Digitally enabling the fictitious communities of Slapham

Our exploration into the skills, roles, and approaches of community enablers – and how they can use digital tools for network building and neighbourhood change – took a big jump forward last week with a workshop of some 20 people to play through these issues in the fictitious town of Slapham.

Local community organiser Mark Parker hosted our event at the recently-rebuilt Cambridge House in Southwark (a terrific venue), and my colleague Drew Mackie tweaked the Slapham game that we first developed for Community Matters, and then used in a workshop with the Forever Manchester Community Builders.

Over five hours we developed stories about what was happening in the four neighbourhoods of Golson, Tarley, Blaybeck and Stobben – and how the community enablers Beatice, Dave, Hawa, Matt and others were helping citizens collaborate to tackle the challenges there, using a mix of methods. This is a first report with the material we generated, to allow participants to add their thoughts if they wish. I’ll do more detailed analysis later.

I started off with a short presentation using some of these slides from the Manchester workshop, including the one above. The main point is that in any situation it is best to consider the context, the purpose you are trying to achieve, the people who will be involved, and only then the nature of the processes and methods that may enable action. Otherwise you may jump to the latest shiny tool. We describe  the process in detail in the book Social by Social.

That’s fine in theory – but how to help people work out what it means in practice? That’s where the Slapham game comes in. Here’s how it was played:

We split into four groups, each taking one of the neighbourhoods on the map below. Scroll down for neighbourhood descriptions.

Slapham Neighbourhoods

There were then three stages to the game:

  • First, groups read the scenario and added extra material to their adopted neighbourhood, including the assets and issues. They then passed this extend scenario to the next group – who inherited the challenges.
  • The groups then took the neighbourhoods that were passed to them and created two characters: community enablers who would help local people address the issues. We asked for names, a cartoon if possible, history, skills, character traits and a summary of what they were trying to achieve.
  • Thirdly, the groups examined a set of cards with tech tools and chose those that the community enablers might use. These were the same as the cards we used in Manchester, coded for personal, group and public use, and rated as basic, intermediate and advanced.

Social reporting game cards

I asked each group to do a short presentation about  their area and enablers, and also captured reporting back on the technology plans. Apologies for the quality of the video in the Stobben tech report back – glare whited it out. I have created a gallery of all flip charts as well.

The game certainly produced a lot of lively conversations during the day, and discussion afterwards. I’ll do a further post on one with Eileen Conn, which I found particularly interesting. Among the points I took away were:

  • Several groups invented enablers who had lived in the area … and their approach could be quite different from those were introduced from outside.
  • There’s a bit difference between the development of action in an area that emerges naturally over time, and that which may be accelerated/imposed by external interventions. Anyone who is being paid will have targets and timetables to meet.
  • Technology can increase the divide between initiatives in a community, because of the different levels of access and skills people have.
  • It is important to use a mix of communication methods, and also to aim to join up the online and face-to-face networks that evolve. The people who are active online are not necessarily those who are active in local projects, and vice-versa.
  • Technology should be used to complement and enhance community activity, not drive it. There’s a danger that those who are familiar with tech tools will push forward with their favourites.
  • However, technology can substantially speed up developments, if used appropriately.
  • We should not believe that young people who may be using Facebook personally will favour that for group use. They are as likely to use Blackberry Messenger for that.

On reflection, we should have offered groups a wider range of both tech and non-tech methods – as we have done in other games. By only offering tech solutions we distorted the plans.

While groups were highly creative in developing tech-enhanced plans, covering one or two years, these were probably unrealistic in practice. Several people made the point that you won’t know what methods to use in the longer-term until you have got started.

In  practice the way that tech tool are used will be highly specific to any situation, enabler and local people … and we need to do far more to explore that complexity in practice.

Overall I think the session worked well – but I’m keen to get more comments from participants!

  • People generally said it was a lot of fun, a chance to meet new people with similar interests, and a creative way to explore the issues.
  • The game was a good way to emphasise “start with context, people, purpose – don’t jump to the tools”
  • We generated a lot of material that we can analyse further
  • The community enabler characters were great … and will find their way into the next version of the Slapham scenario. Drew and I are developing Slapham as a virtual lab for a range of games.

We’ll be talking with Mark and others about the potential for a further large event. Meanwhile, if you wish to run a session yourself do feel free to download the material and go ahead. If you get in touch, Drew and I will be glad to provide some additional guidance … or come and run it with you if you have some budget.

Finally, a big thank you to Mark and Cambridge House for hosting, and to everyone who came and contributed so much on the day.

Update: Interview with Eileen Conn: Respecting the importance of emerging community enablers

 

Update 2: since 2012 Slapham has become Slipham. You can see here how it as used in May 2016 to explore the role of community connectors in helping older people find services and opportunities in their community.

Joining forces for community enabling

My earlier post Knitting up a strong community – starting with its strengths sparked comments from Emma Lees and James Derounian. Both took issue with some points I had added to the main report – which was about asset based community development – from an article by Nick Massey. Nick contrasts ABCD and community development. James has guested blogged here before, and responded very rapidly to my suggestion that he draft a post. Here’s he challenges Nick – and endorses Cormac’s call for different styles of community enabling to join forces. Further background here. James writes …

This post responds to comments from Cormac Russell and Forever Manchester’s Nick Massey and their promotion of an asset based approach to community development. I guess very few would argue with the central tenet of “starting with what you have, welcoming new people into the community, taking a citizen-led rather than professionally-led approach, building relationship power.”

And Cormac has a graphic and memorable way with words: For example about the importance of social justice and welcoming in “the stranger at the edge”. Similarly the idea of paid and unpaid community development workers offering a “halo of support”. So far so anodyne. Interesting too, is the contention – which I agree with – that communities typically may generate about 100 ideas for their improvement. Of which some 50+% are self-directed, that is things that a community/residents can do for themselves. Interestingly this echoes research that I & colleagues did in 1996 looking at “Parish appraisals – a spur to local action?” (appraisals were the forerunners of Parish Plans and now Neighbourhood Plans). In which we concluded that community-generated ideas “most readily carried into effect tended to be those whose implementation lay largely in local hands (1996: 326). Furthermore about 53% of actions were “directed at the local community itself (the parish council, community groups, local people in general (p.320).

I also very much take to Cormac’s key question for community developers/organisers of all hues: “what did you not do this week that enabled citizens to step up?” Absolutely – the paid/unpaid organizer/developers is servant to community members and majority aspiration. Get in or get out of the way! And no argument at all with the 6 strengths of community-based working:

  1. Build on strengths ABCD
  2. Shared core values
  3. Commitment to social justice
  4. Citizen-led action
  5. Power through relationships
  6. Shared ‘calling’

It’s really Nick’s assertion that sticks in the craw! That traditional “community development is driven through formal meetings, is agency-led and engages with at best 20% of local people in their communities, usually people who work within established, well-organised and properly constituted groups. This leaves over 80% of people remaining on the outside who would never engage in this way.”

I just don’t recognise this portrayal of community development. Furthermore, why are we not talking and sharing more along the lines of interrogating the contention (which I instinctively) believe that:
Community Development + Community Organising = a DIY brighter community future

Join forces – don’t reinvent or schism!

Knitting up a stronger community – starting with its strengths

Several interviews and articles have given me further insights into the asset-based approach to community development – one of the main philosophies I’m reporting in the exploration of community enabling. Here’s a round up, with links to resources at the end. It reinforces earlier insights from our People Powered Change exploration.

Last week in Surrey the Lower Green Community Community Association, which is part of the NESTA Neighbourhood Challenge programme, organised an ABCD workshop with Cormac Russell.

Jenny French, LGCA secretary, had been impressed by Cormac’s approach at a workshop in Manchester which I reported last year.

Cormac gave us some great stories and presentations – including reference to the work in Thornton Heath - and in this interview Jenny explains how the approach has worked in Lower Green. It’s about finding what people need, what others can offer, their aspirations, and then making the connections.

In a class to learn English, the teacher asked what people liked to do in their spare time … they said knitting … so this led to the Knit and Natter group where people both learned the language and produced some great knits. These could have been sold, but the group decided to offer them to men in a local hostel as a way of giving back to the community.

The arts group took off well, learning to make things together … then decided they would join in the knitting. As Jenny said you can knit up a new set of relationships all for little more than the price of a ball of wool. ”It’s been fantastic – that people knitting together is actually knitting community”

At the end of the event I asked Cormac if he could summarise the essence of ABCD. He emphasised starting with what you have, welcoming new people into the community, taking a citizen-led rather than professionally-led approach, building relationship power … all things demonstrated very practically in Lower Green.

Cormac also said that he felt there was great scope for the various community building and organising approaches to find some common cause.

Earlier I had spoken to Matthew Bowcock, who is chairman of the national Community Foundation Network, as well as deputy chairman of the Community Foundation for Surrey

Matthew says that we could do a lot more to share stories in communities by using social media. When I asked what stories he was hearing, in visits around the country, he said that on the one hand people might be pessimistic if they were relying for change on traditional approaches of agency-led development and funding.

On the other hand, he found people optimistic and energised when they looked at the strengths they already had in their community … and sought funds only when they could do no more themselves.

He said that many community foundations were changing the way that they operated – shifting from administration of national funds, to the development of communities of engaged local philanthropists. Overall this was part of a tide of change, where people recognised a contract between themselves and their community, with rights but some obligation to give back.

In a blog post for New Start Magazine, entitled The Big Sobriety, Nick Massey applauds the asset based approach to community development – while warning that funding is also essential.

Nick is chief executive of Forever Manchester, which is a community foundation that raises money and distributes it to local people and groups trying to make a positive change in neighbourhoods across Greater Manchester. It has the first team of ABCD community builders in the country – as I reported here. Nick writes:

Traditional public sector and foundation-led funding have succeeded only in creating dependency among targeted communities. Providing resources on the basis of need simply underlines the perception that only outside experts can provide real help. Therefore, the relationships that count most for our local residents are no longer those inside the community, those neighbour-to-neighbour links of mutual support and problem solving. Instead, the most important relationships have become those that involve the expert, the local authority, the health provider, the funder.

This virtually ensures a cycle of deepening dependency, particularly with funders, as problems must always be worse than last year, or more intractable than the next neighbourhood, if funding is to be renewed.

It’s a ‘find it, fund it, fix it’ culture. It’s unsustainable and it’s time to change it… it doesn’t work.

Nick adds:

Traditional community development is driven through formal meetings, is agency-led and engages with at best 20% of local people in their communities, usually people who work within established, well-organised and properly constituted groups. This leaves over 80% of people remaining on the outside who would never engage in this way. ABCD is about new ways of working that appeal to this wider audience.

Three months into community building in Lostock, Manchester we have engaged with 100 local residents whom we had never met before, all now talking about what they can do together. That is ten times more people than we engaged with in the local area partnership there in the last three years.

We are already seeing that local people are starting to think about what they can do for themselves. But still while they wouldn’t think twice about raising money for Children in Need or Comic Relief, it remains out of the norm for them to think about raising money for themselves, for their own simple yet exciting ideas.

ABCD is about conversations and talents, and we see our role in coordinating these, connecting neighbours and looking with them at future ways of funding their ideas, often from within. This is where our community building team are starting their work.

I’ll be gathering resources and interviews about other community enabling approaches. Meanwhile, Tessy Britton has a valuable analysis of participatory paradigms here, leading towards her Creative Collaborative approach.

Update: James Derounian responds in a guest post Joining forces for community enabling

Young people co-create their own programme with Spark+Mettle

One of the people we really wanted to come to our DTYE event – on how digital technologies can support young people to engage socially and economically with their communities - was Eugenie Teasley, who set up Spark+Mettle. It is a highly innovative aspirations agency focussed on “preparing young people who do not have the connections or the resources themselves to map and launch a career that they will love”. The young people aren’t participants – they are co-creators of the programme.

Unfortunately for us Eugenie was in South Carolina at the time, so on her return we invited her to review the top ten messages from the event in the light of her experience.

Here’s a video in which Eugenie explains how the Spark+Mettle Star Track programme blends Benjamin Franklin’s self-improvement programme with an understanding of flourishing as determined by Cambridge University’s Institute of Wellbeing … and then her reflections.

I’m really energised by the messages that have emerged from the Young People and Digital Technology exploration project so far. Too often online interaction for young people is either narrowly social or unengagingly pragmatic; I’m thinking Facebook and Blackboard. The digital space is a thriving one—in fact one of the only bustling, growing ecosystems during these economic doldrums. So to encourage fresh approaches to connect young people and technology is something I value and champion.

It was in the Young Foundation’s report Plugged in, untapped (2010) that I first came across the phrase ‘digital homophily’—something I’d seen time and time again but not named. There’s this tension about the internet: although it has the capability of being a democratising tool, it is currently not bridging many socio-cultural chasms. In fact—for the most part unwittingly—it has a tendency to widen them. Those who’ve learned how to develop broad networks, to research thoroughly and to engage meaningfully online are in a happy place. But for young people who don’t have extensive networks, the internet is a place to reinforce their offline peer community, and to engage with the brands that influence them.

I launched Spark+Mettle a year ago to explore ways to turn this tendency on its head. My aim was to work with young people from tough backgrounds to help them flourish and fulfil their potential. Star Track is a year-long incubator programme that shapes, supports and accelerates the emerging talent in young people. Unlike many similar programmes, the method for the pilot has been to harness digital technology and, working collaboratively with young people, to understand how it can enable them to fulfil their potential.

I confess this method came out of practical, personal considerations: I had just had a baby and was ensconced in Brighton, not much able to trundle around the country. But I desperately didn’t wanted the programme to be confined to where I was—the need in Brighton for this sort of programme is considerable, but still considerably less than elsewhere. Going a digital route then seemed to be a wholly practical one—a risk, but one that’s paid off. It’s been great for co-creators: one pair “hangout” each week (as above) when one’s in Essex and the other Edinburgh; we’ve teamed young people in York and Bristol with London counterparts. That’s pretty liberating. The fact that it is not location-based has been a huge plus for our team and volunteers too—people are able to commit to us and to the other logistics of their lives. We’ve had team members dial into their sessions from Singapore and New Zealand.

Out of the ten messages that have emerged from the DTYE conversations, there are three that resonate particularly strongly with what we’ve been doing over the last few months.

The first is around the concept of blending online and offline. All our co-creators and team members met, in person, during an assessment day in October. That formed a strong basis for the developing online relationships. We have quarterly lunch parlays during which we all meet, and bring in a number of volunteers to connect with our young people on a variety of projects. The most recent one we held was a huge success. The online/offline blend is mutually reinforcing. And in fact, although I appreciate the benefits of game-based approaches, for the group of young people we target (those who have spark and some degree of mettle but lack the connections and resources to get to where they deserve to go) it is the human-to-human interaction (online or offline) that is key.

I’m also borderline fanatical about co-design – whether it’s with the users or other providers, a multi-brain mash-up is surely an intuitive approach for generating successful online content and design. We were looking for a title for the young people on our Star Track programme: ‘participants’ was too passive for us. The title ‘co-creators‘ came from them. “As we learn from it, we are also shaping it,” said Suraj Rai. I can’t say it any better. For each session I provide a learning aim, a flourishing theme and a suggested list of questions, discussion points and (online) sources of information. I share these with the agents and co-creators and they are left to adapt the discussion to their particular needs, interests, experiences or aspirations. Beyond the session, there are suggested research and reflective activities, but again these are highly adaptive. They blog their responses which we aggregate on our Tumblr. At every stage the co-creators are feeding back to us about the programme design—what’s working and what isn’t. We adapt accordingly. If it doesn’t work for them, then it doesn’t work. We’re excited to be in a state of flux, and to keep that flexibility integral to our structure, however we grow.

The final message that I connect with is around network literacy. It comes back to my earlier point on digital homophily. We shared the Young Foundation’s finding with our co-creators. They agreed with it. Now they’re conscious of it. And our programme deliberately strives not only to reinforce the strong, beneficial peer-to-peer connections but also to help our young people develop the means of connecting with a much wider group, including people from different generations, backgrounds and places. It’s one of the elements of the programme that they enjoy the most and get the most from. What’s key, for me and for the organisation, is that the benefit goes two ways. The UK is shamefully silo-ed. I don’t aim to improve social mobility—not because I like class schisms, quite the opposite. Improved social mobility, to me, means allowing a small number of people to climb the ladder. I’d like to get rid of the ladder.

The digital space seems to be the perfect environment to foster a new, non-hierarchical, complex and interwoven society. But it’s not there yet. Getting young people involved in harnessing technology to fulfil their potential is vital to breaking down the hidden social, cultural and economic barriers that prevent them from doing so offline. Spark+Mettle is a small potato, but we’re excited about what we’ve achieved so far, and we’re keen to engage with anyone who has similar aspirations. Together maybe we can really do something.

More videos from Spark+Mettle

Hyperlocal insights for community enablers exploration

Here’s a post from my personal blog, highlighting some insights for our new exploration into community enablers and digital tech. The interviews with Sean Brady, Lorna Prescott and Annette Albert are particularly relevant – and the growing use of n0tify.com

The Talk About Local unconference in Birmingham yesterday was a highly sociable and enjoyable chance to catch up on the development of hyperlocal blogs and online communities … and also gather some insights for Socialreporters’ new exploration into community enabling and digital tech.

Here are the video interviews that I shot. I’ve summarised below, with links to each interview. The playlist is here.

In thinking about the new exploration, I was particularly interested in Sean Brady’s description of how he became a network weaver after being a parish councillor (referencing Tessy Britton and Eileen Conn along the way), and Lorna Prescott’s conviction that people working in local communities can start using digital tools easily with some support. Nick Booth and Dave Briggs provide some tips on how to do that.

Annette Albert provides an honest assessment of what it means for a non tech person to run a local online community – an enormous achievement on her part, with 1200 members. Vicky Sargent and Steve Brett emphasise the need to blend online and face-to-face activity to engage people in neighbourhood plans.

The online community notice board n0tice.com got a lot of mentions as a way to curate information about events, online activity and wants and offers. I can see that becoming even more popular. Franzi Bahrle is taking an interesting approach with VisualBrum.

On the wider front, I was particularly interested to hear from Will Perrin and Alex Delaney that TAL and Media Trust will be collaborating in future. Maybe there’s scope for a tie-in with People’s Voice Media, whose Institute of Community Reporters I wrote about recently. Philip John and Simon Perry talked about the Hyperlocal Alliance, and Dave Briggs has invited everyone to join in developing the Hyperlocal Handbook.

Here’s the interviews

The first Talk About Local unconference was in Stoke on Trent in 2009, as I reported here, and where I shot these interviews.

Playlist for TAL09 here.

Our next exploration: community enablers and digital tech

We are starting a new exploration at socialreporters: what are the skills, roles and approaches of community enablers, and how can they use the new digital tech tools for network building and neighbourhood change.

I’m using the term “community enabler” to cover people who may call themselves community organisers, builders, mobilisers, development workers, or network weavers. I hope people will find that acceptable as a neutral term, at least for now. As I wrote here, in a post for the People Powered Change exploration, there are many different models for neighbourhood change.

As I explained here, this exploration has developed from a number of storylines I’ve been following recently around network building, digital literacy, games, and hyperlocal media. The initial supporters are Community Matters – who are particularly interested in helping people understand the different models – and the Media4ME project. That aims to support people in neighbourhoods with high levels of ethnic diversity use social media to improve communication between communities and with local public sector bodies.

I’ll be working with long-time collaborator Drew Mackie, and anyone else who would like to join in. This post is by way of marker, and I’ll be adding detail over the next few weeks.

We’ll start on the lines of the current exploration with Nominet Trust, which is into ways that digital technologies can support young people to engage socially and economically with their communities. As I’ve outlined in this editable Google doc, the process will be:

  • Initial research into the community enablers.
  • Identifying and develop some main talking points
  • An event on May 10
  • Further research and discussion online, and other meetings
  • Leading to a report on community enablers, advice on using social media as part of neighbourhood change, and a kit for social reporters.

However, that may change … since this is by its nature an open process, and I hope to find various opportunities for collaborations as we go. There’s details in the doc of the event on May 10, and do get in touch if you are particularly interested – although places are limited. There will be other opportunities.

The next steps will be to expand the outline in the Google doc, and log research there. I’ll report developments on this blog. You can sign up for email updates top right, or subscribe to the category RSS feed in the sidebar. Comments very welcome, of course.

Update: I’ve now posted a report from the Talk About Local unconference this weekend, which offers lots of relevant insights for our exploration.

Earlier explorations

Digital Engagement Cookbook launched: how might we use it?

Consumer Focus have launched a Digital Engagement Cookbook on a website providing a large directory of engagement methods and guidance on what to use in different situations. The press release says that it is:

… to help local authorities, charities, retailers, service providers and campaign groups, amongst others, to explore the new opportunities that the digital world offers for engaging and empowering citizens and consumers. Digital engagement is not only important for organisations in the public, private and not for profit sectors, it also has the potential to change how individuals and communities live and interact. Taking part in local decision-making or discussing future policy can make a real difference to how people think about themselves and their role in society.

Adding:

The website aims to help users decipher which technology-based methods are best-suited to consumer empowerment activities such as campaigning, consulting and collective action. It is one of the most comprehensive, categorised collections of digital engagement methods on the web and includes over 140 links to examples of them in action.

The website will help public engagement professionals to explore the full range of ways to engage consumers effectively, and think wider than social media or web-only methods. The Digital Engagement Cookbook examines methods from webinars and online forums, to serious games and crowdsourcing, and everything in-between. It offers practical examples and detail on putting the methods into practice. It also gives in

Consumer Focus recently produced a report Hands up and hands on – Understanding the new opportunities for localism and community empowerment which I wrote about here. That explored the (mainly non digital) challenges of local engagement in the context of the Government’s localism policies.

The Digital Engagement Cookbook site has been created for Consumer Focus by Dave Briggs and Fraser Henderson of KindofDigital and ParticiTech. I know both, and have great respect for their expertise in this area, which may colour my judgement! It is certainly a terrific resource, and as someone working in the field I delighted that they and Consumer Focus have done the hard work of assembling, categorising and linking methods.

Having said that, I think the big challenge for anyone seeking to use digital methods and the cookbook is, first, how to plan an overall engagement process, and then secondly how to blend online and other methods: the top message from our recent event.

There are links on the site to others providing guidance on that, but at the moment there isn’t really any integration with overall engagement process methodology. I’m guessing that trying to do that as well would have been quite a challenge.

Maybe the next step is for engagement practitioners to take a look, and reflect on how they could enhance their processes by drawing on the cookbook, and hopefully collaborating on some next stage development if that is planned.

Any ideas on how we might do that as part of our exploration here?

Top 10 messages from DTYE event

This Thursday we brought together a fantastic crowd of 25 thinkers, social entrepreneurs, funders, youth workers and young people at the RSA in London to explore some of the messages that had been emerging so far in our Young People and Digital Technology exploration.

In a packed two hour session we took some headline challenges faced by young people (youth unemployment; lack of youth influence of local decision making), and dug a bit deeper into them to find underlying challenges and unmet needs. With that as our context, we looked at the messages identified so far, which had been printed out as cards, and discussed them in groups to see how they might be relevant to the challenges.

I’ve just been working through all the notes from Thursday, and by looking through all the cards (which people could rate for importance), looking at which messages were chosen as relevant, and looking at the messages which have had attention in the online document so far, I’ve pulled out what look like the top-10 themes for us to explore further. Each message includes a brief summary, and then a link off to more details where you can also directly add to our working document – adding key questions for us to address in our follow up explorations, or sharing links to examples we should explore and draw upon.

This list is not set in stone, and might still change quite a bit before the final write up (you can make the case for changes in the document too…), but here’s the list as it stands today (the numbers are from the original set of cards):

Emerging messages

Planning a project that will use digital technology to address key challenges that young people face? Think about how you might:

19. Blend online and offline
Digital and online innovations don’t only have to be delivered online. Online tools can support local community building and action – and projects should plan to work both on the web, and in local or face-to-face settings.

6. Use games to engage
Adding an element of gaming to your project can provide the incentives for young people to get engaged. Collecting points, completing challenges and competing with others can all spur young people on to get involved and stay involved.

7. Address the innovation gaps in the back-office
Not all digital innovations have to be about directly using technology with young people. Putting better tools in the hands of frontline workers, and intermediaries who work with young people can create the biggest benefit.

17. Support young people to be creators, not consumers
Digital technology can enable young people to be content creators: “youth can learn video making, digital engagement etc. – and if it aims to be social and community focused – imagine the possibilities!”. Many youth don’t take advantage of digital opportunities for creativity – and action to support them to do so is important. From creating multimedia content, to providing feedback on the good and the bad – young people can be involved in shaping digital resources developed to support them.

3. Encourage co-design/co-design with young people
The only way to create services for young people, is in collaboration with young people. User-centred design, agile and iterative design methods all provide ways for young people to be involved through the process of creating innovative solutions.

4. Consider the livelihoods of the future
Digital technology is not just about easier ways to find a job: it changes the nature of work. Home working, portfolio working, freelancing and co-operative business structures are all enabled by the Internet. Better CVs and job information won’t solve the unemployment crisis: we need to use digital technologies to create and support new ways of working and making a living.

18. Use digital tools to enable peer-to-peer learning
In the Internet age education doesn’t have to be top-down, digital tools allow for peer-to-peer learning: helping people come together to teach, learn and collaborate.

24. Use technology to personalise services
Digital technologies can be used to aggregate content from multiple sources, and customise an individuals experience of online information. Young people out of work or education are not a homogeneous group: and have many different needs.

30. Be network literate and create new connections
Although young people might be using online social networks like Facebook all the time, the connections they have to inspiration, role models and opportunities for volunteering, education or employment can be limited. Think about how digital tools can help you to map out networks, and to make new connections that broaden the horizons and increase the resources accessible to young people.

30. Recognise the diversity of youth 
Who are the young people? Although there are many similarities across the 16-24 age group, there are also some key differences in how they use technology.

Reporting from the DTYE event

We had a terrific session today at the RSA – where we were discussing how digital technologies can support young people to engage socially and economically with their communities – as you can see from this quick collection of tweets from inside and outside the room, and video report back from discussion. More here on the event.

Here’s the report back from group discussions.

I’ll add more as we review content from the day.

Join us online discussing young people engaging through digital tech

Today is a high spot in our exploration, with Nominet Trust, of how digital technologies can support young people to engage socially and economically with their communities. We are meeting with 25 of the brightest and most enthusiastic people in field, both young and older, to build on the ideas we have crowdsourced so far.

We’ll be tweeting from the RSA, so you might like to see the agenda and materials to help make sense of the messages that we’ll be sharing, and pitch in with your own.

Here’s the agenda. Tim Davies has done a terrific job of taking the messages from background research, our open crowdsourcing doc, and blog posts, and creating a set of cards that will help focus group discussion.

10.30 – 10.45 - Introductions

10.45 – 11.15 - Identifying unmet challenges

We’ll be digging behind headline challenges of youth unemployment and young people feeling excluded from their communities to identify the unmet challenges where digital innovation may have a role to play. Working in small groups. 

11.15 – 11.45 - Identifying messages for digital innovation

Taking the unmet challenges, we’ll be building on the messages that have been shared and shaped so far to identify key provocations that can encourage effective digital innovation

11.45 – 12.30 - Sharing ideas and experiences

In small groups, or altogether, to discuss examples and ideas that point the way to disruptive and effective digitally enabled innovation.

After the event we’ll digest the conversations and ideas, and make that the basis for a fresh round of blog posts and other explorations. That will lead to a set of online resources and a report. As the Trust says:

The findings will be used to inform Nominet Trust and  help us shape and develop a specific challenge that will identify projects that can equip young people with the confidence, skills and motivation to address the social challenges that they and future generations face.

Tim and I have had enormous encouragement, support and expertise from Dan Sutch and Rachael Gant at Nominet Trust, so we really feel that tomorrow’s event, and the overall process, will play a useful part in shaping further developments. We’ll post more next week on how you can join in. Meanwhile, please follow and contribute on Twitter with the tag #dtye.

If you want to see how far we are reaching, take a look at this analysis (h/t Rachael), and please help us reach further.

Link summary