Open Space South West helped me understand more


I’ve been having a think about the talks given at the super Open Space South West conference in Exeter last Friday. Carl Haggerty deserves a big thanks for pulling together a really good set of speakers.
It takes time to absorb the messages of the world view outlined so well in Exeter.  As the networked society emerges (I think of Catherine Howe among several others), things will change ALOT!
Open by default, digital by design (attributable to Carrie Bishop).  Simplicity over complexity.  Open practice.  Understanding need by just talking to people! (well done redfront).  Simple, human centric design.  I love it!
Ivan Illich, the fascinating anti-institutionalist, pondered thus back in 1971 in his seminal work “Deschooling Society”:
“The operation of a peer-matching network would be simple. The user would identify himself by name and address and describe the activity for which he sought a peer. A computer would send him back the names and addresses of all those who had inserted the same description. It is amazing that such a simple utility has never been used on a broad scale for publicly valued activity.”
—Ivan Illich (1971)
I feel totally excited but also very dizzy by the clear truth that digital technologies are now ready (enough) to make this happen in public services.  I have been so fortunate in the last 18 months to have been involved in projects that address the two key spaces here (which will end up interacting).  The democratic citizen network (We Live Here) and the public service professional network (Patchwork).  Both projects are about human agency – where technology is used to allow deeper communication and the development of understanding and action.
We must continue to find ways to spread understanding of the immense and transformational opportunity digital offers to improve and transform public services, given the right development approach.  And we need to find ways to share practical tips on how to get projects up and running because it is very difficult.
I was so impressed with Andrea Siodmok and her work in Cornwall on Shaped By Us (particularly the off-line engagement which included setting up armchairs outside Asda as a way to talk to residents).  I think local government officers making change happen in this way need to share their experiences of getting stuff done.  Which reminds me I have a blog series to continue..
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