Yesterday was LocalGovCamp – an unconference for local government – organised by the wonderful Dave Briggs at Fazeley Studios in Birmingham.
To be honest I had so much fun and met so many great, passionate and inspiring people; had so many great discussions; that my head is still reeling but I’m going to try and sum up what came out of the day for me.

Top five: things in my head about LocalGovCamp:

  1. Yesterday was a day full of meeting very very nice people. Meeting people you tweet with a lot, about work and about things outside of work, for the first time in person is a bit like meeting a celebrity; you feel you know them yet you know you’ve never seen them face to face before. For me it was less like networking and more like meeting up with great friends to talk about the stuff we’re passionate about (online local gov, music, real ale, cake…)
  2. That (aside from the usefulness of what was discussed) having that network of people who are willing to share their experiences and epic visions of where this is all going is the best support network imaginable. Often you may be the lone voice in an organisation pushing for change or certain projects and to be able to share this with people going through the same thing is both motivating and comforting – always good to you’re not the only one fighting the fight and so aren’t completely off track with your thoughts!
  3. There are some great projects and changes going on around the country and it is great to be able to hear about them and think about what that might suggest for our organisation. So useful to have a space to thrash out ideas, here people’s experiences, lessons learnt and the possibilities for digital enablement.
  4. I’ve been thinking for a while about a social media cafe in Derby / Derbyshire and I’ve come back from yesterday convinced that it would be of benefit. Not only would it be a forum for web managers / web people from each of the authorities in the area (not just local gov but the partner organisations too) to meet and chat about things but a great opportunity for us to find out about the community groups and digital business in the area too. I’m already formulating a list of things to do in order to make this happen. Luckily, yesterday gave me a chance to chat with people who also want to make this happen – so let’s JFDI!!!
  5. Twitter has changed my life. Without having tweeted with people on there I would probably not have found out about LocalGovCamp, might not have gone even if I did. And this also brings us back round to point one 🙂

So, there are the top five things in my head at the moment and beneath these are a thousand little thoughts which came out of the sessions I attended yesterday – @timdavies session on overcoming the small hurdles to social media in organisations (his notes are here and my notes are here); @paul_cole’s session on listening to the conversation happening about your organisation whether you’re involved or not (my notes on this session are here) and @carlhaggerty’s session on the internal network pilot he’s part of (some very rough notes here by me).
I hope people found the impromptu (and definitely unexpected) session that @liz_azyan and I did on academic research into local government social media useful. I hope to speak to all of the people who came along (and more) as part of my thesis research (begins January 2010). I’ll try and write up notes from what we talked about in this session as soon as I can.

There are some videos by David Wilcox and photos from the day on Flickr and once again, thank you Dave for organising and thanks to the sponsors also. Really great to meet you all 🙂

Updated (22 June 2009): I was also interviewed by @podnosh about our use of social media in the recent election. You can see the video and post on the podnosh blog.
And there is a round up of all the stuff being said online at the LocalGovCamp blog.