Titans – think of them as wise friendly cloud giants. Most of people are giants (reputation-wise (in my book)) but for a variety of different reasons – and yet paradoxically for the same reason: Their commitment to public service. There are also one or two who I’d like to see get up to speed too.
The first of these is Capt. Doug Beattie MC. For those of you not aware, MC stands for Military Cross and is awarded for gallantry in the face of an enemy. The citation for Capt Beattie’s award speaks for itself.
On the same military theme is Major Paul Smyth of the Territorial Army who has a big hand in running the army’s social media operation. Major Gen Nick Pope’s twitter feed is for the Strategic Communications Officer for the Chief of the Defence Staff. It’s less of an interactive feed, rather more of an old school ‘telegram-style press release’ but over Twitter – which is a bit of a shame. It has a feel of ‘this is who we are bombing, where we are bombing, what with and for what reason’ – or at least that’s how it seemed in the recent intervention in Libya. Warfare is far more complex than that.
Puffles follows and is followed by a number of police officers of various ranks. Puffles gives the police a kicking when they deserve it – think some of the #Hackgate failings and the abandoned legal action against the Guardian. However, Puffles also stands up for the police who have to do a stupendously difficult job as ‘the public servants of last resort’ – i.e. if all other attempts at trying to deal with bad stuff has failed, they are the ones who have to sort stuff out.
The pioneers of policing on Twitter are the officers of the West Midlands Constabulary – who have Supt. Mark Payne keeping tabs on those the rest of us would rather pretend did not exist. If you are a police officer from another force, please read his blogpost on social media and the riots. Can you apply this to your force?
The Custody Sgt gives an insight into the rogues, ruffians and rapscallions (and innocent people who are released without charge too!) that find themselves on the wrong side of the police. Ditto with WPC Pink. It’s sometimes too easy to forget that there are human beings on both sides. Standing up for police officers we have Constables and Clive Chamberlain.
The police officer who’s got responsibility for overseeing social media development use in police forces across the UK is DCC Gordon Scobbie of Tayside Police. The big dymano behind the spread of Twitter throughout the police is Nick Keane.
On the other side of the table is Kim Evans, a criminal defence lawyer – because we all have basic legal rights – even the bad guys. Charlie Fox also tweets on criminal defence, police and military issues (follow her & you’ll find out why). Someone who I’ve worked closely with who has experience on the front line of deprived communities – including post-riot situations is Maxine Moar.
Keeping tabs on how our money is spent are the National Audit Office and (until they are finally abolished) the Audit Commission. I’ve blogged about the importance of NAO in my posts on select committees – NAO officials are the engines behind the Public Accounts Committee that regularly grills failing ministers, ministries and public officials. The Audit Commission came into being and was instrumental in tackling the ‘Homes for Votes’ scandal.
Mike Bracken has recently taken up the reins of being the UK’s digital director – one of a number of social and digital media pioneers who are light years ahead of the rest of the mainstream public sector in trying to help improve public services through digital and social media. Two other drivers behind this agenda are the delightful Jane O’Loughlin and Hadley Beeman who are regulars at the monthly “teacamp” gatherings in Whitehall.
What makes this network particularly interesting is that unlike other networks I’ve seen in Whitehall, this one has a critical mass of women – and very bright women – who brought me under their wings when I took my first tentative steps as someone relatively new to the field but someone who wanted to make the links between social media and policy-making. Ann Kempster & Sharon O’Dea were brilliant in those early days, as was Louise Kidney who is a local government legend when it comes to getting things moving at a local government level. Kudos also to the lovely Sarah Baskerville who was the person responsible for bringing both myself and Puffles into the world of Whitehall digital media – and giving me something in the way of a post-civil-service career too.
The thing with digital and social media and its application in the public sector is that the line between is not nearly as clear as it was in the last millennium. The roll-call of gentlemen that follow are all people who have either delivered commissions, done some (computer) modelling for, have worked in and/or have generally contributed to the very exciting (for me at least) developments in digital and social media in the public sector.
Will Perrin, who has been pushing the hyper-local model for quite some time now, introduced me to On The Wight – a hyperlocal events site on the Isle of Wight. It was this that made me wonder why we did not have something similar in Cambridge.
Sam Smith, who was one of the brains behind the brilliant OpenTech gathering in May 2011 gave a few of us some ideas for a similar event that we would like to host in Cambridge. Lesley Thomson has been behind a similar gathering in Scotland. It was at the former that I stumbled across Tim Ireland, Lisa Evans, Joanne Geary and Jon Worth in person.
Stephen Hale, Tim Lloyd and Shirley Ayres are three health policy tweeple I’ve stumbled across over the past year. General public sector digital media tweeple whose names come highly regarded for a number of reasons include Dominic Campbell, Steph Gray, Nick Halliday, Seb Crump, Dennis North, Jenny Poole, Ingrid Koehler and Dave Briggs.
In the world of medicine and health research, there are five lovely ladies that stand out from the crowd. The first is Dr Anne-Marie Cunningham who has been making a waves in the world of digital and social media in health fields. Taking their cue from her have been Dr Natalie Silvey, and Fiona Douglas, the brains behind the Twitter Journal Club who regularly discuss general issues in medicine with all and sundry. Clare Gerada is the Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners who has been a regular commentator on the mess otherwise known as the Health and Social Care Bill. Finally there is the wonderful Dr Petra Boyton who has been instrumental in destroying many of the bad myths around sex education. Before anyone forgets, there’s also the Royal College of Nurses too.
Keeping tabs on local government in general include Karen Smyth in Northern Ireland, Derek Tickles giving Uncle Eric a good kicking, Reluctant Auditor keeping a close eye on the pennies. On the side of local parish and town councils is Justin Griggs of NALC.
At a ‘local to Cambridgeshire’ level, Liz Stevenson who is one of the people behind the Hive project in Cambridge who is worth following – as is Michele Ide-Smith who seems to be light years ahead of much of the County Council. (My view, not hers – please don’t get her into trouble). Dan Stagger is also one of our local tweeters being one of the driving forces behind CRIFCAMBS – the county’s renewables and infrastructure framework. Alice Kershaw‘s heritage work in Peterborough also stands her out as a local top tweeter – especially for historians. The same can be said for Rebekah Higgitt of the Royal Observatory in terms of national history.
The main local authorities in Cambridge are Cambridge City and Cambridgeshire County Councils. (Also South Cambridgeshire District Council too). Cambridgeshire Police, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue and Cambridgeshire NHS also tweet, though what will remain of the latter after the restructure remains to be seen. My current take is that Cambridge public sector bodies are approaching social media very cautiously at the moment – focussing mainly on ‘press release’ style tweets rather than engaging in conversations.
In the world of education, there is a wealth of people who tweet and I could not hope to fit them all in. Picking out a handful at random, Professor Mike Weed is worth following if for the Olympics as Professor of Sport in Society at Canterbury Christ Church University. Nicola Morgan has the difficult task of teaching politics at a time where politicians are not exactly in the public’s high esteem. At a tertiary level are Professors Colin Talbot & Steven Fielding, Dr Dave O’Brien and Stuart Long who all have been keeping tabs on public policy.
Watching the skies (and sometimes flying above them sometime soonish (hopefully) is Dr Lucy Rogers, while closer to the ground, running things at the British Library is Nora Daly. Talking of public records, I also keep an eye on Parliament’s archives.
Finally Catherine Baker who knows more about the Balkans than most people.
There are a number of civil servants who tweet under avatars who I don’t follow and don’t want to publicise. I totally understand and sympathise – especially in these fraught times in the public sector where a serving Prime Minister can call civil servants ‘enemies of enterprise’ but civil servants – in particular those who are quite the opposite – cannot respond.
Finally, there is one final shout out for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Human Rights Team - especially in these uncertain times. When you have a head of digital engagement such as Jimmy Leach onside, you can see why that account has picked up speed.