Thank you UKGC16

View of the 7 miles bridges from pigeon Key

This is a quick post after UKGC16. As Glyn said this is an attempt to do a quick capture of impressions and I intend to build on a couple of the themes I am noting here. Slight delay in posting as I disappeared off on holiday a couple of days after (see above!) and went switch off on the beach….

Firstly – a huge thank you to the organisers. Great venue, seamlessly run and the event continues to have real vibrancy and energy after 7 years. Thank you.

This vibrancy really intrigues me and shouldn’t be taken for granted – there is magic in a community being able to renew itself like this. Speaking of magic, I agree with Janet who noted the fact that the atmosphere felt really open and welcoming this year – it fizzed. This might be down to critical mass, the energy which GDS bring to this or the regrettable (for those of those who live out of London) fact that London is the best place to convene these things. On the other hand, I think we still haven’t got enough diversity in this group and I think thats important as well. I wonder if there is something linked to privilege in this lack of diversity? Or if its a reflection of the the fact that the field of people for whom this feels like a relevant event is not that diverse to start with? Worth pondering on…..

My notes above but here are the headlines:

  1. Digital is the new normal – this was a group of people talking about how to use this stuff not a group trying to justify the fact that they should – it was a deeper, richer and more mature conversation than in previous years which is definitely part of the vibrancy.
  2. I think linked to this the tribes (which I have spotted before) within this community are becoming more pronounced – I think there are interesting things happening around openness which are worth looking at in more detail
  3. Another aspect of this growing maturity was the fact that the conversation around data encompasses accountability, decision support and knowledge management – and went beyond simply opening it up and counting it (there is a link here to the point about tribes which I am not yet clear on in my head)
  4. Blockchain is emerging as a proper ’thing’ and I think I am starting to get my head around it – not quite tribe yet but getting there!
  5. I really enjoyed Janet’s’ session on being bold – really good opportunity to think about something from different points of view and made me reflect on the important of being human-centred
  6. HT also to Pauline’s session on the voluntary sector and how it could/should change – and how we can help it. This is an important topic and it needs talking about
  7. And I think I may have thrown a red herring into pubstrats discussion about whether or not documents  are dead – but enjoyed the session anyway. I still have some concerns here about how we decide we we keep and the extent to which the individual has a say on this. There seems to be a balance to be made between the triumvirate of complete transparency, accountablity and an individuals ability to own their own narrative in some way.
  8. Pre-govcamp breakfast with @pubstrat is an annual treat
  9. I’m glad I’m not the only person thinking about the London Problem
  10. I must stop taking the t-shirts….I very very rarely wear the t-shirts….


In terms of themes I’ll be picking up and thinking more about:

  • Networks, hierarchies, organisational structures and system change – more on that in my write up of the session I pitched
  • The development of the tribe of open: Looking back to my 7 tribes of digital work I have for a while been interested in the cultural assumptions that sit within the different tribes of digital thinking. With the data tribes now being on the cusp of being ‘normalised’ in the way that social media has been I think its worth looking at some of their tribal assumptions and intellectual underpinnings
  • This was the first UKgovcamp I have been to since changing jobs and I am still getting a fascinating range of reactions when I tell people what I am now doing (I moved to Capita to set up a new practice looking at digital and social innovation). I will be getting my thoughts together to blog more about this as I am learning loads and that range of reactions is part of the learning.

I’ll end with the point I often make around these events – I always feel rather tetchy as I get up at work time on a Saturday morning (extra tetchy now I am commuting and Southern Rail relentlessly torment me with a poor service) but I never fail to leave delighted and energised to have been there.

See you next year I hope.

  1. Stefan

    February 14, 2016 at 11:25 am

    I don’t think it was a red herring. On the contrary, getting away from thinking about this stuff as though records and recording are independent of human agency seems to me to be essential if we are to make any progress on this stuff. Your comments prompted an interesting conversation with a colleague from the National Archives a few days later in which I learned that they are already managing a fine balance between the requirements of the Data Protection and Public Records Acts. As with so much else, there are well established ways of doing it in the paper world, but much less maturity for digital records.

    They were also in my mind during a conversation I found myself in last week on the privacy impact assessment of a new internal staff directory. From the organisation’s point of view, broadly the richer each individual’s personal profile the better. But some people may not be comfortable with that. It seems to me that people can’t have a right not to be included at all, but after that it all starts to get more difficult.

    Even leaving aside the intrinsic importance of all this (which we clearly shouldn’t), one of the points in my original post was that people are search engines: if, to put it a bit less functionally, we want to do more to recognise that social networks are essential to making the best use of information, these questions have to be addressed.

    (by the way, you might have meant to link to this post which is much more directly about the govcamp conversation)

  2. curiouscatherine

    February 14, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    I think that point about the internal directory is really well made – and fascinating. Without helping people think through what they share and how they share it – and having some consistency this is really open to abuse I think. I have also been mulling about who owns the definition of the truth – I am arguing for people having the right to be part of the definition of their own truth but this is also difficult….we need more breakfasts…..

    And will change that link next – thank you!


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