On Saturday July 17 the City of Ottawa hosted the second Ottawa ChangeCamp (#cco10) – an event originating in Toronto as a result of the forward-thinking of Mark Kuznicki. ChangeCamp events are taking place across Canada to discuss the evolution of government and citizenship in the modern era of participatory engagement.
#cco10 in itself was an excellent example of collaboration between government and citizens, as it was co-organized by a large group of community members and city representatives. The unconference format really empowers all conference participants to be active contributors to the event – participants set the agenda, choose exactly which conversations to participate in, and are ultimately responsible for the content and outcomes of the event. The discussions that I was part of at #cco10 were excellent! Having been to both ChangeCamp unconferences in Ottawa, I think the event format itself is very conducive to the objectives behind the ChangeCamp principles.
However, one of the (surprising) shortcomings of ChangeCamp – not just in Ottawa, but across Canada – is the lack of an appropriate online community tool to support each ChangeCamp, encourage ongoing interactions between the F2F events, and to link together the various events happening across Canada. Lots of great ideas are being discussed at these events, and there is huge potential for these ideas to evolve into some remarkable deliverables – especially if each event can build upon the discussions of others.
I’ve felt that both Ottawa events have lacked in the online tools to support the event itself. All of the ChangeCamp events are also off in their own space(s), without much integration happening. The changecamp.ca website does try to provide an environment to support ChangeCamp, and this isn’t a criticism of that website. However, I think the series of events have outgrown the existing space (and the original intent behind that space), and ChangeCamp could benefit from an enhanced online community space.
Some of the features I think are important in a centralized ChangeCamp community space:
- Participant profiles, including a way to filter by City, subject/topic, expertise; also useful for registration
- Event pages, with registration, grid setup, background info, keynote sections, session pages
- A sophisticated way to capture session discussions on a single page:
- Subject/Topic title
- Video(s) from the session – pitch and discussions, easy to upload directly from the event (YouTube, embedded on the page)
- Easy way to add notes from the session
- embed photos/album
- Discussion thread
- Tagging/categorizing/search capability to organize and create linkages between related topics
The single biggest challenge, and shortcoming of both Ottawa ChangeCamps is the lack of a good online environment to both support the event, and to support ongoing dialogue and interactions following the events.
Having recently seen a demo of OPSpedia, I think the tool that they have developed would serve the ChangeCamp community very well. I have made an appeal to David Tallan, Colin Chan, and Darren Chartier to share the OPSpedia code through SourceForge, and would encourage others to do the same.
In the interim, how can we enhance, and bring together the disparate ChangeCamp communities across Canada online?
The ChangeCamp concept has certainly proven to be successful for the F2F events, and I could see these being regular annual/bi-annual or even quarterly events … it would certainly be easier to organize, and yield far greater ongoing results if supported by a more mature online environment.