Celebration 2.0 – How do we measure this?

I’d like to thank everyone who has wished me well for, and expressed interest in, the Celebration 2.0 project.

One of the key things I am grappling with in the project is just how we measure the change we are looking to shape as a result of it. And there are two key activities that might be particularly difficult to pin down. These are:

  • Is encouraging people to have fun with and around technology an effective way of introducing newcomers to its benefits? and
  • Can we encourage people to see technology as integral to their lives, and, therefore, life enhancing, not a chore to be avoided where possible.

On the first point. It was possibly an unexpected bonus of the #twicket initiative that all sorts of people were turned on to technology as a result of participating in or watching an age-old tradition, the village cricket match. This included the people who tuned in to watch and commented that it was the only opportunity to watch cricket without paying a satellite TV subscription, those who enthused about the opportunity to witness a “quaint” English tradition from the United States, and those who said they had no interest in cricket but it was an intriguing event. But, some of the more interesting outcomes related to the local people whose involvement opened their eyes to possibilities they had not previously envisaged.

twicket_players

Two of the players in the cricket match, both local farmers, were interviewed on prominent radio stations (one on TalkSport, one on BBC London) in the week following the game. Both reacted with a certain amount of bemusement that the friendly game they had played in for years was suddenly attracting so much attention. Both players also reported strong interest from contacts on Facebook in far away parts of the world who had witnessed them playing in the game online.

brenda

And then there was the case of Brenda, the local commentator, who became an instant internet phenomenon, with her blend of whimsical cricket commentary interspersed with village gossip, such that there was an outpouring of complaint on Twitter when she took a break from the microphone and demands for her to commentate on other important events, such as the Royal Wedding. She also won praise from BBC cricket commentator, Alison Mitchell.

Alison Mitchell Tweet

Brenda is a particular case in point. Her lack of interest in technology has extended to her total refusal to believe the plaudits that came in for her following her commentating triumph. And yet, with the help of local technology champion, Chris Conder, she has now signed up to Skype and is talking to relatives all over the world, and was present at the recent launch of B4rn, the project that is aiming to bring 1Gbps Fibre to the Home (FTTH) connections to the residents of that part of north Lancashire. Brenda was introduced to new technologies not on a training course or in an IT centre, but on the school field, in her village, in the midst of a regular fun event.

So, a key driver of Celebration 2.0 is to show people that technology can be fun, and something that they already enjoy, like a regular village cricket match, can have a new technology element too. After all, the majority of people who use technology in their every day lives use it for having fun, whether it be for sharing photos with friends or family, talking to friends around the world for free, or playing any of the multitude of Facebook games.

And that leads me on to the second point; about how do we encourage technological fluency.  I think that, in the digital inclusion arena, too many people fall into the trap of thinking people are either online or they’re not. But, I know from experience that there are many people who have basic knowledge about new technologies, but don’t see them as integral to their lives, so they only use them when they have to. When I run social media surgeries, I see lots of people who obviously have learned how to use a computer, but struggle to use it quickly and fluently. And there is a prevailing theme of forgotten passwords; so many people say to me “Oh, I signed up to that, but I’ve never used it because I forgot my password”.  On a social media training course I ran, there was the case of the person who arrived with an ancient laptop with no wifi card, and couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t access the internet. I’ve also seen people who, even after a demonstration of how online video conferencing will allow them to talk to family on the other side of the world for free, still prefer to spend a fortune on phone calls, because they are frightened of computers. And I think there is an even bigger issue with people not being able to work out how smartphones operate.

It could be argued that none of this really matters, but the arguments put forward for digital inclusion apply equally to the digitally inarticulate as they do to the excluded. For those who see the internet as a chore, it is something which sits in a compartment of their lives only to be visited when absolutely necessary. And they may never get fluent enough to enjoy the benefits it gives to those of use who use it all the time. I learned French and Spanish at school, but I struggle to converse when I go to those countries, because the only time I use the language is when I am there, and, more often than not, the locals take pity on my awkwardness and speak back to me in English. Lack of digital fluency is like that; if you don’t use it regularly, you will always be rusty.

I am certain that Celebration 2.0 will break some new ground in finding new ways both of convincing people that new technologies are for them, and in encouraging them to become fluent in their use. I’d be really grateful for some views on how we actually measure both of these effects.

Thank you

Nominet Trust

3 thoughts on “Celebration 2.0 – How do we measure this?

  1. I think you’re on a winner here John. All we need to do it show that technology can be fun, easy, reliable and affordable. The only problem you will have is in the rural areas or the suburban areas too far from an exchange. We will just have to rely on BT keeping their promises if they get the digital switchover money and getting everyone a fit for purpose connection.
    Don’t hold your breath, but we can live in hope.
    Once connectivity is ubiquitous we can really start to rock.
    I have some great ideas for older people, being one myself I know what we like and what is boring. When you are in our area on your celebration tour next we’ll put some of the ideas into action and see what we see.
    chris

  2. Hi John,

    Very exciting project, and you’re right, measuring success might be more difficult😉. It seems like the connection of Brenda with Chris was important in ensuring that Brenda stayed using some technology following her #twicket experiences – and he was able to help her find the thing that was relevant to her life (i.e. Skype enabling her to do something she wanted to do). Maybe one way of tracking and ensuring continued results from the project would be to build in an element about creating longer-term links between the tech-savvy and tech-rusty in a community / around an event so that the tech-rusty could have someone to turn to for help, and the tech-savvy could keep track of whether their partner had found the right technology to fit into their life? Depending on the kinds of events you join in with, could there also be something about identifying on technology that could enhance the event next year / pairing up people (organisers / committee members / volunteers / community members etc) to look after that technology – that would do both the ‘buddying’ thing, and answer the requirement for people to see practical applications of technology. Hmmm. Enough disjointed musing from me – it’s almost dinnertime…

  3. Hey John,

    I’ve been thinking about the measurement question on this project and I wondered if have you come across ‘most significant change’ as a method of evaluation? Basically it asks participants to think of the most significant change in a certain area of their life as a result of their involvement in a project. These stories are then collected together and analysed to get an overview. It might be appropriate for Celebration 2.0 as it doesn’t rely on set metrics or measures but is more open to the different ways people may articulate how they have benefited from their involvement. The more traditional collection methods talked about in the original guide below could be adapted to include digital ways that people might like to record their stories like videos / blog posts etc so make it a lot richer.

    Here’s the overview:
    http://mande.co.uk/special-issues/most-significant-change-msc/

    And here’s the pdf guide:
    http://www.mande.co.uk/docs/MSCGuide.pdf

    Just a thought
    Kieron

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