Well, it’s time for my overdue retrospective on the National Digital Inclusion Conference 27-28 April. I was invited to join the We Share Stuff crew in delivering Social Media Surgeries in the exhibition space. So I spent most of Monday talking to people from local authorities, charities and organisations such as The University Of The Third Age about how to use tools like blogging, Facebook and Twitter and how they could benefit their companies.
Monday evening was We Share Stuff’s Fringe event in Westminster Student Union Bar. It was pretty much a social thing, which gave everyone a chance to meet and catch up with each other. I got chatting to the lovely David Wilcox and we had an interesting chat about how local blogs such as Digbeth is Good can sometimes have too much of an author’s personal stamp on them for others to feel comfortable writing within them. A kind of ‘you can live in my house but not move any of my stuff or have add ornaments of your own’ type thing. Which gave me some food for thought.
As the drinks were downed, someone (I unsurprisingly forget who – comment if you remember) came up with the idea that we should take the conference outside of the QE2 Conference Centre and ask people on the London streets what they understood, thought and felt about digital inclusion. I had a whale of a time Flip-filming people’s take on Digital Inclusion with Ben Whitehouse and Stuart Parker. Chatting up strangers in the street is a great hangover cure.
My very favorite was Ben with the protester, who spoke about how online relationships are only truly productive when they’re extensions of real ones. We could have kissed her.
I loved talking to this contractor just outside the QE2 Centre, who had never been on the internet in his life. Despite wanting to and having access to a PC in his home, he just didn’t see the relevance of it in his working or home life to make the time to do it. Whilst his daughter speaks to extended family over Facebook, he prefers to stick to using the phone. Which is totally fair enough – use what you’re comfortable with. But very interesting.
And my third favorite was Gerry the pub landlord, digitally engaged through online gambling. Purely because he was so utterly charming and made some good points about the need to teach people skills in a way they will understand and not get fazed by the jargon and technology.
What was most interesting about the whole exercise was when I asked people what digital inclusion was, they usually didn’t know. But when you asked them if and how they used the internet, a lot of them actually were digitally included to some extent. Which means we are using a term that is not widely understood at the moment. Something that needs fixing, I think.