I would like to apologise to David on behalf of English Heritage if you were misled in anyway about the concept behind the workshop.
And in response to both you and Jenny, as I said in my rant on Friday, at no point was the suggestion that social media should replace traditional means of out reach. A variety of media or channels are required so that our processes are inclusive and transparent. The afternoon scenarios actually proposed a variety of tools for engagement from high tech to no tech and the work groups' outcomes all used a variety of each to achieve the fictitious goals.
The aim of the day was to demonstrate how social media can be a very useful tool (or series of tools) where appropriate. I personally think that social media such as flickr, facebook, soundcloud/audioboo etc can be useful tools to capture a process or event to engage a wider audience and broadcast or disseminate the results as opposed to writing up a report and publishing a document on the web or as a leaflet. This would be particularly useful in an on-going process like a Conservation Area Appraisal or Neighbourhood Plan. I'm going to put this into practice as part of one of our current Conservation Area Character Appraisals where I'll be using twitter before, during and after a public event along with soundcloud to capture people's oral testimonies. This will not replace the written word, final document, traditional press etc, but I believe it will explore the potential to reach a wider audience with minimal resource implications for me (which was the other point of the workshop - to demonstrate that these tools do not have to mean huge amounts of extra work for HEROs).
Since I started using twitter I have become aware of many links to sources of information or projects that I would not have otherwise seen.
Incidentally, on a similar issue if we are trying to be inclusive and we accept that not everyone has a computer it is interesting that Bristol City Council almost always use a paper free consultation approach using the Ask Bristol resource http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/have-your-say
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>>> Jenny Hall <[log in to unmask]> 02/05/2012 11:27 >>>
I didn't attend the session so hope I am not speaking out of turn, but have I am particularly aware of the pressures to use digital technology in interpretation.
There are many opportunities through using social media/ techonology and these shold always be explored but we should not pat ourselves on the back and say we are reaching everyone. Each Facebook page or Smart phones app will reach a certain group of people but it has to be seen as exclusive, for all sorts of reasons: cost, desire, technology etc. Exclusivity/inclusivity used to be key components of all sorts of work, but the terms aren't mentioned when digital technology is part of the mix.
Only 50 % of people have a Smart Phone, ony 30 million people have a Facebook account - half the population. As David Evans says these are just figures and they aren't scrutinised. I have a Facebook account but I rarely use it, and the majority of my friends on Facebook rarely use it either, so we are part of that 30million but probably wouldn't engage in any project through it. Encouraging people to use social media sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, and just as in a meeting it is still the certain people who are heard most loudly
----- Original Message -----
From: David Evans
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wednesday, May 02, 2012 10:22 AM
Subject: Engagement workshop
On Luddites the 200th anniversary of the attack on Rawfords Mill is on the 11th April - sledgehammers welcome.
Unlike Bob Jones I am not Luddite - a Rebecca perhaps - but I do not have a smart phone or any other such device and don't intend to have one. I don't need to tell people I am on the train - I know that.
The original publicity for the workshop appeared to be a debate about public engagement but that is not what we got. If I had seen the programm earlier I almost certainly would not have gone. I am not convinced by the argument that the silent majority will get a voice through social media - this was certainly implied. The noisy certainly succeeded in the workshop.
Everyone does not have a computer.
1 In the short term yes in the longer term hopefully no.
2 The fact that there are 30 million UK users of Facebook and 26 million UK users of Twitter means that there are 30 million UK users of Facebook and 26 million UK users of Twitter nothing more; nothing less. They might have a use but it is limited and the workshop did not demonstrate any expanded use. As I said before Flicker will be of immense use in compiling, for example local lists
3 If you are doing a Conservation Area assessment then postal information (thank you GIS) and meetings with the people involved, even (horror horror) cold calls, a blog might help, however most blogs are for fanatics and self publicists.
4 Surely Know Your Place a traditional website (traditional and website in the same sentence) where instead of emailing the site you can add things to a map, Yes social media may have a place but then so does quantum computing
I still feel the day could have been handled better replacing the useless afternoon session.
In reply to your discussion point - perhaps
Incidentally why are we left with pieces of paper from the day?
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I thought the workshop in Birmingham was very successful. I'd be interested to know what you were hoping to get out of the event?
There was plenty of references to the variety of tools at our disposal for public engagement from tea and cake to facebook.
At no time will social media replace the need for face to face discussions, nor was this proposed at the event.
The point of the workshop was to cover some other options that people might not have thought about and in this regard some points were quite important I think given the economy, localism etc.
1 If we want to continue in our role as custodians of the historic environment and to contribute to the creation of better quality places we need new approaches that help us truly deliver more with less.
2 The fact that there are 30 million UK users of Facebook and 26 million UK users of Twitter means that we would be fools not to use these as one of our communication channels.
3 Leaflets on doormats on my street are only relevant to the residents of my street. However, if that message is also published on social media the information or the approach has the potential to generate wider interest. It doesn't mean it will happen, but to ignore the potential would be a missed opportunity. I am more likely to read and respond to a blog entry than a published case study.
4 If we as historic environment professionals are to remain relevant we need to form new partnerships and collaborations. Use of social media will enable this to happen. Although Know Your Place is not truly social media, it is crowd sourced HER data. Since launching the site last year our HER has not only reached a wider audience, but we now have partnership projects with the Universities (Bristol and UWE neither of which ever used to speak to me), I have given talks to umpteen organisations such as our local Civic Society, we have had three exhibitions and the website is mentioned by developers, planners and most importantly local members. I would argue that the use of social media might actually result in more face to face discussions.
One comment in my group at the workshop was that just to get heritage on the table when it comes to regeneration, policy or place making would be a result. Given the profile that the Bristol HER now has, might it not be possible to achieve the same across the UK through the use of social media? Discuss.
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