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A LocalGov Camp (online)?

For those who haven’t experienced it, it’s hard to explain barcamp (although this wikipedia entry does a pretty good job). These are unconference conclaves of thinkers and doers, meeting, talking, making connections and exploring the possibilities, but also getting things done.

I attended the UKGovWeb BarCamp back in January, which brought together a great range of people from central and local government to focus on how social media and the power of information could transform public services and the way we as citizens engage with government. It was a really high energy, inspirational event. And I know there was recently a Gov2.0 Camp in DC, which seemed incredibly vibrant as far as I could tell from the updates I saw online.

There are plans afoot for a local government barcamp (localgovcamp) in June, which I’m really excited about. In many ways, I think local government has an even greater potential to explore the benefits of social media – as we’re that much closer to local people and there’s real scope to engage with neighbourhood and hyper-local sites and to listen to conversations about what’s needed where we live (wherever that may be).

Nothing can replace a dynamic face to face event, but there’s an exciting opportunity to begin focusing on local government and social media through an IDeA (Improvement and Development Agency for local government in England) online conference taking place next week.

Yes, like a traditional conference, we have a great line up of speakers (and we may have some pretty cool surprise guests, too). But just like an barcamp event or an unconference – the content and the conversation isn’t limited to what we as conference organisers have arranged.

We want to capture the verve and vibe of an unconference, with the sector determining what we talk about and how we take actions forward.

Be a part of it

First, sign up. It’s a free online event that kicks off next Monday 6 April. To register, you simply need to join the Councillors Connected community of practice – a space on the IDeA Communities of Practice platform.

Second, start commenting. We’ve already opened a thread looking at what we want to talk about during the conference. Help shape it now.

Third- show your stuff! We know there’s lots of great and emerging practice already out there from councillors and councils who are innovating, improving public services and engaging local people through use of social media. You can share links to emerging practice in the conference wiki. Or use the discussion forum to tell us about what you’re doing, what you’re thinking about doing, or what could be done better.

Fourthjust show up (virtually, of course) and start talking, planning and doing.

And, last but not least, promote it. Tell your interested colleagues about it, write about it on your blog, tweet it and share it and invite your Facebook friends.

Cross posted here.

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Allen Sheaprd


Communities of practice has alot of range – it sounds like any effort or activity is welcome.

Joke: Blogging in person sounds like giving s speach 😉

Do I need to bring or offer a solution or just a problem?


Very cool. What’s the technology behind the site and the conference? Is the conference held on the site or Second Life? Sweet stuff….

Ingrid Koehler

The platform is our agency’s bespoke social networking platform “Communities of Practice for Local Government” – very much like this site – for connecting local government practitioners in the UK. I’m not a techie, so I don’t know the mechanics of it – Steve Dale is our man behind the machine. But we have over 20,000 members and hundreds of individual communities focused on Housing, HR, PM, Environmental services….well, pretty much anything to do with local government.

The conference itself will take place in one of the communities. We’ve run several of these so far with a lot of success, and we’re really looking forward to this one. The beauty of doing it through discussion forums is that we’re able to capture the content and produce reports of the conference – both reproducing the individual “speeches” and a summary of the conversations which we then publish to our main website: http://www.idea.gov.uk which can then reach an even larger audience. (I know we have well over 50,000 subscribers to our weekly newsletter).

We want people to bring solutions to the conference, but problems as well. Many councils in the UK are exploring the use of social media, but it’s an emerging field. The purpose is to share new and interesting practice but also to explore the risks and benefits.

Although we’re focusing on practice in England, we’d love to have some US practitioners to share their experience, too.