This is the video age

I love video, I do a lot of it. Both live and recorded. Video is important for a whole variety of reasons. But I think there is something about the proliferation of video that some people overlook.

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Video gives you confidence. In recent years I have upgraded several laptops, replaced an iPad screen, and fixed a boiler, all as a result of watching “how to” videos on Youtube. I would never have done any of these things if I hadn’t watched a video which showed step-by-step how to do it. The fact that I had seen another human being doing it gave me the confidence to believe I could do it myself. Video can do this. Video can give you confidence to do things. Video can inspire. So can seeing people do things in the flesh, of course, but with Youtube you can call up someone doing something you need to learn in an instant. It’s not so easy to get them to come round your house to demonstrate it.

Me being interviewed by BBC North West Tonight at the #twicket match

And yet, there are lots of people who are missing out on the benefits online video brings. I am talking about the people who work in offices where video streaming sites are blocked, or where the computers don’t have sound cards, or where there are no speakers, or where they are not allowed to plug headphones in. Or, in some cases all of these. They are oblivious to the opportunities which are being opened up by the age of ubiquitous video, both for themselves and for the people they work with.

That’s a pity. We should tell them about it. Maybe send them a fax.

Where are the tenant digital leaders?

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What did you do last Saturday? Well I got up at 5am, hopped on a train to London and spent the day at HousingCamp with, what turned out to be a relatively small, but very engaged, bunch of housing professionals. It was a great day, with lots of interesting discussion, and I left feeling, as I did at HouseParty in June, that, events like this provide spaces where those who retain a sense of optimism, despite the turmoil the social housing sector is going through, can come together and find common cause with others of a similar mindset.

I shot the video below of the final session where those who had stayed to the end expressed their thoughts on what they would take away from the day. It includes my assertion that the day had provided the opportunity to launch a nationwide network of digitally savvy tenants.

This is something I’ve been working on for some time now. I firmly believe that one of the most effective ways of countering the negative propaganda put out by some of the mainstream media, and some politicians, about the people who live in social housing is to ensure that tenants are empowered to tell positive stories about their lives and their communities, and to use digital media in doing so. So far, in the work I have done on social media with tenants I have tended to work with the existing tenant representative structures. I’ve met some lovely people doing this, and have seen a number of lightbulb moments as they have “got” social media. But, by and large, it is not the traditional tenant activists who are going to provide digital leadership. There are lots of, possibly younger, tenants who are active on social media, but they probably tend not to associate themselves with tenants associations and the like.

I have met a few digitally savvy tenants. Some face-to-face, and some online. But, as far as I can see, they don’t generally organise around housing issues. There are, of course, some very notable exceptions to this rule, some related to the causes embraced by Russell Brand in London. But I really want now to start on creating a national network of digitally savvy social housing tenants to provide a social media voice for tenants and their daily concerns. If you are such a tenant, or you can help with support, money and resources in getting the network going, please get in touch.