Last week ended with a flurry of good meetings about social media. As seems to be the way with the social media scene, they featured many of the same actors, but in different configurations. More so than any other work context I have encountered, social media really lends itself to informal teams brought together as needed. Here’s a quick breakdown of two days in my social media world.

Digital Mentoring at BCU

On Friday morning I met with Birmingham City Students’ Union manager Jaki Booth to discuss a mentoring project for staff and students of BCU. The idea came from the first BCU “Tweet Up”: an informal gathering of BCU staff. This meeting brought together staff from across the university and the students’ union who would normally never meet: the social glue was purely the common use of Twitter.

A lively, unplanned meeting ended up with the birth of an idea: to raise the digital literacy bar by bringing digital mentoring and social media surgeries to the university. Jaki and I met up again to develop the idea, map out our plan, and start moving things forward. Our pitch is pretty simple:

staff and students side by side, teaching one another for the benefit of our learning community

Our hope is that we could move from the initial offering to offer support to our neighbours in the local community. Now we just need to find a small pot of money to get the ball rolling.

Digital Inclusion Conference

As a member of We Share Stuff I’m involved in organising a fringe event for the National Digital Inclusion Conference. On Friday afternoon the team got together to move this project forward. The origin of the project was an observation that the inclusion conference had an exclusive price tag (nearly £400) and that this meant that some important potential delegates would not be able to attend. We’ve moved on to develop an interesting hybrid arrangement: we will provide a digital link into and out of the conference (via a live blog) and we will  also provide a social media surgery to demonstrate some key concepts to delegates who have probably never seen a grass roots media and IT training activity in action. This will be followed in the evening by a barcamp style event bringing conference delegates together with some of those who were fiscally excluded from the main event.

To get our online community active during the conference we have set a challenge to them: to digitally include someone while the conference is happening. Exact details are to be confirmed, but a Blue Peter style “Twitalizer” has been mentioned to log the number of people we can get to engage with a simple online technology.

Dave Wilcox of Social Reporter who is also involved in the event, came along to the meeting to help us scope things out. Dave was keen to show off a bit of kit, which led to us recording a brief pitch for the event:

West by West Midlands & MA Social Media Launch

Saturday took me to Kings Heath for WxWM – West by West Midlands. This was a mini Barcamp for those of us who can’t get to Austin, Texas for SxSWi. The event was organised in a week after a throw away comment on Twitter where it was suggested that we needn’t go to the USA to make interesting things happen. It brought together thirty people to discuss social media and the internet industry, and featured a live Skype link up to the official Birmingham delegation at SxSWi.

I took a few students from the Birmingham School of Media along with me to talk about their projects: Kasper spoke about private and personal approaches to social media while Kara and Gemma discussed a blogging project they are developing. I spoke with the We Share Stuff crew (pictured above) about the Digital Inclusion conference and I also informally launched our MA Social Media degree. Kasper’s video of the MA social media talk is below, and all of the presentations are available as audio files at the Rhubarb Radio Website.

For those interested in such things it’s worth noting that that WxWM was a trending topic on Twitter on Saturday afternoon, which meant there was a brief moment when the eyes of the (twitter) world were focussed on a small room full of social media geeks in Birmingham. I for one find that incredibly comforting and gratifying.

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

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