This session kicked off with the Chairman’s (@MichaelCross) welcome and introduction speech. I have to say, one of the joys of covering for events like this is getting to meet people like Michael who is an experienced professional journalist.
Michael Cross specializes in public policy, particularly where it concerns technology, healthcare and the law. His work has appeared in The Guardian newspaper and in numerous specialist publications, including the British Medical Journal and the Law Society Gazette. He is also a candidate in the election to be the next editor of The Journalist, the NUJ’s publication.
Michael’s opening remarks points out that this is an interesting time for us and also an important time for issues such as digital inclusion. It was interesting to hear Michael also point out that those challenges might include the possibility of change of government here in Britain. Its a hot topic for some time now and is a great point to ponder on. Its certainly feels like we will be going through some sort of change in school of thought here and everything is up for grabs. And the role of digital engagement will no doubt play a big role in the election coming.
Digital Engagement – Empowering citizens and government through digital innovation
Martha Lane Fox, The Government Digital Inclusion Champion (@MarthaLaneFox)
Martha’s background from her website http://www.marthalanefox.com/
I co-founded lastminute.com, Europe’s largest travel and leisure website in 1997. After selling the company in 2005 I co-founded and I now chair Lucky Voice. In 2007 I launched Antigone, a grant-giving foundation that supports education, health and criminal justice. I am a non-executive director at Marks & Spencer, Channel 4 Television and Mydeco. I am also a trustee of Reprieve. In June 2009 I accepted the role of Champion for Digital Inclusion.
I know most of you might already know what the Champion for Digital Inclusion is but just in case you’re still scratching your head over it, check this out.
In this video Barbara Janke (Leader of Bristol City Council) talks about the digital connectivity revolution is very fast moving and important to all cities who want to keep their competitive edge. So Bristol City Council is taking the lead in providing awareness and providing people with skills in these areas of the city so the council can create a market there and private investment will follow. According to the local people, the Knowle West project is helping a lot of people and giving them ideas as well. They’re improving their skills everytime they use the computer and the internet.
Martha says digital media skills are absolutely fundamental now to not only properly engage with people around you but with the government and services that you are offered as a customer. So if you don’t have access to those skills or the inspiration to learn them, then you are not able to face the same types of choices that every other person in society has.
If you don’t have those digital skills, then you are going to have a more limited opportunity in your future because not only will you not get the same level of work as those with digital skills but you also have lower confidence if you don’t have digital skills. And also if you can use the web, you can save money, time and have access to information around you.
In Martha’s keynote address, a couple of interesting facts were mentioned that were picked up via the #digieng twitter stream. These included:-
- 66% of those not digitally engaged have no higher education (via @outoftheswamp)
- We are in danger of developing a sub-class if we don’t tackle digital inclusion. (via @citizensheep)
- The economics of digital inclusion are clear. Consumers save over £500pa if they can buy over the web. (via @FreshNetworks)
- “we need to keep champion causes of the most vulnerable to find ways to engage” there’s a role for digital mentors here… (via @CommVoices)
- Martha Lane Fox; Digital engagement is key to social inclusion (via @outoftheswamp)
- If all kids who are not online were given access, UK Plc would be £25Bn better off as a result (over their lives). (via @FreshNetworks)
- Getting all kids who aren’t online online will inject £25bn into the UK economy. (via @pezholio)
- 95% of DWP interactions with public are offline this needs to change. (via @DC10plusnetwork)
- £44,000 spent by the Government on each person in “bottom” 20% of society. (via @outoftheswamp)
- Its all abt skills! From learning how 2turn on the computer, is a terrifying! @marthalanefox says we need peer2peer training n/work. (via @Liz_Azyan)
- Peer to peer training and volunteering networks key to engaging digitially excluded. (via @outoftheswamp)
- @Marthalanefox talks abt a national movement around creating the excitement on tech. Its the ppl that will make the diff, not gov. (via @Liz_Azyan)
- RaceOnline for 2012 – aim to half the number of people that aren’t online. (via @DC10plusnetwork)
- “I believe you can’t be a citizen engaged in our society if you don’t have access to the web.” @marthalanefox (paraphrased) (via @citizensheep)
- “In the future, it will be almost impossible to be a functioning citizen without access to digital tech” (via @pezholio)
- MLF – we need focus, inspiration and noise to help the most vulnerable become more digitally engaged. (via @CommVoices)
So as you can see from the case study and the tweets from this morning’s keynote address, there is a fundamental need to address the issue of digital inclusion in order for us properly overcome the challenges that come with the digital divide and also the need for us to act now. This becomes even more crucial as digital media literacy is becoming just as important as knowing how to read, write and count. An individual’s confidence can be affected by their level of digital media literacy and also their chances for employment in the future.
This is possibly something we ourselves sometimes take for granted as we here are well and truly connected and skilled but maybe we need to ask ourselves, what can we do to help lessen the burden or educate people who are less fortunate than we are in terms of digital media literacy. Can we include the digitally excluded to join us at our “Social media cafe meetings”? Could we possibly take Birmingham’s vibrant social media surgery example to contribute our bit to society?
So I guess, what I personally would take away from this is, how can I help government spend less, out of the 44k per person spent to get online?
Hope this was useful! Look out for blog posts of other sessions soon!