BAR CAMP: What’s this Hyperlocal Govcamp West Midlands?

Some of the best ideas are dreamt up in a pub or over tea and cake.

Many of those pearls just never get past the beermat scribble stage.

Once me and a mate had the idea for beeridea.com. This would have been a site to sanity test great pub ideas that may have emerged after pint number five.

It never got off the ground.

One wheeze that has got out of the pub is Hyperlocal Govcamp West Midlands.

Staged at Walsall College on October 6 the aim is to be a half day unconference for local government with added flavour.

It’s followed by an uncurry. And beer, naturally.

Who is behind it? some bright people from local government and hyperlocal blogging. Namely, Simon Whitehouse of Digital Birmingham, Stuart Harrison of Lichfield Council, Andy Mabbett of Birmingham City Council and Mike Rawlins of Talk About Local. And me.

What’s the added flavour?

Two things: first, hyperlocal bloggers. These are either an important emerging news platform or untrained citizen journalists playing fast and loose with the law. Depends who you talk to.

The second? The open data movement. Once dismissed as box bedroom anoraks they are now slowly making an impact. In time this will be massive, I’m convinced of this.

For me, in Autumn 2010 Local government people, hyperlocal bloggers and open data geeks are at three points of the same Venn diagram.

It doesn’t make any sense to stage an event that doesn’t incorporate those elements.

The trick, if we can achieve it, is getting the three elements to talk and understand more.

Why a half day? We thought it interesting to see if the unconference format could fit into the day job. Events on a Saturday have worked well in the past but they attract the deeply committed. Would a mid-week event expose the 9 to 5-ers to inspiring ideas?

What is an unconference? It’s an informal conference that allows the agenda to be chosen on the day. I’ve lost count of the number of people who look back at Localgovcamp in Birmingham in 2009 as being a major source of inspiration.

Why Walsall? We’re from the West Midlands and the thinking was it may be good to do something in one of the Black Country boroughs. It’s also a town that does some surprsingly good things online.

Why Walsall College? Because they’re very nice people and they’ve got a Star Trek-esque 100 meg broadband.

Who are the nice sponsors who are allowing this to happen? Big hand for Public Sector Forum, Jadu CMS and Local Government Improvement and Delivery (formerly IdEA). Also very supportive have been: Replenish New Media, Talk About Local, Vicky Sargent at Boilerhouse, SOCITM, Walsall Council, Digital Birmingham, Birmingham City Council and Lichfield Council. And Russell at Walsall College.

What resources are there?

Here is the eventbrite: Ticket info and sponsors.

Here is the Google map: Where it is and where to park.

Here is the govcamp discussion page Right here.

What is an unconference? This is what wikipedia says.

How to run a govcamp The Dave Briggs guide

Yes, but what does an unconference actually look like? Here is localgovcamp in Birmingham.

Here are a couple of places to go in Walsall if you’ve never been before. New Art Gallery Walsall and the Leather Museum (it’s right next to the venue. The cake is very good.)

Creative commons credits:

Logo: James Clarke of Replenish New Media

Walsall College: Dan Slee

Andy Mabbett and Dave Briggs: Jamie Garner


6 Comments on “BAR CAMP: What’s this Hyperlocal Govcamp West Midlands?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nicky Getgood, Dan Slee, Simon Whitehouse, Linda Spurdle, Stephan Minard and others. Stephan Minard said: BAR CAMP: What’s this Hyperlocal Govcamp West Midlands?: Some of the best ideas are dreamt up in a pub or over tea… http://bit.ly/cONZ4g […]

  2. Matt says:

    Dan what’s the best way to follow write ups about the event, as it would be useful to find out the general outcome of the meet ups.

    • Dan Slee says:

      Hi Matt — Thanks for the feedback and really glad you enjoyed the event.

      You are dead right about being concerned about the legal risks of blogging. The potential could be catastrophic.

      Does this mean that people shouldn’t? Absolutely not.

      Should they find out more about the subject? Absolutely.

      Philip John of the Lichfield Blog has done some work on this as has Paul Bradshaw. Google them both. They’re good sorts both of them and will be happy to point you in the right direction.

      As for collected links from Hyperlocal Govcamp West Midlands, we’ve got that one on the list and it should emerge overthe next few days. If you check @hlgovcampwm you won’t go far wrong.

  3. […] events since I moved to Birmingham to study social media and yet all of them – ‘Hyperlocal Govcamp‘, ‘Hello Digital’ and ‘The Lost Voice of Mental Health in Birmingham‘ […]

  4. […] has just blogged about the work he and I have done together, on HyperLocal Govcamp West Midlands and BrewCamp, along with Stuart Harrison, Mike Rawlins and Simon […]

  5. […] and similar events. I’ve had great fun, speaking at several, organising HyperWM & BrewCamp and facilitating ShropCamp. Unfortunately, at some of the events I’ve […]


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