Stranger in a strange(ly digital) land

Understanding Digital Policy was the title of an unconference I was at this week. (It was at an outpost of the University of Liverpool in central London – hence the title and illustration for this post.)

Although it was billed as covering

  • How is policy shaping the uptake and use of Digital Media and Technologies?
  • How are Digital Media and Technologies shaping policy making and policy implementation?

it went much further than that, into how will and how should policy be shaped, and what research should be done. This was at least in part due to the organiser, Simeon Yates, leading the the ESRC Ways of Being in a Digital Age team, and so being highly influential on research directions.

You can jump straight to my personal reactions if you want, but here’s how the day progressed. Firstly, we found interesting and/or kindred spirits by writing our own ‘about-me’s, looking at each others’ and deciding who we wanted to work with. Continue reading


The first shall be last, and the last shall be first?

My better half pointed out recently that I described the Scottish Government as the top/first level, and Community Councils as the bottom/third level. This is interesting for two reasons:

  • it omits the UK government entirely
  • I automatically relegate hyperlocal democracy to third place.

Continue reading


Despite the CC websites I run not being all they could be, I think I’m working hard enough. I’ve just made my 300th post on Leith Central’s website, my 75th on Leith Harbour and Newhaven’s site and my 69th on New Town & Broughton’s site.

The averages are around 7, 4 and 4 posts per month, respectively. One reason for the difference is that Leith Central publishes draft minutes, so that a some account of its meetings is online within a week or so of the meeting. I think this is much better than waiting for minutes to be ratified at the next monthly meeting.

Speed demon, but cheap and cheerful

My 2009 Mac Pro is getting long in the tooth. IGGY still works just fine of course I feel the need for speed. I don’t want to replace him with a garbage can. No matter how many cores and Thunderbolt ports they have, they only have one storage unit. The base model has 256 GB of PCI-E-based SSD, and I need at least two units of 1TB each. (One for normal use, one for CarbonCopyClones).

Continue reading

Couldn’t have put it better myself!

Wise words from Angus Hardie of the Scottish Community Alliance:

I see community empowerment and ‘local’ democracy as two sides of the same coin with something akin to our system of community councils (albeit properly resourced, probably restructured and with effective national representation) as the bridge between the two.  So while some might take issue on the detail, if the purpose of empowering communities is not about working towards genuine local democracy, could someone let me know what it is?

(emphasis added)

Here’s the full article, including a message from Marco Biagi MSP and pieces on ‘Caltongate’, the Big Lunch, community growing, euro-funding, Iceland’s financial crisis, COP21 and Comrie Development Trust

Digital Proxies – a potential new research area

(I can’t yet promise that no-one has thought of this before, but I hope it’s an original and worthwhile idea.)

What is a digital proxy?

A digital proxy would be someone who undertakes a citizen’s online affairs, principally around digital participatory or elective democracy, because the citizen cannot use the internet for some reason. Continue reading

My actual and potential research areas

I have the following actual and potential work-streams.

Title What is it? Funder Status, dates and notes
Longitudinal Information literacy for democratic engagement (LIL-DEM) Further research into factors affecting community councillors’ information literacies Edinburgh Napier University to start, February to April 2017
Information literacy for democratic engagement (IL-DEM) Research into factors affecting community councillors’ information literacies CILIP‘s Information Literacy Group finished, October 2016 to January 2017
DigiCC workshops How can community councils improve their digital engagement with citizens Edinburgh Napier University, Scottish Government finished, January 2015 to January 2016
Delivering on DREaM researcher/practitioner knowledge-sharing in Library and Information Science, supervised by Professor Hazel Hall CILIP finished, June to July 2015
Workforce Mapping mapping the workforce in the Libraries, Archives, Records, Knowledge and Information Management sector CILIP, ARA finished, summer 2014 to summer 2015
Hyperlocal government engagement online Social network analysis and Communities of practice research around 3 Edinburgh CCs CCN+ finished, summer 2014
Community Council Location Finder a searchable map of all Scottish Community Councils Improvement Service finished, spring 2014

My version is archived here, and the current version created by the Improvement Service is here.

2014 survey of community council internet presences How well do CCs use the internet to engage with citizens?

What are the lessons and consequences from the findings?

Edinburgh Napier University finished, spring 2014
2012 survey of community council internet presences duplicate! Self-funded finished, summer 2012
Communities of Practice and Knowledge Management around CC digital engagement 2-year main research project, to extend CCN+ seed-project and other relevant previous work TBC funding application in progress, TBC
Writing paper(s) based on my MSc dissertation, to further updates of technology models to report on local aspects of CC digital engagement TBC to start, TBC
Visualisation of hyperlocal data to extend Community Council Location Finder TBC to start, TBC
2017(?) survey of CC online presences to build on 2012 and 2014 surveys TBC to start, TBC
Digital Proxies Who guards vulnerable peoples’ digital presences TBC idea crystallised, TBC


Is it all deliberate dereliction of duty?

The results of our 2014 survey of Community Councils’ internet use have gathered some interest, especially after Peter wrote about the massive churn in online presences.

(Click the graphic to see a full-sized PDF.)
The rings’ outer diameters represent the numbers in each status in 2014. Inner diameters represent the amount of ‘churn’, i.e. the sum of the numbers that left or entered this status since 2012.

The rings’ outer diameters represent the numbers in each status in 2014. Inner diameters represent the amount of ‘churn’, i.e. the sum of the numbers that left or entered this status since 2012.

Continue reading