Archive for January, 2012

… UK GovCamp 2012

(This post has sod-all to do with toilets, but this is where I blog, so..)

I went to UK GovCamp 2012. It was last Friday. People have been posting their Top 20 things that they took from the experience. This seems like a good exercise to make sense of it all. I’ll do 10, cause I ramble.

A bit about what UK Gov Camp is..

UKGovCamp 2012 is an event organised by enthusiastic people. It’s loosely described as being an (un)conference for people working in Government and IT.

I don’t work in either. 

I’ve also seen it described as ‘Public Sector and Technology’, which I prefer as ‘public sector service design’ we touch on through our people-centred design work at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design. ‘Tech’ rather than IT also feels more open, as this covers community forums and online networks and the way that the internet can aid communication and help communities become more inclusive. ‘IT’ sounds like a conference exclusively for web managers and people who program. 

It’s an un-conference because there’s no agenda or speakers or abstract submission or registration fee. At the start of the day, people (anyone who wants to, which ends up being about a third of the attendees) announce something they’d like to talk about, which is then assigned to a time and a room. In these rooms, people interested talk about things. 

1. Go, even if you don’t know what it is. 

I went this year because I went last year.

I went last year because my twitter feed (lots of local government people and open data enthusiasts, because of my public toilet mapping) were getting REALLY excited about it. There were only 3 tickets left, so after frantically running round the internet going ‘but what the crap IS IT?’ I signed up feeling like a bit of a fraud.

It turned out to be useful, but even if it hadn’t, it wouldn’t have mattered – there are 200 people, so no one will notice you if you don’t want them too.

2.  If you think someone should be at ukgovcamp – invite them.
Keep reading…

January 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm 3 comments

… the High Street

‘Thanks’ to a tweet by @Feria_Urbanism, I spent too much of Tuesday night watching BBC Parliament, where MPs where debating ‘The Future of the High Street’. There were at least 4 people watching and tweeting, not bad considering the number of MPs taking part (thirty?).

High Streets, communities and urban design interest me, although I’m ‘self-educated’ in the latter, by which I mean that I’ve read Jane Jacobs and get pissed off at pedestrian crossings.

The MPs were referencing The Portas Review, Mary Portas’ report into the future of our high streets.

Mid-speech, one MP (I think it was the opposition minister for local government and communities) seemed to be listing the features and infrastructure that are essential to our town centres and I flippantly asked my fellow tweeters if The Portas Review mentioned public toilets.
Keep reading…

January 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm 1 comment


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