level data and local knowledge supplemented by social exchange is what gives the modern organisation its business intelligence. All of this informs the organisation’s strategy.

None of this is fixed. Nothing stands still. It constantly shifts. This is where the true potential of a social organisation lies because it operates in the stream of information which it filters and shares within its own eco system. Organisations should no longer be asking the questions ‘Which laptop should I buy?’ and ‘Who can build me a website?’ Organisations should be addressing the world beyond the coastline because that is what will make them a successful, agile organisation for who knows when the next wave is due?

Are you looking at investing in the ICT infrastructure for your organisations? Why not comment and let us know what you’re thinking.


Modernising the Third Sector – Echoes and Resonance

In my last post “A Tale of Two Cities” I made an assertion that:

“The sector, which is expected to take over the delivery of services as local authorities move to commissioning rather than delivery, is not ready for Digital by Default; ergo it is not ready for Assisted Digital. While the Government may point to the success of its digital champions and its one million UKOnline successes it has yet to address the principle client group of many Third Sector organisations, the final 20% who are the biggest users of services. The Third Sector is not ready of the impact of personalisation nor is it prepared for co-production.”

Hold that thought!

More recently excellent blog posts by Carl Haggerty and Martin Howitt on Local Government as a Platform moved me to comment first and then to think about how such a platform might work with the Third Sector as they become a key service provider.

Martin’s Diagram, reproduced here, places Service Providers as an arm linked into the Local Gov Hub along side People (in places with needs). My argument to both Martin and to Carl was that while we can identify why Local Government sits at the centre (fundholder, standards assurance, governance, political oversight) if you were designing a system to deliver services to people with needs you wouldn’t necessarily design it this way. There are additional issues around political oversight and democratic representation of the most excluded that I refer to in my response to Martin’s blog post so I won’t go into them here.

Val Lewis (AKA @otherhalf and the Val in Penval) was approached this week to do a short presentation on modernising and the role of ICTs in a Third Sector organisation where she is a member of the board. Given my opening statement and the questions posed by Martin and Carl it seemed an ideal opportunity to think about how that might look.

While this might fit into Martin’s “Service Provider” square hopefully I’m going to explain how it overlaps with that, the Local Gov Hub and the People in Places with Needs. The diagram has sections that are deliberately blurred; this is not a hierarchical organisation in the strictest sense. The curved lines represent the flow of information, from left to right and up and down the organisation. The organisation is “Social” in the sense that it uses social channels to engage with a wider stakeholder group as well as providing a direct service and receiving feed back. The organisation also uses “Social” in business; that might be a platform like “Yammer”.

The organisation uses ICTs to run its business processes, it has Customer Relationship Management, It monitors contracts, it invoices, it produces reports; it may even be big enough to have a resource management system, my point is that it uses business software along side its social software. Together they provide the Business Intelligence, intelligence that goes beyond raw figures and facts. Because the business is “Social” the opinions, the feedback, the ideas can all go into the mix. To this is added open data, the wider information that can both inform the bigger picture and can provide insights that impact on the lives of the client base. All of this informs strategy.

If knowledge and opinions are shared within an organisation then the organisation begins to resonate, ideas flow informed by formal and informal knowledge, the whole day can become a watercooler moment or a corridor conversation that oils the wheels of service delivery.

When we talk about modernising our Third Sector it’s not a question of Microsoft or Open Software; it’s not a choice between lap tops, desk tops and tablets; it’s not even about smart phones it’s about re-thinking the approach. The backdrop to all of this is Digital by Default and it’s shadow, Assisted Digital. The positioning of an organisation in a digital context begins to prepare it to support its client base in a digital by default world. This is about more than building the capacity to support ICTs, this is about how we work and what we do that constitutes work that enables us to create organisations that ultimately provide better outcomes for their clients – who are some of the biggest cost users of public services – so we all benefit.

Hopefully this post will contribute something to the discussion and I welcome people’s comments and thoughts. I would like to thank Martin Howit and Carl Haggerty for getting this discussion out into the wider world  – let’s see if it leads somewhere.

A Tale of Two Cities


Tuesday 21st February 2012, London. We wearily made our way past the groups of school girls huddled outside the O2 ready for the Brit Awards. We left the queue to the cold wind and entered   Ravensbourne, http://www.rave.ac.uk/ winner of the RIBA award for London 2011, for “See IT in Action”. This was billed as a market place for Local Government and many of the same old faces were stood, seated or prostrate in front of a sea of pull up banners like the vestigial remains of a defeated medieval Japanese army. They outnumbered the delegates who were encamped around a small temporary stage sipping hot drinks served from vacuum flasks into white cups. Having said “Hello” to the familiar faces I joined the camp followers, perused the information supplied and sipped the coffee. Francis Maude MP had been promised but a late withdrawal meant that the day fell to Helen Milner from UKOnline who gave us the news we were probably expecting – that UKOnline were on the cusp of converting their 1 millionth digital acolyte; then the news that some probably weren’t expecting, that public services will be digital by default and the fall back position for the digitally excluded will be assisted digital. There should have been a lot more detail and a lot more discussion at this point but no, we had the percentages, the older person case study and then it was time for workshops.

While Revensbourne may well be an RIBA award winner it’s design does not equip it as a conference venue. From this point until the end of the day we were engaged in a turf war with the students; given that this was their space we were the invaders it’s easy to see why they weren’t in the least bothered and hard to see why we were there at all. For all of that the content of the workshops wasn’t bad and the messages were good it’s just that the channel was poor; bad sound and appalling visuals. I managed to take away three key points: Working through communities that are close to disengaged groups is an effective way to tackle issues; channel switching can be encouraged by using technology that is relevant to people’s needs and recognises their preferences; the government knowledge hub is live and has a strong social interface because this is an effective way of both sharing knowledge and of bringing relevant knowledge to you.

At the end of the day there was a draw for a bottle of whisky and a bottle of sparkling wine; I didn’t win either. I was photographed holding a promotional mug in front of the Learning Pool stand by the most excellent Paul Webster (@watfordgap) and then it was time to leave. The queue outside the O2 was both longer and deeper and the crowds were starting to roll in. I slipped away on the Jubilee Line and headed for home.

From out of this conference dystopia some salient things emerge. While many will look at the key points from the workshops and say “we could have told you that” it must be remembered that even twelve months ago it was unlikely that such messages would have been heard at a government conference: the messages were always centralized, top down, “done to” and “Social” was something new and to be controlled from the core. This reflects a real change in approach brought about by economic and political necessity as much as anything. For me the biggest disappointment was that here was an opportunity to take “Digital by Default” by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake while framing searching questions about the details of “Assisted Digital”. Alas is was not to be and given the potential impact of these things for those who are excluded by lack of access, lack of engagement or disability this was an opportunity lost.

Friday 24th February, 2012, Liverpool. There was an almost school boy anticipation as I walked through the doors of 151 Dale Street, just round the corner from John Moors University, for “socialXchange: social in the age of digital” . The atrium stairwell of this George V building is a reminder of the civic pride of a city and a magnificent history. Down to the basement, a white label stuck on with my name and Twitter handle and, yes, more coffee from vacuum flasks served in white cups. The main conference room was buzzing, screens round the room showed the Twitter stream and we had easy access to the wifi network. Smarts phones, iPads and the odd laptop clicked away and we started to introduce ourselves to people we had never met before or who we had only met through one of the social media channels.

A chaotic call to order and we were off; a quick round robin for expectations of the day then four short presentations by practitioners working in the voluntary sector and local government. Great visuals and sound, good use of Prezi and one, consistent message: you can do things differently and make a difference. With presentations out of the way and a clear focus the screen was lifted and the blank white board, ruled into time slots was revealed – an unconference – YES! What did we want to talk about? Who had something to say?

A quick break whilst the rooms were re-organised and we were off. There were so many messages to come out of these informally organized workshops: the Third Sector has within in a wealth of talent and experience; discussion ranged from the role of social media in a matrixed managed organisation via how to introduce social media into organisations to finish at the potential for open data as a resource and as an organisational philosophy. The sector, which is expected to take over the delivery of services as local authorities move to commissioning rather than delivery, is not ready for Digital by Default; ergo it is not ready for Assisted Digital. While the Government may point to the success of its digital champions and its one million UKOnline successes it has yet to address the principle client group of many Third Sector organisations, the final 20% who are the biggest users of services. The Third Sector is not ready of the impact of personalisation nor is it prepared for co-production. The difference is that as a sector it is willing to say so, it is willing to tackle the issues and it is determined to meet the needs of its client groups.

Conference organisation apart – and the people in London would do well to learn from the people in Liverpool – the digital inclusion agenda has not gone away it has simply moved into new territory. The messages from the London conference are good ones in many ways but the messages coming from the Liverpool conference are the ones to which people should be listening. If the readers of this blog haven’t yet done so I strongly suggest they visit http://www.so-mo.co/ and connect to this network and don’t just watch but “act” in this space.

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.

Media Literacy

Have you ever been to one of those workshops which begin with the words “I want you to tell us something about yourself that nobody else in the room would know” I‘m not going to have a grumpy old man moment about my views on this but I will confess to something that not a lot of people know; I used to be a school teacher. Many years ago, admittedly, but I was that teacher. I say this because one of the subjects that was taught way back then was Media Studies. I have deconstructed images, highlighted the sub text, framed the picture, explained a “tracking shot” created that sound effect and recorded the play. This was all about understanding mediation, that the media was not a window on life but a point of view with an underpinning set of values that we somehow felt young people needed to recognise and understand. 

What we didn’t have then was the internet. We witnessed the first micro computers and their development (we really believed that 640k would be enough for anyone), the  9600baud modem, e-mail (we couldn’t imagine what anyone would want to use it for either), networks (so you could share expensive peripherals like NLQ dot matrix printers and high capacity (sic 10 Mb) storage, colour, tcp/ip and then the mosaic browser and with it a sudden dawning of what it all could mean. By that time I had left teaching and the government of the day had declared that media literacy was no longer necessary as a subject. What was important was literacy, numeracy and science. Soon to be added to the list was IT. 

Now, it seems, we have come full circle, as is the way of things, and we have a Digital Participation Consortium under the auspices of Ofcom. 

AOL   Cabinet Office   DC10plus
BBC   Champion for Digital Inclusion (Race Online 2012 Team)   DCMS
Bebo   Change Agency   DCSF
Becta   Channel 4   Digital UK
BIS   Cisco   Digital Unite
British Library   CLG   Directgov
Broadband Stakeholder Group   Community Media Association   e-skills UK
BSkyB   Oxford Internet Institute   Get Safe Online
BT   Portland PR on behalf of Apple   Google
Tate   Post Office   Intel
Timebank   QCDA   ITV
UKCCIS   Research in Motion (BlackBerry)   LearnDirect
UK online centres   Scottish Government   Media Literacy in Scotland
Virgin Media   SkillSet   Media Literacy Task Force
Wales Media Literacy Network   Museums, Libraries and Archives Council   Media Trust/Community Channel
Welsh Assembly Government   Mobile Broadband Group   Microsoft
YouthNet   MySpace   NIACE
Northern Ireland Executive   Northern Ireland Media Literacy Network    

 The big difference between then and now is that then there was a definable media. Big organisations which had vast resources making content for the rest of society. They’re still there and the principles of mediation and the underlying values of large scale producers still apply. These are Charles Leadbeater’s large stones on a beach. What we have now are the small stones, the collaborative, hyperlocal publishers of content.

There has been a tendency to think of hyperlocal as a benign benefit to communities and as a way of broadcasting the community voice, giving it a platform and making it heard. I share that view. However, I would also like to share with you a recent experience that the need for media literacy has never been greater. I was having a light hearted conversation via Twitter with Lewis Shepherd in Washington about whole food and socialism along the lines of “What’s socialist about whole food?” when a re-tweet appeared in the stream: 

“3rd Red Scare? RT @penval @lewisshepherd Socialism apart – what’s not capitalist about whole food?” 

These things appear and disappear all of the time but given that I was thinking about the whole media literacy piece I took time out to investigate a little further. A check on the profile of the sender brought me to this:















While I usually ignore the automated stuff I was intrigued so I had a look at the web site and found myself here:

Digital Hisory Page

This site is allegedly fronted by the University of Huston. It doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2006 and, if the contact page is to be believed it has been subjected to some vigorous spam attacks. On the face of it this is a factual web site which provides information and worksheets for teachers about American History. Some of it is quite good, I learned things. When you start to dig it becomes somewhat more insidious. Certain groups in the US are labelled, specifically: Italians, Irish and Asians, they are migrants. Other groups are omitted, specifically indigenous Indian tribes. African Americans and the Civil War are a mere footnote in history. Jewish people are “non-Christians”. According to this web site indigenous Americans are white, middle class and Catholic.

 None of this is explicit, it’s all inferred and it’s all supported by “facts”. It’s quite amateurish and you would have to be rather crass not to see the issues that are raised here but it does serve to remind us that there is an element of internet media literacy that we didn’t have to deal with when the “media” was a clearly defined, easy to see, big stone.

The people and organisations who sit on the Ofcom Digital Participation group are as good a representational body as you are likely to get. I wish it well and have faith that they will consider the full impact of the hyperlocal revolution in all of its forms. This is not just about making us all more aware in  a digital world, it’s fundamental. Recently the European Union issued a communication on Media Literacy where it said:

 “Democracy depends on the active participation of citizens to the life of their community and media literacy would provide the skills they need to make sense of the daily flow of information disseminated through new communication technologies.”

COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION 20.8.2009 on media literacy in the digital environment for a more competitive audiovisual and content industry and an inclusive knowledge society

 This, for me, says it all and because this is a sentiment to which we all subscribe I think we should be mindful of the media literacy issues that will arise from our hyperlocal endeavours.

Democracy is Communal

When those of us engaged in the bottom up, democracy space complain bitterly about those in the top down democratic organisations perhaps we should remind ourselves about political mandate and statutory function. Hierarchical local government organisations will focus on those things for which they can be seriously held to account: a vulnerable youngster left outside a school because their transport didn’t arrive, an elderly patient left lying on the floor of their home because the care worker didn’t turn up or a child at risk not taken into care and being seriously harmed. While the day to day irritants of life that result from the inefficiencies or failures of local government cause the majority of us the maximum grief the local authority will focus its efforts on the biggest users of its services (with good reason) and we will be left raging against the storm.

None of this is to say that local government shouldn’t be responsive. Nor should it mean that those with the political mandate to deliver those services in a particular way should be allowed to hide behind the wall of officialdom. Far from it, but the conversations are taking place in different spaces. What then are the dynamics that change the spaces? Social Media should not be about instant referendums; precisely how they implement the “Public Reading” proposals outlined for the Conservative Conference will be interesting. Social Media should be about conversations between individuals in communities and the creation of consensus. A political understanding arises from the conversation and it is the consensus of the crowd that moves us to a place where we can influence government. We may have to use the other channels, the official ones, but we do so with the strength and conviction of a community. Once a consensus exists it also becomes a powerful vehicle for consultation and then the top down space starts to merge into the bottom up.

I finally had time recently to read some of “Rebooting America” the collection of essays put together by Allison Fine, Micah L. Sifry, Andrew Rasiej and Josh Levy. The very first piece by Zach Exley struck a chord with me; “Democracy is communal”, a theme taken up by David Weinberger in his piece on Echo Chambers where he says that conversation shapes democracy.

Social media exists in different conversational spaces. Where you are having the conversation will dictate the kind of response you get. Here, the conversations are where I think they exist, I hope that others will put them elsewhere and articulate their case for so doing.


Participation can be democratic or it can be subversive. It can be bottom up or it can be top down. Local government exists in the democratic, top down space. Social Media can exist in the democratic bottom up space. What matters is that we understand that the conversation spaces are more varied. We rarely think about astroturfing but in the political influencing stakes it’s a powerful weapon. In the on line world hackers can make their voice heard in very subversive ways. How should we consider the Googlearchy? If the voices of communities cannot be found, they cannot be heard, does this make the Googlearchy a subversive force? Where does the power really lie?

“Talk About Local 09” Unconference on Saturday 3rd October wasn’t Woodstock but it was an event. Excellent workshops and spontaneous presentations with lots of passion. Social Reporting is defining itself as a particular group that is demanding a status in respect of mainstream media. There are sound, practical reasons for this as well as an expressed desire for legitimacy. The day also reflected the other side of Social Media, the participatory, activist, cohesive communities side. The elements that make up these communities of practise can complain bitterly about the institutional deafness that local authorities exhibit when confronted with their failings. It may just be that the conversations are happening in the wrong place. The power of social software in a networked world to build social capital, articulate consensus and create innovative solutions means that this could, some would say should, become one of the means to achieve the duty to inform, involve and consult because through consensus it empowers communities. That being the case then the digital inclusion agenda becomes even more crucial if we are to involve the biggest users of locally delivered services.

Hunting Elephants


Most people, I imagine will have read the piece called “Hunting elephants”. If not, do, you can find many versions by doing a web search on “Desktop Elephants”. I don’t even know who wrote the original so I can’t credit them properly; suffice it to say, despite its age it has real meaning today. 

If there’s an elephant in the room, we need to find it. The good news is there are signs that people are looking. The murals from the recent Congress Camp http://bit.ly/I0DW6 were a real treat to read because they chose not to ignore the elephant. They asked a series of very pertinent questions:

How do we:  engage citizens in participatory politics and make it habitual (single issue politics)Connect the connectors, create champions, and engage the disengaged.cultivate civic mindedness – make people feel important, crowd sourcing agency

Leverage existing, trusted sources?

Identify real constituents?

What does: accountability really mean, what do citizens really want?
How do: officials move forwards and differentiate spam from real? Elected representatives are reluctant to share, collaborate and add to their burden
  Making meaning and motivation Noise versus social – who gets heard, participatory technology
What makes: impact, if people know that they are making a difference?
  people input and not just vent?

The bad news is that many of the people in the room aren’t looking for the elephants:

  • CONSULTANTS don’t hunt elephants, and many have never hunted anything at all, but they can be hired by the hour to advise those people who do.
  • POLITICIANS don’t hunt elephants, but they will share the elephants you catch with the people who voted for them.

Rule number one: Make sure that you’re talking about the same thing as the other person. What do we mean by Gov 2.0? Is it really Gov 3.0, enabled by Web 2.0? I came across this first when reading the Silicon Flatiron post  that prompted an earlier post: “Is There An Elephant In The Room?”. The Silicon Flatiron Roundtable was a good thing because they were talking about the different elements of the Gov 2.0 debate whereas other places appear to focus only on the area in which they have an interest and as a result the different lines of enquiry start to diverge. Is this important? Well I think so. Web 3.0 is just starting to make itself known. The Internet of Things is what sits behind the new Augmented Reality Apps that are getting people excited. There is a good report from Vox Internet on the challenges for Europe though a deep breath before you start. Web 3.0 will have huge implications for Government and a lot will depend on what we do now. I’m not going to get bogged down in semantics so I’m going to use Gov 2.0 with Web 2.0 and hopefully we will all know where we are.

Marketing has seized on Web 2.0 with enthusiasm. People like Oliver Blanchard @thebrandbuilder are interesting to follow. Oliver describes himself as “Brand strategist, passionate Marketing & Social Media honcho, and harbinger of growth for smart companies”, and he’s not alone. Even the largest media companies are following the Web 2.0 hype: I highly recommend “The Book of Revelations” from Saatchi and Saatchi as a peephole insight into the kinds of things that interest mainstream media companies at the moment. Take time out to look at the S & S home page as well, great images from their campaigns. There is marketing in politics, of course there is, but are we in danger of confusing the channels of marketing with the channels of communication? Are we right to treat citizens also consumers? Don’t consumers have a choice? Once a government is in power we have made our choice so what are the lessons from marketing?

Conversation, Conversation, Conversation.

The empowerment of citizens is an important political manifesto issue. People taking responsibility for their lives and their services locally now has an economic imperative. Where does this leave politicians? Empowerment is all about what? What about mandate? Politicians will argue with some justification that when they were elected they were given a mandate, are we questioning the mandate, what has happened to the power of the ballot box? What is the future of Government? What does the manifesto of Power Politics look like? What is the role of consensus?

The route to the solutions is in front of us, we talk about it every day what we don’t seem to do is to pull it all together.


 Pulling It All Together


Pulling It All Together
There are some real barriers: Power politics, hierarchies, the googlarchy, the law of the power curve. We know what these are, so why aren’t we hunting the elephant? Because it’s a protected species? Maybe the ecology of people politics is due for a review, so let’s recognise the elephant in the room, look it in the eye and let’s get together.