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ukgovweb barcamp

After an absolutely appalling visit to my local libraries (yes plural) where I was actually unable to find a book (not for lack of the book, but rather because their search system was dreadful), and an attempt to find some planning documents on a different council’s website I experienced  first hand that inability of the Government to complete even local tech projects, let alone national scale ones.

Both websites (Brent Library and Haringey Town Planning) are almost impossible to successfully use, display information you don’t want/ need and confuse even experienced users to no end. They are certainly not examples of perfection in Interaction Design.

Then, I stumbled upon the UKGovWeb BarCamp, and had a look through the list of suggested talking points, lots and lots on Web 2.0 (eughh),  Strategy (eughh) and Social Networking (this seems interesting atleast),  but what shocked me was that not a single person had indicated they wanted to talk about the Interaction Design of Government websites, or even the Usability. So I resolved to do a talk on this (as an outside observer) and proclaim the IxD banner out loud.

Great, so I signed up to the growing list (80 odd people already) and started nosing around the associated documentation, when it hit me. BUREAUCRACY. It was everywhere, three way collaboration on sessions, peer review, schedule shaping. They wanted people to sign up into sessions (having collaborated with others to share the 1 hour slots) weeks in advance, so that attendees could “review” the sessions in case they wanted something different!

Im really happy that UKGov Web Types want to hold a barcamp to do the stuff we do at barcamps, but don’t have a conference and call it a barcamp for the sakes of pretending you are doing something different, make sure almost everyone speaks, in their own session, about a subject area they are passionate about (even if it is one of those areas that bores me, there will be others who are interested)

Anyway, I will be going, I will be presenting on “IxD, Usability and Government Websites” or something aproaching that, and I certinaly wont be publishing my slides for peer review before hand, that takes then fun out of it.

Hope to see some of you there.

SocialMediaCafe Prototyping

I know the meeting to which this post is referring was actually held about 2 weeks ago, but it has been hectic at my end!I met Lloyd at Web2 Berlin when he presented a session on interactions between people and the differences between online and offline interactions (side note: my spell checker refuses to recognize offline, but will recognize online, weird) (well that was what I understood from it). The ultimate goal is to set up a “Social Media Cafe”, a melting pot, if you will, of people from various parts of the social media world who can come together in a social space and enjoy the real world, and gain from the extra value we receive from real world interactions.  To start this process, Lloyd organised a prototyping meeting a few weeks back which I turned up to (albeit a bit late).I was very please with the diversity and mix of people at the meeting, it was very impressive. Nice balance of men and women and a complete mix of backgrounds from BizDevs to SoftDevs and Podcasters to Lawyers, all very exciting. Everyone was agreed that this is a ReallyGoodIdea and should totally go ahead in some form or other.We all split into little groups where we discussed aspects, and my group was discussing projects inside the Social Meida Cafe and we came up with ideas such as individuals there designating themselves as working alone, looking for work, etc, and for projects in the space to be listed as person, non-profit, or commercial, with the spin off concept that the Cafe could project manage and make profit that way by finding resources for projects amongst the diverse congregation.All in all, I’m very excited.


see more photos at flickr


My First BarCamp

I have another first for you all today, my first BarCamp. In a word (and so that you don’t have to read the rest of the post to find out my opinion): Awesome.My only regret is that I missed pretty much all of the sessions and only had a chance to socialize with other people there (not that this wasn’t fun but sort of misses the point of BarCamp). I was stuck at Apple on Saturday and had a personal family thing on Sunday morning. Nevertheless (apparently that’s a real word, cool!) I was there Saturday night until some silly hour playing Warewolf and talking geek and Sunday for lunch (oh my, GoogleFood is good) and finish. Why oh why I haven’t involved myself in this world of real geekery beforehand I do not know, but I can assure you I will be more involved in the future.The sessions I attended were really interesting and the food was awesome but I think the best bit for me was the sense of community I was starting to feel. People I had previously met at Web2 Berlin were there and I felt a strong sense that people do see each other at all sorts of events like this.On a final note, during the session on the future of BarCamps I had an idea that there should be a Student BarCamp. I know all the arguments about not restricting groups down to specifics (thus stifling diversity) but I think students are a diverse enough group by themselves, and I really think there is a strong barrier to entry because of the fear of not being able to hold their own in comparison to some of the giants of the industry. I’m also a big fan of the concept of the ‘youth’ of today are the leaders of tomorrow and thus working with students is really important. I know I was at this (and other) events, but all of my student friends who I tell are a little skeptical about some aspects, and so a nice way to introduce them to this wonderful world might be this…..Anyway, Student BarCamp, London, February 2008 🙂

My First Girl Geek Dinner

Last night was my very first attendance at a Girl Geek Dinner. I had a really great time, met some very interesting people, and will totally be going back. Having said that (which I felt I needed to first in case this turns into a bit of a rant, and you don’t read to the end) there were some things that I found a little odd.

There was the guy (who shall remain anonymous, mostly as I don’t remember his name) (yes, guy, at a Girl Geek Dinner, I’ll come onto that later) who interrupted one of the speakers and several questioners in a rather intimidating way. Clearly I have no objection to men being involved in most (but not all) women’s events, and it can be a good thing, however I do feel that it is important that women should never feel marginalized at our own events by men trying to take over the floor, nor do I think excess amounts of time should be spent addressing a specific man’s view of our view on the world (of course talking about men and their perspectives in general is quite different). So this annoyed me. If you read this, and I’m sure you know who you are, this is nothing personal, just I felt it might have been the wrong venue to address your questions in.

So, men, know your place at women’s events, keep quiet and let us do the talking!

I was also a little shocked (as Mel said I would be) with the lack of young women there. Afterall there must be hundreds of us in London, and yet there were just a handful (out of maybe 50 women in total) of us there. It would be really nice to encourage (somehow) more young women to get involved. I’m certainly going to start pushing hard on my College friends to come.

There we go, some thoughts, hopefully not a rant, and a promise that I will return.