Tag: upyerbrum

Fixmystreet for iphone.

picture of the e-well being award for fixmystreet

Bit slow on this – especially given that I saw the man behind it, Birmingham based clerverman Matthew Somerville, before Christmas. (Must listen more).

However if you have an iPhone, this application will help you make best use of the award winning  www.fixmystreet.com – the place to report problems in your neighbourhood. Even news blogger Jeff Jarvis wants it so much he’s (be)moaning that he can’t get one in the USA! Thanks to Greenerleith.

Twitpanto – one helluva social object.

A triumph darling.  Jon Bounds and catnip (with a huge host of help) amused the entire interwebs (well a bit of it) with the worlds first Twitter Panto. Besides creating the wordle above, Matthew Somerville pulled together the script and audience in one wonderful social thingy. Actors Online reckons it brought the house down (how often must they use that one?) and the whole caboodle got brum happy too.


I Googled twitpanto at about 10pm December 23rd and found – for the first time in years – that there were no ads to accompany it. Twitpanto is a real thing that really happened but so far ahead of some long tail curve that not even mighty google knows where it fits. Surely a Christmas miracle.

Chris loved it because:

  • It was absolutely chaotic but it absolutely worked
  • The audience participation – it’s an important part of a panto and seeing over 50 tweets of ‘oh no it’s not’ and ‘oh yes it is’ come rolling in was fantastic
  • It was popular – not a penny was spent on promotion but it spread because people liked the idea. #twitpanto was the top trending topic on twitter and so far my tag search is showing over 1,300 uses of the tag (and they’re still coming)
  • Birthday boy Lloyd Davis appeared as himself (I’m sure he looked different in Brazil) and described what happened as “an anthropological treasure trove”. Nick Burcher also enthused:

    a great demonstration of the versatility of Twitter and really highlighted the difference between Twitter and more ‘traditional’ social networks like MySpace and Facebook (where it would have been difficult to re-create the immediacy of #twitpanto and would have been even harder to follow it!) A collaborative, non-sponsored effort, #twitpanto was a great example of how social media can facilitate an expansive conversation between like-minded individuals just for fun and just because……

    Tom Roper professes a liking for the vulgarity of panto and wasn’t disappointed to find twitpanto “rowdy, bawdy and sometimes hard to follow, just like the real thing”.

    Emma Jones (Dandini!) concludes:  “pantomime is such a great match for Twitter – it’s all about the instant feedback and audience participation!, echoed by Robert Anderson: “My first job after leaving university was in panto– Jack and the Beanstalk in York, if you must know. Many of the audience told me that they didn’t go to the theatre during the year but always went to the panto. Why? Because it was social, populist and they could get involved. Crucially they enjoyed the show and told their friends about it– retweeted, if you like. Could it be that the panto spirit sums up what two-way communication (ie the social bit) is all about?”

    Made in Moseley

    Made in Moseley _ Home Page.jpg

    This new website is going to play an important part in helping the individual crafts people of Moseley flourish – great work from the Moseley Community Development Trust – which is also investing in co-working space for creatives in Moseley.  I’ll quote the press release in full:

    This Christmas shoppers are turning away from high street mass-produced gifts and clicking onto Made in Moseley (http://www.madeinmoseley.co.uk), a new online shop launching on 22nd November 2008 stock full with the finest art, jewellery and fashion hand-crafted by independent artists and designer-makers residing in the south Birmingham borough.

    From a small, £4.50 comic book by cult illustrator Sarah Ray to a hand-made, 18 carat gold ring, set with two cognac diamonds and boulder opal priced at £1,530 by internationally-renowned designer-maker Michele White, Made in Moseley has something special for everyone, and currently features the work of nine talented local artists.

    “The site looks fantastic, it combines an easy to use interface with a secure payment system via PayPal,” says Suzanne Neal, Studio Manager at Media Content Lab. “It’s one of the first artist-driven, shared ecommerce sites in Birmingham, buying from the shop directly supports Moseley’s artists and designer-makers.”

    The result of a partnership between Birmingham City University’s Media Content Lab and charity the Moseley Community Development Trust, the site creates a supportive platform for the burgeoning creative community thriving within the Moseley district of Birmingham – and is continually looking for new artists to expand the website.


    Social Media and Social Housing

    Trust from Joi on Flickr - click image to see the original.

    This afternoon I spoke at the National Housing and Disrepair Forum annual conference. 100 or so council officers, solicitors, barristers, housing association types and others worrying about just how much money is spent on compensating council tenants for repairs that haven’t been done. This is a link to the presentation:  Talk is cheap – so use it more.

    I was invited by Kate Priest, the head of the legal department at Birmingham City Council that deals with such matters.  Kate had heard me talking about local government, social media and the changing democratic relationship in one of my sessions at the Institute of Local Government.

    A £3,000 pound compensation bill for a tenant could mean a £15,000 bill from their lawyers – and all that comes out of the repairs budget. So it’s worth exploring other ways to stop this.

    I wanted to get across the idea that this can be thought of as a problem of trust. Lawyers thrive where trust does not. The challenge I wanted to throw to the group was how can they understand this as more than a problem of record keeping, accountability and process? Instead can they involve their people in sincere networks of trust within neighbourhoods.
    The presentation is simply designed to offer examples of how and where the social web builds real networks of trust – ones which can make things happen. It was intended to give them a sense that trust is worth hard cash. The tenant who trusts their council worker and so negotiates directly with them could free up thousands for work of public value.  The tenants who are part of a wider network of trust may even be able to help negotiate priorities.

    Thank you for a big chunk of input on twitter (image here and here of the 19 comments). Here is what you suggested:

    By presenting an authentic face to tenants which listens and responds to their concerns and issues and by helping to link tenants up to find others in their situation, or who have resolved issues to share experience and connect”  Dave Briggs.

    Listen to people where they are already talking about you (good and bad stuff)” Paul Henderson.

    “Any way of improving two-way communication must surely help” Catnip.

    Councils need to improve / review their relationships offline before making a difference online”  Stuart Parker.

    One easy win would be for blogs to be set up for individual estates – the council can keep tenants fully in the loop of developments, the tenants would be able to have their say, but also that blog could help develop & bind the community of the estate itself together. wins all round, for minimal financial investment, really.”  Simon Gray.

    Not a council tenant, but as a private one an answerphone and email address would be a start!” and “I think the question’s wrong: maybe, ‘what are the problems facing council tenants’ and keep soc media in mind when addressing them ” Michael Grimes.

    “This is helping in some respects, esp with young people on 1st tenancy http://www.inliving.co.ukJohn Popham.

    If social media is ‘informal’ it will help get over the “stigma” of phoning somone or appearing in person.” Paul Jennings.

    Human face and interaction with two-way content. Would also bring tenants into contact with each other as well as council.” Nicky Getgood.

    I think councils are way off social media. Difficult to control comms leads to degraded service. Also privacy issues and challenge of delivering service using tools and channels that are external. Eg what if Twitter down? Ian Edwards.

    Google alerts for blog posts about “dog sh*t” or “broken paving slab” + their ward, then follow it up. That’s only a semi joke”.  Jon Hickman.

    Blogging for different estates. Would get people to know each other and get them talking about issues that matter to them.”  Antonio Roberts.

    Works t’other way- CLG wants tenants 2 have a role in mgmt- better way 2 engage than endless meetings (although meetings r useful)”.  Nick Drew.

    Toronto based Michael Cayley also asked: “ pls share some references used for trust & social capital session aimed at lawyers who defend councils from housing repair claims.

    I used very simple examples. I was facing an audience of 100 people, none of whom blog, only one had heard of twitter.  Even though I was amongst many lawyers only a smattering had come across Linkedin.   I needed to show how building networks of trust can help make good things happen.  I used the example of the Birmingham Bloggers group and the Social Media Surgeries. I used the volunteer effort that mysociety can apply to ventures like  fixmystreet (and not a soul in the room  had heard of the site). I also talked to them about the open innovation exchange experiment and how it’s model of open collaboration to pitch for contracts is using trust to disrupt existing ways of doing business and improve the outcome for the public.

    Responses were mixed. Some went for the very human (my favourites) such as getting good at saying sorry, takings flowers when you’ve messed up and having street meeting with contractors. Others talked specifically about  procedures and software to track transactions.  One reported how law firms use facebook to recruit people for court cases.

    Overall I tried to emphasise that I wanted people to go away not so much thinking about the internet, but appreciating that whatever they can do to build trust should ultimately reduce their need to fight fruitless court battles with the very people they exist to help.

    We’ll see what comes next.