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  • #DDCEngage Digital Democracy Commission – NO WAIT DON’T RUN AWAY!

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    July 20th, 2014mardixonTech

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    Hands up – who knows about Digital Democracy Commission happening right now?

    Yep, that is what I thought.  That’s ok that you didn’t know – nor did I.  But it’s not ok if you try to ignore it now.

    Digital Democracy Commission is a commission to try to make positive changes to help bridge the huge gap between what IS happening versus what could/should be happening to make people like us more interesting in politics and what is happening in government (and what government politicians can do to meet us half way).

    photo1 (5) Background
    I saw a tweet from Emma Mulqueeny opening her house to anyone interested in getting involved.  To be honest, it said cake in her tweet but when I read it properly, I was still wanting to get involved.  I must admit, when we went around introducing ourselves, I felt a bit like a fraud (and I said so to the group).  Yes my background is computer science/network admin but that was a lifetime ago.  Yes I do A LOT on digital platforms. Yes I organize cross-sector dialogue.  But Democracy Commission?  I’m the first to admit I’m allergic to political discussions.

    But after we got going, I started to realize – * I am * the type of person they are talking about.  The ones that are passionate, advocates, interesting in communities – ok I might be missing the ‘young’ part but do enough work with them to feel permitted to talk for them.  But really, Digital Democracy Commission is about EVERYONE regardless of background, hobbies, status in community.

    The ‘why me ‘ was put aside.   And it should be for you too.

    So now we’re at the ‘how’ – how can we bridge this gap between the traditions of how things are done with the relevancy of how things should be done in our digital world.

    This was more than just a tools/platform discussion.  DDCEngage is about recommendations to help move the narrative of this discussion forward:  translation – Let’s throw the issues out there first and LISTEN.

    Takeaway
    I’m going to start with my takeaways and work backwards:

    My background is about young people and ‘next generation’. Key takeaways: both citizens and politicians need to be exposed and encouraged to look at different digital platforms but also find a common language (tech and non-tech!). Point about fear of change is correct – education and training will go a long way. Discussions that happen from comments on Youtube should be just as valid as face to face surgery appointments (within reason).

    The Round Table discussion was an open forum with a few of us doing our best Max Headroom impersonation with Hangout/Skype.  I took loads of notes (which I’m sharing now) but failed to write who said what (sorry about that).

    Fear
    I guess this goes under ‘the unknown’ also. Politicians are cautious of digital for many reasons.  In their eyes, it’s the space where bad things can happen.  The tweet that has gone viral or the Facebook comment that was taken the wrong way. It was also suggested that it is lack of control, which is a very valid statement.   They are afraid of backlash as many have lost the ability to engage in a ‘human’ way. (See Training section.)

    Language has a barrier
    This is both political language and digital/tech language.  In some aspects, many could be saying the same thing but we live in a society where acronyms and buzzwords are overwhelming.

    Notifications
    How can we notify communities/voters of up and coming votes?  How can we make it relevant to the communities to want to get involved or at least interested in what is going on around them?

    Generational
    The vicious cycle:  older generation vote so more attention paid on them.  Younger generation doesn’t vote because they feel it isn’t about them or for them (and lack of attention from politicians backs up their theory).

    This was brilliantly addressed in Rick Edwards Tedx Houses of Parliament talk How to get young people to vote

    This has also been highlighted by the incredible Spoken Word Artist Suli Breaks Tedx Houses of Parliament talk Follow the Leader.

    HyperLocal Platforms
    Engagement is happening on digital platforms.  The depth of conversation and insight that many politicians are looking for already exist in forms of Facebook groups or Google Plus groups or Tumblr pages.  These platforms have replaced discussions in community halls and local Legion halls.  I’m not saying face-to-face surgeries are no longer needed but there needs to be a balance of traditional and new ways of thinking.

    Balance between actively engaged and non-actively engaged can and should be met.

    Training & Engagement
    Great discussion about empowering MPs with training but not just on digital use – also on engagement!  The key to social media is in its name – social.  Many (not just politicians) forget that and use the platforms for marketing and pr.

    Suggestion that a small group of people/politicians are trained to be digitally engaged to see best approach to how to move forward with getting all government engaged/trained.  Also suggest a base level of training required.

    Job Description
    Did you know there is no job description for MPs?  Maybe this should be changed in the new framework.

    Being Honest
    What can tech solve and what can’t it solve?
    There is not one platform solves all solution.
    Awareness and exposure is just as important.

    What can you do?
    GET INVOLVED.  We have a chance to make real and progressive changes but it can only happen WITH YOUR HELP. I’ve outlined things that the group on the day saw/discussed but what are YOUR THOUGHTS?  What changes do YOU WANT? 

    Email: digitaldemocracy@parliament.uk

    Links for Further Research
    Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy
    Parliament Digital Democracy Commission
    A New Chamber for Parliament – very good (& easy) read to bring you up to speed
    Rick Edwards: How to get young people to vote TEDxHousesofParliament
    Suli Breaks: Follow the Leader TEDxHousesofParliament
    A very cool visual of others tweeting #DDCEngage
    Voting advice application (mentioned in Rick Edwards talk)
    SoundCloud from July 20th Round Table

    Digital Democracy Social media
    Twitter @digidemocracyuk
    Facebook  DigitalDemocracyCommissionUK

    Emma’s Write up: “Basically a lot of people have to die…” 

    Other Links
    Welcome to local political engagement – the Blockanomics way
    The ‘digital collaborative catalyst’ experiment

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