All sorts of technology and democracy

Thursday 16th September

12.30pm to 1.30pm

at The Media Centre

We’re organising a lunchtime discussion about local democracy and social media. We’ll be talking about technology as a way for people to get involved in the decisions that affect their lives – a way to empower communities and increase democratic involvement. We hope you will be able to come along and take part. 

“All sorts of technology and democracy” is at The Media Centre in Huddersfield on Thursday 16th September from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. The event is free but places are limited – to reserve your place, please contact the Customer Service team at The Media Centre on 01484 483010 or email info@the-media-centre.co.uk

We’ll start with a very brief introduction to three different ways of looking at democratic engagement that we think might be useful: conversational democracy, deliberative democracy and the Localopolis. This will just be a starting point and after that we’ll be stuck unless people help us out. If you have something to say (or something to ask) about technology and democracy, please come along to join the discussion.

Huddersfield is a good place to talk about this at the moment, with lots of relevant activities and projects happening here. Huddersfield has a popular independent social media surgery for community groups and arts organisations. Kirklees Council have led the way among local authorities in using social media (which has been recognised through The Young Foundation’s Local 2.0 research). Huddersfield-based artists and researchers have been experimenting with public participation, collaboration and digital technology for more than 10 years (The Media Centre’s Speaker’s Corner, installed in 2001, is one such example and the game “Spring Alpha” is another).

This event is being organised by The Media Centre and Huddersfield Social, a group of local volunteers who are committed to using all forms of media technology to connect people so that they can get things done for themselves in their neighbourhoods. Huddersfield Social founded and organise the independent social media surgeries in Huddersfield.

Part of The Media Centre’s “Knowledge Sandwich” series.

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Social media surgery – 19th July 2010

Huddersfield Social Media Surgery
Monday 19th July, 4.30pm to 7pm
In Cafe Ollo at The Media Centre
Northumberland Street, Huddersfield HD1 1RL

Register for Huddersfield Social Media Surgery in Huddersfield, Kirklees  on Eventbrite

Are you interested in using blogs, text messages, Facebook, Twitter and other free web sites (sometimes called “social media”) to help a voluntary group or organisation that you belong to? Want to find out how you can use free web sites and services to organise activities, promote events, collect feedback and keep a record of everything you do?

Please come along to one of our free drop-in advice sessions for community and voluntary groups, clubs, societies, charities and small arts organisations.

At the surgery you’ll get chance to sit down and have a cup of tea with someone who understands about web sites and tell them about your group or organisation and what you do. Then you’ll be able to look at the kinds of web sites and services that you might find helpful, and see what similar groups are doing.

Thinking of getting your group online? Already got a web site that is difficult or expensive to update? Looking for an easier way to share information, photos and videos online? Drop in any time for free advice.

Social Media Surgery – 24th May 2010

Huddersfield Social Media Surgery
Monday 24th May, 4.30pm to 7pm

In Cafe Ollo at The Media Centre
Northumberland Street, Huddersfield HD1 1RL

Are you interested in using blogs, text messages, Facebook, Twitter and other free web sites (sometimes called “social media”) to help a group or organisation that you belong to? Want to find out how you can use free web sites and services to organise activities, promote events, collect feedback and keep a record of everything you do? 

Come along to one of our free drop-in advice sessions for community and voluntary groups, clubs, societies, charities and small arts organisations. Our next advice surgery is on Monday 24th May from 4.30pm to 7pm in Cafe Ollo at The Media Centre in Huddersfield.

At the surgery you’ll get chance to sit down and have a cup of tea with someone who understands about web sites and tell them about your group or organisation and what you do. Then you’ll be able to look at the kinds of web sites and services that you might find helpful, and see what similar groups are doing. 

Thinking of getting your group online? Already got a web site that is difficult or expensive to update? Looking for an easier way to share information, photos and videos online? Drop in any time for free advice.

Sign up for this surgery at: http://beta.socialmediasurgery.com/events/8

Surgery leaflet March to May 2010 (pdf)

Heard about us at Creating Connections?

If you took part in the Creating Connections event organised by Voluntary Action Kirklees in March 2010, you might have met some of our many volunteers. If you’re now looking for some further advice, please come along to our next Social Media Surgery on Monday 24th May from 4.30pm to 7pm at The Media Centre. This is a free drop-in event where you’ll get the chance to talk to one of our volunteers about what your group is aiming to do, and we can show you how to use social media to help achieve that.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please use our contact form to get in touch.

Social Media Surgery – 15th March 2010

Huddersfield Social Media Surgery
Monday 15th March, 4.30pm to 7pm

In Cafe Ollo at The Media Centre
Northumberland Street, Huddersfield HD1 1RL

Are you interested in using blogs, text messages, Facebook, Twitter and other free web sites (sometimes called “social media”) to help a group or organisation that you belong to? Want to find out how you can use free web sites and services to organise activities, promote events, collect feedback and keep a record of everything you do? 

Come along to one of our free drop-in advice sessions for community and voluntary groups, clubs, societies, charities and small arts organisations. Our next advice surgery is on Monday 15th March from 4.30pm to 7pm in Cafe Ollo at The Media Centre in Huddersfield.

At the surgery you’ll get chance to sit down and have a cup of tea with someone who understands about web sites and tell them about your group or organisation and what you do. Then you’ll be able to look at the kinds of web sites and services that you might find helpful, and see what similar groups are doing. 

Thinking of getting your group online? Already got a web site that is difficult or expensive to update? Looking for an easier way to share information, photos and videos online? Drop in any time for free advice.

There will also be a surgery on:

Monday 24th May, 4.30pm to 7pm

Surgery leaflet March to May 2010 (pdf)

Social Media Surgery – 1st February 2010

Huddersfield Social Media Surgery
Monday 1st February, 4.30pm to 7pm
In Cafe Ollo at The Media Centre
Northumberland Street, Huddersfield HD1 1RL

Are you interested in using blogs, text messages, Facebook, Twitter and other free web sites (sometimes called “social media”) to help a group or organisation that you belong to? Want to find out how you can use free web sites and services to organise activities, promote events, collect feedback and keep a record of everything you do? 

Come along to one of our free drop-in advice sessions for community and voluntary groups, clubs, societies, charities and small arts organisations. Our next advice surgery is on Monday 1st February from 4.30pm to 7pm in Cafe Ollo at The Media Centre in Huddersfield.

At the surgery you’ll get chance to sit down and have a cup of tea with someone who understands about web sites and tell them about your group or organisation and what you do. Then you’ll be able to look at the kinds of web sites and services that you might find helpful, and see what similar groups are doing. 

Thinking of getting your group online? Already got a web site that is difficult or expensive to update? Looking for an easier way to share information, photos and videos online? Drop in any time for free advice.

There will also be surgeries on:

Monday 15th March, 4.30pm to 7pm

Monday 24th May, 4.30pm to 7pm

Surgery leaflet Feb to May 2010 (pdf)

 

The many voices of Huddersfield Social Media

The voices of Huddersfield Social Media were first heard in a conversation on the train home from Birmingham on 20th June 2009. Three of our voices were on that train. We talked about a lot of things, including whether we could start a social media surgery in Huddersfield. Could we do it? We weren’t sure. Maybe we just needed to hear someone else say that we could.

It took  six voices to give us the confidence to turn that germ of an idea into reality, to give us the right balance of thinkers and mavericks, enthusiasm and compassion. Between us (and with a little help from our friends) we tentatively opened the doors on our first Huddersfield Social Media Surgery on 16th November 2009.

Our very first participant was Yakub from Kirklees User Voice, a mental health advocacy group. His ‘surgeon’ for the evening was Andrew. Here’s what Andrew says about their conversation:

I asked Yakub to tell me a little bit about the organisation, about anything they already did on the web, about what they wanted to do (the effects and benefits they were looking for, rather than the names of sites), who in the organisation was going to be looking after it, and whether he used the web at all himself.

He was already pretty comfortable doing practical jobs such as online banking and ebay (and so was at least as technically savvy as me), so our discussion was much more about what the organisation hoped to achieve by having a self -published presence, which was to record and archive the things that they did, and how the organisation could carefully, manageably and sustainably get into the rhythm of having that presence and creating a meaningful archive.

Which in plain terms means if you start a blog, somebody has to write something, so who in the organisation feels comfortable doing that and what will they write about?

Many other visitors followed Yakub. We were all delighted with the number and variety of organisations who turned up to ask for advice. I was helping out on the door with the wonderful Maggie, so I was aware that new people were arriving all the time. Yet whenever we had people waiting, an extra volunteer turned up and pitched in to help. Amongst these generous and very welcome guests was Lloyd Davis, who talked to David from the Kirklees Visual Impairment Network (KVIN). Lloyd says:

I was immediately humbled by David’s determination to use the web regardless of his disability. He uses the JAWS screen reader to guide him around each page. This means that his experience of the web is of a tinny voice rapidly reading out link titles and button text –which can either be overwhelming because of the sheer amount of information squeezed on pages designed to be seen, not read, or else mystifyingly silent because important screen elements are hidden

I even managed a stint as a surgeon myself, when Andrew unexpectedly manhandled me into a chair and asked me to talk to Caroline about a blog site for the Friends of Greenhead Park. She had found a ‘good example’ already, which turned out to be the Growing Newsome site (which I happen to be the editor for). I told her that the site was my first attempt at WordPress – and if I can do it, anyone can. Thanks to Andrew’s maneuvering, I didn’t have time to worry about whether I actually know anything useful or not (I had my doubts), and I was very pleased to hear Caroline say: “How exciting, I’ve got answers to my questions”.

Mari was able to help a ward councillor who had been asked to update a web site and was having some problems with it, and a retired lady from a tenants and residents group. Lewis talked to a member of an arts organisation and someone looking to promote a local festival. Other participants included a credit union, a transport group, an artist, a writer and a police officer. And we managed to offer some advice to everyone. Mari says that the other surgeons were:

marvellous and worth their weight in beer

A sentiment which I heartily agree with. Strangely, we ended up with the perfect balance of ‘patients’ and ‘surgeons’. In all, there were 30 participants in our first surgery, on a cold and blustery evening in Huddersfield, including 16 people looking for advice (for 14 different organisations), 8 surgeons, and several other supporters. Clare from the Media Centre looked after us well, and we really appreciated the messages of support that came from those who couldn’t be there on the night (you know who you are). As Steve says:

I was moved at how all these people had given up their time and come together to offer their help and share their knowledge and look forward to reading their accounts of the evening. I have never been involved in anything quite like it before.

So I’d like to say thank you to each person who helped. I’d also like to say thank you to each person who came along to ask for advice – thank you for trusting us, and thank you for everything that you taught us.

A few weeks before the event, we talked about why we’re doing this. Andrew says:

When we met to discuss Huddersfield Social for the first time, I asked everyone why we were doing it. Not because it’s my place to vet anyone’s motives – anyone who is prepared to put in the time to help counts as far as I’m concerned, no matter why they are doing it – but because I was interested to know what our reasons were, mine included. Everyone round the table thought about it for a bit and then came up with a really positive answer in a sentence, which made me think we’d do OK.

And I didn’t write any of them down.

All I wrote was “neighbourhoods/connections/ relationships/people + power/technology”.

After the event on Monday we decided to make the best of a bad job and turn that into an equation.

This is the Huddersfield Social Equation v2, a mathematical formula for working out why you would do a social media surgery.

It is version 2 because it is best devised and understood after 2 pints (Black Goose mild in my case) or 2 gin and tonics:

people+connections+relationships+(all sorts of technology) = neighbourhood empowerment

For us, it starts with people and hopefully it ends with those people feeling empowered. Or (even more hopefully) it doesn’t end at all – we just carry on giving more and more people a voice. 

You can read some more about our first surgery in the different voices of the surgeons and supporters, or have a look at the video and photos… 

Andrew’s blog: 1a) Calculate a Social Equation (show your workings out in the margin). You may turn over and begin.

Steve’s blog: Aren’t people wonderful? #huddsms

Lloyd’s blog: Huddersfield Social Media Surgery

Mari’s blog: Huddersfield Social Media Surgery

Tim’s photos: Huddersfield Social Media Surgery

Our photos: November 2009 surgery

Paul’s video: Huddersfield social media surgery