, , ,

Invite our customers in – at their convenience

Lunched with Mom and daughter today. We have Ladies Lunches, when all
three generations of us females go out to lunch together and share
sandwiches, cake and giggles. We met Mom at the mall and she looked
rather harassed.

She sighed, “I have this letter from the Council
about my refuse collection and I don’t understand it so I brought it
along for you to look at. I tried phoning but I just get one of those
‘push the button’ things and you know with my hearing….so I hung up.”

problem”, I said brightly. “Let’s get lunch in the Community Café, the
food’s organic and they have the Community Computers free to use.”

logged in using my Community Collaboration Online ID and password. I am
registered for this town so I go straight through to our council’s
virtual reception. I click on Refuse Collection and within a couple
more clicks my avatar is in a room with the avatar of a Refuse
Collection Advisor. We press the sound button and after some
verification questions she talks to my Mom about the letter, and they
have it all resolved in a few minutes. As my Mom is hard of hearing the
Advisor text chatted as she spoke, so that my Mom could read it on the
screen too. Mom was relieved to have the matter resolved, and very

Then Mom took my daughter off to check out the cakes
on display, so I whizzed around some of the other Community
Collaboration Online portals. I paid our council tax bill, booked a
routine check for my husband at the health center, and confirmed that my
avatar will be attending and filming next month’s PTA meeting at the
virtual school (it’s my turn to do the video-minutes) – and all before
our food arrived!

* * *

This doesn’t really happen in my town. Can it? Yes, and it can happen in
your town too. I work part-time for a local government in England, and
part-time for Rocoza Designs Ltd. At Rocoza we have two tags to keep us
focused. The first is ‘virtual works for the real world’; if it doesn’t,
there is no point in doing it. The second is ‘communicate – collaborate
– innovate.’ Communication is not organisations talking to their
customers, it is multi-directional, real-time, ongoing. Collaboration is
not having a couple members of the public on the committee, it is the
empowered sharing of ideals and ideas. Innovation is what happens when
people do these two things together. I had the fascinating opportunity
recently to co-edit the OGI Conference TweetBook (a first of its’ kind),
despite being in England and the conference in DC
event:http://bit.ly/158GSY. One of my favourite quotes from this event

#ogi Weinberger: The smartest person in the room is the room.

inspires me, and a lot of people are doing great work with this
philosophy already. My passion and imagination explode when that room
gets to be virtual, because then it can include an unlimited number of
participants, it can operate 24/7, be cross-departmental,
cross-organisational, international, and like the OGI Tweetbook,
innovative, participatory, and giving. This is what I imagine for my
town. What can you imagine for your town – and beyond?

This was first published August 2009 at http://seniorfellowsandfriends.blogspot.com. PM Gordon Brown’s recent speech on building Britain’s digital future http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page22897, despite all my thoughts of ‘but when?’, ‘how are we doing to pay for this?’, and ‘but what’s our baseline!’, I do really feel truly inspired, and rather excited!

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply