• Mainly about engagement and collaboration using social media and events, with some asides on living in London. More about David Wilcox and also how the blog started.
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I think the ones I've enjoyed the most are where we've had to work at it a bit. If you think that someone is coasting on your work it somehow doesn't seem as positive.

For example, I did some work with residents who were worried about the impact that the new licensing laws would have on where they lived. They could have seen me - a councillor at the time - as ineffectual, and could have seen them as a threat to my authority. And certainly there was a level of friction in our first meetings - "What are you going to do for us?"

But we moved past that and found our common ground and by working hard together and working on the things we could change I think we made real progress. We drew the police into the dialogue (no mean feat), and the planning officers, and put considerable pressure on the pubs and bars to clean up their act.

The area seems less rowdy than it was, publicans understand that people who drink in their establishments shouldn't be using the street as a toilet, and the police were going into the pubs on a regular basis rather than waiting until something kicked off.

Of course some of these things may have happened anyway, and we didn't achieve all the things we thought we wanted. Nevertheless I came away from that experience feeling that we'd made a positive contribution to our community.

Nothing wrong with those questions for me - and I'm looking forward to tackling them at the 'Social Impact of the Web' event tomorrow. They made me think and I've posted a response here


Sorry - I don't know whether it's possible to do trackbacks between typepad and VOX. I certainly don't know how to.

The gist of my response is that several of your questions point to a paradox - as individuals we want to use collaboration to get results beyond our own isolated potential - but then we want to reel all those results back in and contain/explain them, rather than letting the group continue to own the space. That's why we use powerpoint, thinking it works like the ghostbusters' ghost capturing 'nuclear accelerator' to pack the ideas back down again.

The following question resonated with me:- "Effective collaboration requires trust, relationships and understanding that take time to develop. Why are so many online systems still developed on the basis of "build it and they will come and work together" ... ending up with empty Forums and a lot of money wasted?"

I was determined to avoid this problem when I set up the IDeA communities (www.communities.idea.gov.uk) by de-emphasising the technology and promoting the fact that there was a central team of people who were there to support project and programme managers in setting up their communities of practice. This extended to facilitating face-to-face launch events which were used to build trust and introduce users to the social media tools they could use.

This is the model I'm also going to use for the contract I'm working on for the DfES, where a network of CoP's will be established across the Education Sector. The first priority is recruiting community managers who will be out there meeting with various stakeholders and encouraging greater collaboration. This is before we've even spec'd the on-line community facilities.

Thus, I think my approach is about as far as you can get from what they've done with GovX!

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