Why I shan’t be blogging this week

I shan’t be blogging this week as it’s already Wednesday evening and I’m tired. The deadline for Weekly Blog Club is midday tomorrow, and I’m in the office first thing, so I’ve only got tonight. No, I’m going to switch off the computer and go and watch the telly box instead.

It’s a shame I can’t be bothered, as I had a few ideas and the beginnings of a couple of posts in draft. There was:

UK GovCamp

I posted some stuff last week, but I’d missed off the Citizens Access to Online Info & Community Engagement session led by Shirley Ayers. Admittedly, my notes were very patchy as I couldn’t keep up – Chris Ellis spouted ideas faster than I could type.  There was the move from a one-to-many relationship to many-to-many; how people use Twitter to talk to each other in a relaxed, friendly way, but organisations still insist on using it to broadcast; there was that point he made about being physically versus existentially close to something: – look out of the window and focus on a sign, suddenly the sign seems closer than the glass separating you; there was the debate about whether LinkedIn is any good or not (I personally find it very useful); then there was “Stigmergy” and the behaviour of ants when they go foraging for food.

How ants led on to Four Square, I’ve no idea. I do remember wingeing about automatic status updates being posted on Twitter and saying that I really don’t care if you just ousted someone as mayor of some restaurant or other. I suppose if I hadn’t have grumbled then I wouldn’t have learned that you can switch off notifications in Four Square, and I also wouldn’t now know that it can automatically dump geolocated data into a Google calendar. So Four Square might actually be useful for people who travel for their job and want to know where they went, and when. As a result I resolved that I’ll have another look at Four Square.

There was also a really interesting discussion about how people use Twitter differently. In my own case I decided “be me” on Twitter. I’m very careful to do most of my tweeting outside normal working hours, hence my tweets tend to be very early in the morning or in the evenings. I might do the odd quick retweet or comment during the day but not very often.  I guess I’m worried about the perception that I’m fittering my time away with distractions. I put “normal working hours” in italics because I’m finding the distinction between my time and work time is meaning less and less. Like many colleagues I do way over the 37.5 hours in my contract, and I often do stuff at weekends. I suppose GovCamp is a case in point, as half of that was on a Saturday but it wasn’t recorded as ‘work’. I saw Twitter in a different light, however, when several others at our session described how their use of Twitter had led to Freedom of Information requests, stalkers and intimidation.

If I had written a follow-up post about UK GovCamp then I could have also said how wonderful it was to meet up again with friends I made at other events – people like Philip John and Tim Davies. I could have also tried to have a proper conversation with Carl Haggerty as I’ve been intending to for ages. I could have also mentioned some of the great people I met for the first time at UK GovCamp, or those I didn’t quite meet but would really like to. But I’ll leave that for another time.

More Twitter Tools

A few weeks ago I blogged about ten of my favourite tools for reporting and analysing Twitter. Since then I’ve found – or been sent – links to loads more. That could have been a whole post in its own right. There are some real goodies like Tweetgrid for monitoring that would be ideally suited to rapidly changing situations where you might want to monitor a bunch of different keywords or hashtags. It struck me as particularly suited to for people organising events or monitoring weather (like: ‘ice’, ‘rain’, flood, ‘snow’ etc). I will definitely blog about that, and some of the other good ones, just not this week.


Colleagues grimace whenever I mention Yammer. You might say I’m a bit of a fan.  I’m not necessarily wedded to the product, but I am really keen on the idea of social networking for business. Throughout the public sector there’s huge pressure to be more efficient, reduce costs, break down barriers, and get rid of silos. Unconferences like UKGovCamp and its local government equivalent LocalGovCamp are very effective at helping . The trouble is, they only last a day or two. Yammer, on the other hand, provides an environment in which individuals can ask each other questions, offer advice and support. I think it’s most commonly used within individual organisations. However, there are also external networks which enable individuals to connect across entire sectors. The example I’ve got in mind was originally called localgovernment – but it’s recently been renamed publicsector and anyone with a .gov email address can join. It’s a brilliant example of an active group. There’s also a new network just been set up for constructive disruptors. These are really productive forums. I must blog about that some time too.

No, this week I will just give it a miss and hope @WeeklyBlogClub accepts my apologies. I’ll try and do better next week.

By Mark Braggins

Walking, usually with my two ex-racing greyhounds. Interested in lots of stuff. Work: Business Development and Research at Drawnalism