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July 7, 2010

Report on Big Society Network Open Night

Filed under: Featured — andrewchilvers @ 11:16 am

My colleague Rob Mair atttended the Big Society Network Open Night yesterday. He’s emailed me about it today and I thought I’d share some of his observations and musings post event.

The Big Society Network Open Night was an attempt to bring together lots of different organisations (including quangos, charities, technology companies and social enterprises) to brainstorm ways of creating a Big Society.

The Big Society Network is essentially looking at ways to get people engaged in local communities (or hyperlocal communities) for the benefit of that area. Paul Twivy, CEO of the Big Society Network, said people in any one square mile have plenty of skills but often, when people do community work forget about the skills they have that may benefit that area.

He used the example of an accountant; accountancy is boring (his words), so accountants look to do something completely different from accountancy when it comes to doing voluntary work in the community.

But charities could benefit from free accountancy, and the accountant would be using his skills for the benefit of the wider community. And I think this idea is at the heart of the Big Society Network.

Which is noble – but I’m not sure where we all fit into this. Many people spend time doing digital engagement work, which is profit motivated – and this is at odds (indeed any sort of personal gain seems at odds – everyone’s hang up on the Big Society Network is ‘what’s in it for me?’) with the aims of the Network.

After the introductions, I took part in a discussion on ‘How Technology Can Help’, and the strong theme from this was that any website to come out from it must be completely removed from gov/local authorities. People at grassroots level (esp the most isolated) don’t want to engage if they feel that it is authority led. Overall it was a very interesting discussion though.

Still not sure how far this idea can be taken as it stands. Altruism is as well and good, but people have to earn a crust.



  1. Andrew, Rob and you might be interested in keeping tabs on research that Networked Neighbourhoods is doing into local websites –

    Comment by Harringay Online — July 8, 2010 @ 8:45 am | Reply

    • Hugh

      Thanks for that and I’ll have a look at the links you’ve sent.


      Comment by andrewchilvers — July 15, 2010 @ 9:46 am | Reply

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