Monthly Archives: April 2010

How to use multimedia tools to engage children and young people in decision-making

[Summary:Trying to undo a bit of scarcity thinking from the voluntary sector: this time, PW How To Guides]

A long time ago I wrote a resource for Participation Works called “How to use multimedia tools to engage children and young people in decision-making”. The work was funded through a Big Lottery Fund (BLF) grant to Participation Works to support the third-sector with youth participation, and all the published resources were being made available freely online.

It seems that since that grant has ended, Participation Works have decided to restrict free online access to all the digital copies of the resources that BLF money funded, including the guide I wrote: they now want to charge for it.

I don’t. I didn’t write it to be sold. I wrote it to be shared and on the understanding that it would be freely available online. So you can grab your copy here: How to Use Multimedia to Engage Children and Young People in Decision Making (PDF)

[Update 22nd July 2010: With much reluctance I have had to remove the download link to this guide. It was my hope that this blog post would (a) ensure the continued availability of a resource which was written for free dissemination; (b) register my feeling that Participation Works had breached the trust on which the original writing of this resource was based and ensure that others were not suffering from that breach of trust also; (c) provide a gentle provocation to encourage PW and others to think about the messages they are sending out to the sector. Sadly, it does not seem that the Participation Works Consortium took it in that spirit.

I bear no ill-will towards members of the Participation Works Consortium. It is possible some interpreted my posting of this guide as a ‘competitive’ or aggressive act and an act of  Practical Participation. It was neither.

This is my personal blog, and whilst I don’t draw a strict distinction between personal and company posts – intended this post in a personal capacity, expressing my belief in the importance of openness, abundancy thinking and values-based practice. If any offence was caused to any individuals or organisations – my apologies.

For potential users of the guide: I believe the How To guide contains some useful concepts, although it’s technical content is now out of date. If you are interested in the topic of the guide, and can’t find other resources that support your practice, please get in touch as I hope to be able to put together a freely available Creative Commons resource on this topic in the near future.]

It’s only a basic resource, and you will no doubt find lots more information online in space such as Youth Work Online but I thought it important to make sure it did remain freely available on the web.

(As a serious point: it’s pretty worrying to see how many voluntary sector organizations, particularly infrastructure organizations, are shifting into scarcity thinking right now – imagining that by starting to charge, or charge more, for resources in a time of scarcity they will be able to sustain the same old work. A time of scarce financial resources is no time to start restricting your reach by putting in pay-walls. It’s time to build and innovate on legacies of work, not to try and commercially exploit them. Perhaps this is easier to say when freelance and I’m used to the uncertainty of the future – but organizations with a social mission need to remember that the missions are bigger than the organizations – and it’s social change, not organizational maintenance that should come first…)

Money Saving Council.com?

Filed under: ideas that I’d like to explore more… but that someone else is probably better placed to take forward (with a bit of political commentary thrown in too at the end).

I’ve been dealing with quite a few local authority finance departments over the last few weeks as bookings have been coming in for the Connected Generation conference. And I’ve been somewhat startled by how much time and effort it takes for a local authority to make a simple payment for a member of staff to attend an event being run at cost.

Some of the finance systems and processes clearly have room of significant small savings to be made on every transaction – by switching to electronic communication and BACs rather than cheque for example. However, I suspect some of the other cumbersome processes I’ve come across are the result of past attempts at efficiency savings. And in some cases, there are good reasons (audit purposes etc.) for extra steps involved in the local authority process – albeit that those extra steps need not be quite as convoluted as many appear to be.

All of which got me thinking: there exists the potential for many small savings across government. But just cutting costs from on high is often counter productive – in many cases failing to create real reductions in spending, but also in many cases, leading to unintended consequences down the line.

So where is the online resource allowing government staff to share the tips and tricks they have used to reduce costs? And sharing learning about unintended consequences of certain cost-cutting approaches?

In response to a Tweet yesterday which shared this pondering, @lmbowler suggested that might be a ‘SaveMyCouncilTax.com’. Perhaps. Although personally I’m more for ‘MakeOurMoneyGoFurther.com’. I know we’re heading into a period of cuts, but I don’t need government to put money back in my pocket – I want government to be addressing social injustices and inequalities – making sure that it’s making the most of our funds: not wasting money, or taking on roles that people can now take on themselves through digitally mediated collective action, but investing in the (many) places where we still need government to be building the foundations of a more equal and happier society.

Where is DFID spending money on youth, and other interesting project data mash-ups

I was down in London again on Saturday for the AID Information Challenge – another data-focussed event, but this time looking at International Development Data.

One of the main datasets we had to work with was the DFID Projects Database – a list of all the different development projects the Department for International Development has been funding over recent years, and has funding committed to in the future. Given I’ve recently finished getting the DFID funded ‘Youth Participation in Development‘ guide online, I initially thought I would explore how to link project data to the case studies in that guide. However, I soon found myself joining in with a team of others who were trying to visualise the projects dataset in more general ways.

The result: a faceted browsing mash-up using the fantastic Exhibit framework – turning this into this.

The faceted browser means that you can select different countries (only by their country code at the moment), years, funding types or funding programmes and explore the different project funding DFID has been giving out to these.

Click through to the Map view, and where funding went to a specific country you’ll be able to see a map of where the funds were distributed. (A lot of funding goes to regions or is non-specific geographically – at the moment this just display under the ‘could not be plotted’ above the map).

Even though I didn’t work directly with the Youth Participation in Development Guide, down at the bottom of the list of facets you will find one to help explore youth-related funding: you can pull out all the projects which include ‘Youth’ or ‘Young People’ in their project titles or descriptions.

Thanks to the Publish What You Fund and Open Knowledge Foundation teams for organising the day :)

Where will you be on 7th May?

I’ll be thinking about the future. Not necessarily political futures, I doubt the dust will have settled by Friday 7th, but the future of work with young people and the impact of digital technologies whilst chairing the Connected Generation 2010 Conference.

This will be the third Connected Generation event (well, the first was called UK Youth Online, but we changed the name to avoid confusion with UK Youth), but this time we’re doing things slightly differently – holding it on a week day to enable new participants to come along through their work – and including some speakers and workshops to spark discussions before we go into an afternoon of open space sessions.

I’ve mentioned the event already on this blog just a few posts back, but as it gets closer we’re keen to make sure everyone who wants to come along is signed up before we finalize plans for the day. So, if you’re thinking of coming, but you’ve not registered yet, get your booking in before the end of the week (16th April) and you can use the discount code ‘TIMSBLOG’ to get £10 off the already very-good-value price.

More details and booking here…