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More talent at the Knowledge Hub - but how to join up with Twitter?

Published on 11/06/2015

Summary: Knowledge Hub is becoming the safe and trusted online space for local government discussion. The challenge remains how to join up spaces with networks like Twitter.

The Knowledge Hub has recruited another powerful advocate and highly-experienced team member in Helen Reynolds. Today Helen makes a strong case for the Hub as a safe and trusted space for people in government to discuss successes and failures with colleagues without a hostile audience:

To properly work with people across the sector does require an environment where people can feel they are working with a common purpose. Also we need to feel we can share ideas, proposals and failures without being attacked.

>It takes a brave person to share a project they’re working on and share what did and didn’t work.

>What if the Taxpayers’ Alliance see it and go on the offensive? What if your industry magazine brands you incompetent or a crackpot?

>Often innovators are misunderstood – mention a new technology or social media and some will think you must be wasting money, even if you are testing sound ideas that may save the whole sector millions.

>And every organisation cocks up now and then. We’d do it less often if we were aware of the lessons learned by other organisations.

>I try to practice openness in my work as much as possible, but for those who fear the consequences of sharing what they’re working on – Knowledge Hub offers an easy way to improve the discipline and communications skills needed for collaboration before taking the next step into sharing in the open.

With Mary McKenna joining Knowledge Hub, and digital democracy pioneer Steve Clift helping with global outreach, the Hub is an increasingly attractive place to share experience with public sector colleagues, and keep up to date.

As I wrote earlier, I've been thinking about the Hub as a place for discussion about Living Well in the Digital Age, following up our exploration with Age Action Alliance, and an evolving proposal for local Living Labs.

Since writing that, AAA has supported the idea of developing a Digital Age Learning Network, and I hope this may also link with ideas for the Centre for Ageing Better on digital engagement and innovation.

It's tempting to think that Knowledge Hub would be a good home for discussion around these projects. There's already an Ageing Well group, among others that are relevant. The Hub is free, and will welcome people outside local government. It could be a good place to engage internationally, through the work that Steven Clift is doing.

However, in the UK Big Lottery Fund now has its own online community up and running with spaces for all its programmes, including Ageing Better and interest groups - and one on later life.

The main day-to-day online activity in the field is on Twitter - for example follow Shirley Ayres for a huge range of valuable content. As Shirley just tweeted:

I agree with @PaulBromford my number one resource for open sharing is Twitter & I use lists to keep track of conferences & new developments

In addition I think that the Digital Age Learning Network, for example, will need a good conversational space for a core group, maybe using, as well as helping people learn through Twitter, and engage elsewhere. We all need to develop what Harold Jarche calls Personal Knowledge Mastery, in order to seek, sense and share knowledge.

As Steve Dale wrote a couple of years ago, that involves operating in social ecologies with a mix of tools, platforms and media.

Within that framework, Knowledge Hub provides safe and trusted space … but it isn't, of course, going to be the only space for any topic. For some in local government it may be the main space, for other people it may be one place to leave a footprint.

So the joining-up Challenge of Networking Civil Society, which I wrote about a few years back, remains. Some of the hubs I mentioned there have closed or faded … while Twitter usage has soared.

In the end successful online engagement and activity comes down to people. Who is prepared to share, where are liveliest people, who will help with the joining up, which I call socialreporting, and then what are the tools that suit particular needs, and how do we learn to use them.

So, how and where do we talk about how to make that work across platforms?

Maybe we should combine the discussion with a celebration of the 20 year history of community networking and see what has changed - certainly the tools - and what needs to change for better networking. Attitudes and culture is my guess.

Either way, Knowledge Hub is clearly attracting some of the brightest people in the field, so it's worth joining to see what's happening. I'm going to explore further the scope for working with existing groups, and/or starting something for international exchange.

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