Once upon a time clip art was once cutting edge.
No, really. It was.
Back in 1997, the first Walsall Council website sported a dancing light bulb.
No, really. It did.
There’s also a notice telling people that the website was under construction (it’s slide number two on the presentation embedded in this post.) If you’re on a mobile device the embed may not be showing. If that’s the case the link is here.
We need to evolve, learn and innovate. Nothing demonstrates that better than the late 90s webpage frozen in time showing Billy the Bulb and one giant leap for a council website. Time has moved on and we need to too.
At the Socitm Learning from Better Connected event at Manchester there was plenty of examples of innovation.
Not least the forward-thinking webteam who ripped up the rule book and re-designed the liverpool.gov.uk website based on what people want rather than what officers think people want.
Here’s my preasentation that I’ve posted to Slideshare.
Included on it are:
Some stats on internet use.
Some stats on the mobile web.
A quick map of the Walsall media landscape 2011 and 2005.
A quick case study on engaging with the community through Flickr.
How a countryside ranger can tweet from the sharp end.
Some stats on Walsall 24 which saw us live tweet for 24 hours in real time.
All good stuff for 2011, but you can bet your bottom dollar in 13 years time when we’ll All have robot butlers it’ll seem a bit tame and dancing lightbulbesque.
Quite right, too.
Traditional comms is as dead as the boozy lunch with the Town Hall reporter.
Back in the old days a few beers with the right person may have been enough.
Not in 2011 it isn’t.
Not just because that reporter may now be based in an industrial estate 20 miles away.
The changing face of communications is something I’ve blogged about before.
There’s a whole list of things a press officer needs to do.
For some nice people at LG Comms Scotland I distilled much of this thinking into a presentation.
At their seminar in Dalkeith it was good to see people realising times have changed.
There were some excellent resources posted afterwards to the Communities of Practice site – log in is required.
Here’s my presentation too.
Basically, it covers the following ground:
- Basic principles – What is social media? How does it work. Some basics.
- Creating your media map – to see how things have changed on your patch. So you can work out where to put your resources. Not least a cunning way to get stats from Facebook.
- Some case studies – What works in Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare and Facebook.
It’s not about abandoning the traditional approach that puts print journalists first. More it’s a long overdue re-calibration.
Social media should be part of everything that we do and the last thing it should be is an obstacle.
Or a bit scary.
It should be part of everything that we do.
A good picture jumps from a page with the power to make you laugh, smile, wonder or be inspired.
I’m passionate abut the fact you don’t need to be a photographer to do civic good with images on the social web.
What’s Flickr? It’s a photosharing website. I’m a big advocate of it and I’ve blogged about how it can work in local government before.
The very nice people at Future Gov and Local Government Improvement and Delivery organised Local by Social Midlands ediction in Coventry.
This brought residents, web people and local government together.
The format is simple and powerful. A few speakers to inspire. Circulate a pre-collected list of residents’ wishes.
Then with the residents, sit down and try and work out a solution using digital tools.
This was the presentation I gave on Flickr. Hopefully it helps answer the questions: what is Flickr? How does Flickr work and how can it be used for civic good?
It has a summary of how Flickr works and four case studies of it in action.
Case study 1:
The Walsall Town Hall Flickr meet. How photographers from the community can take pictures of a landmark. You can see more of the images taken at the event here.
Case study 2:
How Flickr images taken by the community can be used by a public sector website as a way to celebrate the area and individuals’ work.
Case study 3:
Case study 4:
Newman Brothers: How a campaign for funding harnessed the power of photography through Flickr. Here are some shots taken by amateur photographers and posted to Flickr.
Case study 5
This arrived too late for me to include in the presentation but acts as an excellent way for residents and local government to connect. Paul Clarke took a shot of a street scene when he was back in his native Ormskirk.
When he spent time looking at it properly he was appalled at a right yellow canopy from a cheque cashing outlet. Traditional routes failed but using Flickr and whatdotheyknow.com pressed planners to take up the case. You can read Paul’s excellent blog on the subject here.
Should local government fear this route? No. Not if people want to deliver a better service.
That shows that photography doesn’t always showcase the best of a borough.
That’s a point echoed by Mike Rawlins and Nicky Getgood from Talk About Local.
Shaming pics of abandoned cars work on a community blog and can help prod a council into action, they argued.
A functional pic of a pothole can work on fixmystreet.com as a way to report a problem.
A shot of the sun rising over an allotment, stained glass in Walsall Counci House or Spring bulbs celebrate an area.
Each stream is just as valid but has an entirely different character.
It can shame, remind and celebrate.
That’s the power of a good image.