The PICamp event that Slugger is hosting next Tuesday is shaping up into an interesting and exciting event, and not just because Chambre Public Affairs are going to buy us all a Pizza. (Were looking for a sponsor to buy a few bottles of pop, some biscuits or maybe a round of pints at the end if anyones interested?) Its a format thats not been tried for a conference about politics in Northern Ireland before, and weve already got a lot of suggestions. The ones Id like to highlight are around how we can gamechange the way that Northern Ireland is governed.
As you’d expect, we’ve got a few ideas on how a post Unionist v Nationalist politics can emerge, and I hope something useful comes of them.
On other ideas, some attendees want to look at ways that we can open up government and make it more accountable. Our MLAs are, for the most part, not using online tools to engage with the public even though they have ample resources to cover training and management. Odd bureaucratic obstacles are getting in the way of Councillors many of whom need a bit of help and encouragement.
In Westminster and elsewhere, activists have forced government to be more open and inclusive. Can we do that here?
On Tuesday, we can ask ourselves What Would Obama Do? Id like to look at ways that we can take the work of MySociety (Gavin who was one of the movers behind Kildare Street.com)and apply it to Northern Ireland.
The response to our PICamp initiative has been very good so far. Weve got 109 people registered on the site already and loads of great suggestions for sessions. More will be appearing here over the next couple of days. Queens have offered us more space to accommodate attendees. BBC Hearts and Minds are coming along to interview some attendees and see what its all about.
We also want to do a session if theres any interest about what we can do to make Slugger a more effective asset to political discourse here.
If this event goes well, weve already had a few expressions of interest about doing a version of the event in Dublin and in London. But in the meantime, please go to the site and register to attend the event theres an RSVP page on the site and youll need to confirm youre coming to be sure of a place.
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