social innovation camp

Social Innovation Camp: speed-startups for social impact

Social Innovation Camp happened this weekend, and it rocked.

Inspired by a mashup of netsquared, barcamps and seedcamp, it brought together a diverse bunch of hackers & social change activists to cook up prototype projects over the space of a weekend.

And it worked. People brought dedication, passion and skill. They had some fun. They went without much sleep. (I wrote my half-way analysis at 2am; Live from Social Innovation Camp, the laboratory of buzz).

Two things stood out for me; first, it proved (again) that the social web is a generative platform for social impact; and second, that it's possible to do events that go beyond talk and lead to real projects and social businesses. But of course, that's the business of netsquared as well :)

Our small organising collective is now recovering, er, aiming to help the projects sustain and grow. There'l be a lot of write-ups, inteviews, videos etc coming out of the camp - more of this later. In the mean time here's a flavour (more materials at Social Innovation Camp materials):

David Wilcox says Social Innovation Camp: imitations, please and thinks that it "will make a big difference in the way that we think about doing good stuff with new stuff".

A full narrative from Bobbie Johnson, our embedded Media Guardian blogger:


A view from partners The Yahoo Developers Network.

Enthusiasm from a sponsor (which is nice!) at Accelerating Social Innovation: lessons from SiCamp where Roland Harwood says "On of the big lessons for me of the weekend was how limited organisation can unleash ideas, which is counter-intuitive for many".

"Teamwork, Quick!" by participant Huey Nhan

Photos on Flickr.

Videoclips and mini-interviews by David Wilcox at Qik

YouTube videos tagged with sicamp and sicamp08 (mostly by The People Speak team)

All the feeds from our backnetwork (warning: includes tweets!)

Live from Social Innovation Camp, the laboratory of buzz

Amazing amount of buzz at today's Social Innovation Camp. A diverse bunch of dedicated folk has alighted at the Young Foundation ; and Simon Tucker 's welcome last night made it clear we're continuing Michael Young's tradition of disruptive social innovation.

Prison visits and creative tensions

Working with the Prison visits team (I like my projects to be gritty :) was fascinating. For me, it surfaced some of the tensions implicit in the Social Innovation Camp mission, as we discussed our way passed the idea of creating a better information site or helping NGOs to coordinate better. And there's some merit in asking whether nonprofits, designers, and techies can talk to each other . (The answer, by the way, is yes).

Benign Ruthlessness

There's also a creative tension between the breadth of the social mission and the endless possibilities of technology versus the need to produce a working prototype in less than 2 days. Time to apply Michael Young's principle of "benign ruthlessness". With a bit of prompting from Greenman we settled on a simple user review system as our technical nugget. As Jeremy Gould pointed out, we can emulate MySociety projects by offering users more opportunites to get involved as later steps. And since the potential for big vision advocacy relies on building the community, we wanted an easy and useful hook to get it all started.

photo of prison visits team by jeremy gould

Campaigning by doing

As someone complained that the Government should be doing this stuff anyway, I remembered one of my personal aims for setting up Social Innovation Camp; a notion I'd call 'campaigning by doing'. As our friends from the Prison Advice & Care Trust pointed out, prisoner's advocates can argue till they're blue in the face without any response from The System. But with the low barrier power of the social web, we can do something small right now to tackle a problem by tapping in to the experiences of those who are affected. And if that snowballs, like Patient Opinion, it becomes something that institutions have to take notice of.

Adapt or die: the accelerated historicity of the Camp

As I wandered around all the projects I was struck by the different approaches; from an attic of half-a-dozen geeks to a discussion circle of eighteen worrying about trust, from massively detailed user stories to balloon metaphors. It seems to me that the Social Innovation Camp is a laboratory, fast-tracking the kind of fall-out that startups experience, and raiding the recent history of the social web (from wikipedia to netmums) in search of conceptual templates. I'm sure that Aleksi Aaltonen will have more to say post-Camp about the patterns of co-creation that emerged.

Lines and Circle

When Mikey from The People Speak was interviewing me about the Camp he reported his observation that the geeks tended to sit in straight lines. And I saw plenty of discussions happening in circles. Should lines and circles be the new logo of Social Innovation Camp?

Update; ideas that will be developed at the Social Innovation Camp

We've selected the ideas that will be developed at the Social Innovation Camp, 4th-6th April 2008. A big thanks to all those who contributed to the more than 70 ideas we received, and to the advisory board for helping us decide on the six that the Social Innovation Camp can accelerate for the most impact.

The ideas are:

- Barcode Wikipedia

A site for storing user-generated information – such as carbon footprint, manufacturing conditions and reviews - against a product, identified by its barcode number.

- Enabled by Design

A resource for anyone looking to make adjustments to their lives, be it as a result of disability, injury or impairment.

- Personal development reports

An online system that supports young people to identify their personal skills and qualities.

- Prison visits

A tool to support the families of prisoners coping with the experience of being apart from a loved one.

- Rate My CV

A site for helping jobseekers using Web 2.0 tools, with a special focus on the needs of migrant workers.

- Stuffshare

Freecycle meets Street Car: a stuff club.

You can find out more about the decision process on our blog. The write-up also describes the different ways people interpreted the opportunity e.g. as a way of improving NGOs, or helping government reach people. I think the most interesting possibility is for disruptive innovation; for the people strongly affected by an issue to participate in solving it with the help of web tools. I'm starting to think of this as community hacktivism.

Announcing the first Social Innovation Camp, 4th - 6th April 2008

I'm very pleased to announce the call for ideas for our first Social Innovation Camp .

"What happens when you get a bunch of hackers and social innovators together, give them a set of social problems and only 48 hours to solve them? We’re going to find out. In London between 4th-6th April 2008, Social Innovation Camp will bring together some of the best of the UK and Europe's web developers and designers with people at the sharp end of social problems. Our aim is find ways that easy-to-build web 2.0 tools can be used to develop solutions to social challenges."

Over the next few days we'll be adding more and more to the site and, hopefully, kicking off conversations about Social Innovation Camp. We'd like to see it as a mashup of barcamp, netsquared and a few other mongrel ingredients - but what it will become is largely UP TO YOU.

So please get stuck in, and help spread the word.

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