What do you think everyone will be using (online) and talking about in 2011?

“What do you think will be big online in the New Year? Will Twitter be the new Facebook? Or will a new service emerge and capture our attention? What will the new hot gadget be? Will everyone replace their laptops with the newest smart phones and tablets, or will a different gadget enter the market? What do you think everyone will be using and talking about in 2011?”

I welcome the continuing shift in thinking and understanding of social media. In 2011, it will be not so much about the “social media stars” and gurus, who tell us how it all “works”, but more about what social media enables.

The focus on technology for technology’s sake is losing the battle and emerging, via the democratisation of technology  (and with the ability users have to leapfrog technological developments) is the means to produce community-based, demand-led ideas and uses of the technology that benefit people.

This was demonstrated brilliantly at the Connecting Bristol showcase event I attended this week at the Watershed.  We were given an update on the projects that Connecting Bristol had helped flourish.

Knowle Media West and Pervasive Media talked about what they do.  Connecting Bristol stayed firmly in the background, while we learnt about local community projects,  including accessible technology training that was really changing lives for the better, giving individuals a voice, opening up new possibilities for people, increasing confidence.  An example was given of how a group of OAPs saved their vital  lifeline – a bus route on their estate – because they simply had a voice and technology enabled them to be heard.

We saw work that the space and ethos at the Pervasive Media Studio had helped to produce, simply by enabling a cluster of creative technologists and giving them a space to grow their ideas, see Antivj for instance and read about the work of Dan Dixon.

The conversations and arguments about technology platforms will become less relevant, we won’t be hearing so much excitement around choosing a  technology platform (Bristol City Council), but more on how the online facilities enabled Bristol City Council to meet the challenge of doing more for less (money) for its people in supporting local communities with its services.

Knowing that the head of Bristol City Council spent 2 hours at the Connecting Bristol’s event, on the day she was going to hear news on her shrinking budget, tells you that Bristol City Council does get the point really.

One speaker mentioned that he asked a taxi driver on his way to the Watershed if they had heard of Connecting Bristol, the taxi driver hadn’t.  Not quite the correct question I believe, I’m sure if he had asked the taxi driver if he had heard of Knowle West Media Centre and/or Pervasive Media Studio, he may have heard something quite different.

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