In praise of Govcamp (2011) #ukgc11

Saturday 22 January was the fourth UK gov camp (barcamp) aka #ukcg11.

I did not go to the first govcamp because I was very new to digital and too scared to go to something were I did not really understand the concept. 

What? Talking about digital work related things on a Saturday? With no timetable? The work bit, the talking bit and the digital bit not being my strengths at the time.

However I have now been to the last three and thoroughly enjoyed them. My only regrets are the same as many other peoples’ – the friends that I did not get to catch up with and the talks that I missed – the grass is always greener.

To give a flavour of the event and to encourage others to attend next time this is what I did on the day:

Was waiting for Victoria Line at Oxford Circus and bumped into Jenny Poole (BIS) @treexpixie so we had a quick catch up on the tube.

We went to Pret for a coffee and could see @annkempster talking to a friend inside.

Got into Microsoft building said a quick hello to @timolloyd (DoH) had a quick chat with @danielatkinson (HMT), talked with @simoneverest (Defra) about his goldfish avatar – don’t ask; and caught up with the great @stephendale and on progress with the Khub for Local Government.

Then into the conference hall.

I said a quick hello to @vickysargent (Boilerhouse) – though sadly that was our only contact in the whole day. I was sitting next to my ex-colleague and friend the fab @neilfranklin (ODI) and we had a quick chat about his new job a key role hightening awareness of accessibility issues – was previously at DWP.

Introductions we made by everyone present, then the tricky bit of choosing which rooms/events to go to – in the process exchanged a quick hello with @hadleybeeman (Linkedgov). Dilemma is to go to things that you already know something about or just dive into something new?

I decided to go for the workshop on Flickr, Openstreetmap and Wikipedia with Neil Franklin – @pigsonthewing (Andy Mabbett – ‘the handsome one’ – I quote) ably assisted by @danslee (Dan Slee) gave us a great run through on how to best use these tools and how they can be used together. In the process I had a very short word with @juliac2 (Julia Chandler – Dfid) across the corridor who wanted to be in our room and another talk at the same time.

I think there was then a coffee break – I think was when I said a quick hello with the ever smiling Jane O’Loughlin (Directgov) I had a chat with @shane_dillon about his talk on location based services – I really wanted to go to this talk but decided to go to something that was new to me. This might, or might not, have been when I said hello to @paul_clarke who took a great picture of Shane and myself; and lots of other great pics.

I think this was when I had a quick chat with @ DigEngAdvisor (Zoe Hoyal – cabinet office) – or was it later?

I then went to a discussion ran by @marxculture (Mark O’Neil DCLG, DCMS) about the work he is doing regarding a government Skunkworks – what it is, could be and should be. Nice ideas all round. In the process I was sitting next to @emercoleman from GLA – who I had never spoken to before though we follow each other on Twitter. I told her that I had been present at the launch of the London data store etc.


A bit of a blur but I had a chat with @Puffles2010 (pink dragon) don’t ask – and a very interesting conversation about the volume of enabling legislation and statutory instruments. I was also sitting next to @annkempster from GCN and we had a chat about the plans for developing the network.

I think this was when I stood in on a chat with Simon Wheatley and Simon Everest plus @simond (Simon Dickson – Puffbox) about WordPress who was talking to @jeremygould about a potential project – or was that later?

Somewhere in the midst of this I had a quick hello with the two key organisers @davebriggs (The Learning Pool) and @lesteph (Steph Gray – Helpful Technology)

Post lunch

I think the order is muddled now but – went to a discussion about digital policing organised by @nickkeane and how best to do this in the future. The positive point was, that as Nick said, when he first came to this event he was the only police related person but now in the room there was a handful of similarly minded colleagues. So can the police ‘police’ everything or should the use intermediaries?

I dashed out and managed to bump into @rufuspollock (Open Knowledge Foundation) and managed to get hold of his phone number to follow up something later on. Useful to know that he has a secretary now to be more organised. He made the point that open data is great but that the ‘stack’ that it is on also needs to be open. In the meantime @willperrin of hyperlocal fame came to talk to Rufus and hold a audioboo with him. I left them to it at that point.

It might have been this point that I went to the talk about future developments at GCN and exchanged some ideas with colleagues about how to engage more users – very tricky – how to bring together such diverse audiences and get them to contribute? @annkempster was the facilitator with assistance from @scrump (COI) – who sadly I did not really talk to – the ever strategic @jkerrstevens (NHS) made some great observations as did @learningcrowd Tony Plant (MoJ).

I think I then came out and had a general chat with @linguinigenie (Alex Coley – Directgov) about my ideas of creating a conversion funnel for graduate recruitment – also about why we don’t do business cases for shopping; and whether titainium or platinum made better wedding rings – work out the cost!

The end

Things were now winding down prior to the final round up so I bumped into @jennybee (Jenny Brown -The Awesome Web Company) and thanked her for getting me addicted to Angry Birds. As I had to dash to another event I had to miss the drinks but said a quick thank you again to Dave Briggs and Steph Gray before running off.

I kicked myself aftewards for not speaking to:

@rossferg (FCO) we had exchanged a quick nod @johnlsheridan (TNA) @tiffanystjames (Freelance) @carlhaggerty (Devon County Council) @ingridk (IDea) @Baskers (DfT) @sharonodea (Parliament) @pubstrat (DWP) @rogeroldham (MoJ)

Lessons learnt

Try and keep better notes of events – move and mingle more – and must make more effort to talk to people I don’t know.

Oh, and why was it you did not attend?




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4 responses to “In praise of Govcamp (2011) #ukgc11

  1. pigsonthewing

    Thanks for the mention; I’m glad you enjoyed the talk, but to be fair I was double-heading with Dan Slee (<a href="">@DanSlee</a&gt;). I’m the good-looking one.

  2. Anonymous

    cheers noted esp your handsomeness. Thanks again for your time – really helpful info.

  3. Anonymous

    nice blog post Nick. Met @carlhaggerty he had really great insights about Location Based Services and promise to blog about it, I am keenly awaiting this post. See you at TeaCamp.

  4. Anonymous

    cheers Shane see you soon

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