Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Many reasons why the Director of Digital Inclusion should have a base in Stoke-on-Trent

1. High speed rail links - less than 90 minutes from London and within easy distance of most other cities and the world.
2. We've picked out a nice empty building for you right by the station.
3. The best place to deliver digital inclusion is from somewhere with real issues of exclusion
4. We *get* social networking: Stoke-on-Trent has the lowest levels of 'anomie' in the country. Where we need investment is in the interconnections and the links outward. You'll be able to help with that.
5. You'll have an amazing array of creative talent, two universities, a flexible workforce and a fledgling developer/social media community on the doorstep who can help build the engaging little apps you'll need.
6. We were at the forefront of an earlier round of globalisation, connecting ideas about science, trade, religion and evolution and developing efficient infrastructure. We also created wealth while still campaigning for human rights.
7. Stoke station is five minutes from Longport station, a ten minute walk from Burslem, the best town in the world, where you'll want to have your lunch most days and take your visitors for dinner and drinks. With a government department around, we expect the train frequency will improve immensely, connecting this Pathfinder area to other cities much more effectively than is currently the case and improving the prospects of the regeneration plans for the area.
8. We're very friendly and very passionate, but we'll also keep you on your toes - no cosy consensuses here.
9. Many other cities have thriving social media movements, but try and choose the best and it'll all kick off. Stoke is unassuming, but quietly confident, and everyone can get there relatively easily.
10. Here's how cool the building used to look (and it's pretty similar now, but with cars)

And if you agree, please vote!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Plucky Focal needs our help!

Focal Radio, based in Stoke on Trent, started broadcasting to the area at the beginning of November and was saved from administration in February by businessman Mo Chaudry.

Now the multi-millionaire has made the decision to shut Focal with the loss of 23 jobs.

Station Manager, Verity Hilton said “I told the staff about Mo’s decision on May 8th. They have worked relentlessly through this difficult time to sell advertising and obtain investment. Although the station has 23 members of staff, the majority of them are freelance and once again they face the possibility of not being paid for the work that they have done. This is a fantastic station with a growing listenership and it would be a tragedy if it had to close. Focal Radio has received interest from listeners who would like to own a share in “their” radio station – but we need to ensure that there is enough in the pot to buy the equipment off Waterworld Holdings and re-pay Mo for his investment.”

Focal Radio was partly the brainchild of Potteries broadcasting legend Sam Plank and he has personally paid the staff since May 13th in an attempt to keep the station broadcasting while an investor was found. “ I am saddened over the way the situation has developed,” said Sam. “However, there is now a golden opportunity for the listeners of this area to invest in a radio station that is truly theirs and looks positively at what happens in their patch! I would love to hear from anyone that feels they can help us move forward at this moment in time! We are now shouting “Broken Arrow!”

Broken Arrow was a call sign used in Vietnam to alert available troops to support quickly and that is exactly what the team at Focal Radio hope will happen over the next 24 hours.

Anyone who feels they can support this venture - from as little as £10 - should contact Focal Radio on 01782 574580 or 07888 730061.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"I'm on it"

I have an old friend, Nick, who is somewhere close to finishing his first degree despite being only 16 (or something). We met on Wikinews where, with a whole lot of others, we would occasionally write big stories and otherwise quietly work on discussing and revolutionising how news was put together. Wikinews is still a great project with potential that has never been quite unleashed.

Nick had a nice little phrase that I remembered in passing the other day. When you asked the wikisphere for help with something he'd post "I'm on it". And off he would go to sort something out, or build a new thing.

In real life I try, and usually fail, to respond as swiftly when I'm asked to do something. After all, it's not the quizzical look or the discussion about whether that's the right thing to do that's useful, it's the doing it. Online, the thinkers and the doers have a more equal power relationship than has been the case in the last few decades of organisations and that's possibly what makes the collaborative web so effective.

It's even easier to help each other out now than it was in 2005, with little calls for help being swiftly answered on Twitter. I don't even think Nick is on Twitter, but I hope he'll be pursuaded one day.