The date is set: Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 5.30pm to 7.00pm at the same venue as the one we ran on Blog Action day in October. To sign up for a free place and find a map to the location please visit this eventbrite link. In this post we also have an explanation of what is going on, some information for people thinking of coming along to get some advice and a few words for the very fine folk who are offering their expertise for free.
I thought last month was a one off? Yes. So did I. But it worked really well. The social media savvy folk who volunteered their time said they would be happy to do it again. A number of the people who came for help wanted more when we had to close the session. Candy Passmore from BVSC and the Third Sector Assembly is happy to lay on a room again, the crucial wifi, drinks, biscuits and fruit. I know Be Birmingham and Digital Birmingham are also interested. So lets keep going and see what we can accomplish on energy and good will.
I’d like to come for some help – what can I expect? Turn up any time to suit you between 5.30 pm and 7pm fopr some personal advice. At the last social media surgery we had about a dozen people with skills in the area talking directly to individuals and groups. They listen to what you do and want to accomplish and then show you tools like blogs, podcasting, photo sharing services, youtube, social networking sites and explain how they might help you. You might get one to one help, you might be in a small group (depending on how busy we are and how many volunteers are able to come). We can show you the simple things, like how to write on the web, how to create a link which will click through from your web page to another or how to add photos. We can also show you relatively simple way to add audio and video.
We can even help you set things up there and then. Some people walked away with their own bit of the social web:
The Birmingham Jubilee Debt Campaign (click on the name for a hyperlink the site) created a free blog at our last session on October 15th. Within a couple of days they were using it to report a very successful campaigning weekend and they’re still telling their story. They keep entries short and simple – which removes that awful sense that doing this is a chore. It only takes a few minutes and i’m quite certain that by now the people behind this blog could show a newcomer how to get started. You’ll also notice, if you click here, how many people have left comments to say hello. That is how friendly and supportive the social web can be.
Court Lane Allotments now have a blog, thanks in part to the encouragement they received at the last surgery. You’ll notice that one of the gardeners puts photos of the allotment on a site called flickr. From there can easily share them in the blog (it’s a little bit of learning and a couple of clicks). At the risk of overload, this group also has joined the conversation on a microblogging service called twitter. It all shows how different parts of what we call social media interconnect. Shirley P Cooper wrote “We met Philip (with one L) Oakley a truly inspiring, encouraging geek who introduced us to Wikis, Twitter, Rejaw, Plurk, Pownce, Tumblr, Goodreads, Jaiku. Ping.fm and delicious. The food was lovely and we also met other nice people.”
You don’t have to go this far. You can just listen and ask questions. Some had a crack at writing on a practice blog. Others, like 8teaarts and gerimoshers, set up experimental sites on the day. As you can see they’re quiet, but that can often be the case as people get their head around what to do next, or whether they want to use these tools. At another social media surgery we can give a little more advice and encouragement. It costs nothing but a bit of time to try, which also means that if it doesn’t work out for you, you’ve lived and learnt.
Do I have to prepare? No, although a great first would be to work out how to leave a comment on this blog post (ask us a question or tel us what you thought of last time) or on any of the blogs mentioned in this post. Should I bring anything? No – although if you have a laptop you might want to bring that, so we can show you things using your own computer.
For the social media volunteers. You know how proud I was of the response last time. I hope that doesn’t sound patronising – but it was brilliant. Without so many turning up (there were ten in the pub afterwards – but not all stayed for a drink) we could haev managed. Of course anyone who can’t make it can always help by linking/subscribing to and commenting on the new blogs, flickr sites etc as they emereg from the surgeries. If you’re coming please sign up on the eventbrite page. Now I just want to pull together some of the posts about last time:
The Travellers: Paul Webster travelled from Sheffield to help us out. “Thinking about this on the train home I realised that we have enough events for the geeks, the teccies, the webbies and the planners but not enough for the community organisations to learn in simple language about those toys that we all love to play with.” Paul Henderson from a little nearer – Coventry
Pete Ashton – the man who invented social media surgeries I know came away “exhausted and buzzing” (that is not a form of transport), we really must do it again, which of course we will. Chris Unitt “certainly learned a lot about how to pass this sort of information on and apply it to the concerns of those trying to make a difference.”
Stuart Parker “The event was a great starting point though, and proved what can be achieved with a little organisation and belief.” The social enterprise We Share Stuff will also be running a North Birmingham internet surgery every Sunday Morning. Stef : “we all went away having learnt things – pros and newbies alike”. Phil Oakley made his first very welcome appearance in our midst and also wrote “Open Source alone is not going to end world poverty but it could certainly help educate and grow economies, it certainly won’t be a hindrance.”
Louis commented “the beauty of surgeries of this kind is that they can be spontaneous and require very little to run other than some hosts with enthusiasm, some chairs and some wi-fi. Count me in for the next London one!” London hasn’t done one yet Louis – come on catch up!
In Blackpool they are optimistic about what they called our “early success”, Paul Groves echoed that. Rachel Gilles was enthused by the fact that”We really can bypass the usual channels, it’s wonderful that it’s being embraced so widely!”. John Mostyn got straight to the practical point with “Brilliantly done all, I hereby offer to make the tea at the next one”, whilst Dave Harte drew comparisons with Steve Bell’s Birmingham Broadside and pondered if we’re also developing approaches which will help bring Birmingham’s SME’s onto the social web.
The surgeries are supported by the Third Sector Assembly, Birmingham with funding from the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.
There will be other links and mentions. Who have I missed out?