Since the launch of PICamp in late May, a number of important themes have been highlighted and addressed. The main one, it seems, is the small-p political nature of many changes that are happening at the moment – changes that are brought about by the rapid take-up of usergenerated content tools.
These have been fleshed out a good deal on my Local Democracy blog, but in summary, there are two key observations that I’d make following the PICamp sessions at NESTA’s Reboot Britain conference last week:
- The changes being brought about by the technology are not politically neutral ones. While there is a commonplace observation that they empower some social groups, the corrollary that they disempower others is being explored less widely. When the Labour Representation Committee was established in the late 19th Century, it was launched to address the problems that were created by a democratic franchise that had been extended to include working men, but one that working men were not inclined to use because of structural barriers.
- Many of the potential benefits that social media can bring to organisations are blocked because of a lack of political leadership. Increasing the degree to which organisations consult and include people is a political question – one that a lot of politicians and senior managers are not keen on. It may take the sort of campaigning action that we have traditionally associated with politics to change this. Thus the Interactive Charter.