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We are exploring online and off how to use a mix of media to Live Well in the Digital Age. David Wilcox and Drew Mackie

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David Wilcox

The @agenoretirement Festival builds on #joinedupdigital connector plans: create local community coops where #agedoesnotmatter

4 min read

Ideas for connecting citizens and building local communities - developed in the Joined Up Digital initiative - moved forward significantly at The Age of No Retirement Festival yesterday.

A workshop of 10 specialists endorsed the original idea of supporting community connectors and networks with digital technology and other methods to build relationships, and added the idea of inviting all local users and providers of services and opportunities to become a local coop.

This draws on ideas originally proposed by Mervyn Eastman for an East End Sharing Passion project, and links with the idea of a national development coop reported here

The workshop group spent the morning exploring a a range of opportunities and barriers for using digital tech to benefit people of any age - even if they did not have access to technology or were not confident users. Then at lunchtime Paddy Hanrahan explained the concepts that he and the team, supported by the Centre for Ageing Better, developed in Joined Up Digital, and tested in our event in May.

Paddy sketched a very simple diagram (later improved) of how people with wants and needs could benefit from help from a connectors or conduit ... someone who might be a friend, family member, local activist, volunteer or professional.

While these connectors could draw on personal knowledge, they could be enormously more helpful if they - and anyone else - had access to a local knowledge store online, on notice boards and/or in print. Better still if this were available through a mobile app as well.

Some of these systems do exist - notably in Scotland where the LivingItUp portal has an enormous range of local and national resources. But few communities have access to multichannel knowledge and support systems.

Inspired by Paddy's sketch and explanation, we split into four groups and developed the concept in more detail, adding the idea of offering all users and contributors the opportunity to become members of a coop. This would ensure a sense of ownership, and ways of maintaining and updating the system.

Amazingly the four groups came up with a similar concept, and we were able to consolidate on to one sheet, which Paddy then presented back to all people attending the Festival.

The key concepts were:

  • Co-operative of people
  • Acting as friends and advisers
  • Servicing individuals with wants and needs
  • Supported by digital tech

Benefits for:

  • everyone
  • communities
  • Charities
  • Suppliers

Purpose of this prototype

  • Technology missing an accessible, friendly and inclusive interface
  • Leads to isolation/fragmented access (alienation)
  • When with the right interface we can find people, organisations and services

The knowledge store would of course be accessible online to anyone confident in using digital technology. The aim of the the connector concept, and other channels, is to ensure everyone in a community can benefit from better information opportunities, services and networks.

The connecting coop concept will join four others on the Age of No Retirement online system for further development.

Thanks to facilitator Tom Evans for guiding the group to such a creative prototype.

Previously:

David Wilcox

How about new #joinedupdigital as a knowledge network, open source framework, and coop for working together

4 min read

There's no sign that any organisation will take forward the Joined Up Digital initiative for technology and older people, despite six months investment of time and/or money in the first phase by the Centre for Ageing Better, New Philanthropy Capital and Age Action Alliance. Fortunately a new option is emerging.

As I reported here, the Big Lottery Fund turned down a £50,000 proof of concept proposal from NPC that also included plans to develop the emerging network of more than 40 contributors.

Following the decision, there's quite a few "let's not waste it" messages on the JUD online network, and continuing support there for the key concept in the bid of:

Exploring the role of "conduits" in helping older people use digital technology, or using tech themselves. These may be friends and family, or people in frequent touch with older people.

That focus on conduits and connectors was part of a bigger vision to explore and consolidate how digital technology can support individuals, groups and networks in local communities - building on experience of the past 20 years.

But unfortunately further development of a collaborative, networked approach, without immediate funding, doesn't appear to fit the plans of the partners, or other organisations involved. No criticism intended - it's just what happens in our bidding-dominated culture when resources are scarce.

So what we have is a lot of knowledge gathered during the first phase, a valuable range of contacts, goodwill, and a framework for action developed and tested at a highly-successful workshop in May. I know because I worked on the first phase, although I wasn't involved in the bid.

In addition the Centre for Ageing Better has drawn on the first phase of JUD to develop a proposal that goes to their Board next month:

Deepening our understanding of the capabilities and motivations of people in later life who are not currently benefiting from digital, and what would help them to overcome key barriers to sustained uptake.

... and is commited to ensuring that digital solutions are integrated with future work.

I think there more scope for joining up assets and people from the first phase, with others not yet involved, and hopeful connecting with the Centre's continuing work in the field.

So here's a fresh idea, sparked by discussion with a number of people, and in particular Mervyn Eastman whose Sharing Passions proposal for a cooperative network was the big hit of the May workshop. See previous post and full report of the event

Why not invite anyone interested in the core idea of Joined Up Digital - quoted above - to join a network, constituted as a coop. Those already involved in phase one might wish to donate the knowledge and ideas already assembled.

We would then meet and develop plans online for a mix of voluntary cooperative learning, and project proposals to a range of potential funders and sponsors. I personally think that would work best through a network of linked project teams, each responsible for their own pitches, rather than the higher-risk approach of one big proposal - which failed last time. Sharing Passions in East London would be an early pilot.

I hope we could develop an open source approach towards sharing ideas and working together, in the trusted context of a coop. That would start with any further development of the idea being public and open to anyone interested.

We would need mentors, and the initial support of one or more organisations in tune with this approach.

I wonder if it would appeal to Coop Digital, where Mike Bracken, the former head of the Government's Digital Service, is leading an amazing open transformation of the Cooperative Group digital services. Just read this initial blog post - and subsequent ones - to see the talent they have, and ponder what might be possible if a fraction of that were applied in a social setting.

There’s a good fit with principle seven of the Cooperative Group which states:

Concern for Community: Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members

… so I hope we might connect in some way.

Previously:

David Wilcox

Looks as if @Ageing_Better #joinedupdigital may be dead after failed @BigLotteryFund bid

3 min read

The JoinedUpDigitalProject, initially supported by the Centre for Ageing Better, has now heard from the Big Lottery Fund that its next stage bid has been unsuccessful.

As I reported here one of the main project partners, New Philanthropy Capital, led a £50,000 Proof of Concept bid to the Big Lottery Fund Accelerating Ideas panel in early September.

The three elements of the plan were:

1 Exploring the role of "conduits" in helping older people use digital technology, or using tech themselves. These may be friends and family, or people in frequent touch with older people. Led by NPC.

2 Deepening our understanding of the capabilities and motivations of people in later life who are not currently benefiting from digital, and what would help them to overcome key barriers to sustained uptake. Led by the Centre.

3 Re-imagining user journey for those in later life, to improve interaction with the Department for Work and Pensions and other organisations. Led by EthosVO.

The proposal added that the aim is to develop the network/ecosystem as a shared infrastructure that is owned and run by those who use it.

Tris Lumley, on behalf of NPC, shared the bad news with contributors to the JUD network Slack team. Paddy Hanrahan, who led the work when at the Centre, has now left.

I worked on the first phase of JUD with Drew Mackie, and as I wrote here, we concluded in May with a game event that played through how organisations, people and key connectors can use digital technology to address life challenges and opportunities, and collaborate to do that.

I wasn't involved in the bid, and don't know a great deal more about the details.

My understanding now is that 2. above will still be taken forward by the Centre subject to Board approval.

At this stage NPC is saying someone else will need to pick up the JUD baton, and it doesn't sound as if the Centre wants to use JUD as a brand for its work. There is no further funding from the Centre for the network.

So unless someone else who has been involved takes over it looks if JUD as a cooperative initiative and network is dead.

I've shared a draft of this post on the 70-strong Slack team for Joined Up Digital to check for addition information and whether anyone else will be taking a lead. I'll update if so.

David Wilcox

Thanks for RTs about #joinedupdigital bid. Here's who's interested so far - including @nuzzel

2 min read

Re-tweets about my previous piece on the next phase of the Joined Up Digital project are all referenced here under the main body of the post - thanks everyone.

That feature is one thing I like about the Withknown platform I'm using, together with the way you can write a headline in the form of a status update, and auto post it to Twitter and other services. It's part of the POSSE philosophy of Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Everywhere.

What's also needed is a way to aggregate top stories being published in your network without having to scan lots of tweets. The Nuzzel app does that by turning the links most shared by your friends, and friends of friends, into a newsletter. You can also create your own more personalised newsletter. More here on the way that works, and Nuzzel's aim of creating a network of newsletters.

Today Nuzzel spotted the relatively high number of re-tweets, and popped the post up to the top of my automatically generated newsletter.

Nuzzel newsletter

One of the challenges for the next phase of Joined Up Digital is to develop a network for people interested in the key idea of supporting "conduits" - people and organisations who act as connectors of information and support for older people and those in the ageing field.

One conventional option is to create a central platform, and some 70 people are on a Slack team developed for the first phase of the project. As the project opens up to a wider range of interests decentralised approaches like Withknown and Nuzzel may be useful complements.

These enable people to become curators and conduits ... and I think it will be useful for people in the JUD network to try out these connecting tools as well as discuss them.

David Wilcox

Promising bid from #joinedupdigital to @BigLotteryFund + @Ageing_Better for conduits to info and support

4 min read

The JoinedUpDigital project, supported by the Centre for Ageing Better, is now planning three strands of work to help older people connect with each other, their communities, and public services.

Although technology plays a key role, the focus will be on the needs and interests of individuals, not the tools.

There's also an ambitious vision for joining up the many ageing organisations and interests in the field to collaborate in a digital-ageing network.

I worked on the first phase of JUD, and as I wrote here, we concluded in May with a game event that played through how organisations, people and key connectors can use digital technology to address life challenges and opportunities, and collaborate to do that.

The background framework for the event, developed with Drew Mackie, was the idea of personal, community and organisational ecosystems - and that's now reflected in the project proposals and network plan. Paddy Hanrahan, who led the first phase of the project, has circulated on update to participants.

One of the main project partners, New Philanthropy Capital, is leading a £50,000 Proof of Concept bid to the Big Lottery Fund Accelerating Ideas panel in early September.

The three elements of the plan are:

1 Exploring the role of "conduits" in helping older people use digital technology, or using tech themselves. These may be friends and family, or people in frequent touch with older people. Led by NPC.

2 Deepening our understanding of the capabilities and motivations of people in later life who are not currently benefiting from digital, and what would help them to overcome key barriers to sustained uptake. Led by the Centre.

3 Re-imagining user journey for those in later life, to improve interaction with the Department for Work and Pensions and other organisations. Led by EthosVO.

The aim is to develop the network/ecosystem as a shared infrastructure that is owned and run by those who use it.

Paddy has now left the Centre, but will continue to be involved, with Tris Lumley from NPC, Robert Pye from Ethos VO, and Nigel Lewis of Age Action Alliance. They say that they will create a larger network development group.

I'm personally delighted that the project has come so far. Last year Shirley Ayres and I challenged the Centre for its lack of any mention of technology in consultation documents. This led to a meeting with Paddy and interim chief executive Greg Wilkinson, and a set of ideas about engaging with the potential of technology.

I think that Paddy has done an amazing job internally and externally in developing Joined Up Digital, with support from the current CEO Dr Anna Dixon, and the other partners.

The plans developed with NPC take everything up a notch, and could also benefit from the NPC Digital Transformation programmes.

However, as well as the big players, I hope that there is also provision in the programme for input from freelances like Drew, who developed network thinking and designed the event game, and John Popham, whose video reports provided direct reporting of how older people actually use digital technology.

In addition, Shirley Ayres is developing a new set of Click Guides that will bring together much that is already happening the field.

Paul Webster and Miles Maier have a wealth of expertise from their Connecting Care project and other work with LASA.

These and others involved in our exploration of Living Well in the Digital Age over the past four years, and a possible digital age learning network will, in my opinion, be crucial to the success or otherwise of the Joined Up Digital network - if it is to bring real benefits to older people and those close to them.

It is generally the freelances, small organisations, and (relatively few) enthusiasts in larger organisations who share their experience and ideas ... not so much the senior managers who may symbolically sign up to networks.

As the SEEFA symposium revealed last year, there isn't a general culture of sharing in the field.

I think that the three strands in the JUD project plan are exciting initiatives ... and certainly reflect discussions over the past four years about what's needed in the field, as well as the JUD first phase.

David Wilcox

The #joinedupdigital project recruiting for later life digital co-design workshop led by @npcthinks

2 min read

The Joined Up Digital project that I wrote about earlier is starting its second phase development with an event in Birmingham on August 18. Details here:

This workshop will give you a chance to influence and shape our thinking as we work towards ambitious goals of helping older people get the greatest possible benefit through technology, helping them access and navigate a world of opportunities that can help them life the life they want to. We aim for the day to be both fun and useful for participants. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Places are limited, so please confirm your attendance by 8th August at the latest by email to shona.curvers@thinknpc.org

The JUD project, which I worked on until last month, was initially funded by the Centre for Ageing Better, and is now seeking further support from the Big Lottery Foundation and other funders. The event post explains the move to a more broadly-based network:

We are Joined Up Digital – a network of charities and social purpose organisations aiming to see more people enjoy the opportunities and benefits of digital technology. We have a common goal of improving later life, and our members include Centre for Ageing Better, New Philanthropy Capital, Reason Digital, Big Lottery Fund and the Age Action Alliance.

New Philanthropy Capital has been a key partner in first phase development of JUD, and it may complement their larger digital transformation programme focused on charities. Key people are on holiday at the moment, but I'll check in later on how things are going, and whether the Centre for Ageing Better will be actively involved. Either way, it's good to see continuing progress with a person-focused approach.