First Slugger ‘unconference’ in May…

Over the next few months you should see Slugger become much active, both on the net and on the ground. Right now, we’re on the lookout for the donation (or very cheap hire) of a suitable venue in May for an event we’re planning.

The intention is to co-ordinate some activity where government policymakers, NGOs, social media practitioners and commercial providers can get their heads together to share ideas, experiences and an understanding of how social media tools can be used to address the big issues facing Northern Ireland over the next few years.

We’ll be using the ‘Unconference‘ model. That means no fixed agenda or keynote speakers. Participants collaborate to agree a set of open conversations, and the timetable is negotiated on the day.
Social media has the capacity to smash economic rules during an economic downturn. There’s been a huge uptake of applications like Twitter both among business and domestic sectors.

There’s an expectation globally that social media will play a major role in economic recovery.

Yet for all its promise, there are few actual measurable instances where it has been used to solve business problems. and there are always circumstances where the technology just doesn’t fit precise organisational or business needs.

In the UK and Ireland, there is a robust and innovative creative and technology sector. But there are precious few opportunities for creatives to connect with each other to establish new products and businesses or develop methodologies for measuring the value of social media.

In the meantime, major management consultancy agencies and government taskforces publish reports about social media that bare little relationship with what is really happening in the marketplace and yet they attract huge funding from the corporate sector without publishing anything that’s specific to the needs of various businesses [see the Digital Britain taskforce and an exemplar Gartner report (US$7K)].

Yet for all that money, time and investment, when we ran the Slugger Awards last year, the one category we got no recommendations for was the Participation Award.

These ‘Unconferences’ are not a new idea. They’ve been done cheaply – with good results – by Belfast born Steve Moore (who organised 2gether08) with a few London-based social media people (like Barcamp), and by Amplified at NESTA in November 2008 among others.

We’ll be working with 4iP and Amplified (a non-profit organisation).

The aim is to create – in Northern Ireland – a ‘Network of Networks’ gathering, based on small conversations between interested parties, rather than presentation oriented conferences and unconferences.

This should be fun and a great opportunity. If you’re interested in coming along event, register your interest at the event wiki and read more about the Amplified concept.

If we can manage to keep the costs down, we’re going to make it free-of-charge since we want it to be as inclusive as possible. So, let us know if you think you can find us a suitable venue at little or no cost – then we can do everything we can to make this happen!
(Apologies – the ‘Amplified concept’ link was broken. Fixed now)

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty