People make GovCamp. Online, hybrid or in a building.
Being at work is far from a desert of ideas, inspiration and innovation but as one year ends and another begins GovCamp appears like an oasis. It is fertile with ideas. For past GovCamps I have attended on Saturday and back in the day they used to be held in buildings, nice ones. This GovCamp like last year’s was held online. For me it matters not what form GovCamp takes, whether it is online, hybrid or all into a building with corridors it is the people and their ideas that counts not what form the conference takes.
The tools of the trade for this GovCamp were Google Meet, Google docs and Slack. This was not an online conference cluttering the camper with lots of tools to use. It was like someone done a tech tool declutter. GovCamp is not a walled garden, ideas can escape into the wild usually they are transported on a Tweet. Less so this year I think, Twitter was less evident. There is a practical reason, but another could be a case of Twitter fatigue something I have felt for a long time now to the point that I only use Twitter at weekends but tweet nothing at all. Future GovCamps will have a degree of tweeting, but the volume will be lower.
The session grid when it forms is a great barometer of what interests’ people. In Govcamp’s gone by sessions were pitched to talk about social media tools and their uses within organisations. The sessions remain quite ecliptic from an excellent session on how to do hybrid gatherings to a session on kit used to work from home effectively with a bit of stationery thrown in. The former was practical, the kind of learning you can bring back into your organisation. The former one while useful is fun. After the session I bought a laptop stand. The unconference approach of GovCamp allows for sessions to be pitched with relative freedom. If it is interesting people will come and if not, people can leave. A session on techniques to share history was a good entry point to talk about how organisations document their history. For me it is about how organisation retain their internal technology history. These days the shock of the new is weekly it is important to know how tech history can inform tech projects now and how organisations bring in and use innovative technologies. The way mainframe computers came into universities, government and large companies can inform how they may approach quantum computers should practical ones emerge in the coming years.
I must admit to being attracted to more speculative sessions at GovCamp. So made a beeline to the session titled What is the metaverse? Another feature of GovCamp so you can pitch a session like that but do not need to be highly knowledgeable, start the session with a ten-minute spiel to answer the question but instead just ask the question. What you get then is knowledgeable people who pitch in with what they think it is, what it is not and were it is going. It is not often you get a chance to listen to such knowledgeable folk.
Then there is session regret, damn I should have gone to that session, the one that got away was a session about NFTs trying to divine some practical uses for a technology that is perhaps a passing fad or could evolve into an unexpected practical use. These sessions may have used the word blockchain (drink) but hopefully by next year another word could evoke the response ‘drink.’ Distributed Ledger Technology is something I am trying to learn more about. One place I learn is from the Medium blog Frontier Tech Hub.
When GovCamp ended last Saturday there is for a week or so some digital artifacts to look at which helps relieve the session regret of missing interesting ones. Who knows what the future holds but I would forecast a seventy per cent chance that #ukgc23 will be hybrid? Personally, I would be happy with another fully online GovCamp. Think of the thousands of post-it notes saved from being stuck on walls, not having to look across a table to see laptops covered in stickers and not having to travel into Central London. Of course, there is stuff you lose in the storm of not being physically present at GovCamp especially those conversations right before or just after a session. As I said earlier online or off people make GovCamp.