I had a clear purpose at the Reboot Britain conference. I’ve recently started collaborating with Dave Woods & Dan Thompson, founders of Your Party, and Brian Ahearne of Independent Network to use technology to help improve our elected representatives’ awareness of public needs. They have in-depth experience with our current political system, and their resources can help make these changes from within. Ultimately, we’d like to see communities better able to articulate their needs, and more transparency and accountability to these needs from government. (And not just near elections!) Attending Reboot Britain with this in mind was very enlightening.
Again, the focus here is on getting broader use and exposure of the social media tools we’ve already developed. This process can be accelerated by undoing archaic IT policies and helping the non-Technorati understand that the risks are low. Helen Millner of UK Online Centres told us about the futility of trying to get people to “get Twitter.” It’s a strategy that doesn’t address the risks or benefits that people perceive when thinking on behalf of their organisation. Ultimately, Dave Price of Debategraph put it well: “Now that we have FixMyStreet.com, we need FixMyOrg!”
But when Howard Rhiengold closed the conference, he differentiated between skills and literacy, pointing out that kids use social media tools naturally in ways the rest of us might consider strategic or even revolutionary. He gave examples from around the world, where kids had used social networks to organise and force political change. Again, the overt themes were raising awareness and the devolution of power to communities, but there was also an underlying message. Demographic trends are closing the Digital Divide.
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