A lost opportunity


July 1st, 2010

Apologies, this is a bit ranty…

An information sheet for a local community group arrived in my letterbox today. Here’s a few exerpts:

The [group] requires your input and support in order to maintain its vigour and effectiveness and to ensure that it is accurately representing your views.

and

Please provide us with an up-to-date email address as this facilitates communication and assists us in keeping costs to a minimum. If you do not wish to provide an email address, we ask that you regularly check our website to keep yourself informed of our activities.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m unlikely to become involved with this group. The tone of their information sheet is demanding. I’d prefer an invitation. The group came together to tackle a particular issue and has extrapolated that they need to continue to tackle further community issues as they arise. So now they have a President and a committee and regular meetings and membership fees and voting rights. Yawn.

Oh, but look, there’s a website and a blog. Maybe all’s not lost. I can contribute on-line. Sadly no. I can send an email and the blog page comes up as not found. Oh well.

Just after receiving this I watched Clay Shirky’s video on TED about the generosity economy and the uses of the vast amounts of cognitive surplus made accessible because of technology. I wrote down a few key points: we like to create and we want share; design for generosity; social constraints make us more generous than contractual constraints; add community value and civic value. You can watch it here.

Back to my local community group. I’d follow them on Twitter. I might even join a Facebook Group or maybe a private group site. I’d contribute to blog discussions. In fact there are many ways in which I’d like to be involved. And I could do so from wherever in the world I happen to be. I’d happily sit around and talk about issues over a coffee or a glass of wine – real or virtual (skype is such a boon). Attending a monthly meeting and sitting through an agenda with items submitted to the Secretary seven days in advance? I don’t think so.

What a lost opportunity for engagement and participation – and to tap in to the cognitive surplus that no doubt exists around here.

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