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Live Blog III – Political Innovation Camp, Belfast (picamp)

May 26th, 2009 | 8 Comments | Categories: Geek |

So today I’m in Belfast, at an Amplified event called PICamp – Political Innovation Camp. It’s an ‘unconference‘ style event, with the added Amp-twist of us hopefully taking the great stuff that comes up here and sharing it beyond the walls of the discussion, and running a session or two that invites you to contribute. There’s a big presence here for the political blog/forum, www.sluggerotoole.com

It’s fascinating being here, as the political landscape is slowly shifting with the proliferation of social media tools and the ensuing sense of increased engagement with the political process. The newsmaker events that Reuters have been running of late have been getting increasingly deep into the potential and possibilities of social media tools for connecting the electorate with the people who supposedly work for us. So today will hopefully be a great chance to think about, discuss and discover some new ways that emerging technologies can further the cause of transparency and accountability in government.

[12:59] We’re setting up, things kick off at 2 – sorting out the wireless, getting Audioboo set up, sorting out tech issues, and generally working out how things are going to run.

[1:23] Blogged about today’s event and this blog on the Amplified site – word of advice, if you’re going to be covering an event like this, get all this stuff set up well in advance. Now working on the tech… let’s see if we can get the webcam to play nice with UStream…

[1:50] with 10 minutes to go, it seems like I’ve got the live stream working, with external mic and webcam – find it here. Folks are beginning to arrive. Kick off v. soon

[2:12] lots of people here now. I’m still faffing with trying to get audioboo working… got a web login for the iPod touch at last. Hurrah!

[2:16] First boo:

[2:34] ah, tech failure – what fun. Audioboo upload is SLOOOOOOW and the scribble live embed doesn’t want to work… In other news, the introductions are taking place, and people are sugesting sessions. Full list asap…

[2:39] lots of talk in the session descriptions about transparency, accountability, using tech tools to enhance the democratic process. Sounds great. Time to go and photograph the post-its…

[2:45] Second Boo – my accidentally recorded intro to the whole event:

[2:48] the session next to me is a discussion on how best to use some European parliament funding to get young people using social media to form policy online – net neutrality, freedom vs democracy, censorship etc. The belief being that kids have more idea of how this stuff works online.

“how can we engage the homeless in the political process? the re-engagement of those who’ve already disengaged. What about those people who have lost all aspiration but the time they’re 17?”

“young people haven’t disengaged with politics, politics has disengaged from young people” – what a great quote!

“young people are more vulnerable offline than they are online.”
“data mining and advertising are the biggest abuses of vulnerable people online”
“politicians really want to engage with young people”
[wishing I could clone myself, if all the sessions are this good!]

[3:03] some great stuff appearing in the twitter search for picamp.

Highlights from twitter:
biggest obstacles to engagement are related to power rather than tech or access”
Should there be a worldwide bloggers Code of Conduct??”
should there be a mechanism for bloggers to pass stories to msm if they can’t legally stand it up”
a lot of rules on comms policy are ‘arse-covering’

[3:18] end of the first session – waiting for audioboo to upload…

[3:26] Session 2 underway, I’m listening in on a session Joanne Jacobs is leading on collaborating across geographical divides:

[3:30] fascinating to hear those who work in government talk about the massive frustrations with policy formation, public consultation and document formation.

[3:36] – screengrabs of the twitter search:


[3:57] end of session 2 – the sense of people coming together who live and work in the same town but haven’t previously met is really strong – today should lead to a lot of knowledge sharing. The session on trans-geographical collaboration turned into a session on processes for public consultation – how social media tools can be used to draw the public in, what the barriers are, how the tools can be used. The session will probably continue later – audioboo coming with one of the contributors:

[4:01] am at this moment being filmed by the TV – old media meets new :)

[4:14] more twitter activity:
positive dissent by blogging politicians a good thing”
are political parties able to control threads on slugger etc?”
so the major barrier to entry of using social media across distances appears to be a reluctance by big organizations to use it.”
Interesting debate on how social media can improve collaboration. There’s seems to be a fear factor holding things back”
how smart are your networks? If you’re embedded in a smart online network you can have access to the best info first”
does the political system in NI motivate politicians to maintain sectarianism?”
comment moderation on poltical websites a tricky business”

[4:27] Big discussion about how to moderate conversations in a way that encourages lurkers to contribute to political discussion online. How to draw in people for whom party political divides are too clumsy to represent their political views. “if you’re afraid to post on a political blog due to the abuse you’ll get, you’re being bullied“. “I’m happy to talk politics in a forum where I’m also talking about the rest of my life. On a forum that’s just politics, it doesn’t have context.”

[5:06] Pizza over, last session on, with this request for problem solving:

[5:11] @goodonpaper, who is currently involved in the redesign of Slugger O’Toole, talking about the day:

[5:34] sadly no time here to do a ‘virtual’ table at the conference – need to give some thought to how best to curate such a thing, and to get people watching and chatting beforehand… Planning on Audiobooing with as many attendees as I can on the way out… :)

[5:45] this just came up on twitter: “trust is major issue in bottom up politics” – I was surprised there wasn’t more talk (that I heard) today on issues of trust and reliability of online personalities and presences. In politics, the stakes for inauthenticity are so much higher – we talked a bit about it in the discussion about drawing lurkers into the conversations on Slugger O’Toole, by thinking about the pros and cons of anonymity online, but not much was said about how to verify and authenticate political presences. These are discussions that will hopefully contine from here.

[5:47] my round-up of the day on Audioboo:

[5:50] love this tweet from @sarahthegeek: “politicians need to feel pain for change to happen

[6:11] A round-up many of the attendees favourite thoughts from today:

And with that, we’re done! Hope you found it useful…

For the comments: what is the future for politics and the web? (Nothing like a huge question to finish with! )

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • The Amplified team in Belfast. | Amplified 09

    […] be live-blogging the event over on stevelawson.net, and also using AudioBoo to capture some of people’s best moments. We’ll hopefully also […]

  • Alan in Belfast

    Steve – thanks so much for compiling and curating discussion and commentary on this afternoon’s session. Really useful to have someone there to document what the rest of us were experiencing but not having time to write up.

    Found myself abandoning the idea of doing voxpops and putting together a video package … even found myself not tweeting. So your record is really useful.

  • What does it mean to be Amplified? | Amplified 09

    […] Today, I’ve been live blogging PICamp in Belfast – Political Innovation Camp is an amplified-style unconference, organised by the team behind the Slugger O’Toole political blog. Having the political focus lead to it being a smaller group than at some of the other Amplified events I’ve been a part of, but it also leant a progressive coherence to the sessions, as the conversations evolved from one session to the next, drawing on so many themes of political engagement, transparency of governance, democratization of information, new ideas for policy consultation, trust issues online, youth and politics… So many amazing themes and conversations emerging, and I captured as much of the day as I could over on my blog. […]

  • Kathryn Johnston

    Thanks for sending this – will listen to the audio clips later. I had to leave Picamp earlier than intended to deal with a sudden legal query about something I’d written last week which I’ve just sorted. I really only participated in the first citizen journalism session which was very stimulating. Be in touch later. BTW enjoyed seeing faces not avatars!

  • sarahthegeek

    Thanks for the summary of the day: stellar work!

  • Political Innovation « Local Democracy

    […] Political Innovation Posted on May 28, 2009 by Paul Evans I’ve just got back from the PICamp event in Belfast. For a first-time event in a relatively small polity, I think it went extremely well. Steve Lawson has posted a really good round-up of the day. […]

  • New ideas in Belfast | Memeserver

    […] Lawson liveblogged the whole day heroically here including some audioclips that can be listened to continuously here. Alan also covered the day […]

  • joannejacobs.net » Blog Archive » Amplified events across the UK

    […] presence to encourage greater participation and problem solving.  Steve Lawson did a fantastic job live-blogging and creating audioboos from the event, and I’m hopeful that some of the collective legislation creation instruments and public […]