#PSFBuzz Mash Ups And We’re Not Talking Potatoes

Sunday, July 12, 2009 7:20 | Filed in Public Sector, Social Media, Web

This was delivered by Mike Saunt of Aston Technology, who I really must apologise to, because for some reason — possibly nerves, knowing I was up after him — my notes for this session don’t seem as comprehensive as some of the others, so I’m sure . But I’ll struggle on as best I can…

He started by saying that he was very new to twitter — he’d kind of been pressured into joining the previous evening by some of the speakers, hence his twitter account of @skepticmike.

He was also the first of the speakers to encounter the technical glitches that would cause a certain amount of havoc on the day — which led him to warn us “don’t rely on technology” as his laptop froze up.

He started out by asking us things to consider about social media:

  1. Do people really follow a council on twitter?
  2. Would you want to follow a council?
  3. Would you want council news?
  4. What happens when mistakes are made?

And apart from thinking that he was picking on me somehow because I do follow local councils for local news and therefore am interested in council news, I did understand that not everyone is likely to feel the same way, and some of the people who use twitter regularly may not want to follow their councils: we can’t assume that people will automatically be interested in following their council.

I then have ‘AJAX’ written down, and I can recall Mike saying something about this, but not with any sufficient clarity to be able to remember what he was saying. But the next bit I have better notes for…

He then compared the term “bureaucrat” to “civil servant”, contrasting the etymology of the words — bureaucrat derives from “the power of the desk”, suggesting that it is they who hold the power, whereas of course “civil servant” implies that they are serving the citizens. (Of course, whether the attitudes have changed along with the terminology might be a different matter entirely…)

But society has changed in terms of the demand for information. 10 years ago there were a number of very separate data silos with different data owners; now people want access to the information relevant to them pretty much then and there.

Mike also managed to work in a musical reference: referencing the classic ska-pop band Fun Boy Three, he insisted that it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.

He also provided an example of data being used to help score against NI14: Reducing avoidable contact. In South Tyneside, one of the common enquiries that people made to the council was about when their bin was due to be collected (this is particularly an issue where you have alternate week collections). So they produced an online form where you input your postcode and it gives you your next collection days.

Initially, phone calls were making up more than 90% of enquiries about bin collections: by April 2009, about two thirds of all enquiries were being made online. Given that the estimated phone call cost is £3.22, and the estimated website enquiry cost is £0.27 per visitor, you can see a great cost advantage in shifting people towards using the web for enquiries where possible.

Mike then finished by, er…continuing the theme of change — that people and councils need to adapt for the requirements that we have now, by saying that web 2.0 requires a new approach — we need to:

  1. serve online communities
  2. remove policy barriers
  3. provide open access
  4. encourage mashups
  5. …make sure we don’t forget traditional methods and channels
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3 Comments to #PSFBuzz Mash Ups And We’re Not Talking Potatoes

  1. Andy Mabbett says:

    July 12th, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I doubt many people, other than armchair politicians, will follow /a council/ on Twitter; but I can image that many people would follow – and engage with – a particular service, their local park, their ward, or some other sub-set of what their council does.

  2. Mashups and More: Mike Saunt’s presentation | PSFbuzz says:

    July 13th, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    [...] P.S. More on Jack Pickard’s blog here. [...]

  3. pigsonthewing (Andy Mabbett) says:

    July 13th, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    I read: #PSFBuzz Mash Ups And We’re Not Talking Potatoes http://tinyurl.com/ldayv5

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