During my year working for a local autority, I spent a massive chunk of my time trying to improve the way we consulted with local people on the issues that would affect them. Time and again I got the same response fro the public, “not more consultation, better consultation.” This was particularly accutelfelt by minority communtis who honestly felt consulted to death.

The problem was this, we knew services were better where people were involved and engaged in them at all stages from planning through execution to monitoring. However people, despite wanting the improved services, didn’t want to go to the effort of getting involved.

It struck me that perhaps the reason for this is not that people didn’t want to get involved in the services but that they didn’t want to do it on our terms. With the whole consultation process focussed on our needs, centred around the information we needed from people, there is alot that we could have learned from social networks which live and die by the extent to which they are centred around their users.

Local government knows that government services are best when they are “bottom up” but doesn’t know how to achieve that in a “top down” system. Conversely Social media is, by definition, a bottom up structure only beginning to learn to live in the top down economic system.

I think…

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