Developing a BarCampUKYouthOnline

Young People: CC Image: 'thaas loomoo 128' -

There are a lot of people working on supporting young people through the internet, or supporting young people to engage with the internet.

Whether it's the web officers who run local and national youth websites, the people encouraging online campaigning and volunteering, the youth team at Direct Gov, the students and academics studying young peoples identity and interaction online, the youth workers working out how to support young people online, the policy makers thinking about sensible response, the developers of services targetted at young people, the consultants and bloggers thinking about what social media means, or indeed young people themselves – there are a lot of people with important perspectives and experience and questions around:

  • Online information services for young people
  • Supporting young people's online interaction and activity
  • Researching young people and the internet/blogging/social networking etc.
  • Developing online tools and platforms for young people
  • Exploring online technologies in education and participation
  • Young people's civic engagement online
  • And a whole lot more…

Well, inspired and encouraged by the success of BarCampUKGovWeb, and after lots of conversations with folk, I though we could probably do with a BarCampUKYouthOnline to draw together some of those threads, to bring together some of the people interesting in exploring these threads, and to build some networks and ideas for action. So let's organise it.

Provisionally I've put in 17th May 2008 as the date for the event – but that's about all that is decided so far. If you're interested in attending, getting involved in planning, or just finding out more – drop me an e-mail, edit the Wiki and join the Google Group mailing list. It would be great to have you on board… 🙂


BarCamps are self-organised dynamic conferences created by the participants. The name is misleading, they've not officially got anything to do with alcohol.

Young People as I'm thinking of the category is broadly 11 – 19 year olds – although that's not a strict boundary on what we can talk about.


I'd originally proposed 3rd May 2008 as the BarCamp date – but on realising this was a bank holiday weekend – am suggesting a switch to the 17th May.

Attachment: BarCampUKYouthOnline.doc

Getting data out of DirectGov

Mashing up Direct GovOn Saturday at BarCampUKGovWeb I asked whether it was possible to use the data from DirectGov to direct website users to their local government services, without needing to send them via the pretty orange pages of

Thanks for a tip-off from Paul Clarke, I got in touch with Andy Key from Hampshire who has helped out with a few pointers to some currently unofficial (but possibly soon-to-be-supported) ways of making use of Local Direct Gov data:

The answer is No, Yes, and Maybe.

Web services: not yet. This is something I've been asking for and the Local Directgov team are looking at doing. […]

What is possible now is simple link redirection. This involves linking to a Directgov URL and passing it the code number of the service you want, the code number for the interaction type you want (normally 8 for “finding information”) and the code number of the local authority whose service you want to access. The service codes are a subset of the standard Local Government Service List (LGSL); interaction codes are from the Local Government Interaction List (LGIL).

Here's an example:

Find information (LGIL code 8) about the Youth Opportunies Fund (LGSL code 1116) at Bristol City Council (authority code 558):

Find information (8) about volunteering opportunities for young people (629) in Nottinghamshire (239):

Obviously this only works for services that are included in the Local Directgov service list, and for authorities in England and Wales. Local Directgov relies on the authority having provided a URL for the service in question. If a particular authority has failed to do so, the link defaults to the “Contact us” page of the authority's website.

This facility has a few obvious drawbacks:

  • The website user has to know which council area they're in.
  • You, the website owner, have to know what the code number is for that council.
  • It doesn't work well with services delivered by more than one tier of local authority (e.g. services provided by both county and district council in an area).

[…] LDG have their own numbering system for local authorities.

As it stands, then, the facility is quite usable for a council website where I only have to know the codes for a handful of authorities in my area – see for instance – but not much good for a national website.

The alternative, for now, is to recreate the input form at on your own website. So you prompt the user for their postcode, then use that to send them to Directgov with the postcode already set – for example, like this:

Is it possible to mash up data from

There is useful data in local direct gov – but can we get at it with a web service to create mash-ups for public benefit?

<warning – slightly geeky post coming up>

Last year we tried to raise awareness of the Youth Opportunity Fund and Youth Capital Fund with the Actions Speak Louder campaign. The campaign, targetted at young people – involved a national awards ceremony and publicity campaign – but the goal was to help young people find their local Youth Opportunity Fund grant making panel.

YOF/YCF serach on MySpace from Direct Gov?

The only place we could find a directory of Local Youth Opportunity fund websites was through, and it seems like you can only search on the Local Direct Gov orange website. However, we wanted to be able to pull a search of local Youth Opportunity Funds into a widget on the Actions Speak Louder mySpace website instead of pointing people off to Direct Gov.

Direct Gov Youth Funds

As far as I knew at the time, that couldn't be done. Local Direct Gov doesn't appear to provide an XML feed, or web service API. However, here at the BarCampUKGovWeb Paul Clarke who works with Direct Gov has suggested it might just be possible. He notes:

Hantsweb gave an interesting presentation at the last Directgov Open Day about how one local authority has used the Local Directgov functionality to enhance the way it routes interested citizen to relevant local services in its area (and close surroundings outside the county).

So I'm hopefuly. But with a bit more searching I'm little further forward.

So, I still have three questions:

1) Does anyone know if its possible to query the Local Direct Gov data as a webservice? Or do I have to always direct users off to the dreaded orange pages?

2) If it is – does anyone know how?

3) If it isn't – what would it take to make it possible?

Update: follow up post here

Government and young people online

I've just been in a session at BarcampUKGovWeb where we've been talking about how government provides information to young people, and involves young people in conversation with government (although we ran short on time to get onto that second and most important one). There's a lot to be talked about here – and 20 minutes only got us started. Below is a quick mindmap of what I gathered from the discussion:

Young people online

I'd be happy to share the mindmap with anyone else who was in the session who would like to add to it. And very keen to continue the discussion…

BarCampUKGovWeb – What should I be talking about on young people, government and web 2.0?

Whilst I'm on the topic of upcoming conferences and events, two days before I'll be exploring how various speakers think we should keep young people safe online, I should be at BarCampUKGovWeb – an altogether different sort of event.


A BarCamp “an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees.” Participants are encouraged to contribute short sessions to the event – and I've just been thinking about the sorts of sessions I could present.

The BarCampUKGovWeb focus is on:

…creating a shared understanding and commitment to the vision for UK government web activity and helping establish the UK government Digital Network to bring together the community of webbies within central government and the wider public sector.

Quite a few projects I worked on over the last year have linked with UK Government web activity in one way or another. It's ranged from trying to provide youth-focussed content for government websites, pulling data out of Local Direct Gov or capturing video interviews with civil servants. And as the focus of most of my work is around young people's participation – I thought I would sketch out four possible mini-sessions linking 'young people, government and web 2.0' for the BarCampUKGov audience. You can see my four ideas pasted in below.

If you've got any other suggestions for topics – or want to suggest developments to any of the below – do get in touch using the comments below.

From an e-mail to the Google Group

Possible sessions

1. Protection and provision
Exploring issues around making sure under 18's are included, not excluded from the online civic space.

A bit theoretical – but with big practical implications.

2. Local names and national services
Using a case study of the Youth Opportunity Fund – a national programme, with a unique name (chosen by young people) in each local authority area – but for which we were trying to run a national publicity campaign working with (the then) DfES and DirectGov. Touches on technical issues linked to Local DirectGov – and organisational issues about policies for where content is hosted.

A very practical case study.

3. Working in partnership with government to consult and promote new policy
A couple of case studies of small scale projects for government (predominantly DfES) delivered by The National Youth Agency consulting with young people, or leading discussions and information-sharing about new policy with the field – incorporating the use of social media. Looking at how the social media element mostly 'just happened' – with logistical and policy issues being resolved along the way… and looking at whether this can be replicated – was the product of right people, right place, right time – or was enabled at the cost of
having a lesser impact.

4. Young people, online identity and the database state
I'm aware of at least one local authority building their own Social Networking website linked to the local Connexions database (holding personal information about young people). What happens when young people's online interaction comes within the ambit of the database state? Could we see social networks being linked to ContactPoint and other child protection databases? What about for over 18s?

Probably a bit of a theoretical discussion starter at the moment (unless I can work something up a little more in time for the BarCamp)

If I get chance to put together a full presentation for the BarCamp then I will, of course, share it here. And I'll aim to at least blog at/after the event on any discussions arising from the sessions I'm in.