I spent Saturday 12 June at the National Railway Museum in York for LocalGovCamp Yorkshire and Humber (LGCYH).

This is my fifth unconference and once again the only slight disappointment is that I couldn’t be in more places at once!

It was a great opportunity to catch up professionally and socially with some of the people I talk to lots online about localgov and have met at previous unconferences but it was also great to meet some new people in person for the first time.

LGCYH ran a parallel stream in the morning, dedicated sessions for councillors to find out more about social media and engaging online. Meanwhile the rest of us pitched our ideas and crowdsourced an agenda and began the conversations, collaboration and sharing.

Taking a step back it’s heartening to see this discussion and work taking place. There are harsh times ahead for the public sector and these people, who are willing to give up part of their weekend, a healthy blend of innovation and cynicism in most of them, are inspirational.

Here are some rough notes from the three sessions I attended.

Web Content Strategy

The first session of the day for me was one I suggested.

I’m looking at Web Content Strategy (creation, delivery and governance of web content) for my dissertation (specifically in relation to Derbyshire County Council) and as I’ve informally asked colleagues at other councils whether they have on in place.

Most commonly I’m hearing that they’re thinking about doing one or when I explain what I mean that they are doing it but haven’t got it documented.

So, this session was really a conversation about what a content strategy is or could be, what the benefit is of having one (for web professionals, for the organisations, for the visitor) and how to audit and analyse content.

We also talked about how having some of this stuff we’re doing documented against business goals, user needs and benefits / risks may help support getting stakeholder involvement and more greatly facilitate channel shift and the budget savings we all so badly need, by setting out a clear route based on research.

We also veered off into looking at supporting documentation and training for writing for the web with some interesting examples from Mike Leigh Cooper about Yortime.

We sort of wrapped up with talking about how Web Content Strategy is probably just one part of a wider Digital Strategy for organisations and should fit alongside strategies for things like Search, Engagement, Social Media etc.

Mixtapes and Cake Maps

This was a session that myself, Dan Slee and Janet E Davis came up with to discuss some of the collaborative projects we’ve been involved in or have seen. It was roughly aimed at showing how these sorts of ‘fun’ collaborations are actually really good at capturing social culture.

Teh usual unconference thing happened where once the group started talking we went off on a few tangents and covered a lot of ground: the blurring line between personal / professional identity online; how these projects allow localgov officers to develop online skills and try out tools in their own time and can then see ways to benefit the organisation with the skills and tools;  peer-to-peer reviews and information about location.

We did discuss the collaborations of the session title as well – EpicMixtape, the mmmmmmcake blog and the United Cakedom map.

We even took the collaboration offline and asked attendees of the conference to add their song suggestions for a LocalGovCamp mixtape on the theme of ‘Collaboration’. (We got lots of suggestions and the playlist will be posted soon!)

Gaming and Geo-Sensitive Services

A really interesting session by KevUpNorth on whether localgov can make use of games or location-based games / services such as FourSquare.

There were some interesting facts and figures about the current numbers using Farmville (primarily a Facebook based game app), Foursquare and the growing interest in Geocaching.

Then there were lots of great ideas about how this might be relevant and useful to localgov. Libraries, museums, galleries and other public spaces could all use games like FourSquare and Gowalla to promote themselves or specific events (we considered this for our recent literature festival).

Role playing games along the lines of Farmville could be used to support community cohesion projects (I think Call of Civic Duty is already in development) and virtual worlds like Second Life used for consulation and exploring planning and development opportunities.

Local gov shouldn’t write off gaming as irrelevant to them. They may miss out on new audiences or finding ways to deliver or evolve services in ways they can’t by traditional means.

Thanks to Kev Campbell-Wright for this session.

Thanks also to Ken Eastwood, Melanie Reed and Kev for organising the day and to the National Railway Museum for a great venue and wonderful food!