How sociable events can help build networks and connect ideas

The Kent Connects Developing Solutions Camp on Friday provided inspiration not just from the main activity of developers working on applications for open data, but from the side conversations that this sort of relatively unstructured event encourages. I’ve added additional videos to my original post, and you can see them in a playlist here.

I’ve already posted one conversation here with Tom Phillips, about the need for big organisations to practice open conversations internally if they wish to use social media externally. Tom has worked extensively in local government, and with community and voluntary organisations.

We also talked about different models of networks, and revisited an earlier post here on networks. I posted what follows first on my personal blog.

Part of the work I’m doing with Big Lottery Fund (BIG) on People Powered Change, with John Popham and Drew Mackie, is exploring how BIG can be more than a funder, and help groups that they fund to they share ideas and experience. As part of the discussion, I offered a diagram suggesting a change from hierarchical structures to more of a peer-to-peer mesh: Moving from join us, join in, to join up yourselves.

The join-up part of the diagram shows a network that is usually seen as a connected set of people. But Tom made the point that the nodes could just as well be activities, including sociable events. That certain chimes in with my experience, where reporting events has been one of the best ways of doing the join-up  bit of social reporting. Here’s some earlier reflections.

However, to make the events useful for joining up outside the room, I think that the social reporter needs to do a bit more than just shoot video, blog or tweet. It is important to look for stories and ideas that might be specially relevant for people who are not there, and make sure they get both a link and an introduction. It means organising events that allow space for the sort of conversations that I had with Tom here – and also in this post about sociable organisations.

It means some “strategic opportunism”, as James Derounian calls it over here:

…….that is putting yourself in the place and way of likely useful links to take forward projects etc.
So 1 example = attending a conference, like yesterday’s on ‘localism’in Manchester….which puts you in the way of a load of other like-minded/interested people; can also of course be virtual…being ‘present’ on certain blogs, tweets, www etc…

That certainly happened to me at a recent event in Manchester, when I met community mobilisers Corrina and Andy and their iPhone app. Today I have been able to make the link between that conversation, and the developments in Kent, strengthening idea of a social app store. So to build networks, hold events that can connect both ideas and people.

Comments are closed.