This week I was part of an interesting, and not a little exciting, first. Monica Tailor, who runs Leeds Social Media Surgery with me, and myself were asked by Nick Booth, the originator of the of the Social Media Surgery concept, to accompany him to 10 Downing Street to accept the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award on behalf of the Social Media Surgeries movement.
This was interesting enough, but, a few days before we were due to make the trip to Westminster, Nick was contacted by Nick Jones of the Downing Street Communications Unit, suggesting that, as the three of us were “Social Media Surgeons” we were ideal candidates to conduct an experiment in being the first external visitors to be allowed to use social media from within 10 Downing Street.
So, as we arrived at Number 10, we were met in the lobby by Nick Jones and his colleague, Anthony Simon, and ushered into a private room for a briefing. All this happened while all the other guests were being required to hand in their phones as they entered the building. And, a number of times during the evening, members of staff not in the picture asked us why we hadn’t handed over our phones.
Nick and Anthony gave us a list of things we were and weren’t allowed to do, all sensible things mainly to do with ensuring we didn’t compromise security, and then we were off into the reception, phones in hands, unlike all the other guests.
And below is the content we were able to capture. It’s not as much as we might have hoped, because, as luck would have it, Twitter suffered a world-wide outage during the early stages of the event. Oh, and there was the small matter of having to break off from social reporting to chat to the Prime Minister, who, incidentally, seemed to be genuinely interested in the power of Social Media Surgeries to spread skills and capacities through communities.
I think the experiment went well, certainly Nick Jones and Anthony Simon seemed pleased as we left. Hopefully, we have set a precedent that will see more social media being used in the building.