K-HUB: What have the Somme, Glastonbury and Knowledge Hub got in common?

767632737_65fb8dd35b_b (1)There’s never been more need for a place for local government people to share, innovate, ask questions and search for answers. I know. I work in it.

Working in local government at best can be inspiring and life affirming. At worst can feel like a cross between a natural disaster and the battle of the Somme.

Great landslides are appearing overnight in an old familiar landscape and the normal ways of doing things have gone. I loose count of the number of bright people I know who have left or have been forced to leave.

Against that backdrop the LGA have reacted to a major funding cut by calling into question their walled garden Knowledge Hub be closed. The thinking is that this job can maybe be done by social media without the need for an expensive to maintain website and small army of mostly voluntary curators.

I feel for those in the LGA worrying for their jobs. I’ve been there. Those at risk would rather Knowledge Hub closed in a flash if it meant their jobs were saved. I know I would. When you are in a trench being shelled old soldiers would recall how you would hope the next shell doesn’t land on you. You are not thinking of innovation and better concrete-lined dugout.

If unconferences like localgovcamp is a kind of digital Glastonbury which brings the cutting edge together then the Knowledge Hub is the Top 40. A mainstream place to ask questions.

I’m an infrequent visitor to Knowledge Hub and I get my ideas and inspiration from Twitter. But I know that this isn’t for everyone.

I help with comms2point0 whose blog gets 10,000 visitors a month for comms people. I know how much work it takes.  I simply don’t see similar platforms emerging for the 600 tasks local government does.

I’ll leave the debate on what and how to others like Steve Dale who were involved in the original concept for how Knowledge Hub should look and know that it didn’t quite work out that way.

The truth is obvious. There is a need for a central safe platform where  people can ask, share and be inspired in.  It’s madness to think otherwise.

Creative commons credits:

Glastonbury http://www.flickr.com/photos/toadiepoo/767632737/sizes/l/

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  1. I agree Dan, it’s a loss; but the platform suffered a bit when it changed to Knowledge Hub from the excellent Communities of Practice. A few people who I know found it more difficult and less flexible to use. The small group (90 members) I was managing has died off since the change was made. I’ve also found that as organisations (invariably comms teams) have taken a hit, their involvement in Knowledge Hub has dropped making it a less useful tool over time (my view anyway). As you say, it’s hard work…

    I would be interested to see whether any proper evaluation was done by LGA into the impact and value of the Knowledge Hub, specifically around whether helped those practitioners involved do things better and more efficiently.

    If it had been able to demonstrate such an impact, it may have been more difficult for the LGA to close it down.

  2. I agree Dan. I was hugely enthusiastic when the original concept was announced and had high hopes. What was actually implemented as Khub didn’t work for me personally – I also find Twitter a better place to fnd ideas and inspiration.

    That said, I do recognise that many value Khub in its current form, and I sincerely hope that the LGA won’t be short-sighted and will recognise the value in retaining the small team of skilled facilitators.

    Rather than demolishing what has been built, it’s time to throw open a few doors, do a bit of maintenance, and even consider letting tenants help pay for it.

  3. I think it’s actually quite hard to see what the LGA are really saying about the future of KHub, and also to understand who they are really addressing their comments to, right now.

    There already also seem to be several threads to discussion on this:

    Do we try to keep it “as is”?
    Do we try to replicate its usefulness in some other (allegedly simpler) form?
    Do we cherry-pick the corpse of KHub as it stands?
    Do we try to achieve the real KHub which the LGA seemed to promise but never delivered?

    There are other threads too.

    To me, the shock was in an early comment, initially attributed to the DCLG, but which I’ve also heard came from the voices within the LGA itself. This comment said that what had thrown a shadow over KHub’s funding were doubts about “its relevance”. If sharing has ceased to be “relevant” in the eyes of either or both of those bodies, or is seen to come at an unaffordable price in the Khub model, we will be in a battle not just of resources and methodologies, but also of attitudes. Nothing is too big to fail, but how can the biggest exercise in sharing across local government have lost its “relevance”?

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