I like this (a lot)
Following my blog post about scrutinising swimming pools I’ve now got myself a website that I hope can act as a place where I can gather information about how good/bad swimming facilities are and how they can get better.
I’ve started blogging on the site, but I’ve also put together a wiki – that still needs some work – where anyone can contribute to a debate over the condition of swimming pools in the city. I’m hoping I can also collect some basic information about swimming pools in the city and use this to compare it to other cities.
I’m interested in seeing how these two very simple tools can add to a debate over the provision of swimming in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics. It seems a long time ago now, but when the bid for the games was made its strongest suit was the sporting legacy it would leave behind. That wasn’t just in London; there was a commitment to improve facilities across the UK.
What’s this got to do with scrutiny?
It seems to me that we should all be involved in evaluating the sporting legacy that the Olympic Games in London is providing. In Birmingham, for example, there was a lot of noise about a project to build an Olympic-sized swimming pool for the city that would be in place before the 2012 games. That noise hasn’t amounted to much at the moment, except a lot of people who are unhappy about where it’s going and others, including the Amateur Swimming Association, who are peeved that it has been held up.
What did the Olympics ever do for us?
Imagine, for a moment, what will happen in two years’ time when the Olympics is all over. We’ll be left with a few gold medals and – perhaps – some nice new facilities. But will the legacy, trumpeted by the Olympic Games bid team, have been fulfilled? And who gets to decide whether or not it has been?
Since the facilities have been built for us, I reckon that we should be the ones who get to decide. But how on earth does one go about that? A big survey? A phone vote on Radio 5? And what, exactly, will be the point? If we’ve missed the boat and we don’t get the legacy we think we deserve and were promised who can we blame?
That’s why I think the idea of scrutinising the Olympic legacy ourselves (and when I say ‘ourselves’ I mean anyone who cares) is so crucial. How should the funding we’ve got be spent? What is wrong with the facilities we have and how would you build new ones?
In a sense, bodies like the Amateur Swimming Association and our own politicians will do this anyway. But surely interested citizens, who care about the facilities they use, could become involved in that kind of scrutiny at a local level. Given that we’re about to get a new government and there’s been a financial crisis, there’s a lot to be vigilant about. That’s what I hope the Where Can We Swim site can start, in a very small way, to be about. It’s really just a very modest exploration of what happens when one person asks a question about one particular aspect of a local service.
These are my links for June 27th through June 30th:
- Poynter Online – Youtube Launches Citizen reporter Support – The site has just unveiled a new effort to improve and promote videos that are newsworthy: the Reporters' Center. The Reporters' Center launched Monday with about 35 instructional videos from professional journalists on how to handle a range of reporting challenges, including: understanding privacy issues (and staying out of jail), shooting video with your cell phone, fact-checking assertions, conducting a good interview and covering a humanitarian crisis safely.
- Building Britain’s Future: the next step to better policy discussion online at Helpful Technology – "a fair crack at how we might present big policy documents online. To me, this is one of the big challenges in digital engagement right now: we have a fair number of tool options for consultations, and are getting better at applying the ‘classic’ social media tools of Twitter, YouTube and Flickr – but the practicalities and small-p politics of presenting large documents in anything more than a downloadable PDF are still daunting. Like Digital Britain or New Opportunities, BBF is not (primarily) a consultation, so has to struggle with the thorny question of what to do with feedback and whether to solicit it at all."
- http://mypolice.wordpress.com/ – MyPolice.org is a web-based service that fosters constructive, collaborative communication between communities and the police forces which serve them. MyPolice originated at (and won!) Social Innovation Camp, June 2009. Sicamp is a challenge to turn back of the envelope ideas which use the web to tackle 'stuff that matters' into a reality. In just 48 hours.
- Reuters Editors » Blog Archive » Rethinking rights, accreditation, and journalism itself in the age of Twitter | Blogs | – Reuters understands hat social media can also be journalism: "To a 23 year-old athlete, used to putting out a “news feed” of every detail of her personal life and training on various social media platforms, there simply isn’t a distinction. Her life IS a news feed. Her blog IS a publishing platform. Her Facebook page IS the daily newspaper of her life."
- The Conservative Party | News | Speeches | David Cameron: Giving power back to the people – "Information is power – because information allows people to hold the powerful to account. This has never been more true than today, in the information age. The internet is an amazing pollinator, spreading ideas and information all over the globe in minutes. It turns lonely fights into mass campaigns; transforms moans into movements; excites the attention of hundreds, thousands, millions of people and stirs them to action. And constantly accelerating technology makes information infinitely more powerful.