Every City, Town, Village & Neighbourhood should have a Social Media Surgery

Last night was the first anniversary of the Birmingham Social Media Surgeries.

I could explain what a Social Media surgery is, but Nick Booth, one of the instigators of the Birmingham event, does a much better job of it than I could ever do

The Birmingham surgeries have built a growing reputation, showing the effectiveness of the approach, in that a number of social media “experts” are prepared to give up their time to pass on their knowledge to people involved in voluntary and community organisations.

Over time, a number of other surgeries have been established, and I happen to think that every community should have one. At the time of writing, a number of colleagues are helping to get one up and running in Leeds, the first Surgery in Huddersfield is imminent thanks to Steven Tuck and his team, and Jag Gill and friends have also been making things happen in Sheffield.

Having experienced the Birmingham event first hand earlier this year, when I was in the city on other business, I made a special trip to the first anniversary event, to record a flavour of what happens there, in the hope that others might be inspired by it.

I am grateful that Nick Booth decided to interview some of the participants at the end of the event, and I was thus able to follow in his wake and benefit from his vastly superior interviewing technique.

    A Flavour of the Scene at Fazeley Studios
    Surgeons in Action – Nicky Getgood
    Surgeons in Action – Gavin Wray
    Gavin Again
    Surgeons in Action – Nick Booth
    Nick Again and Alan Colson
    Interviews – Gavin Wray, Nicky Getgood & participants
    Interviews with Participants
    Interview with Chris Pinchen – who came all the way from Barcelona!


I travel around a lot in my job, and I prefer to travel by train if I can, because I live near a railway station, and I can work on a train in a way that is just not possible if you are sat behind the wheel of a car.


I have been intrigued, if perhaps not a little disturbed, by the reactions of people who follow me on Twitter to the fact that a lot of my tweets are from trains. A guy called Peter Hindle (@petehindle), who I have only physically met once, invented the #uktrain hashtag and dedicated it to me, so I suppose I ought to look after it. In the last few years I have gone from being someone who drove 60,000 miles a year, to someone whose car is mainly used as Dad’s Taxi, and I have come to feel quite strongly that we should all use public transport if we can. That is not to say that the UK public transport system is anything like fit-for-purpose, and I don’t really go near buses unless I really, really have to.

Any way, I had this really mad idea for #uktrain radio – the basics of which is that someone (maybe me) sits in the corner of a railway carriage broadcasting live on the Internet (good luck with that on most trains, even on the ones that have free wifi) and interviewing random passengers.

A mad idea, I thought. But then a couple of people said they thought it was not that mad.

Please, please tell me it’s insane and impractical……

Out of Office Message


I am currently 5 feet or more away from my desk, and, as I have not noticed that it’s the 21st Century, I have no interest in keeping in touch with what is going on in the world.

Your message will be printed off by my secretary and go to the bottom of a very large pile which will probably end up in the bin before I get round to reading it.