27 October 2010

citycamplondon day three - collaborate

Day three of FutureGov's citycamplondon took us to the stunning work space of Hub King's Cross, just down the road from my usual office King's Place by, er, Kings Cross.

The familiar location meant that getting there for around 9am on a Sunday morning was less than a challenge it might have been and the coffee on arrival helped to set the scene for a busy working day.

The purpose of the day was to take the enthusiasm fired on day one (stimulate) and the ideas generates on day two (participate) to collaborate to produce concrete ideas that could be progressed.

Somehow this morphed in to me giving a rambling pitch for the loosely defined "what can I do?" idea from Saturday that somehow merged with some similar ideas and a group of about six of us looked at user generated information with a geographical context.

The popular service FixMyStreet explains the broad concept. This allows the public to report physical problems (pot holes and the like) to the appropriate authority but what we need to be able to do is to expand the scope of things that people can report (e.g. concerns for neighbours, noise, availability of babysitters, comparative prices in shops, etc.) and the scope of people to pass this information to, most notably to other residents.

What we were looking to do was to define some sort of framework (or infrastructure) that point solutions, like FixMyStreet, could use to build and share information about a neighbourhood.

I still think it's a great idea but it needs more time in the participate stage to add some specific details before moving on to collaboration.

So it was no surprise that our idea was not one of the ones chosen at the end of the day to move on to the next stage.

In fact, all the ideas that were taken forward were brought in to the process almost fully formed by one person with the vision to drive the idea forward. I'm not sure if this means that dictators beat crowds but there is a lesson there for me for the next time I attend a barcamp or unconference.

While I may have been a little disappointed in the structure and output of the day, any negativity there was more than offset by the opportunity to play in Hub King's Cross for a day.

Those of us stuck in offices with sterile rows of bland desks occupied by bland people can only imagine what it's like to work in a funky fun house with a variety of spaces defined by brick and wood in which to dwell, lurk and even work.

The beanbags and see-saw help too.

citycamplondon day three asked us to collaborate to demonstrate practicable solutions which we did but we needed leaders to control the process.

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