Notes from Day 2 at Connecting Up Australia 2009

OK. I’m a little slow coming back to you with notes from day two of Connecting Up 2009, however I wanted to get my slides up for you to go with this post:

The main point of my presentation was to talk about the importance of taking a social computing approach to developing social media solutions, which is at the heart of the Headshift way of doing things. Traditional IT approaches (where I used the “Dams and Waterfalls” picture as a metaphor) simply can not deliver the same outcomes, without costing more and taking longer (if at all).

If you would like me to talk you through this presentation and the examples I used in more detail, please let me know.

Now, getting back to the rest of the day two…

In the morning, after the key note from Google’s Alan Noble, I participated in a group discussion about service delivery. We quickly got into some tough topics related to the digital divide and trying to understand how exactly Web 2.0 can be applied to the pointy end of community services (that is, delivery to actual people on the ground who use those services).

A key issue raised was that despite all the excitement about Web 2.0, the lack of access to Internet in remote and rural communities is a real barrier.

People in the non-profit sector are also struggling to get their heads around the whole Web 2.0 concept so that can understand what and how to apply it. I actually suggested that a BarCamp could be a great way to start dealing with this challenges – most people hadn’t come across the BarCamp concept before, but they liked the sound of it. Twittering about this, I also found that there are plans for a Social Innovation Camp event here in Australia through the Australian Social Innovation Exchange, which would be great in my view.

Highlights from the afternoon included:

  • Monique Potts from the ABC, who provided a detailed overview of the ABC’s use of social media, backed up by some useful facts and figures, that was very relevant.
  • Paul Wenck’s presentation about Everyday Hero, an online fundraising tool, that was again backed up by some good facts and figures that demonstrated the impact of the Web on this sector – there really is no option to stick your head in the sand.
  • For the last session I attended, Allen “Gunner” Gunn stepped in again at the last minute and provided some practical advice on Web and social media marketing for non-profits.

Overall, I felt that the second day of Connecting Up 2009 was quite different from the first and I really enjoyed the discussion groups. For me, it helped me to draw some key conclusions around some issues I see facing this sector in relation to embracing Web 2.0 and social computing:

  • Lots of people are still very confused and even dismissive about Web 2.0 – they are going to need some help getting up a steep learning curve so they can get past simply focusing on one or two particular tools as ‘solutions’ that will fix everything for them (e.g. the difference between understanding wiki as a noun and verb);
  • Following on from this, there was a great deal of focus on using social media for marketing, for political activity and getting donations from supporters – however I would like to see the discussion move on to looking at social media as a tool non-profits use themselves internally, as a way to help solve problems and meet previously unmet needs; and
  • Just like other commercial and government sectors, Internet access and high bandwidth in Australia are a barrier to using Web 2.0 technology to help solve problems in remote and rural areas – but I’m not sure yet how they are going to get a voice in this debate.

However, the not-for-profit sector remains a dynamic and diverse area – this means there is plenty of room for innovation with social media and social computing, both because of the ultimate impact many of these organisations have on our communities, but also because of the constant necessity to do as much as they can with the resources they have available. And that sounds like a perfect fit.