Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

#DigitalLunch series asks: What’s Social Innovation and who needs it?

Thu 18 October 2012, 2:45pm

Slugger has evolved slowly over the years. Hit the archives for October 2002 for instance, and you’ll see a short form journal charting the slow then rapid disintegration of the first Stormont Executive. There were no comments.

Today our politics is firmly out of ER. And it is hard to argue that we needed in quite the same way to sustain the informal contact between opponents that we once undoubtedly did.

Today, Slugger is more of a long form blog than I ever envisaged. We don’t compete with Twitter or the newsrooms for breaking stories in the way were once able.

But we are able – to the still limited extent that Northern Ireland has developed an appetite for policy – to provide an independent space for thought in the public domain.

The #DigitalLunch format allows us to use that space in new, challenging, and importantly from own point of view, sustainable ways.

This week and next we’ve hosted the National Conversation on Beveridge and Welfare reform (of which more later). And also coming next week we’re launching a series of panel discussions for the Building Change Trust in Belfast on social innovation.

All of these projects are to one extent or another means to probe public opinion, not by the qualitative means of polling but through open and challengeable conversation in the news digital public square.

So next Tuesday we kick off the first of a series of six commissioned #DigitalLunch sessions for the Building Change Trust. The theme for the first discussion is called ‘Innovation for Social Change’.

As with all our DigitalLunch events, the proceedings will be in public and broadcast live through YouTube. And as ever we welcome any on topic questions both in advance of the event, and during the live broadcast.

As Claire Fox noted at the launch of the National Conversation in London on Tuesday, too many ‘public engagement projects are little more than ‘echo chambers’ or ‘stage armies’.

And just as with the National Conversation’s Moots on Welfare, we are not in the least interested in setting outcomes before we begin.

This is space in which to engage, float new ideas, think creatively and in particular take a jargon word like ‘Social Innovation’ and beat some human meaning out of it.

We are not expecting Felix Baumgartner’s 8 million live viewers, but you are very welcome to drop in with us on Tuesday. If you are interested taking part, just drop me a line at [email protected]

Or if you are on Google Plus you can sign up at the event page itself.

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