There’s this sinking feeling you get as a football supporter when you look down the team sheet for the first game of the season and see a lot of the old faces missing.
There’s no-one you know in the back four and your midfield playmaker is missing. You know it could go one of two ways.
So it was for the fourth year of localgovcamp in Birmingham with a lot of the old timers missing and new people coming through.
What is localgovcamp? It’s an event for local government people who give up their time to kick around ideas on doing things better. There’s no agenda. It’s decided on the day and anyone can put up their hand to suggest a session. As a comms person I go to get ideas and inspiration.
So in football terms how was it?
Very well, actually. Very, very well. It was another convincing victory and the newer faces really stepped up to the plate. Team manager Dave Briggs could go home happy he’d recorded another triumph and the digital trophy cabinet that has been well stocked since the event first started has been added to.
A good unconference can be powerful. Ideas can flow, connections can be made and your opinion counts for just as much as the chief exec who had come along to see what the fuss was about.
Why do I go to these as a senior press & publicity officer? For the inspiration, excitement, beer, curry, discussion, connection and learning.
In previous years I’ve waited for a week or so before blogging. Now after an event I try and chuck some thoughts up.
those 29 things…
1. localgovcamp doesn’t need a big number of veterans to make it work.
2. There is absolutely a need for it in the calender.
3. It inspires people. It makes them think in different ways. That’s powerful.
4. It can remind you why you work in local government. Despite everything.
5. The new people came to the fore. In one session, on local government blogging, I was really happy to sit back and see some cracking feedback from people who hadn’t been to one of these things before. That’s brilliant.
6. Blogging is a good idea. But telling your boss, pinging them what you write and making sure you’re not an idiot are good things to do.
7. Kabul is a place we can learn from. I just don’t care how many people I tell how great a project and a model for story telling kabulacityatwork.tv is. Start at ‘Who Is The Taxi Driver?’ if you haven’t come across it before.
8. Comms people are coming in good numbers. That’s brilliant to see.
9. There seemed to be fewer open data sessions. With fewer of the open data community there.
10. Si Whitehouse reminded comms people that open data can tell stories too. Good work, Si.
11. There appeared to be less about the shinyness of tech platforms and more about getting things done.
12. Mess about with new platforms as an individual. Evaluate. Then see if they’ll work for you in local government.
13. Lloyd Davis will write a book or thing that I’ll re-re-read in years to come to remind me what it was like to be around when the social web was relatively new. I’m sure of it. And it’ll stand the test of time. I can’t wait for this to happen.
14. Some people are unduly precious about the word ‘geek.’ To me it’s a word that celebrates someone who knows their stuff backwards and gets excited about the detail of it. There were a lot of such geeks here.
15. It’s not the social media platforms your organisation adopts, it’s the culture that matters (thank you @simon_penny)
16. The Anchor in Digbeth, Birmingham is just a brilliant pub.
17. Press officers must realise that they need to do more than just write press releases to survive. More are realising this.
18. I wish I could have had a proper chat with many people. Like Peter Olding, Nat Luckham, the bloke who does @actonscottmuse, Kate Bentham, Paul Webster and bunch of others. Including Simon Penny.
19. Post-it notes don’t stick to whiteboards without bluetack. Definite learning point.
20. localgovcamp is actually a place to make connections and ideas. It’s not about the suits who do or don’t go. I see that now. It’s not even about the ideas you’ll put into place on Monday morning (and there’ll be some.) It’s about coming across ideas that’ll hove into view in your day job two, six, 12 and 18 months down the line. Then knowing who to talk to about them because you heard / met / saw / followed them on Twitter at localgovcamp.
21. Digital press offices are a good idea.
22. I missed speaking to the old timers who didn’t make localgovcamp. But when I see them next I’ll tell them they missed out on some terrific first timers.
23. How do you handle augmented reality as a comms officer is a question that’s around the corner.
24. There is a splintering of unconferences to focus on more niche things. That’s fine.
25. Some of the best ideas I’ve had as a comms person have originated in conversations with coders, bloggers, policy people, engineers and others.
26. It must be great to have free time. The free time that Gareth Young and Glen Ocsko have now they’ve retired from We Love Local Gov. Yes, I’m jealous.
27. The West Midlands is a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant place to be working in digital.
28. It would be great to find a way to get first timers pitching session ideas. Maybe postcards into a cardboard box is the way forward? Yes, I know it’s not web 2.0. That’s the whole point.
29. Some of the possibility and excitement we glimpsed at localgovcamp in 2009 is coming true. Best bit? We’ve only just started.
Creative commons credits
Shoot! Hartlepool Museum http://www.flickr.com/photos/hartlepool_museum/6925401413/sizes/l/
Gareth and Glen Peter McClymont http://www.flickr.com/photos/iamadonut/7575785604/sizes/l/in/set-72157630588436326/
Pitching Peter McClymont http://www.flickr.com/photos/iamadonut/7575811056/sizes/l/