Things I learnt at the barcamp
So, after lots of planning and stress, the Govweb barcamp took place last Saturday. Just over 80 people – a mix of civil servants, contractors, consultants, freelancers, hackers and critics – gathered at Google’s offices in London to talk government online.
Big thanks are due to Google for hosting us and snacking us up to the gills, ICELE for providing the lunch, Cable and Wireless for the polo shirts, Hudson for buying the after-event drinks, Emma Mulqueeny for the badges and bags, and all the helpers on the day who made sure the event ran smoothly.
It was a great experience for me: catching up with good contacts, finally putting some names to faces, tech demonstrations, interesting conversations, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream sandwiches courtesy of the Google fridge.
Dave Briggs has very helpfully set up a Pageflakes page to aggregate content about the event from a variety of sources including photos, videos, blog posts, forum discussions and tweets. This will no doubt develop over the coming days.
Now its all over, its difficult to know what to take away from it and what will/could happen next. So here are some initial observations:
- There was a great deal of goodwill and willingness in the place to work together to improve government’s online stuff. Opportunities to connect, like this event, build relationships and break down mutual mistrust.
- There are so many simple and good ideas floating around to improve online communication, tools and transactions. Cool stuff – and we need to find better ways to know about them and make them happen.
- We need to find ways to make partnership between those inside and those around government easier – and promote it as as an alternative method to trying to do everything ourselves. We don’t know all the answers individually, but as a collective we can get closer to the ideal solutions.
- If we in government want to innovate more, we should also behave more like innovators. The format and style of the barcamp was great and encouraged collaboration and thinking differently. There are other types of gathering and ideas generation techniques that should consider trying – like mini-barcamps, open coffee meets, social media clubs, geek dinners etc. Anything that gets us all out of the day to day work environment is a good thing (probably).
- Ther is no shame in being called a geek. Im a geek and proud of it. I like the company of other geeks. There I said it.
Question is, how do now we sustain the momentum generated on the day?