Something’s been bugging me for months now & I’m beginning to understand what it is – ever since my first visit to Birmingham I’ve been trying to put my finger on the “difference”, on what is happening there, what is (or isn’t) happening here, on the role of Citilab and on the part of Cataspanglish in all this.
It all seems to have gelled in the last 48 hours – the “difference” or “solution” is twofold, sharing & community.
The Birmingham scene is the way it is now after around two years of people getting together, doing things and having as much a relationship offline as on. Dave Harte showed in his UrbanLabs presentation how this had happened and backed up my own experience when speaking with peeps from Brum. Twitter seems to be the fabric that holds their community together and the other important point is the willingness in Birmingham of the people to come together and use their skills & knowledge to to participate in, criticise and construct a wider community (not just the geeks) throughout the city and now further afield.
Oh yes, and with a sense of humour.
So everything seems so deadly serious here (usually – thank you Platoniq for the construction of the Twittometer for the Grande Finale of UrbanLabs!) and often the concept of sharing seems like something from another planet. There can’t be community when people won’t share and there are clearly many in Spain (& elsewhere of course) who are using social media as just the latest tool on the block. While I was in Birmingham I spoke about social media in Spain to a group of students and lecturers from the Birmingham City University, talking about the difference between the way social media is usually used in Spain and a few inspiring projects such as Copons 2.0 (created by Ricard Espelt). A Spanish student said that he doubted anything would change as in his opinion his fellow countrymen & women are too entrenched in the status quo.
Ironically while I’ve been writing this, Ana has already posted a call to arms – and that’s what I want this to be. If we are to form communities amongst those of us who are doing or want to do, we cannot have just have these great, inspiring events once a year. So what I want to suggest is taking the spirit and PRACTICE of UrbanLabs and turn it into something more frequent. Let’s have some sort of follow up on a regular basis, a Saturday morning every couple of months and with participation through video-conference for those who can’t be there in public. Let’s get the UrbanLabs Club going and continue the narrative, the dialogue and the sharing. Let’s make the bloody community!
If you are interested in making an UrbanLabs “Club” please leave a comment.