Archive for September, 2008

Another phrase that sends shivers down my spine in the office

It was remiss of me not to point to Tom Steinberg’s excellent piece on ‘one pagers’.

Barely a day goes by when i am not asked to produce one of these (often by someone who has already requested, and received, a paper on the same subject previously…).

Whilst I enjoy the discipline of containing an idea or proposition to one side of paper, the request to ‘do me a one pager’ invariably makes me feel quite ill – I generally feel like replying with a two worder.


On my (relative) silence, some good events, and upcoming speaking gigs

For regular readers I’m sorry that its been a bit quiet around here lately – especially as I embarked on a series of six posts about models of social media adoption but have only managed to write four of them so far (I promise I will do my best to get the final two completed in the next few days). Work colleagues (and my mother) would tell you this is nothing new.

There are several reasons why its all gone a bit tumbleweed:

  • My summer holiday – last year I also found it hard to get back into the groove of writing when I returned from my break (despite – this year as well as last – resolving to write prolifically whilst away).
  • Returning to a groaning intray – been trying to get a number of projects off the ground, and been thrown several new pieces of work – they all get in the way of thinking / posting time.
  • Another recent short weekend break – disrupted my attempts to get ‘back in the groove’.
  • Most importantly, suffering from social media overload – nothing I have read recently has inspired me or drawn me to do anything. In fact, there seems to have been an awful lot of social media navel gazing going on at the moment. Its not like I have nothing to say, but when all I hear is noise, I don’t really want to add to it (this despite the fact that there are plenty of things I want to write about. But if I’m not inspired, it doesn’t feel right to be broadcasting my thoughts either).

So, let’s hope I snap out of it soon. Not for your sake (necessarily) but for mine. If this all sounds a bit sorrowful, hey – it’s my party!

Anyway, whilst I remember there are three events taking place shortly that you should think about participating in (if you don’t know about them already).

Two are taking place this Saturday (27th September), both in London. First up is the UK Youth online, run by Tim Davies. Its being held at DIUS in Victoria Street. Second is Barcamp London 5 overspill, organised by Harry Metcalfe (a brilliant idea, might I add). Both of these events look like they are going to be cracking. I was hoping to go to both (don’t ask) but sadly family obligations have got in the way so I may only be able to pop in for a short time, if at all. But I recommend them both to you.

A little further away (both in time and in distance from London) is Scot Web 2, being held in Edinburgh on 30th October. Organised by the ever resourceful Alex Stobart from the Scottish Executive/Government. It’s a barcamp style type event focusing on social media in the public sector. I’m trying to work out how to get there myself.

Also, I’ve reluctantly (because I don’t really enjoy it) agreed to speak at a few upcoming events. If you’re planning to attend any of these, please do say hello and either settle my nerves before the event, or tell me I was fabulous afterwards (I hate to hear the truth..). These include:

  • Mashup* event – Government 2.0 on 7th October – not really sure what I am doing here as it looks quite ‘techie’ but I guess I will find out shortly.
  • Public Sector online on 21st October at Inmarsat – talking about ‘web2.0 and beyond’ with other speakers (so hoping this will be some kind of panel thing).
  • Online Information on 2nd December at Olympia, London. I’ll be participating in a panel discussion here about ‘web2.0 after the buzz’.

There, so i finally wrote something…. 🙂

Five words I hate at work


Stakeholders (grrrrr)




(disclaimer: I use these words often in the workplace, because sometimes jargon seems to suggest credibility…)

While we’re at it, haven’t got a lot of time for ‘vision’ at the moment (cue inevitable Mark O’Neill punchline…)

Six approaches for social media adoption – 4. converse

I’m back from holiday, relatively refreshed, and feeling bad with the realisation of how long I have been stringing this series out. This wasn’t deliberate on my part and I will try and bang the last three out in quick order (not easy for a blogger as lazy as I).

So, to ‘converse’, the fourth approach.

When I was pulling the approaches to social media paper together over eighteen months ago,  I imagined this to be the real meaty opportunity – devolving discretion to policy owners (thought leaders) and press officers to join existing conversations. To give them the opportunity to offer their thoughts or advice and correct any misconceptions or factual errors.

I say ‘devolving discretion’ (or should I say, said) rather than ’empower’ because then, as now, there was considerable nervousness higher up in the towers of Whitehall about completely letting go and signalling a free for all for civil servants to dive into participating. Devolving discretion in this context means a more measured approach – providing guidelines, setting operating parameters etc.

The strength in allowing civil servants to take part in conversations is obvious. Intervention to correct factual errors could prevent stories unreasonably gaining a life of their own. Its also a great opportunity to build relationships and trust with stakeholders by demonstrating transparency and honesty through conversations.

On the flip-side its important that this is not seen as an outlet for formal rebuttal. Attempts to use the tools for this purpose could seriously impact an organisation’s credibility. From a corporate perspective, its also important to recognise that many staff will need some kind of training or help to give them the skills for the job.

So, some great opportunities to ‘humanise ‘government, increase engagement, to crowdsource and develop early stage policy ideas – garnering opinions from activists and communities before narrowing down to formal policy options.

But there are dangers. Adopting an informal approach could backfire if the correct conversational and personal tone is not adopted and/or perceived to be insincere – especially around emotive and high profile issues. Identification of individuals or groups of civil servants online could also make them open to personal attack and flaming from those with malicious intent.

In terms of cost and resource, I think by this point some dedicated specialist resource is  essential to support, guide and mentor officials engaging in debate. Certainly people will probably require some support at set up and need to know someone is available to help them if they have concerns or problems.

So, that’s four down. Two to go.