Posts Tagged ‘changecamp’

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 KuznickiChangeCamp 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:

  1. Participant profiles, including a way to filter by City, subject/topic, expertise; also useful for registration
  2. Event pages, with registration, grid setup, background info, keynote sections, session pages
  3. A sophisticated way to capture session discussions on a single page:
    1. Subject/Topic title
    2. Video(s) from the session – pitch and discussions, easy to upload directly from the event (YouTube, embedded on the page)
    3. Easy way to add notes from the session
    4. embed photos/album
    5. Discussion thread
  4. 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.

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Re-imagining Government and Citizenship in the Age of Participation

I’m thrilled to be part of the organizing group for the upcoming ChangeCamp event, taking place Saturday May 16 from 8:30-5pm at Ottawa City Hall.  A lot of hard work has gone into the planning of the event from an excellent group of volunteers, and it’ll be great to see the fruits of our labour coming to life.

ChangeCampOttawa-logoChangeCamp is an unconference, meaning that the event provides the framework for discussions – the theme, face-to-face venue, logistical support, gathering participants, and rich online media tools & environment – but the actual content of the event is defined and created by the participants themselves.  So there are no pre-prepared powerpoint presentations, key note speakers, or diatribes from an ‘expert’ to a passive audience.

ChangeCamp is participatory at it’s core.  The event depends upon participants’ active engagement in discussions; people taking the initiative to propose and lead discussions; and for a group of people to self-organize around topics and conversations that most interest them.  The event framework helps to provide some order to this seeming state of anarchy, by providing pre-defined meeting areas for each of the discussions; and an agenda wall for people to share their ideas, and assign a meeting space and time to discuss their topic of choice.

Unconference photo by jdlasica

Discussion topic leaders have the sole responsibility of showing up at the time/space to kickstart the discussion; and ensuring that someone facilitates the discussion, and captures and shares the content (it doesn’t have to be the person who proposed the topic).

Bumble Bee ManThis format is intended to encourage people to come together around specific topics of interest, and to allow people to free-flow around the conference between various conversations and topics to share ideas between groups for a cross-pollination effect.

Participation is key, but it’s not only about the event-day participation among people at the event.  In this Age of Participation the online discussions and interactions are equally as important.  The event participants have been interacting online using a Pathable online community space, and of course through Twitter with the #cco09 hashtag, and the organizers have utilized Google Groups and a wiki space.

The event day will see an explosion in online content, through regular tweets, live blogging, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, and the extensive use of the community wiki to capture notes.  There is also a FriendFeed stream of content, and a NetVibes page to aggregate the different online content.  Hopefully this will help people unable to attend the live event to follow along; and help the event extend beyond this single day to continue the conversations, and drive people to act upon some of the ideas generated at ChangeCamp.

It’s great to bring together this group of like-minded individuals for some interesting discussions; but I’m hoping the real value will be in actions following the event that will improve the way governments and citizens interact.

ChangeCamp Toronto

Posted: January 26, 2009 in web 2.0
Tags: , , ,

changecamp I had the pleasure of attending ChangeCamp in Toronto over the weekend, and it was an excellent experience.

The event actually came together really quickly – I heard that the organizers started pulling it all together in mid-December – and the end result was incredible. I actually learned about ChangeCamp only a few days before the event through Twitter, and made a quick decision to attend. The (un)conference was very well organized, with some obvious good sponsorship backing to provide the event with an excellent venue (the MaRS collaboration centre), an abundance of support staff, resources, and materials to make everything happen very smoothly. They even had some good food and drinks free of charge.

So what was ChangeCamp? ChangeCamp is a free participatory web-enabled face-to-face event that brings together citizens, technologists, designers, academics, policy wonks, political players, change-makers and government employees to answer one question: How do we re-imagine government and citizenship in the age of participation?

The turnout was impressive, with about 100 people in attendance. They used an open space conference approach – basically the agenda is created in the morning by those in attendance. Anyone can suggest a specific topic (related to the general theme of the conference), and select a time and location to discuss the topic (from a pre-defined grid of timeslots with about two dozen table locations for each time). Once all the times are filled, the event begins, and people self-select the topics of most interest to them to attend. Participants can wander between groups, with the intent that ideas will flow between groups.

All of these sessions were captured using a wiki as the primary central archive, and lots of folks also snapping photos, shooting video, and capturing audio clips. The end result being a large organic collection of discussions, ideas, concepts and action plans.

I found that time was a bit limited to reach the action-plan stage, but there was certainly a lot of great ideas being shared, and tons of enthusiasm to see the ideas turn into actions.

I led a discussion on “how cities can use social media to help manage crisis situations”, from which I took two main points: (1) establish City social media channels for “regular business”, build a strong following and get known in the community so that can be converted to emergency channels during a crisis and reach a significant number of people (including mainstream media); (2) in a crisis have a plan with an elevated, staged approach for using various social media channels to inform & engage people, for example, using twitter for the initial quick reaction, with a blog/audio cast to followup, and a videocast later.

Another key point to raise is the incredible attendance at the event from City of Toronto staff members. There was about a dozen staff members there, including the CIO and the Communications Director for TTC. They are clearly on board with social media, although from my discussions I’d say they are at about the same place as we are in terms of getting their ideas in place.

So it was well worth the journey to Toronto; and I hope to participate in other events like this in the coming days… next one is the Third Tuesday Meetup in Ottawa on Monday Feburary 2nd.