Monthly Archives: August 2008

Participation Works How To Guide on Multimedia Participation

Participation Works have just published the basic How To guide I wrote earlier this year on using Multimedia Tools for Youth Participation. (Thanks for Mas for spotting it had gone online, and to Nick and Michael for the case studies in the guide)

This guide builds upon the Using Online Tools for Participation section of the PW site I put together previously.

Using multimedia tools in participation is such a broad topic, that the guide only just scratches the surface (and I’ve tried to focus on social media where possible). However, I hope it can prove useful for those who want to start thinking about how new technology can be at least part of their engagement approaches.

A veritable festival of youth and social media

The 26th and 27th September should see a veritable festival of events linked to youth participation, youth work and social media down in London. In fact, I wish I'd seen all the connections earlier to brand the whole lot as a festival.
Here's what is coming up:


  • Research launch of the Youth Work and Social Networking report (26th Sept, 2.45pm till 4.45pm) – the work that seems to have taken over a large chunk of the last six months of my time. Along with Pete Cranston, I'll be sharing what we've discovered, providing both a theoretical and practical account of how youth workers and other professionals working with young people can support young people to navigate the risks and make the most of the opportunities of online social networking, and opening up a discussion of different uses of social network sites in youth work.
    The research launch is free to attend, and if you want more details or to reserve your place, get in touch with ritak@nya.org.uk


  • UK Youth Online open space event (27th Sept, 10am till 5pm, followed by a trip to a local pub) – on Saturday 27th we'll be opening up the agenda even more to explore all things linked to young people and social media. Thanks to the kind support of DIUS this free event will provide space for practitioners, academics, innovators, funders, managers and others interested in the impact of new technology on work with young people to gather together and explore a wide range of issues through short presentations, discussions and demonstrations.
    For more details about UK Youth Online check out the network website, where you can also register to take part.

Please do pass details of all these events on to anyone who you think might be interested.

 

And what if you can't make the 26th and 27th September, or if London is a bit of a trek for you? Well, get in touch and let's get planning for some more local festivals exploring youth, technology and social media…

Three aspects of blogging to promote positive activities

I've just been interviewed for an article about how blogging can be used to promote positive activities. Using blogging as part of promoting youth work was only one part of one of the 7 reasons why youth workers should be blogging – but in the interview I found that it can be usefully broken down into three parts.
Three aspects of blogging to promote positive activities

  1. Blog for search – share information - many young people expect information from multiple sources – and they will expect information to be available online. If a young people have seen a poster or a flyer for your event then there is a good chance some will try and google search details of the event later on – either to check what it was all about, or to check the time/venue etc.

    A blog provides a very quick publishing platform to get information out there and to get it picked up by search engines. A dedicated blog for your youth club is going to be far easier to keep up-to-date than pages on a local authority website. And it's quite likely to perform better in search engines for particular queries about your events and activities.

    You can also take the headlines from a blog and get other websites and services to automatically 'pull in' that information – so that news from your blog is dispalyed in the places where young people are online (for example, you can pull the headlines into a Widget on MySpace, or to a Fan Page on Facebook, or you can set up a service to automatically text the latest headlines to young people who have subscribed…)


  2. Blog for young people – share media – at just about any event with young people there will be photos taken and video clips recorded – and it is highly likely these will be shared online. Rather than ban photos and videos at an event because of safety concerns – youth services can take on the role of providing safe online photo and video galleries from events – where images are only displayed with consent and where any young people can ask for their images to be removed if they wish.

    By becoming the destination for photos and videos from an event two things are possible:

    1. A service can justifiably ask young people to limit their own sharing of photos and videos in ways which may not be safe;

    2. A service can build an audience who come to see the photos and videos, but then find out about other activities and opportunities to get involved. (Although – don't forget to make sure you tell people the web address where they can access the media on your blog)


  3. Blog for you – consultation and conversation – once you've build a community around a blog with media and content attractive to young people – then you can start including blog posts that ask questions of young people, invite comments and help you to improve your services. You can share information about upcoming decisions that need to be made, or you can create blog posts that ask a question of young people – and you and they can use the comments feature on a blog to engage in conversation about the issues in question.

These three parts may even be seen as 'stages' of starting to blog to promote youth services – as whilst blogs provide an instant publishing platform, it does take time and intentional effort for them to build a regular readership and a community.

Perhaps we will have a session at the UK Youth Online unconference on the 27th September 2008 to explore blogging to promote positive activities. If you're interested then do come along. UK Youth Online is a free and co-created event – and you can find more details about it, or register to be part of it, here.

Building democracy: feedback and engagement on track

One of the biggest complaints about engaging in local democracy is that things never change.

Which isn't true. Things do change – but public institutions are notoriously bad at telling people what has changed – and at keeping the people who first raise an issue or who are interested in an issue engaged throughout the (often necessarily) long process of policy making and taking action.

And that is why I've long been musing about the possibility of an issue tracker for local democracy. And why I've floated the idea over on Building Democracy.
If you're interested in how we can improve engagement right along the policy making process in local democracy – then do pop over and take a few minutes to read the idea and let me know what you think.


Building Democracy is another call for ideas along the lines of Show Us a Better Way – this time focussed on developing stronger democracy and with £150k to invest in some of the best ideas.

I would also encourage anyone else with ideas about improving the democratic process to head over and float their ideas. In particular, I've found that the link between youth participation and developing deeper forms of democracy that empower all citizens regardless of age is often underplayed – so it would be great to see both young people, and youth participation practitioners pitching in with their ideas.

Over on the Youth Work and Social Networking blog

I've tried to keep the plethora of reflections and shared bits and pieces from the Youth Work and Social Networking project over on their own blog – but I'm aware some people have been expecting me to post them here also. So, here is a quick run-down of some of the posts, documents and resources you will find over on the Youth Work and Social Networking project blog.

There are also a number of others posts pointing to recent research and online resources.
The final report of the Youth Work and Social Networking project will be launched on th 26th September in London – so if you would like to be at that (or at the UK Youth Online un-conference the following day) then please do get in touch. 

Video Change Update: Bananas, 6 Million More and Air Guitar

A little while back I blogged about something called 'Video Change' – and I've spent quite a bit of the last seven weeks facilitating it. Video Change is a pilot online course/shared learning journey, delivered using Ning, that has aimed to support campaigners to create online video as part of their social justice campaigning activity.

I'll be blogging a little more about the whole process, and some of what we have learnt later on – but for now – just wanted to share with you a little of what the Video Change participants have been creating:

Whilst on the topic of online video for campaigning – here's a note I got from Kerstin Twachtmann at ActionAid last week which may be of interest:

Our youth team are attempting to smash the world record for the biggest number of people playing their air guitars at this year’s Reading festival!

As part of this we are running an online competition with the chance to win a pair of tickets to this year’s festival, all the entrants have to do is upload their own air guitar video onto http://www.myspace.com/bollockstopoverty. (The closing date is the 15th August) We have already created a series of videos to get people in the spirit of things and we would be most grateful if could mention it in your blog!

If you're interested in seeing how charities can explore engaging with the norms of many online video sites – then Action Aid's experiment is well worth taking a look at (and, if you're up for playing some Air Guitar in the next few days, joining in with…).