The Big Society and Web Professionals

On Monday 19 July David Cameron announced the launch of Tories Big Society plan.  As described on the BBC Web site the aim is to give “individuals and communities more control over their destinies“.

The following day on the website-info-mgt JISCMail list Mike Nolan, head of Web Services at Edge Hill University, announced that he was Looking for a higher ed web expert!. Mike described how he was inspired by a talk given by Paul Boag on “No Money, No Matter” at IWMW 2010 and was  “interested in doing exactly that so I’m looking for someone to come to Edge Hill and do some free consultancy! In return they’ll get as much coffee as they can drink, a sandwich from the SCR and – if they want – I’ll return the favour and “consult” for their HEI.” Mike added that he had given further thoughts on the Edge Hill Web team blog.

It strikes we that the approaches suggested by Paul Boag and picked up by Mike Nolan are very appropriate for today’s political and economic climate.  I also feel that the application of ‘Big Society’ approaches in a Web context shouldn’t be disregarded by those who feel antipathy towards the approaches being taken by the government towards those working in the public sector – after all we have sought to work together as a community even when Margaret Thatcher was telling us that there was ‘no such thing as society’.

So when I recently suggested that if Web teams regularly blogged about their recent activities or their plans for new work and made this content openly available, using a simple search technology such as Google Custom Search Engine  would enable this to be regarded as a shared resource for the community. And when speakers and facilitators are sharing their experiences (and pain, judging by the talks on Content Management Systems in the final day on IWMW 2010!) this again reflects the culture of sharing which is so strong within our sector.

So let’s give the “individuals [in Web teams] and communities more control over their destinies” by giving each other the free consultancy which Mike suggests. But remember that there will be many different ways in which we can support each other in these ‘turbulent times’.


  1. How about a blog for this? Say once a fortnight someone lists a site and asks the community to contribute constructive criticism.


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