Running scared of the web

I hope this:

and this:

don’t provide an excuse for people to do less, or nothing, on social media.

Large organisations have plenty enough reasons not to ask for input from their audiences, or to be fearful of opening up their channels to public comment.

It’s too easy to believe that the web is full of trolls (and count anyone with negative feedback as a troll), or that no-one is capable of sharing a sensible idea.

Give people a structure, a set of choices, and target your audience online – rather than just tweeting the world – and the web can still be powerful and constructive.


Do live blogs work?

Yes, according to this research from the Guardian.

In between sandwiches and cups of coffee at my desk, I’ve often wondered whether or not live blogs really work for the user.

A Guardian live blog

In a snatched 10 minutes in the middle of the day, I might browse to a news site. But in that very limited time, I want the key facts of the story, and little else.

With many news sites, I find myself having to wade back through a clunky live blog to find the facts, in among minute-by-minute updates from journalists.

However, it seems for the Guardian at least, there is evidence to suggest live blogs work.

There’s probably a whole different case to be made for them in a corporate context: mainly opening up events to people who can’t otherwise be there.

What do you think? Is there a place for live blogs?

Maps and Apps in the news

My parting shot for the Department of Health (DH) was to help organise a showcase event bringing together the most popular entries to Maps and Apps.

I’ve blogged about Maps and Apps before, but in essence we (the DH digital team) asked people to suggest and vote for their favourite health apps and maps. As a piece of digital engagement it worked well, generating lots of conversations on our blog, on the crowdsourcing platform and elsewhere. Most importantly the entries that people submitted have been fed in to a policy making process at DH.

The showcase event was primarily a thank you for those who had taken the time to suggest popular ideas and get involved with the project. Secretary of State Andrew Lansley attended, as did some of the judges who supported the project.

However, the project has also generated lots of high profile media coverage. This isn’t always familiar terrain for digital engagement projects in Government, but very welcome nonetheless. I woke up last week to see coverage on Sky News, and in The Times and Guardian.

Significantly, it helped us to produce something meaningful with the press office, rather than occupying the monitoring/rebuttal/publishing space, which is the norm for most teams.

Thanks to Phil O’Connell (an enthusiastic and very helpful advocate for the project) I am able to share this footage from Sky News on the day.


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Sky News LIVE Feb 2012: NHS Future Forum “Maps and Apps” from Phil O’Connell on Vimeo.

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Sky News PACKAGE Feb 2012: NHS Future Forum “Maps and Apps” from Phil O’Connell on Vimeo.

From Land’s End to new horizons

Last weekend I found myself sat in an impossibly pretty Cornish village with colleagues from the #nhssm community. We’d got together to talk about how we can help to develop this modest community of healthcare professionals and communicators, which started a couple of years.

What started as a one-off hashtag to promote a single event now feels like a proper responsibility, consumes a fair amount of time and some cash too.

We’ve had some ideas about to make all the incredibly useful conversations and content that comes out of the chats more widely available, and how we might extend the conversation beyond a chat once a week and the blog. We’ve also identified a need to help the community answer the frequent questions and requests that we receive. First we need to put these ideas to the community as a whole, so more on that soon.

What really struck me as we strolled along the harbour side was the way in which this had all come together. Although three of us are geographically close, there is very little chance any of us would have ever met were it not for making the connection online. And putting real people to avatars is a significant next step in that relationship.

I don’t think we all have that much in common outside of #nhssm and our work, but our common enthusiasm for what we’re doing seems to be enough.

Getting to know each other as well as develop an online community at the same time feels like quite a challenge, but one that’s worth persevering with.

By coincidence this week is going to be another big one for #nhssm. On Tuesday 22 November we’re contributing to two events: the Guardian Social Media in Healthcare conference in London, and the AHCM conference in Birmingham. All the ideas and topics that we’re covering at each event have come from the #nhssm community and we’ll be sharing the feedback and new ideas online, so keep an eye on the hashtag this Tuesday.