Tag Archives: plings

Promoting positive activities – a strategy game

A game for planning positive activity communication tools

A game for planning positive activity communication tools

I love the social media game model. It works in so many contexts.

So, over at the Plings blog you’ll find the ‘Plings Out Game’, or in more general terms – a planning game for exploring different communications tools that youth services could use as part of promoting positive activities.

Instructions and cards to download available.

Safe and effective social network site applications

[Summary: Inviting feedback on first public draft of working paper about developing social network site applications for young people that can be effective and engaging, whilst also promoting safety and limiting risk to young people (PDF)]

Update 18th May 2009: Version 1.0 of the paper posted here.

For the Plings project – concerned with promoting positive activities to young people – Social Network Sites (SNS) offer amazing opportunities. One of the main ways people find out about positive activities (the football club, dance group or arts society for example) is through word of mouth. So if you can feed information about positive activities into SNS, and increase the flows of information about positive activities through the networks of young people already active there, you could potentially have a big impact on young people’s awareness of activities they could take part in.

Take a look at the slidecast below to get an idea of how a Social Network Site application could work:

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: sns)

Of course, local authorities and professionals working with young people have a duty not only to make sure young people are aware of the positive activities available to them, but also a duty to keep young people safe from harm – and Social Network Sites can be places of risk as well as of opportunity. Which is why public and third-sector organisations engaging with SNS shouldn’t just copy the ‘viral marketting’ and often aggressive tactics of commercial SNS application builders – but need to develop a clear ethical and risk assessment framework for engaging with Social Network Sites.

I hope that this working paper which I’ve put together for the ISP/Plings project can go some way to starting off that development.

‘Safe and effective SNS applications for young people: considerations in building social networking
applications for under 19s’
aims to build a coherent foundation to support public and third-sector engagement with SNS through application building by:

  1. Unpacking the reasons why we need to treat young people differently;
  2. Exploring the features of Social Network Sites which lead to both amazing opportunities, and potential risks;
  3. Clearly identifying the risks to young people within the Social Network Site space;
  4. Proposing three levels of response that should lead to safe and effective application building;

The document also includes an outline risk assessment framework.

The three responses proposed are:

  • Abiding by ethical principles – and designing applications on the basis of principles derived from law, a respect for young people’s rights, and existing principles from professional practice;
  • Having a clear risk assessment in place for all projects - to make sure potential risks are identified and design decisions or resources put in place to limit potential harm to young people;
  • Building safety in – and creating applications which empower young people and encourage general safe online behavior.

So, if you’re exploring the use of Social Network Sites to engage young people, whether in positive activities or participation opportunities – or if you’ve got experience of e-safety or Social Network Site applications please do take a look at the ‘Safe and Effective SNS for young people’ working paper and share your reflections, questions and feedback.

Exploring further
This first public draft of the paper is hopefully just a starting point of a deeper exploration on building positive SNS applications. In particular:

  • The ISP/Plings project will be seeking to operationalise some of the learning in this paper, so it’s proposals, and the feedback and comments on it should have an opportunitity to be explored in practice over the first half of next year…
  • I’ll be leading an exploration of using applications for youth participation as part of the Local Government Information Unit Action Learning Set on SNS and Youth Participation. (N.B. Application deadline extended until 9th Jan 2009 in case you wanted to come along… but have not yet had chance to register…)
  • If there is enough interest – then I’d love to host a seminar on SNS applications and youth engagement early in 2009 – exploring both this paper, and emerging practice from the field. If you would be interested in taking part do drop me a line (tim at practicalparticipation dot org dot uk) or leave a comment on this blog post.
  • All comments and feedback on the paper are most welcome. Again, e-mail or comment below…

Sharing learning from the Plings project…

[Summary: I'm going to be blogging for the Plings project - exploring new ways of collecting and sharing positive activity information for young people]

The Plings project has been one to watch for a while. Exploring new ways of collecting, processing and sharing information for on positive activities for young people.

Local authorities are under a duty to provide information on the out-of-school activities in a local area  young people can get involved with Рbut collecting and disseminating all that information is a big challenge.

Plings, built by research cooperative Substance, is an open source project that has been seeking to pilot and explore ways of semantically aggregating and then distributing that data, through XML feeds, iCal widgets and other mash-ups. Now that Substance has won the contract to lead the DCSF funded Information and Signposting Project, they’re going to be accelerating the development of the Plings project, and working with 20 local authorities to generate stacks of shared learning about collecting, processing and sharing positive activity information. This week has already seen the data from Plings made available via DigiTV, and I’m in the midst of scoping how positive activity information could be shared through Social Network Sites.

And if I can keep up with all the learning being generated, I’ll hopefully be blogging as much of it as possible over on the Plings blog.

So, if you’re interested in public sector mash-ups, promoting positive activities to young people, or just exploring new ways of innovating in the youth sector, please do subscribe to the Plings blog and throw in your thoughts and reflections to the comments there as the project moves forward…


(Disclosure: My blogging for the Plings project is part of a paid contract with Substance. I’m sharing news of it here as I think the learning from the ISP/Plings project will be of interest to a lot of readers of this blog.)

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.