Participation is such a big concept, the scale of it is so big it’s almost frightening! It encompasses so much from traditional approaches to involving people and communities in person, to engaging with online communities such as social media.
I’m lucky enough to work in a role where I’ve been given lots of freedom to use social media. I know I’m lucky because 53% of respondents to the All Wales Public Services Internet and Social Media Survey said restrictive ICT policies were still a barrier where they worked (full report to be available soon!).
I’ve been lucky to go to a few different courses and events and meet many people who’ve taught me loads about social media, including Louise Brown, who ran a great course for Voices for Change Cymru on online campaigning (and who also has a great blog), and Esther Barrett and Paul Richardson of RSC Cymru, who ran an event for WCVA staff on using social media.
Both sets of training were very practical and gave me ideas about using free tools to engage with people. Esther taught me and fellow staff how to Audacity, which I blogged about using to evaluate our project.
The next time I ran into Esther was at the DS6 Digital Storytelling event in Aberystwyth, where I was based at the time. Esther got into a bit of a discussion at the event about using non-traditional tools like Facebook to tell non-traditional stories. You can see and hear Esther talk more about that in the above video. Her response really got me thinking about how we capture people’s stories to influence public services, especially as more and more people and services are using social media to engage. She ended up running an online conference using Elluminate on this experience, which is fascinating viewing. You can see it here. It covers how people use technology to tell stories in creative ways, right from the Twitter novel that was wholly written in Tweets to the Facebook user who documented the birth of her child. It’s amazing how powerful these narratives are.
Esther and Paul Richardson of RSC Cymru will be helping me to deliver the Introduction to e-participation course that’s part of our current training programme. I’ll feel a bit rude leading the day when I’ve learnt so much from both Esther and Paul, but if you’re attending I hope you find it as useful as I found RSC Cymru’s training!