Having attended and now reflected on the recent Shropcamp I’m left pondering the issue of not-spots and thin-band. The lack of 3G coverage, wi-fi access and broadband in a rural county the size of Shropshire is a pressing issue and one that needs to be addressed. A national grid for mobile phone coverage would be the ideal solution but it ‘aint happening any time soon. 3G in particular is going to be a concern for projects like Discover Shropshire but there’s enough coverage in key places to allow us to demonstrate proof of concept. And actually I’m increasingly of the mind that hurdles like these will never be broken down until we achieve critical mass behind a consensus to fix them. And that can only be achieved by more and more people demonstrating that new working practices are beneficial and practical rather than left-field or kooky. We’ve all met people who ‘just don’t get it’ but if we wait for them to be converted before we progress we’ll be gathering dust in the starting blocks. There’s probably a strong religious or idealogical analogy to be made there but excuse me if I steer well clear. It’s grass roots activism that will move us forward. social media surgeries and business networking like JellyUK are as vital in sparsely populated counties like Shropshire as they are in the metropolis, perhaps even more so.
If we are to keep up the momentum of Shropcamp the next stage is surely to persuade the policy makers and senior directors of the public sector to attend and see the potential. Hot on our heels is Generation Digital. Digital is their first language and social media their lifeblood. They will demand that we speak to them in terms they understand and on forums of their choosing. If the democratic process is to thrive and survive it needs buy-in from them, so we better start preparing like, right now. I know I’m preaching to the choir here but it’s helpful to not lose sight of what we’ve learned so far. It’s not the tools or the shiny things it’s the outcomes. We have to concentrate on showing positive outcomes. The only way to win converts is to demonstrate the appliance of social media science. One slightly used soap box, anyone?
#shropcamp was organised by Ben Proctor with a little help from his friends and sponsors