It’s time to dive in and get on with this. This post, or versions of it, will appear elsewhere on the internet, so I apologise if you get fed up of seeing it.
We need to get on with developing the Social App Store. This was not my idea. If anyone kicked it off, it was probably David Wilcox in posts like this and this, but I am looking to take it forward, with help from David and others such as Dave Briggs and Steve Dale mainly because I have been fortunate enough to receive a small amount of money from the wonderful people at UnLtd to help oil a few wheels.
David does a really good job of explaining the concept of the Social App Store in the posts cited above. In brief, what we are seeking to do is to bring together some tools that help connect people in communities and assist them to work together for mutual good. These are tools that help people:
- build platforms for collaboration;
- “amplify” their work to spread their practice; and
- reach out to new members.
While this concept is internet-based, it is not necessarily exclusively about the internet. Some of the tools will be designed to bring people together online to work together, but many will simply be guides to doing things offline that are hosted online because it’s the cheapest and most efficient way of distribution.
There are lots of things out there which fulfil part or all of this task. But, we believe that there is nothing that does the complete task, and there is a need for this gap to be filled. In an era of tightened public spending and entreaties for people to band together to improve their communities, it is vital that we make the most of free and cheap online tools to ensure that people and groups can avoid re-inventing wheels, learn from what each other is doing, and attract new people to join them. And, of course, any such tool suite needs to include guides to helping people get online and information about online etiquette.
One of the key gaps is in the area of the kinds of tools that bridge the gap between the online and offline worlds. This is what those of us in the Big Society in the North group have been exploring with the Community Noticeboards idea. We must never run away with the ideas either that everyone is comfortable operating online, or that all of those who are not online can easily be converted into digital residents. The internet is, however, a powerful tool for powering background operations that make things work in the real world, and we need to make more of this principle.
This, then, is an iterative process. If anyone wants to put substantial amounts of money into it, that would be very welcome. However, this seems an unlikely occurrence at the moment, so we need to build gradually and incrementally.
Please add your comments below on what you think about this idea. If you can point the way to existing resources which could form part of the App Store, that would be extremely useful. If you’d like to join this, as yet loose and informal, team that is working on this, that would also be fantastic.
Thanks John for the kind mention, and it is great that you are taking this forward in such an open way. As you say, there aren’t big pots of money around these days, which makes it even more important to collaborate with others who may do the heavy lifting. I know, for example, that the Knowledge Hub plans to have an app store when they come online later in the year. Much of that will be for local government, but the hub does aim to open up to third sector/civil society organisations as well. It could be one great distribution partner.
At the production end, there’s stack of existing toolkits … but they aren’t always online or easy to use, or up to date in the blending of on and offline methods.
I think the valuable role which you have identified is understanding the real needs of local groups, and making apps easy to use and widely distributed. Delighted to help in any way that I can.
I just downloaded the Photocaddy app for my iPhone. It is, in effect, a manual for photography in a wide range of situations, with tips, settings, notes, and additional help from other users worldwide. That’s the model of usability and access people are coming to expect, I believe.
Hi John – we’re keeping a keen eye on your Commuity Noticeboards. We’ve also got a BT mentor through the ACEVO scheme, so if you need some practical applications let me know. Linking what is possible with what is practical, and evidencing it could all be very possible. Well done to you and David for getting the ball rolling.. Casey
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Thanks to Paul Webster (@watfordgap) for pointing up this “How to get your community project off the ground” from the Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/how-to-get-your-community-project-off-the-ground-2185009.html which is just the kind of resource we need in the Social App store.
Orange are doing some work on using apps to co-ordinate volunteering http://www.mobilevolunteering.co.uk/about
I’ve mentioned this before, but we did get something going last autumn on an app to get around health and safety concerns of public authorities which get in the way of people who want to clear snow from the school car park, mow the grass verge when the council can’t afford to etc etc. We called it
Do you think it would make the store?
Hey David (and John) – as the author of PhotoCaddy, I just wanted to say thanks for the mention! A community based feel for photography is really what we’re trying to achieve, and I love the concept of the social App Store. Fingers crossed we’ll see a few more apps like this appearing in the future.
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