I think we are moving towards some sort of proposal on Big Society Community Noticeboards. My original post here elicited some fantastic comments which have taken the idea on several stages. It also, thanks to Kevin Campbell-Wright, resulted in a major supermarket chain expressing interest. I won’t say who they are at this stage, because that’s at a very early juncture, but it’s a very encouraging development.
There are two proposals here, but I think it makes sense to bring them together as two sides of the same coin. The original proposal is about getting information from offline organisations and making it available online in order that it can be brought to the attention of the wider world, can attract new users and members, and, from a Big Society in the North perspective, we can find out who is doing Big Society stuff without the resources to go out and physically connect with them.
The second proposal is about getting information out to people who are not online, by displaying information from the web on public displays. Thus, proposal one collects the information from people who are not online, and proposal two displays it, also to people who are not online, but not necessarily to the same people.
So, we now need to work out how to make all this happen. And, initially at least, we’ll need to do it with few or no resources.
So, here’s some thinking that I’d welcome some feedback on.
Stage 1 – collecting the information – We get someone (which may be a supermarket employee) to photograph the notices on the Community Noticeboards and upload them to the internet. This needs to be by a process that is as easy and cost-free as possible. My current thinking is to create a special Flickr account, and encourage people to use the “upload by email” option. We may need to find other ways of uploading if the person doing the uploading is not sufficiently confident to set up email on their phone or able to connect their phone to a computer. I am also looking at Shozu which may be a simpler way of uploading photos, but it will need to be downloaded, installed to a phone, and configured for the Flickr account. This may not be that easy if no one is available locally with the requisite technical knowledge. And, whichever method we use, we need to be mindful that data charges are likely to be incurred if people are uploading directly from phones.
Stage 2 – Collating and distributing the information We need to work out if this could ever be automated, but, I suspect, for the foreseeable future, that is not going to be possible. So, it would need to involve people looking at the uploaded photos, transcribing the information, and entering it into a system which can make use of it. I was originally thinking this might be achieved by something like a Google Calendar, but it would need, eventually at least, to output information which could be shown on public displays.
Stage 3 – Displaying the Information The ideal would be something like the community displays in Wray, or even a Community Info Point. I suspect that we will have to start this at least by looking at sticking old, recycled computers in shops and pointing the screen at a shop window. This probably means that we need a revolving slide show, rather than stuff which can be operated on touch screens. And, crucially, we will need the data collection scheme to spit out information relevant to the locality.
Oh, this might all be complicated, but, if we pool our cognitive surplus, I am sure we can make it happen.