The IslandGovCamp Odyssey

I’m thinking there should be a klaxon going off at this point and a flashing banner, reading DAFT IDEA.

But… here goes anywhere.

Announcing the IslandGovCamp Odyssey… or, at least running it up a flagpole to see who salutes.


Image shamelessly stolen from the IslandGovCamp Facebook page

I’ve never met Sweyn Hunter in person, but I’ve talked a lot to him online, mainly on Twitter, and he seems like a good guy to me. His day job is in IT at Orkney Council, but he also loves cricket and The Archers, so we have quite a lot in common really. It was over cricket that we first connected, as he was a great supporter of #twicket, the world’s first live online broadcast of a village cricket match that I ran (with a lot of help from others) on Easter Monday last year.

Any way, for some time now, Sweyn has been planning IslandGovCamp, an unconference for people working in the governance of islands (and those with an interest). I love this idea, and really want to attend, particularly, as Sweyn says, it makes perfect sense for me to be there live-streaming the event to people on other islands who can’t make it. Perhaps I can help some people find their way to making things easier when they are prevented from travelling by the presence of stretches of water in the way.

So, as I say, I really want to be at IslandGovCamp, which is taking place on 26th and 27th May, but Orkney is a very long way from me, probably about 600 miles, and there’s a stretch of water in-between too. And I’m operating on a limited budget. So, here’s a potential solution, but, before I dive in, I need to know how much support there for the proposed course of action.

Random Welsh Beach

Oh, and there are at least 4 other people who want to make the trip as well. I’m not going to name them here, because some, at least, of them have regular office jobs, and I’m not sure if they’ve all got permission to make the trip.

So – this is the idea:

Jumping in and laying cards on the table….. I reckon if we do this in the preferred way, it will probably cost around £1,000. My proposal is to crowd-fund this cost. The money would be for a week’s hire of a campervan, food and subsistence, site fees, ferry crossing, etc.

The proposal is for a Social Media Odyssey from the Midlands / North of England to Orkney. I’ve done something similar with “Can’t Get Online Week” last November (see, that was 1300 miles, or a similar distance to Orkney and back, and that was modeled, in part, on Christian Payne‘s epic trip from Land’s End to John O’Groats in November 201o.

So, can we get five (or so) people in a campervan, trek up the country to Orkney, documenting our progress as we go, and stopping off to do interesting social media things on the way? I’m thinking we might take three days to get there, stopping to meet people and doing things like:

  • a social media surgery
  • a half-day unconference; and
  • a lightning talks session

as we go.

So, what do you think? Is this a wild and wacky idea? Would you like to see it happen? If we did it would you chip in some money to help us raise £1000? Would it be a mad waste of resources? Could you offer support in kind in any way to help us reduce the costs? Are there companies out there who might sponsor us in exchange for a high profile during the journey?

And, if you did chip in, what would you get? I’m open to suggestions on this, but, here are some ideas:

  • It will be fun and you’ll get to share in the enjoyment;
  • We’ll do some useful events and live-stream them, so you might learn something;
  • You’ll get to watch IslandGovCamp on live-stream as this might be the only way I have of getting there;
  • …… please make any other suggestions in the comments below.

IslandGovCamp is only 7 weeks away, so, if this is going to happen we need to make a decision pretty soon. The first step will be to set up a crowd-funding site, but, I’m not even going to do that unless I know there is some support out there.

Bradford Citypark & Celebration 2.0

So, you live and learn.


Celebration 2.0 is a project about experimentation. On Saturday I took it to the Grand Launch of Citypark Bradford. It was a glorious day, both weatherwise, and because of the wonderful spirit engendered by the thousands upon thousands of people who turned out to witness this new chapter in the city centre of Bradford.

And that was part of the problem for me. I had planned to live video stream the whole event, with contributions from local people talking about how positive they felt about living in Bradford, and how optimistic they were for its future. But, I had reckoned with the huge numbers of people, most of them with mobile phones. And, as I was attempting to stream via the mobile phone network, this was a big issue.

I did manage to get some live video out, you can see it at and I did capture a few of the voices of local people, including Rashid and Damon, participants in the “Make Bradford British” TV programme, who are now doing important work in promoting cross-community relations in the city. This was evident from the crowds of people, particularly young people, who were clamouring to meet them and get their photos taken (see video below).

It was a spectacular event, topped off by a brilliant finale (see videos below). But, for me, the most important thing was the spirit of community, with thousands of people from all backgrounds joining together in joyous celebration.

Celebration 2.0 and the Grand Opening of City Park, Bradford

Saturday 24th March marks the Grand Opening of City Park, Bradford, as the centre of the city completes its transformation with the official opening of its amazing new water feature.

Photo by Bradford Council

Photo by Bradford Council

I’m taking Celebration 2.0 to the event for a number of reasons. A lot of those reasons are to do with the project objectives of Celebration 2.0. This promises to be a fun event, I want to bring it to a wider audience, and there should be opportunities to showcase the tech I am using and involve some of those present in working out how they might use it themselves.

But, I have another ambition for this venture. Following on from the recent Channel 4 TV programmes “Make Bradford British” which stirred up a lot of controversy, seeming to set out to stoke the fires of tension in the city, I want to take an opportunity to showcase the positive side of Bradford to the world. So, as well as live video streaming what looks like a fabulously joyous, colourful and vibrant event to the world, I want to invite people of Bradford to join me to provide their own commentary on proceedings. I’d like as many of people as possible from different perspectives, communities and viewpoints to come and talk to the world about what their city means to them.

I’ve already sounded a couple of people I know out, so I know I won’t be alone on the day. But, if you want to join in, please add your details in the comments below, or contact me by any of the means you can find at

I look forward to seeing you, in person or online, in Bradford on 24th March.

Celebration 2.0 and LocalGovCamp North-West

@Eric_Jane_MP commentating on Murder at the Flat Track Express

The first Celebration 2.0 event, Murder on the Flat Track Express, the roller derby in Sheffield, was a great success, and, true to the spirit of the endeavour, a lot of fun to be involved in. I’ll write it up properly when I get the chance, but, in the meantime, you can relive the action here

The next event is on Saturday (4th February), and it’s LocalGovCamp North West, an unconference for local government people interested in innovation and progress, see here for more details.

Social Media Train Unconference

Now, one or two people have questioned why I am including this event in the Celebration 2.0 Programme. They argue that (a) it’s not a particularly celebratory event, and (b) that a lot of the people there will be quite technically knowledgeable in any case.

To the second point, my answer is that Celebration 2.0 is offering me lots of technical challenges. My aim at the end of the project is to have a tool-kit that I can hand on to anyone who wants to celebrate an event with technology. In order for that tool-kit to be as easy to use as possible, I need to test out different ways of working, different tools, and different equipment. LocalGovCamp NW will be an ideal opportunity to test out some things, and there will be some technically knowledgeable people on hand to help out, as well as a willing audience of remote participants able to give feedback.

So, the technical challenge I am setting myself on Saturday is to live stream all the breakout sessions simultaneously. There won’t be enough bandwidth to do simultaneous video streams, so my plan is to live video stream the “plenary” sessions, and live audio stream the breakouts. The nature of unconferences is that no one really knows what will happen there, but I’ve set up systems to cope with 4 simultaneous audio streams, and I’m crossing my fingers that it all works.  The main page to access the video stream is at, and, on the right-hand side of that page, you’ll find a link to a secondary page hosting 4 audio streams.

As for whether LocalGovCamp NW is a celebratory event; I would argue that it is. Most of these kind of events I have been to are indeed celebrations of the work many people are doing, often “under the radar” to bring their organisations into the 21st Century. And, an important point I have been keen to stress in a number of fora, is that I firmly believe that a happy workforce is a more productive one. Thus, I am keen to use Celebration 2.0 to promote the idea that people should be having more fun at work. People spend a lot of their waking hours in the workplace, so it shouldn’t be a chore. How can we make jobs more fun to do?

Looking forward to seeing you at LocalGovCamp NW, whether you are there in Preston in person, or you are watching and listening online.

Talk About Local

Celebration 2.0 – Programme coming together

It’s been a bit difficult with Christmas intervening since the start of the project, but the programme of events for Celebration 2.0 is now coming together. I’m really excited about the varied nature of the activities I’m going to be involved in. The schedule is working out just as I had planned, with a mix of traditional and eclectic events, ranging from the large-scale to the small community happening.

So here is the schedule as it stands at the moment. There is still plenty of room for more activities, and I don’t want to finalise the programme as yet, as there will be events coming later that are not even planned yet, and I want the momentum of the project to attract attention and lead to engagement with some more high profile events at later stages.

Don’t worry if you’ve spoken to me and you are not on this list. This is the list of (more-or-less) confirmed events. There are more to come.


Sheffield Steel Roller Girls

28th – Sheffield Steel Roller Girls: Murder on the Flat Track Express I’m really looking forward to working with the Roller Girls to help them spread the word about a growing phenomenon. I’ll be with them from 12 noon till 6pm, helping to cover 2 bouts (including a mens’ contest!) and celebrate the atmosphere and passion of the crowd. More at and, if you want to be there on the day, you can buy tickets at


4th – LocalGovCamp North West (Preston) Connectivity and availability of kit permitting, I want to take a new approach to this unconference for local government people with a technology bent. As well as live video streaming the main sessions, I will be attempting to live stream all of the break out sessions simultaneously, probably on an audio-only basis, so people outside the room can experience the full range of topics under discussion. And, in the spirit of Celebration 2.0 I will be asking the delegates what needs to happen to make their lives and work more fun, and how they can help bring more fun into the lives of the people they serve. More about LocalGovCamp NW here

Hack to the Future

11th – Hack to the Future (Preston) Back to Preston again for this exciting event which aims to encourage young people (11-18) to become digital creators. I’ll be celebrating and amplifying the event itself, but also, in the spirit of the enterprise, I’ll be inviting some of the young people present to join me in recording what goes on so they can learn how to be social reporters too. More about Hack to the Future at

24th – Dewsbury Spirit – One of the spectacular events organised by Kirklees Council’s Events Team. More information here

25th – Leeds Well-Being Centre Chatathon -Leeds Wellbeing Centre, a charity project  for vulnerable adults, is holding a sponsored 12 hour chatathon and Centre open day. This entails a group of people being sponsored to converse for 12 hours about random topics picked out of a hat (that’s the chatathon) and a series of complementary therapy workshops for people to take part in


1st – Pecha Kucha Barnsley -Part of a world-wide network of events. Pecha Kucha Night’ involves a few people giving short presentations of 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each, about a personal project, passion or idea of their choice. The organisers of the Barnsley event are keen to being it to wider attention. The 1st March evening will have a loose theme of “The Diversity of Barnsley” and, by linking up with Celebration 2.0, the intention is to show the world that Barnsley is no longer the town of miners and glass-blowers (although there are no promises that mining and glass-blowing will not be mentioned). More at


Wray Scarecrow

5-7th Wray Scarecrow Festival – The Twicket Match (see which was the inspiration for Celebration 2.0 took place during the Wray Village annual Scarecrow Festival and was punctuated by a 15-foot scarecrow invading the pitch. The attention generated by Twicket helped to boost visitor numbers to the Festival to their highest ever. This year, Celebration 2.0 will turn the spotlight directly on the Festival itself. More information at

17th – Be Good Be Social (Glasgow) – Celebration 2.0 comes to Scotland. Be Good Be Social brings together third sector professionals interested in social media for social good. The events are a chance to learn, debate and connect with others working for non-profits, charities and social enterprises. I will be attempting to combine being a Keynote Speaker with amplifying the event. Wish me luck!


3rd – The Big Lunch – Celebration 2.0 as been designed to culminate with The Big Lunch. Watch this space for details


Talk About Local

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.


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.


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

Introducing Celebration 2.0

I am extremely pleased, and not a little proud, to announce the launch of a new project. Celebration 2.0 is funded by Nominet Trust, and I will be delivering the project in collaboration with Talk About Local. My estimable colleague, David Wilcox, will also have an important role to play.

JP at Twicket

The genesis of Celebration 2.0 was the #twicket inititiative that I ran on Easter Monday 2011 ( There were three very important lessons that came out of #twicket:

  • “Fun” events can achieve large scale, global audiences online and attract mainstream media attention;
  • People who previously had seen no use for new technologies in their lives radically changed their attitudes as a result of being involved in an event that was enhanced by technology;
  • Serious messages can be conveyed to large audiences engaged by their interest in the fun nature of the event.

So the core of Celebration 2.0 is to do more of what #twicket was about. Essentially, I will be going where people are having fun, helping them to use new technologies to enhance and amplify their events, engage new audiences, connect with others in the world doing similar things, and celebrate their traditions and cultures. And, in doing so, I’ll be looking to disseminate some pratical strategies for engaging the reluctant in the use of new technologies.


Some of the things I’ll be looking to do around celebratory events are:

  • live video streaming
  • live audio streaming
  • recorded video via Youtube (or similar site)
  • recorded audio via Audioboo (or similar site)
  • video and audio interviews
  • live blogging
  • Facebook pages
  • event blogs
  • securing and utilising internet connectivity in difficult places

Celebration 2.0 is live now, and will run to the first week in June 2012. And the first step is collate a list of events (carnivals, fetes, festivals, unusual sporting events, etc.), happening between now and then, where people are happy to have me along to help them celebrate using technology. So, please let me know, in the comments section of this blog, by tweeting me @johnpopham, or by emailing john[dot]popham[at]johnpopham[dot]com if you are running a celebration event I can be part of. I am particularly keen to hear from cultural and arts networks which might have a series of events planned. And, I need a lot of help and support from my network in reaching out to people who don’t spend a lot of time online, but who have events that would be suitable for inclusion in my programme.

Huddersfield Festival of Light 2011

This project has been some time in gestation. I am extremely grateful to Nominet Trust for showing faith in it and putting their resources behind it, and to William Perrin and Talk About Local for following up on their initial support for the #twicket event by helping me make this happen. I also want to talk to policy and decision makers about how this approach can be built into funding and support programmes as well as digital inclusion, digital engagement, and digital service delivery strategies. So I will be knocking on doors in Whitehall, Westminster, and elsewhere to show the benefits of having fun with technology.

Nominet Trust

Please get in touch if you can help with Celebration 2.0 in any way. I hope to see you soon at an event near you.

Talk About Local