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David Wilcox

How about a digital innovation network for #AgeingBetter

3 min read

Over on Socialreporter I've followed up my posts about the Big Lottery Fund's plans for an online community for the £82 million Ageing Better programme with the suggestion that the best way to deal with the many tough issues arising is to invite people around for a coffee. Well, run a Gurteen Knowledge Cafe. 

Getting together some people with expertise in knowledge sharing, well-being and social isolation to start development of an open and inclusive system should help support not just the 15 funded partnerships but many others as well.

Most of the ensuing knowledge sharing would, quite rightly, be about the mainly non-digital elements of the programme. 

However, as I've argued here, the programme would benefit from an injection of practical thinking about the role of social, digital innovation - the sort of thing researched, funded and profiled by Nominet Trust,  and by NESTA in its Living Map of Ageing Innovators

Maybe BIG's new Centre for Ageing Better will make an input later ... but at the moment I sense there's not much understanding of the potential within most of the partnerships. It hasn't generally been their area of expertise.

While Twitter is alive with tweets about innovative projects that might be relevant, few partnerships have much of an online presence, as I found when I researched that via press releases

At yesterday's event for partnerships, those present were urged to tweet, but the only consistent effort came from @kenclemens. There's  parallel universes of tech and non-tech people interested in Ageing Better and combating social isolation, with some (often independent) people like Shirley Ayres, Paul Webster, John Popham, Alastair Somerville trying to make connections. 

Whatever the way forward for the main Ageing Better online community, I wonder if there's scope for better networking of those of us promoting digital innovation. 

If we each named a few other people who 1) had expertise and enthusiasm 2) would share stuff, we would have the basis for some social network mapping. I know my chum Drew Mackie would help develop a map using, showing not just connections but the wants and offers of people involved (the network nodes). Once there is a core map, it's relatively easy to snowball out and recruit others. 

We could then explore the various activities and tools needed to animate the network - something I've talked to Steve Dale about in discussing social ecologies.

I hope that I might interest the Digital Inclusion Group of Age Action Alliance. As well as the main 30 members, who could be excellent network members, DIG is also helping promote networks of digital champions. Getting people online has been an important policy and funding focus - now's the time to take the next step and build on that to help people make use of the innovations that are available.

I'm using this Known site as well as as an experiment in joining up blog posts and social media.