A civil spat – the Youtube way.

I have masses of blogging to catch up on, but thought I would start with one of our local councillors here in Birmingham who is using youtube to tackle graffiti. In the process Martin Mullaney appears to have sparked an intergenerational brushfire.

On January 5th 2007 this Liberal Democrat Councillor for Moseley and Kings Heath popped up a video in which he talks about specific tags and taggers and tells us that many of these young people are from ‘good homes’ and good schools. 10 days later it has provoked more than 170 (often vociferous) comments, essentially a conversation between the taggers concerned and the councillor.

[youtube]hVf1AP6EBW4[/youtube]
As Pete Ashton points out the councillor is clearly determined to confront the taggers. On his own blog we also find out that this particular politician gave police evidence which he says led to the arrest of 3 taggers before Christmas.

The issues surrounded graffiti can sometimes be very complex. Those aside though, I don’t believe any other medium would have generated such a conversation. By getting to the point and personal, Cllr Mullaney has provoked an exchange which would have failed by conventional means. It very much fits with the principle of intergenerational work, which is go to people where they are most comfortable, talk to them on their territory.

I have no idea whether that was a deliberate tactic or a happy accident, but it proves a point.

Participation in society can happen in all sorts of ways. Over on his blog Kevin Harris (consistently and correctly) argues that:

we should be on the lookout for the opportunity to broaden the spectrum…and thereby to nurture the culture of a participative civil society.

Kevin makes the case that this principally means new opprtunties for people to meet, talk and apply pressure.

There is though one problem with this youtube provoked civil spat: expect to see a rash of new graffiti on the streets of Kings Heath and Moseley. The subject? Cllr Mullaney’s parentage.

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5 comments

  1. Andrew Brown says:

    Interesting stuff. Reminds me a bit of an online exchange I had with some skateboarders when I was a councillor (although I was a bit less confrontational). They didn’t much like the design of the new skate-park and I tried to understand why.

    As you say I doubt I would have had the same conversation in real time, but the fact that a) they linked to my blog from their forum, and b) I bothered to register and respond there, led to an interesting exchange of views and improved my knowledge of what might make a good skate park.

    Of course, the electorate made that knowledge redundant by turfing me out on my ear a couple of months later, but you can’t have everything can you?

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