OpenSocial, YouTube and FriendConnect – Chewy

There are a few things in the OpenSocial area that local government is already trying to make use of and they could certainly go further with a little guidance.

Starting off with YouTube we first talked about the sheer size of this beast. If the users of YouTube were the population of a nation they would be the third biggest on the planet. Around 14 hours of video is uploaded to the site every minute. It’s the second most popular search engine on the web.

People come to YouTube for fun (there are 11,000 clips of skateboarding dogs) which is perhaps why I feel a little like it is the You’ve Been Framed of video sites online. But it’s quick and easy, videos don’t need to be overproduced and there are plenty of guides to getting started.

It’s not enough to just stick the videos on there though – councils need to engage and promote their video content. Seems obvious but not everyone is doing that. Neither do councils need to produce all the content themselves for a local channel – they could add a few videos of their own and then pull in other local content from other producers.

Accessibility? Well, it’s always going to be tricky to make video content accessible but the bigger problem is with it being user-generated. If councils want to use it they may just have to accept it isn’t accessible and be creative with finding alternative ways of providing the same content in a more accessible way.

Onwards then, OpenSocial, iGoogle and the like. There are some things here that with a little imagination local government can really get their teeth into – widgets in particular.

Chewy used the example of the widget for TheyWorkForYou and this was probably the example which came closest to showing how public sector can take advantage of Google products. This is moving very much along the lines of us being able to push data out into the cloud and letting people take it where they want rather than trying to pull them to our website.

The suggestion was a collection of widgets for local gov could be developed which we could all share with localised stuff thrown in as well. Sharing the development of this collection is another way we can all collaborate. It’s been mentioned before but perhaps what we need is a development day to finish off what’s already been started and get more stuff out there as well?

Finally we spoke about FriendConnect. And this is also the point I went into a temporary stupor as the early morning start and a lovely lunch hit me with a bout of tired stupidity. I’ve been trying to get my head around FriendConnect for a while but I just have a complete mental block on it. I don’t know why. I can see how to access it etc but trying to grasp the real use and possibility is beyond me at the moment. It’s something I have to work on. Perhaps I need to treat it like a magic eye picture – the harder I try to see it the less I’m able to but if I stand back, squint a sideways glance I might get the full effect. Or someone could try to explain it if they like?

The basic gist is though that social media will have headed into maturity by 2013 and so we need to move fast to get this stuff on our website or get our data out there otherwise we’re going to be left behind.

11 thoughts on “GoogleLocalGov

  1. Thanks for some really detailed notes. I just wanted to ask you to clarify what “The Ordnance Survey” question is, for those of us not in local government and who can only guess at what it might mean 🙂


  2. Ah, yes, sorry!
    It is around the issue of copyrighted information – I’m not completely on top of the details but understand OS have some issues with putting geo-information they see as theirs into Google or some other mapping systems. That is a very broad overview and may be slightly missing the finer point of the issue! Hopefully someone will correct if I am wrong / missing something!

  3. Great write up, Sarah! Just to elaborate on the OS issue, it’s basically that any GIS data produced by an OS system is then subsequently owned by the OS and cannot, say, be exported to use in GMaps. Microsoft seem to have an agreement with OS that gets around this and Google aparently do with their pro version of the maps API, however it’s not clear if these issues have been cleared up for the basic version. It’s kind of akin to Microsoft turning round and saying “Okay, you’ve made that Word doc. You can’t now turn that word doc into a PDF because we now own it. Kthxbai!”

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