The Talk About Local team biographies.
Community activist and former civil servant, despite a deeply rural upbringing I lived for ten of the last 15 years in London’s troubled Kings Cross district. The problems on my doorstep were so profound I got stuck into community action and eventually set up a website to keep track of what was going on www.kingscrossenvironment.com. The site now has over 1100 articles, five volunteer writers and is an indispensible part of the local civic scene. We used the site to help fight some great campaigns, improve the area and help people connect with each other – what the wonks call ‘bridging social capital’. I set up Talk About Local to help spread the benefits of a good, simple, cheap community site to as many areas as possible.
My civil service career was fantastically varied – from the DTI to Downing Street. I was Private Secretary and Policy advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chair of the OECD Expert Group on e-government, I commissioned and delivered the Power of Information work that kicked off government interest in open data and as one of the creators of OFCOM I remain interested in the media regulation scene. I remain politically neutral. My work in Kings Cross led to be sitting at the Cabinet table with Prime Minister Cameron to launch the big society agenda in May 2010 and I now work with the Cabinet Office to advise them on how the web can help the Office of Civil Society deliver its agenda. I am also a trustee of the Indigo Trust, where we make grants to help people find or create the information they need to make their lives better – mainly in Africa.
I hold two current public appointments or a sort – I sit on the Local Public Data Panel for CLG and the Crime and Justice Sector Transparency Panel. For the previous government I was a member of the selection panel for the Independently Funded News Consortia.
I try to stay sane by walking in the countryside when I can – I have done 600 miles of the South West Coast path carrying a tent and hope to finish it one day. I enjoy film, literature architecture and rugby.
I’ve been involved in online publishing since 2000 and have worked for various mainstream news organisations in areas of digital engagement, community development and online content creation. (More on that at Linkedin )
An active blogger and participant in social networks I’ve made connections with many individuals and groups involved in the sort of independent community publishing that’s often referred to as ‘hyperlocal’. Also, as community strategist for Guardian Media Group I’m working with digital tools and technologies which help people connect and share.
I first got involved with Talk About Local via my work on The Guardian’s Local initiative and happily found this team of dedicated people with similar experiences of the value of networked neighbourhoods and digital engagement in communities.
I’m based in the north of England, have a tendency for new tech geekiness and sometimes fancy myself as a bit of a foodie.
I moved from Manchester to Stoke-on-Trent 14 years ago and have recently relocated to rural Aberdeenshire.
I have been using the internet since 1995. I love social media and the freedoms that is gives people, allowing them to have that all important voice on-line. Social media is not the cure all or silver bullet for all the problems a person or an area may have, but used correctly it can amplify the more traditional forms of social & civic activism to help get things done.
At Talk About Local I specialise in the technical aspects of social media and on-line moderation of contentious & difficult situations.
I have spoken at conferences on subjects such as the benefits of Social Media, DIY Democracy & Citizen Journalism.
I am currently working on, geolocation of content which will allow content to be delivered to mobile devices based purely on location and running a research project looking at the Scottish Hyperlocal scene.
Away from Talk About Local, I was a partner in the Stoke-on-Trent political blog, pitsnpots.co.uk where we scrutinised the City Council and the political news in the City. I now contribute to My Turriff a small hyperlocal near to where I live. I am an occasional radio presenter, I take an awful lot of pictures and being originally from Manchester, I am a dyed in the wool Manchester City fan.
Click to find out more about.me.
Former TAL members