Puffles’ Twitter Lists – Digital Women

This list stems from a workshop run by Jane O’Loughlin of Cabinet Office & the Government Digital Service. The #Digitalwomen listed below are those that turned up to and contributed to the workshop at UKGovCamp13.

Kate Norman – A lovely trouble-maker-in-chief (but in a good way!) bringing social media to the NHS in Cumbria.

Hadley Beeman – The go-to lady for all things #opendata, buzzing in and around technology policy too. Whenever she walks into a room, sunshine seems to follow.

Alex Schillemore – She’s been the brains behind a number of things across a couple of Whitehall departments. Back working with the brilliant Robin Riley.

Sharon O’Dea – One of the first people I met when Puffles really was ickle-wickle. Formerly dragging UK Parliament kicking and screaming into a social media age (this wouldn’t have happened if she had not done the hard ground work), now doing the same for a large bank.

Louise Kidney – Someone with a very strong local government background (one of too few civil servants to have moved from local to central government) who has brought a wealth of awesomeness to the Government Digital Service.

Sarah Baskerville – It was her fault for bringing myself and Puffles into the public sector social media fold during my civil service days. Sarah was one of the pioneers in the very early days of public sector social media, taking the hit from a national newspaper so you didn’t have to.

Anke Holst – Another long time guardian of Puffles (pictured here, also with Nick Halliday of National Audit Office). As with myself, outside of the public sector but a critical friend of it nonetheless

Val Pearce – At the opposite end of England to Kate, she’s one of several people driving social and digital media in Brighton – where I used to live. If a gathering by the seaside sounds like your sort of thing, have a look at CityCamp Brighton.

Emma Gawen – who along with the brilliant Alice Newton overhauled social and digital media at the Ministry of Justice. (Alice is now back at the Government Digital Service)

Mary McKenna – who like Anke above, is another bright and very experienced mind who is also a critical friend of the public sector. Has brought together a talented group of people at The Learning Pool.

Jane O’Loughlin – Guardian of “Baby Puffles” – the Government Digital Service’s in house dragon fairy and always a delight to be with. Shot old assumptions about public sector social media in Cambridge out of the water on a visit to meet 20 or so of us at Teacambs in 2012.

Natalie Luckham – who I finally got to meet at UKGovCamp13 after many many months of Twitter following. She’s lovely – and is essential following for anyone interested in local government social media.

Lily Dart – a new face I met at UKGovCamp13, a very good example of ‘not a usual suspect’ engaging in all things public sector, both in terms of the day job and in what she contributed to the workshop.

Ann Kempster – Ann has worked her socks off over the past few years on all things public sector digital, and has overcome some massive barriers in the process to have achieved some awesome things. The most recent success being co-launching CommsCamp earlier this year for local government. It speaks volumes that this event was oversubscribed four-times over.

Rowena Farr – Another new (to me) face at this event, and another good critical friend. Her work with DelibUK is worth keeping an eye on if using digital and social media for consultations and crowd-sourcing policy is something you’ve not done before but are interested in trying.

Liz Stevenson – my collaborator on all things teacambs – the Cambridgeshire spin-off of the Whitehall teacamp movement. Liz has been the main driving force on all things digital at Cambridgeshire County Council. Without her, we’d still be using chalk and slate. Oh, she can also dance too.

Anne McCrossan – An experienced wise owl who had been on Puffles’ radar but as is normal with such gatherings UKGovCamp13 was the first time I’d met her face-to-face. The engine behind Visceral Business & someone who voluntary and community sector organisations may be interested in.

“Yo Pooffles, surely there are more digital women out there??!”

Absolutely – and I’m going to link them through Puffles’ Twitterlists rather than rewrite the invention of the wheel.

Local Government: Featuring Helen ReynoldsKate Bentham and Kelly Parkes-Harrison – not forgetting Debbie Whittingham & Bridget Aherne on all things fire brigades. Local Government Twitterlist. Nick Keane has also asked me to add Amanda Coleman (who like Nick knows all things police) along with Laura Miller and Natalie Proffitt. In a similar field close to Cambridge is Hayley Morris (nee Cobb) of CambsCops

Communicating ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths’ (STEM): With  Sarah Castor-PerryMichelle BrookLou WoodleyHelen Keen and Phillipa Oldham. Communicating STEM Twitterlist.

The Civil Service: Featuring Alison Daniels and Eleanor Stewart at the Foreign Office, Martha Lane Fox‘s right-hand-lady Marketa Mach and TV star Pippa Norris (who was on telly recently about the pitfalls of Facebook).

Public Policy: Featuring  Institute for Government‘s Jill RutterLiz CarolanCatherine HaddonEllen Hallsworth and Justine Stephen. Also Charlotte Eisenhart of the LGA,  Jess Steele at Locality and Catherine Howe of Public i, but is so awesome she really needs a section to herself 🙂 Public Policy and Public Administration Twitterlist

Open Policy and Open Data: Featuring Laura Newman and Lucy Chambers who until recently were local to me in Cambridge. (Please come back!) Also Lynn Wyeth on all things freedom of information. Transparency Twitterlist.

Civil Society – the voluntary sector: Featuring more organisations than people, but worth having a look at anyway.

The media: Featuring local celebrity Liz Fraser of ITV Daybreak, Jayne Secker of Sky News and Penny Marshall of ITV News. Also including the lovely Sue Llewellyn – & Polly Curtis who almost gave me a heart attack when she started following Puffles while I was still in the civil service. In those days there were no rules. Media Twitterlist

Lawyers and legal tweeple: All the more important given the ever-growing legal focus on the status of social media posts too. Featuring Emily Goodhand aka Copyright GirlCaroline Bywater and, Joanne Flack. Also included are Suzy AshworthGail Marchant DaisleyCheryl Jones at Just Counsel & Joanne Cash. The Law Twitterlist

The next generation of young feminists: A few of them follow Puffles. Young, bright, opinionated and full of potential. You may not agree with them but they will make you think.

On life’s path are people who don’t really fall into any categories, but include and are not limited to:



Puffles’ Twitter Lists – Local Government & CommsCamp13


Just a few of the great and the good from the world of local government – feel free to suggest more via comments below.

Puffles at the welcome desk for CommsCamp13 - with stickers for everyone
Puffles at the welcome desk for CommsCamp13 – with stickers for everyone

This list stems from the excellent CommsCamp13 gathering organised by Dan Slee, Darren Caveney and Ann Kempster. Alex Blandford has published a short write-up of his experiences here, as did Ed Cook here. Despite the billions the traditional conferencing industry is valued at, it was Dan, Ann and a bunch of us social media types that managed to put on an event that had first-time-unConference-ers buzzing – as Kelly Parkes-Harrison describes here. For me, this gathering was a real ‘game-changer’ similar to how I felt when I went to UKGovCamp in 2011. Being surrounded by people who seemed to be on the same ‘wavelength’ when it came to digital and social media in the public sector was a real eye-opener.

Both Ann and Dan are essential following anyway – as I’ve mentioned in previous Twitterlists. Ann is the brains behind the Government Communications Network. But having a civil servant prepared to reach out to local government and the wider public sector is a real asset. Bear in mind that there are more than a few policy units in Whitehall that simply do not ‘get’ local government. As for Dan, have a look at his blog. If your council can get someone like Dan, your social media activities will thrive. Darren I had not met before, but was clearly one of the wise owls in local government social media too – despite introducing a fire breathing dragon to hot spicy Birmingham curries the previous night!

Are you a head of communications? Do what Ben Proctor of Herefordshire Council did

Understandably there were a lot of ‘comms’ people at CommsCamp – but at the same time there many of them came with a mindset of wanting to do things radically different to how their organisations are doing things at present. Who else would face-to-face crowd-source the job description of their new role? Ben Proctor did just that, asking a workshop full of people what they thought the role of a head of communications should be in a 21st century public service. Moving from ‘the keeper of the message’ to ‘heading a centre of expertise’ in an organisation. Moving from disaster prevention to recovery management was another – bearing in mind that with staff cuts, micromanaging a communications operation is now unsustainable in a social media world. Eddie Coates-Madden was also on top form here too.

Catherine’s master class

The brilliant Catherine Howe ran a superb session aimed at dealing with some of the territorial issues around social media within organisations – in particular communications teams. Are they the blockers? The difference with Catherine’s approach – which I like to adopt in my own workshops, is that she starts of with a very well defined problem and weaves an approach that allows people to figure out the solutions themselves even though some of the issues may be extremely difficult or perhaps unpalatable to some of the audience in the room. It was at this workshop where I met Debbie Whittingham from the West Midlands Fire Service, who illustrated perfectly some of the challenges facing comms teams in a social media world – especially their relationships with line managers who may not be social media savvy managing staff that want to, or are already using it. There was also a timely reminder from Laura Cowdrey about the usefulness of the National Archives of their ‘dashboard’ which has huge potential for a local government environment. Sticking with fire services, I also met Bridget Aherne from Manchester Fire Service. Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue – are you taking notes from Bridget and Debbie?

It was a shame that not everyone could make it – as is inevitable at all big events. Tom Phillips, one of the driving forces behind the LocalGov Social Media online gatherings, and Louise Kidney, who made the move from local to central government were both conspicuous by their absence so if you haven’t had the chance to meet them in person, do follow them. The same goes for the lovely Helen Reynolds of Monmouthshire Council, along with the centre of knowledge for social care on social media, Shirley Ayres.

All was not lost though. The wizard that is John Popham live video-streamed many of the workshops, enabling people to submit questions via Twitter – as George Julian – who now works in the local health and social care field in Devon – ended up doing in Ben Proctor’s workshop.

A Whitehall presence? Surely not?!!?

There was – but this was a positive thing, indicating that there are more than a few social media users in Whitehall willing to engage with local government. Interestingly, Pippa Norris (who must be one of the first civil servants to appear on telly as a social media expert) from the Ministry of Defence was one of them – which was brilliant because military personnel are scattered across the country and we sometimes forget the relationships these units have with other local public services. Alongside Pippa was Lizzy Bell from DfE (who I first met at UKGovCamp2012) and Eloise Munday of Defra, who one of the key contributors in my workshop: “How to tame your dragons” – on how public sector organisations can handle those people who regularly use social media to commentate & more often than not, criticise your organisation.  Matt Navarra of the Intellectual Property Office was there too, as was Phil Hodgson. Furthermore, Shane Dillon of the Foreign Office could also be spotted doing the rounds – as was Seb Crump, who out of all the people at CommsCamp other than myself is the person who has known Puffles the longest – having first met Puffles in 2010! So even if it feels like a Whitehall department has little to do with local government, does not necessarily mean its staff are not interested. Quite the opposite.

East Anglia! We’re coming to get you!

At a separate session, I threw all of my Cambridge-related problems and issues at Lorna Prescott, Eddie Coates-Madden and Pauline Roche on voluntary sector engagement. If anything, I wasn’t able to properly articulate the challenges we face in Cambridge, other than to tear my hair out at what feels like a slow pace of social media take-up by organisations, the problem of silos in the city and what feels like trying to convince a city that stereotypically only does ‘formal’ that informality is not a threat. Fortunately I met three other East Anglians at this gathering. Susie Lockwood of Norfolk County Council was one – who along with Darren mentioned up top kept Puffles out of trouble on curry night. From Ipswich Borough Council in Suffolk I also met Paul Greene and James Ager. I’m looking forward to see what happens when the three of them link up with Liz Stephenson and Livia Oldland of Cambridgeshire County Council. Also on Puffles’ radar was Lisa Green of Breckland Council. Have we got the stirrings of a critical mass of social media public sector people in East Anglia?

There were also a number of people I wish I had more time to chat to. Rae Watson was one. She works in housing, and given the public policy profile housing is getting at the moment, I think her insights on both housing and social media will be really interesting as we head towards the next election. Kate Bentham in Shropshire was another – someone who has been ever-present in #localgov Twitter discussions and a wealth of knowledge too – especially on children’s and family services. Natalie Luckham in Wiltshire, another ever-present localgov Twitterer is also someone whose brains I’d liked to have picked too.

It was nice to meet some Twitter correspondence/friends/acquaintances for the first time in person too. As I’ve mentioned before with social gatherings, the nature of Twitter in particular means that people can get to know each other via social media so that when they meet up for the first time, the conversations that happen are as if you’d known each other for ages. Both Dominic Campbell and Beth Crowe were two of several people I met for the first time.

Now, this list is by no means exhaustive. I’ve barely even scratched the surface. Sincere apologies to those I’ve not yet listed – chances are I’ll be following this one up soon as I have done with a couple of others. There are many who tweeted at CommsCamp that you may be interested in – have a look at the Storify page here that Dan put together. Feel free to follow whoever you find interesting.

Paul Clarke also took some lovely photographs of CommsCamp – this one having me in stitches. There’s a caption competition in there somewhere!

Puffles’ Twitter Lists – The Cambridge Twitteratti?


Time to add to the list of people in my locality that I’ve stumbled across over the past year.

My original list of Cambridge-based Twitter users is here, and dates from November 2011. It’s now 2013, and things have evolved. One thing that stands out from that list is the number of political types that used Twitter – many of whom still do. Science, local journalism and local community activists are also noticeable by their presence in that list too.

Again, this isn’t a comprehensive guide of every single person that uses Twitter in Cambridge. I’m covering people that I’ve either met or who have appeared on Puffles’ Twitter feed.

“So Pooffles, any more political types to mention?”

Twitter activity in South Cambridge is relatively mute compared to the north of the city. In the wards of Cherry Hinton, Trumpington (of Baroness Trumpington fame), Queen Ediths and Coleridge, there are hardly any councillors that are regular Twitter users. Much of the Twitter-spats tend to involve ward councillors in the northern and central wards, and then mainly around local council election time.

Outside of Cambridge but on the county council are Conservative councillors Samantha Hoy and Steve Tierney who with Andy and Tim (my webmasters) have formed a critical core of local Conservative Twitter users. This in my view is what Cambridge Green Party need to aim for in order to establish a firm stable local social media presence.

For the Liberal Democrats, Rupert Moss-Ecchardt (who stood unsuccessfully for Police and Crime Commissioner in Cambridgeshire) and County Councillor Sarah Whitebread are both active – county councillors being up for re-election this May. Which makes for an interesting contest in Cllr Ian Manning’s East Chesterton seat as he seeks to hold off a challenge from ex-LibDem councillor and now Labour candidate Claire Blair. This one will be worth watching.

With Labour, aside from Ann Sinnott, an activist who has been tweeting regularly, it’s their students that seem to be picking things up of late, with the likes of Martha Morey, Greg Hill and Sean Keeley beginning to make their presences felt, along with Labour Youth rep for East Anglia, Conrad Landin. (Alex Mayer is the National Policy equivalent) Furthermore, there are the authors of Cameraderie – 100 years of the Cambridge Labour Party Richard Johnson (the other one – there are two), and Ashley Walsh. I got my own copy – it’s a superb read and one that will interest other political parties and historians too. Essentially it reads as a social history of Cambridge the town, as Richard and Ashley scoured the archives to tell a compelling story of the city I grew up in, but of which the tourist brochures never tell you about. Regarding other student societies – Greens, Conservatives & Liberal Democrats, feel free to add your presences in the comments field below as you’ve not made yourself aware to Puffles!

“Now that lolitics is out of the way, what else has been happening?”

Well…not quite. As I mentioned in my previous blogpost, the Cambridge public policy field is growing. Not least because of the work of Cambridge Public Policy and the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy. Ditto with CRASSH Cambridge – the University’s humanities research centre, where Ruth Rushworth and friends can be found. Furthermore, we have the YouGovCam think tank and the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership.

What stereotypically used to be a Sir Humphrey type coming back to his alma matter’s MCR for a chinwag with Harlequin, Jeroboam and Aurelian over some port and cheese, now no longer the case. The doors of this side of Oxbridge are being prised open. At the moment they are big enough for dragon fairies to slip through, but the direction of travel is clear: More of these events are being made open to the public – as the likes of The Wilberforce Society and Cambridge Zero Carbon Society (facilitated by the lovely Emily Scott) have demonstrated recently. With more people taking to digital and social media, and more people live blogging and live tweeting, people are able engage with and challenge those speaking at policy-related events in Cambridge. Which is no bad thing.

We also have a number of top academics with firm opinions to share too. One of them I used to work for in my civil service days – Dr Henry Tam. If you want to know anything about community development policy, he’s one of the experts being a former senior civil servant with the policy lead in this field for both the Home Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government. On education policy, Dr Sandra Leaton-Gray is essential following. My interest in her work stems in part from being a school governor, having gone back to my old primary school to help out now that I have a little time to spare.

There is also an incredibly vibrant community of science communicators in Cambridge – one that I’d love to see the local media feature much more of. Following an invitation from Andrew Holding of (amongst other things) Cambridge Skeptics (one for atheists, agnostics, humanists and people who are not fans of institutionalised religion), I took Puffles along to the Cambridge final of Fame Lab UK. There I met four amazing science communicators – Djuke Veldhuis, Hayley Frend (who used giant jellybellies to explain how to target cancer), Ginny Smith, and the eventual winner Catherine Carver. Not surprisingly with so much talent in the city, we are seeing the continuation of the Cambridge Science Festival – this year’s being in March, followed quickly by Cambridge Word Festival in April.

Local media

I had the pleasure of meeting Lizzy Buchan of the Cambridge Evening News recently. Interestingly, not long after meeting Lizzy, her boss, the newspaper’s editor Joanne Tynan appeared on Puffles’ radar. Ditto Rachel Extance who leads their digital operation.  “I-didn’t-do-it-nobody-saw-me-do-it-can’t-prove-anything” (just in case Puffles appears on the front page for the wrong reasons!)

Cambridge was recently slammed as a clone town, which was why Anne Prince commenced the Independent Cambridge project. As an aside, the wider problem is how to manage the vast numbers of tourists, and what the wider strategy is for the city that can bring landlords (mainly the universities but also pension funds) on board. If tourists coming to Cambridge expect the place to be like the home of Mr M Mouse and Mr D Duck, we’ve got a reputation issue. My home town isn’t a theme park. People live here, study here and work here too. I also see dotted around various places Cambridge Edition too. I’ve also spotted Octavia Sheepshanks, a columnist at Tab Cambridge.

On the radio we have Julian Clover of Cambridge 105FM who is interested in all things media and tech, which means a number of local social media types – such as Julian Huppert, end up being interviewed by him. I tend to avoid local mainstream commercial radio these days though. Too many adverts, too limited a range of music.

Tweeting venues

I’ve noticed a number of venues have also started taking to Twitter of late too. The Junction (run by Aimee Warboys and friends) stands out for me as my local venue of convenience – I first started going there in the mid-1990s. Old skool is me.  We even have a tweeting bookshop – Heffers, which regularly puts on speaking events too. In the heritage area – we’ve got LOTS of old stuff here – our museums are even tweeting! (Marie Kennedy and Liz Hyde I’m sure have something to do with this!) You’ll have heard of the Fitzwilliam Museum which has the really interesting ancient and medieval items – including the knight in shining armour and Egyptian coffins, but the museum of the people is Cambridge Folk Museum. We also have the new Cambridge Science Centre – which is also on Twitter.

Education beyond Cambridge University

Many moons ago I did an evening class at Long Road 6th Form College – a superb A-level history course in 1999. Long Road has, in my view been using Twitter extremely effectively, mixing news from the college to the views of its students. As a local, this gives me a real insight into what happens at the college. The next step in my view for the schools and colleges is to see how they can use social media to both showcase the work that they do, and to encourage their students to engage with the institutions that run our city. For example the number of students that use public transport surely makes Cambridge Future Transport and Cambridge Cycle Campaign essential following for sixth formers across the city. Vice-principal Mike Bryant tweets here. They will soon be joined by the University Technical College in the very near future as a next-door neighbour. I note that Long Road’s rivals – Hills Road Sixth Form College (where I did most of my A-levels) is yet to get onto Twitter. Cambridge Regional College – where I did my teacher training in late 2011 on the other hand, is on Twitter – as is the Parkside Federation which runs two schools locally and has a sixth form attached to it. Even its library has its own Twitter feed! (As does the County Council’s library service – Puffles LOVES libraries and is sometimes seen at Rock Road Library)

More institutions?

Well at least Cambridge University Hospitals is tweeting, even if they’ve chosen to give it to the Comms and PR people. Hence tweets are mainly in broadcast mode rather than engaging with conversations. Keeping an eye on them (because they have a statutory duty – and soon to be rebranded as ‘healthwatch’ by Lansley’s Bill) and county-wide healthcare provision is LINkCambs. Interestingly we also have the editor of Nursing Times – Jenni Middleton – living locally.

Tweeting for the police alongside CambsCops is Hayley Morris. We have a couple of tweeting police officers too – including Sgt Rogerson & PC Steve Gedny. Can we get a few more on? Ditto with fire fighters at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue.

In the charity and community sector we have the Romsey Mill close by. Institutionally there is the Cambridge Citizens’ Advice Bureau, VSO CambridgeCambridge CVS, which in my book could all be brought together. Alongside that, there is the very interesting student-run/backed Cambridge Hub – encouraging Cambridge and Anglia students to reach out to the rest of the community. Puffles put the local voluntary sector under the microscope when attending the Cambridge CVS AGM. There is huge potential here, but at the moment I feel we’re not on the path to realising and unleashing it.

Less institutions, more community societies include my old dance club Cambridge Dancers’ Club – one for those who want to learn ballroom, salsa and rock’n’roll dancing. They have new beginners classes starting four times a year and three black tie dancing balls a year too. Between autumn 2002 to spring 2010 I went to every single one of those black tie balls. Again, in an ideal world I’d like to find those dancing shoes and take a group of people along to some of their classes.

There is also the vibrant young professionals network JCI Cambridge where Jen Little and friends do wonderful things for young people and local charities too – such as sky-diving! Cambridge Past Present and Future too is less an institution and more a wide community group, getting local residents out and about to find out and care about our local history as well as our futures – hence bringing council consultations to wider audiences.

Mill Road

There are various things happening on, in and around one of Cambridge’s most diverse of streets. Mill Road Cambs blog is one, Mill Road Co-ordinator is another (run in part by Pamela Wesson, who I met at a Net-Squared Cambridge (where we promote using technology for social good) gathering recently), and new local music, art gallery and coffee venue Hot Numbers is a third. On Mill Road, something social media-wise is slowly but surely coming together. Watch those spaces mentioned above!

Other friendly faces

On the art side of life is Diana Probst who I bumped into on Twitter via the “#CambsHour” hashtag. Samantha Ridler-Ueno is another Cambridge student that I bumped into at Lord O’Donnell’s lecture in Cambridge.

In the charity and voluntary sector is Diane Morrison who works her socks off for local homeless charity, FLACK. Locally too there is Natasha Rutter who I met through Teacambs, Ceri Jones – one of the brains behind some of my digital video guides, and doing comedy and science, the people of Brightclub Cambridge. I’m also going to give Cambridge Women’s Football Club a mention too – they are looking for sponsors for their players if you’re interested. I’m also interested in getting a group together to watch them play. The problem is their home ground seems to be in Ely at present. A shame the city cannot provide something locally that’s more suitable.

There are many more people I’d like to add, but I’ll save that for a third instalment. In the meantime I’ll finish off with a recommendation for a very talented young musician – Grace Sarah, who was featured on BBC Look East recently. She’s brilliant.

Puffles’ Twitter Lists – Communicating Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM)


A wander through the various science-type tweeple that Puffles and I have met over the years.

This list isn’t intended to be a comprehensive guide to all the Twitter accounts of the best scientists in the world. That would be pointless from my perspective. As science, technology and engineering are huge fields in themselves, it’s the equivalent of someone writing a Twitter list for all the people in say ‘the arts’ or ‘the humanities’ or ‘people that like sport’.

I don’t know nearly as much about science as I would like to. I’ve commented on how I would like to go about learning more – and how people in the science world can reach out to the rest of us who might otherwise be like ***Oooh! Complicated Stuff!*** Perhaps it mirrors those people who say that they don’t do politics. Because I know so little about science in general, I’ve gone with this title until I find out more.

Science communicators

I’m going to start with the people who are the gateway to science – the science communicators. I first stumbled across Alice Bell in person when she visited Cambridge in 2011. I think it was also here that I was reacquainted with the lovely Sarah Castor-Perry, who I first met in 2009 through a friend of a friend. It was Sarah who pulled someone up about saying something was as useful as a chocolate teapot. Her old friends at The Naked Scientists decided to put that to the test…and make one!

You’ve got the grandmasters of science communication, Brian Cox (physics, planets and D:Ream), Ben Goldacre and Mark Henderson – the latter having been spotted in Cambridge sharing a glass of wine with a certain dragon fairy. You also have Dr Alice Roberts with a similar profile. Keeping an eye on the planets, have a look at the brilliant Dr Lucy Rogers too.

One of the other top science communicators who is currently taking time out from the world of work to build a robot amongst other things is Michelle Brook. Michelle was also instrumental in making two of my recent social media digital videos – introducing Twitter and social media analytics respectively. Alongside Michelle who also helped with the first project, and helped scope the Twitter guide is Alice Sheppard. Alice is one of my ‘go to’ people on all things astronomy – as is one of the brightest young minds in the field Hannah at @Stella190.

Over at Nature is Lou Woodley, walking the tightrope of social media and academic journals. A tricky one given that social media is undermining the traditional revenue streams of academic journals. As I’ve said at conferences myself, if you lock your content up behind paywalls, don’t be surprised if people choose to bypass your content. Onside with this argument is my local MP Julian Huppert – currently on leave from Cambridge University. As one of the few parliamentarians with post-doctoral experience in science, a lot of science-related correspondence goes through him. Through Lou and Julian, I also met Eva Amsen, who blogs at EasternBlot. A science communicator too, she’s in the process of heading back to London – a city that has also seen the likes of Michelle and Sarah mentioned above, move (back) to. It was at the same gathering that I met Rebecca Nesbit of the Society of Biology.

In Scotland there is a thriving science community too – some of whom I hope to meet when (if all goes well) I venture north this year. Far north in Aberdeen is Heather Doran, another science communications type. Someone who tweets some ‘not safe for work’ science research (you try explaining to the boss why that article on the defacating or reproduction of an obscure animal is essential reading) is Lauren Reid – or PygmyLoris as I know her. The Loris, like Puffles, has big eyes.

Fame Lab!

Andrew Holding, who also facilitates Cambridge Skeptics In The Pub pointed Puffles towards this one, so not surprisingly friendly dragon fairy (and myself) turned up. Andrew Pontzen was holding court here, introducing a series of awesome speakers – why weren’t my science teachers at school like this? Alongside him was Djuke Veldhuis.

Two speakers that caught my eye were Hayley Frend (because she used giant jellybellies to explain how to target cancer) and Ginny Smith, who hit the nail on the head with her quotation:

“Although humans are capable of reason, we don’t always use it”

Delivering a lovely talk while the judges deliberated was Helen Keen who managed the very difficult task of making a talk on something very complex (space flight) entertaining, humourous, feminist and understandable even to a non-scientist like me.  The eventual winner of the Cambridge Famelab heat and going through to the final was Catherine Carver.

On all things engineering, the two people I follow are Phillipa Oldham at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, and Katherine MacGregor at the Royal Institute of Engineers – also with Jane Sutton of the same institution. At the other end digitally is Marilyn Booth, digital engagement lead at the Department of Business. Not far away at the Ordnance Survey is Kate Beard, who also does science policy.

On medical research, Suzi Gage is doing an interesting study in her PhD – one that will be of interest to drugs policy and health policy people.

Ellie Cosgrave came to Twitterfame as a result of her #TakeBackTheTube campaign following her horrific experiences of harassment. But let’s not forget her engineering expertise on smart cities.




Puffles’ Twitter Lists – Parliament


Select Committees seem to have taken to Twitter en masse. Here are a few.

Some of you may recall the Public Administration Select Committee crowd-sourcing questions via Twitter for an appearance by Frances Maude. My summary of this is here – one that the previous link to the BBC’s write up took a quotation or two from as a couple of my questions via Puffles were asked.

Will we see more select committees doing similar things? I hope so. While few punches were landed, the principle for me showed promise. As MPs become more familiar with social media, so they will become more astute in using it to hold ministers and those in power to account. I should acknowledge the Public Administration Select Committee‘s clerks who started following lots of the other accounts. It made them much easier for me to list here.

The select committees:

Backbench Business – Not technically a select committee but they asked Puffles very nicely to be added. Actually, this is a very influential committee of Parliament as a number of days have been allocated for backbenchers to decide which issues they wish to debate. Issues put forward by MPs must have cross-party and widespread support, & must not be at the influence of front benches on either side. For example the debate on mental health was particularly powerful.

Business, Innovation and Skills – As well as watching the Department for Business (along with a remit for universities), they also have a habit of calling in the heads of big business. Not nearly as good at holding big firms to account as they could be – esp when firms’ failures have big impacts on communities.

Communities and Local Government – holding the Department for Communities and Local Government, and those in local authorities to account.

Defence – holding the big spending Ministry of Defence to account. Given the subsidy taxpayers give to BAE systems, shouldn’t the weapons firm also have a monthly appearance in front of these MPs?

Education – one for Gove-watchers and those interested in schools. More than a few of Puffles’ followers will be watching this one with interest.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – watching Defra and farming. (Note how no department or select committee has an ‘urban affairs’ title). There’s a little confusion here on remit with the existence of the Environmental Audit Committee and that of the Energy and Climate Change one – where does environment end and climate change start?

Foreign Affairs – keeping tabs on UK foreign policy:

“Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last five hundred years – to create a disunited Europe. In that cause we have fought with the Dutch against the Spanish, with the Germans against the French, with the French and Italians against the Germans and with the French against the Germans and Italians. Divide and rule, you see. Why should we change now when it’s worked so well.” (Sir Humphrey Appleby)

Health – Given the controversy over the NHS, I can imagine this one being on the receiving end of a fair amount of Twitter traffic. It’ll be interesting to see how the clerks of the committee make use of what is submitted to them.

Home Affairs – One of the most influential of select committees not least because it has greater powers of summons. My local MP Julian Huppert also sits on this committee, which in part has increased the amount of parliamentary coverage in my local paper, the Cambridge Evening News.

International Development – They scrutinise the work of the Department for International Development and their partners.

Joint Committee on Human Rights – Always an easy target but are far easier to lose than to fight for. This is Parliament’s human rights watchdog that looks at impact of policy on human rights.

Justice – One for you law and legal eagles out there. We’ve got the first Lord Chancellor in history who is not a lawyer. Make of that what you will in terms of future evidence sessions.

Liaison Committee – The only committee of Parliament that by convention can call the Prime Minister. It is formed from the elected chairs of the other select committees, and cross-examines the PM every six months. My personal take is that where any select committee of the House feels that it is the Prime Minister setting the policy, then that is who should answer questions. It’s one of the reasons Blair got away with so little scrutiny during Labour’s days.

Political and Constitutional Reform – This committee scrutinises the Coalition’s program of constitutional reform led by the Deputy Prime Minister. They also cover lobbying too.

Procedure – One for Commons’ watchers – this committee looks at how the House of Commons goes about its business. This includes reform of select committees.

Public Administration – The one I’m interested in which scrutinises the civil service. Puffles regularly tweets about the goings on of this committee (being followed on Twitter by a third of the MPs on it) and having had an impact on their report on public engagement in policy-making.

Public Accounts – The one that you’re interested in – or perhaps is the one most likely to be mainstream newsworthy. If money is wasted in a big way, those seen as responsible find themselves here.

Science and Technology – Pitifully low coverage in the media despite the subject’s importance, something that I hope social media users will be able to help redress.

Transport – Trains, planes, cars and cycles. Hopefully this one will get greater coverage too, but only because I am dependent on public transport!

Work and Pensions – One of the biggest departments of the lot with one of the biggest budgets too. Given how many people are using social media to protest against the Coalition’s policies, as with Health this too will be worth watching in terms of how the clerks use it to shape how the Committee scrutinises ministers and civil servants.

Other Parliament Twitter accounts

It’s not just select committees that have them:

The main UK Parliament account is @UKParliament. Historians may like the Parliamentary Archives and The History of Parliament.

In terms of the rumpus in the chamber, the House of Commons is there to warn you of when Punch will thump Judy at PMQs, as is Commons Hansard (to tell you of when Punch thumped Judy – but I don’t condone domestic violence. Don’t do it kids.) At a more genteel pace is life in the House of Lords.

I’d LOVE to do some social media work with UK Parliamentary Outreach sometime in the future. They are on Twitter too, as is the annual Parliament Week.

I’ll try to get more added to this list as and when they come onstream.

Puffles’ Twitter Lists – The Civil Service


Not so much a ‘who’s who’ of the civil service on Twitter, but a list of those who are in, used to be or work around the civil service – and who get Puffles too. It’s not a definitive list by any means. Most of the people in this list have met Puffles.

To note: I’m refraining from listing those people who are civil servants but who have not explicitly listed themselves as civil servants. 

I’d like to put Andrew Campbell of Cabinet Office at the top of this list because when I was in the civil service, he was the most senior civil servant (acting DG at the time) who knew of Puffles’ existence and encouraged me to keep going with all things social media. An honourable mention to his PA at the time Vilma Miller who also looked after me during the early days of my time on the Fast Stream. Unfortunately Andrew is not on Twitter (Emer Coleman‘s not got to him yet) – that said, if he was on Twitter, he would never sleep. And he would drink all the coffee leaving none left for Puffles. So as Andrew’s not on there, you’ll have to make do with his boss Stephen Kelly, (who doesn’t follow Puffles [He does now!]), his boss’s boss Richard Heaton, Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary and First Parliamentary Counsel (who does!), and the Head of the Civil Service Sir Bob Kerslake – where the buck stops.

I’ve mentioned Emer Coleman – Head of Digital Engagement at the Government Digital Service who joined from the GLA. Dragon fairies are normally notoriously hard to train and make sense of, but with Emer this seemed to happen instantaneously. Not only that, she completely re-wrote the rule book on how to engage with the wider public on social and digital media – i.e. go where the conversation happens to be. The first substantial example of this I saw from Whitehall was when she started crowd-sourcing for ideas of what should and should not be in new social media guidance for the civil service. Being the first person to write a blogpost about it following the announcement (via Twitter), she started the discussion process in the comments section of that post, with the final result being the guidance and a (*wingtip*) for Puffles in the Cabinet Office blogpost that accompanied the press release.

Digital engagement

The genius that is Mike Bracken brought Emer – and a whole host of other talent into the Government Digital Service. He’s managed to bring together a team of extraordinarily talented individuals and fuse them together as a team that is functioning light years ahead of the rest of the public sector – and dare I say it the private sector too. Within this team are a whole hose of people who have experience and the talent that the private sector pays a lot of money for, only this lot (perhaps most importantly) are also driven by the values of public service. Three lovely people who work with Emer in this regard are Nettie Williams, Abi and Wendy CoelhoLouise Kidney and convenor of Teacamp in London, Jane O’Loughlin. Louise has brought the wisdom of time in local government to the heart of Whitehall, and Jane helped bring the heart of Whitehall to Cambridge – to Teacambs in June 2012. It was at a meeting of senior local government officials prior to that where Jane, walking into the meeting room carrying Puffles did Teacambs start getting some real momentum.

Mike and friends have also got back following the first draft of this post to recommend Tom Loosemore, also at the GDS. Again, if there are others you think should be on here or those that I have inadvertently missed out (it is a big list!), please let me know. [Updated 19 Dec 2012]

More digital and data wizardry

Dafydd Vaughan and Jordan Hatch are two of the brightest and most energetic of young sparkles flying around GovUK towers. (There are more of them – apologies for those I’ve omitted in this draft!) The difference being GovUK towers seem to know how to make use of all that energy. (It wasn’t always the case with me). How they do the stuff they do I am not entirely sure – but the results that come back are like “Wow! Actually that info is really useful!” The bit I’m interested in is getting this otherwise essential information and getting large organisations to feed it into their decision-making processes. That’s in our ‘to do’ pile. Leading the cutting edge of all things innovation (yes, the public sector can do innovation!) is Mark O’Neill. They also do creativity too! Just ask Paul Annett. The person who’s responsible for the ‘web’ end of GDS that most interests me is Neil Williams – who is leading on the Inside Government pages of GovUK.

In terms of the high-achieving multi-talented, few that I’ve met in the civil service have matched Alice Newton. But I would say that as she spent three years at and in Cambridge. Speaking of Cambridge and GDS talent, there’s also Nick Stenning and (outside the GDS but still a wizard on all things open data and data journalism) Lucy Chambers.

It’s our data! We paid for it!

To those public sector bodies that hold onto data and refuse to release it, that’s my line. There are a host of people working on open data. If you don’t know what open data means, it means THIS. (Not to be confused with open source – which is about software intellectual property (or the opposite of), crowd sourcing (finding stuff through your social media networks) or open policy (which is developing policy in a transparent manner rather than a few chaps around a sofa – like these ones. #DiversityFail? Us?)

Actually, open data and open policy making are linked. The data is useful to open policy because it means that the information a policy is based on can be interrogated, processed and analysed – and scrutinised by those outside of government. This is good. Better scrutiny leads to better policy. Hence why there are people inside the system working on both open data and open policy-making. They even have their own corporate Twitter account! The brains behind all of this include Olivia Burman, Paul Maltby, Ilaria Miller, Charlotte Alldritt and Liane Farrer. Close to the pinnacle of this is Sophia Oliver.

I mentioned Lucy Chambers being outside of Whitehall structures – she’s with the Open Knowledge Foundation. There are others too – such as Glyn Wintle, Hadley Beeman and Sam Smith.

The wise owls flying around the civil service, spreading wisdom as they go

If you’ve not heard of the following and you are in all things Whitehall social media, shame on you! Actually no – rather these people go out of their way to stop Whitehall doing silly things, helping the public access better services and hold those in power to account while assisting those inside the system on the front line to do so. They also do a lot of stuff for free and in their spare time too. Clock-watching bean-counting consultants these are definitely not.

First on the list is Steph Gray – ex BIS Head of Digital Engagement, he’s one of the brains behind Helpful Technologies. And they are helpful. Really. If there is once piece of information people new to public sector social media should take away, it’s this poster. Then there is the social media crisis simulator – which I’d love to see in action in my neck of the woods. I just need to help join up a few more dots before we’re ready for something county-wide. Others I highly recommend are:

Honourable mentions also go to Justin Kerr Stevens, Stefan CzerniawskiCarrie Bishop and Dominic Campbell. And no, none of them have paid me to be listed.

One thing that all of these people understand (that many ‘social media marketing’ types do not) is the importance of the word ‘social’ in the phrase social media. “Media” implies trying to communicate something from A to B. “Social” implies a conversation – something going back the other way and in other directions (and back) along with listening – and acting upon what is being heard. (Or at least analysing it and making a judgement on what to do next). So if Puffles and I can’t help with something public sector social media, chances are at least one of this lot can. Puffles and I tend to operate in the shallow waters – mainly around social media awareness and how to get the best out of the basics.

So…who else is on Puffles’ radar?

There are a number of people in the civil service who are in the Twitter waters to various depths. In at the deep end is Sarah Baskerville, who started doing public sector social media long before everyone else did. She was the one who took the newspaper firestorm over retweets all those years ago so that you didn’t have to. You know the ‘OMGz – civil servant retweeted something – that MUST be her opinion!’ sort of thing. The irony of that firestorm was that it led to the opposite of what was intended: Sarah’s friendships grew in numbers, breadth and depth as a result of that firestorm as lots of people – myself included – rallied round. Sarah was there in Puffles’ very very early days – as was David Pearson at Defra, Neil Franklin at DWP and Sebastian Crump.

Nick Halliday – the brains behind the National Audit Office’s Twitter account, Ann Kempster of the GCN and Rachel Christopher of DCLG are also working on a couple of very interesting pieces of work in Whitehall on communications and analysis – in particular getting co-ordination across departments, but through grass roots rather than a group of manderins issuing directives as in days gone by.

Departmental leads 

There are a number of talented people based in Whitehall departments who are regularly bouncing off the GDS – in fact with many of them they were doing things long before GDS was even a twinkle in the eye of Martha Lane Fox. Oh, if you’re interested in Martha’s work, follow Marketa Mach, her more-than-able ‘chief of staff.’

Tim Lloyd at the the Department of Business (BIS) and Stephen Hale at DH both pre-date Puffles. Both are ably assisted (and/or assist) Marilyn Booth and Susy Wootton respectively. Jenny Poole pre-dates Puffles too, and is now at Number 10, as is Nick Jones.

Alison DanielsRoss Ferguson and Eleanor Stewart are at the helm of the Foreign Office, once held by Jimmy Leach (the latter being very much worth listening to, given the push for all things digital he made while at the Foreign Office).

Pippa Norris has the challenge of heading online engagement at the Ministry of Defence. Social media is inevitably becoming politically controversial and challenging area for the Ministry of Defence as existing conflicts around the world spill over online.

Robin Riley is one of the most powerful public speakers I’ve heard in a long time. Not only that, his grasp of social media analytics is one of the strongest that I have seen. If you are a Whitehall department and want to know about what another part of Whitehall is doing on this, get this chap in for a lunchtime or after-work seminar. He’s that good.

Pootling back to Cabinet Office we find Liz McKeown as Head of Analysis. Leading on cross-Whitehall social media engagement and digital policy is Kathy Settle. Handling the area of civil service reform is Nicola Bolton.

Who are the exes? Those once in the civil service but who have moved to pastures new?

Those of you familiar with the Department for Communities may remember Grant Fitzner and Henry Tam – the latter now back in academia at the University of Cambridge.   Some of you will also be familiar with Jill Rutter – now at the Institute for Government.

Some of you may be familiar with Liam Donaldson, former Chief Medical Officer. If science is your thing, have a look at the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser.

At the top of the all things digital in days gone by were Alex Butler and Andrew Stott.

Updates following 1st draft:

I invited people to submit further recommendations following my first draft.

North of Hadrian’s Wall, Ben Plouvier has recommended longtime Puffles’ follower Lesley Thompson, who looks after Teacamp Scotland.

Alice Pilia recommended both John Sheridan – who will be of interest to any legal types out there with a fascinating ‘legislation as data’ project that I first stumbled across earlier this year, and Ade Adewunmi who is opening up policy-making, but from the inside. If open policy is your thing, she’s one of the people to follow.

One VERY honourable mention should go to the Australian Civil Service’s Pia Waugh – who is doing similar great things on the other side of the world. Because of her, I was able to contribute to an event that was happening in Australia…from the comfort of my bedroom. The idea that ordinary people can contribute to events going on across the world “in real time” is…quite something.

Puffles’ Twitter Lists – More politically aware and motivated young people


Following on from this lovely bunch, here are some more young people worth following and interacting with. 

I’ll start with Sally Bonsall and Hannah Thompson, both of whom are studying at the London School of Economic and Political Sciences (LSE). I stumbled across both of them via retweets. Hannah has a particularly good set of video blogs under the title Hummus, we have a problem, and Sally is also a singer-songwriter. Both of these two are using digital media with an instinctiveness that I’m hoping to get to sometime in 2013. Still doing A-levels but showing the potential of LissyNumber is Molly Inglis.

Hannah Curtis is a blogger who regularly appears in Puffles’ feed, covering all things feminism and mental health. Joanna Hemingway is someone else also on the feminism radar. Martha Everitt combines this with poetry – some her own, and some by well known poets.

Now, for some people the label ‘feminism’ comes with a lot of baggage. Normally along the lines of: “Men: Boo!!!” Yet rather than reading the stereotypes or the academic literature, I’ve learnt a great deal from the new generation of feminists that use social media. Hence my blogposts on why men need to engage with women, and why it’s good to see more people speaking out about the lack of women on media panels as well as on decision-making boards in large organisations. I argue that these are public policy issues.

Two very inspiring science and engineering-related tweeters that have appeared on Puffles’ radar of late include Suzi Gage and Rebecca Broadbent – the latter again being very good with engineering and steam trains! Have a look at this lovely digital video. In Cambridge, Andrew Holding holds court with both Cambridge Skeptics and Cambridge Geek Nights. For those of you interested in science, medicine and politics, Eilidh is worth a look – particularly if you want a Scottish view of things.

On the politics and public policy front, Michelle Clement appeared from nowhere to tell the #PufflesMassiv about the Mile End Group, that put on a series of very interesting politics and policy related lectures for students and graduates. For those of you interested in academia-side of policy, have a look at Katie Tonkiss, who I met in Bristol and is doing some really interesting research on governance and citizenship. Also appearing on Puffles’ feed under similar themes is Helen Talbot. Closer to London, Akash Paun is one of an outstanding group of young researchers at the Institute for Government.

On all things Europe I was delighted to meet Cheryl Justis and Jessica Kunert – who, along with Millicent and Gergely Polner at the European Parliament’s HQ in London are all worth following.

Local to me in Cambridge are Natasha Rutter and Diane Morrison – the latter working for the excellent local homeless charity, FLACK. Also on the local charity front are Lou Shackleton and Mel Findlater –  the latter of whom is part of the Cambridge Women’s Football Club. Please can we get them a decent ground in Cambridge, only playing out on the edge of Ely isn’t easy for me to get to?!

At a more partizan end of things are Zenscara on trade unions and feminism, Martha Morey (Chair, Cambridge University Labour Club), Deborah Fenney (all things environmental) and Millie Riley, lately of Democracy 2015. I also met Simon Alvey at the “Is politics doomed?” conference.

I’ll end here with Ksenia Zhitomirskaya, one of the few architects that appears on Puffles’ feed, and Sara Firth of RT, who seems to have a habit of tweeting and reporting from demonstrations that are otherwise ignored by corporate mainstream UK media. As I’ve mentioned before, the presence of English language 24 hour news operations by broadcasters from non-native-English-speaking countries is a relatively recent phenomenon, but in time may well start impacting on what news gets broadcast and in what context and with what biases.

Are young people politically apathetic? Not this lot


Wingtips for some fine young minds – with more to be added

Well…they have had sand kicked in their faces by the political establishment for stuff they didn’t do and/or wasn’t their fault, so they have a right to be angry, don’t they? Note I’ve not put a number on what ‘young’ is. This is deliberate.

One of the other reasons for doing this is I have stumbled across a number of brilliant young bloggers and tweeters – the majority of them women. As they are more often than not on the receiving end of a ridiculous amount of hatred, I wanted them to know that there is lots of support out there – not least from this lot below.

The format will be Twitter account followed where applicable by link to blog or website.

I’m going to start with Cat Smith – who posts here. Tribal Labour/Christian Socialist type who stood at the 2010 election. How many of us automatically assume that Christians are  right-leaning?

Kelly, who tumbles here was one of the first vocal feminist atheist types I started following, followed very quickly by Zoe Stavri, who is one of the most brilliantly fiery bloggers I’ve ever met. It was through her that I also stumbled across Ellen Yianni who between the two of them have busted many-a-myth about feminism. Both @ShutupCaf and Katie McAlpine (alongside sidekick Lauren Cole) have also provided their own splendidly clear feminism myth-busting articles in recent times too. I like the way they challenge me to think about stuff in a way that you seldom get with the mainstream press. They also have an energy that I really wish I still had sometimes. Someone else who is absolutely hard-as-nails and who takes no prisoners is Anna Fleur (blogging here) – who I met with Millie Epona on my first visit to Liverpool. Into the similar crowd can also be found Mediocre Dave. In a similar vein and league is PiercePenniless – blogging here.

Louisa Loveluck used to study at Cambridge and is still my first port of call for all things happening in the Middle East – blogging here.

The first scientist I stumbled across was Michelle Brooke – also from Cambridge. It was through her that I started making a few links between scientists, sceptics/skeptics and atheists. With science still in mind is Heather Doran, beavering away for a PhD in Aberdeen. Also on a science theme is Sarah Castor-Perry, one of the loveliest of girls I’ve met and the first person who was able to explain what the Higgs Boson was to me in language I could understand. Lauren Reid is also one to look out for – though some science tweets may not be safe for thin-skinned bosses!

One of the strongest proponents for atheism is James Croft – who’s father I used to work for during my civil service days, and who’s sister DottySparkles was one of Puffles’ earliest followers. Another young secular humanist who I recently discovered is Eliza Black.

The first person who I started interacting with on Twitter who was still at secondary school at the time was LissyNumber. This bundle of brains has got a wise head on young shoulders – the quality of her blogging is very mature for her years. The same goes for young astronomer Hannah H – similar age to LissyNumber but blogging on all things space-related. (If you like all things space, see Dr Lucy Rogers too).

Some of you may have noticed Puffles and I going after the Olympics. Jennifer Jones, who I met when she came to Cambridge last year, has been blogging about this for a lot longer. She also has a voice and raw passion in what she does that reminds me of Amy McDonald. Talking of all things Scotland, there are a number of Scots whose presence prevents me from being trapped permanently in the Westminster political bubble. Stevie Wise is one of them, as is Ceilidh-Anne – the latter who also covers literature and US politics so that I don’t have to! If the more nuttier types on that side of the pond have dome something stupid and I find out about it, it’s normally because she’s tweeted about it. Also in Scotland are a couple of people not keen on Westminster at all. Gail Lythgoe of the SNP is one of them. Hannah B takes a slightly different few, being one of the people behind Liberal Youth in Scotland. Hop over the Irish sea and you find Susie, who has a habit of pulling the rest of us up on what bad stuff can happen if faith schools are allowed to run riot and divide societies – amongst other political things.

At the opposite end of the country is Maddie Soper – one of two people who have mentioned Puffles on student radio – the other being one of the youngest councillors in the country, Cllr Kerri Prince – who was still doing A-levels when elected. Not far from Maddie is Ruthie Dee – who I bumped into on a visit to Bristol – along with @TheNatFantastic (the latter having previously met at PufflesCamp in Brighton last year).

I want to give a mention to Rosianna – whose eyes hypnotise me and who also set the standard for vlogging before she got to university. (She recently graduated).

On the young liberal political side of things are Daniel Furr (blogging here), Ellie Sharman (blogging here), Hannah Claytor, Kat DadswellCllr Daisy Benson (who set the standard of having digital media bouncing off social media) and Political Parry.

For young labour types, I’ve mentioned Cllr Kerri Prince above. Around the edges are Emma Jackson Stuart, Emma @Zetlandi, and Andy Hicks. someone even younger than Kerri, Sophie Nash who has just done her GCSEs. Owen Jones you know about. More involved locally to me is Cllr Carina O’Reilly – known to Puffles ( for plying not-so-little-dragons with beer) who sits on Cambridge City Council, as does Cllr Richard Johnson. Unfortunately we seem to have lost Cllrs George Owers and Adam Pogonowski to Twitter – which I think is a big shame. In and around university circles is Simone Webb Closer to Westminster is Lauren Edwards. Shelly Asquith recently campaigned for Ken Livingstone. I’ve not met her yet though get a feeling her heart’s in the same place as Cat Smith’s. (See top).

In trade union circles is Helen Flanagan – still a PCS rep like I once was during my civil service days. Hamish Drummond – who I had the pleasure of meeting during those days is still there too.

I also keep tabs on environmentalists. Jess Stanton of People and Planet – the first non-Puffles account to feature Puffles in her avatar is one. Within the Green Party is Georgina Bavetta and Elliot Folan – along with Adam Ramsay and Gus Hoyt

Working for the Young Advisers charity is Sean O’Halloran. On the Youth Parliament is Rhammel Afflick. Both are the sort of types you’d see engaging with BBC Free Speech – the new politics show for young people that many a mainstream politician has the habit of getting completely roasted on. They think it’s going to be a shouting match but end up getting skewered at the same time.

Moving in media circles – and custodian of Puffles’ first set of house rules is Sophie Warnes. Caroline Mortimer is another in such circles. See her post about Tony Blair’s return.

There are four young medics that are also worth keeping an eye on. Top of the pile is Natalie Silvey, but not far behind are Fi Douglas, Hannah Johnson-Hughes and Kate Bowman. (I’ve met the first two but not the latter two but if they are as nice as the first two, we’re in safe hands).

Puffles’ Twitter Lists – Public Policy & Public Administration

This group of people are just a few of the people who I recommend following if you are interested in public policy and public administration. What’s the difference between these two terms and what we know as party politics? Good question – the lines between party politics and public policy feel like they have become more blurred over the decades as all of the main political parties have drifted towards the centre. You could say that with party politics is bluntly about (verbally) bashing your political opponents and seeking election to public office, where as public policy as about influencing, commenting on and delivering the policies of whoever happens to be in power.


The top four “institutional” tweeters for me are The Guardian’s Public Leaders’ Network, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and the Institute for Government. They are not the only virtual or actual think tanks – there are lots. See this WikiP entry for an incomplete list.

The think tank of choice for politicians seems to be the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFF). If the IFF comes out on the side of one party on a given policy, you can be guaranteed to find a politician coming out with the line that sounds like “We know the general public think us politicians are low-life lying scuzzballs and wouldn’t believe a word we say, so don’t take our word for it but take the word of the respected, reputable independent non-partisan institute the IFF who thinks our policy on [insert name of policy] is fantastic!” Yes, I’m “Newz-spoofing”.

The highest profile university-based think tank is University College London’s Constitutional Unit. Sticking with an academic theme are the London School of Economics’ Impact Blog, and its Politics and Policy Blog. Some of you may also be aware of the Hansard Society which covers all things Parliament. Also related to academia is the Economic and Social Research Council. With a similar social policy mindset is Ipsos Mori, the polling organisation.

There are also a number of science, technology and innovation organisations tweeting out there. At the top of the Establishment’s tree are the Royal Institution and the Royal Society. These should not be confused with the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) which in turn should not be confused with the Royal Academy. Oxford’s Institute for Science, Innovation and Society tweets, as does the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. There’s also the Association for Science in Education and the Campaign for Science and Engineering.

It’s not all science though. The historian in me says that if we don’t learn from our history we are cursed to repeat it, hence History and Policy.

In terms of the more ‘partisan’ think tanks, the IEA and Policy Exchange are seen as more right-of-centre think tanks, while Compass (which only recently opened its membership to non-Labour Party members) and the Fabian Society have strong Labour Party/trade union links. For someone who had a more ‘environmentalist’ disposition while at university as an economics undergraduate, the rise of the New Economics Foundation has been a welcome one. Ditto The One Society which campaigns on reducing extreme inequalities. Sticking with the ‘green’ side of things there is the Carbon Trust and the Energy Savings Trust.

At a local government level are the Local Government Association, the LGiU and the NLGN. For what’s left of its existence, there’s also the Audit Commission. As an aside on all things public finance, Public Finance, CIPFA and the National Audit Office are essential following for those who follow the numbers. As things get transferred out to “Big Society” the tweets of the Asset Transfer Unit come into play. With lots of things getting cut, Citizens’ Advice is also important.

Health policy watchers may wish to follow The King’s FundThe Francis Crick Institute, The Wellcome Trust. For those of you interested in all things foreign policy, Chatham House is the place to go – failing that, DFID’s research Twitterfeed.

On policing issues the NPIA & The Police Foundation are worth following..


There is a top team of female tweeters at the Institute for GovernmentJill Rutter, Liz Carolan, Catherine Haddon, Ellen Hallsworth and Justine Stephen.

On local government, Simon Parker of the NLGN, Charlotte Eisenhart of the LGA and Simon Burrall of Involve are three tweeple I’ve recently started following. I’ve also been following Bola Ogun on all things South London. Sticking with a similar theme of improving things locally is Paula Clayton-Smith of the Keep Britain Tidy Group. Neil Mackin tweets from inside local government, as do Ian Senior and Dan Slee. Those with policy interests also include Justin Griggs on parish/town councils, Will Perrin on hyperlocal issues, Jos Creese on public sector IT & Karen Smyth in Northern Ireland.

There’s also a nice little cluster of wise men that I keep tabs on. Professor Colin Talbot, Dr Dave O’Brien, & Stuart Long – the last of whom is digging up interesting nuggets from Parliament.

On policing, I keep tabs on Laurence Grant, formerly of the Home Office, Tom Gash at the Institute for Government, Paul McKeever of the Police Federation and DCC Gordon Scobbie of Tayside Police – the social media lead for ACPO.

Other people I’ve bumped into during my time in the Whitehall Jungle include David Wilcox, Toby Blume of Urban Forum and Jess Steele at Locality – all of whom are worth following for ‘improving local communities’ issues.

On the more ‘research’ side of things I keep tabs on Catherine Howe who’s leading on the CRIFCambs sustainability project.

Transparency campaigners will be familiar with David Hencke – essential for freedom of information watchers.

Finally on the NHS Reforms, Dr Clare Gerada & Dr Clive Peedell are the ones to follow. I’ve not found anyone within my Twitter network who works in the medical profession who supports the Health and Social Care Bill.

Puffles’ Twitter Lists – Transparency, Open Data & all things digital

Some of you may have seen my attempt at a spoof article and blogpost on Freedom of Information. This group are worth following for all things transparency, open data and digital things.

The first is an official one – UKTransparency – the UK Government’s Twitter end of the Data.gov.uk project that is looking to get lots of information and data sets held by the public sector published. At a Parliament level there’s @PictFor – Parliamentary Internet Communications and Technology Forum, and @POST_UK – the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology.

One individual who I only recently found out about and am already realising what a loss to the nation his untimely death in 2007 was, is Chris Lightfoot – the article linked to by Tom Steinberg of MySociety (which I first stumbled across via a tweet from the also-brilliant former civil servant and key mover & shaker for UKGovCamp, Steph Gray) shows why the sorts of skills and talents Chris had are the ones that todays politicians and policy makers need, but don’t have.

“Mixed in there are wholly new, alien group of skills that the recent SOPA, Wikileaks and ID cards debacles show that modern leaders haven’t got anywhere near to internalising: they include knowledge about security engineering, intellectual property and how new technologies clash with old laws and ideologies. They are skills that nobody used to think were political, but which are now centre stage in a polity that can’t keep up.”

Staying with all things innovative, I keep tabs on Dominic Campbell and Carrie Bishop. Ditto Glyn Wintle, sidekick to the bundle of endless energy that is Hadley Beeman. Someone else who’s knowledge I’m also in awe of is Sam Smith who’s probably spent more time having coffee with Puffles than most people. Stefan Czerniawski is also part of this wider group of public sector-related digital titans.

I mentioned a number of public sector digital titans in a previous twitter list, but I’ll mention a couple of them again. Mike Bracken is top dog in Cabinet Office on all things digital, putting flames to the cobwebs of many a departmental board. Two people who are also familiar with how things work with senior civil servants are Andrew Stott and Alex Butler.  Jane O’Loughlin is the logistical brain behind the monthly #Teacamp gatherings in London – normally on the first Thursday of each month. If you are in London and are interested in all things digital media in the public sector (even if you are a private or other sector creature), get along there. From there you’ll be able to put a number of faces to Twitter accounts – in particular those mentioned in Public Service Titans. At the very top of the Pyramid is Neelies Kroes – EU Commissioner with responsibility for all things digital.

On the broader Freedom of Information front, there’s Ibrahim Hasan who’s carved out a very useful niche discussing all things FoI on Twitter. Ditto Jon BainesLynn Wyeth, FoI Monkey and FoI Man. The Information Commissioner’s Office has an account too, but I feel it’s still a little rough around the edges.

Continuing on a semi-legal theme, Joanne Flack is an intellectual property and technology legal eagle. IPTechShark seems to swim in similar waters too.

In the more general open data field, there is the Open Knowledge Foundation, which has the lines of Laura Newman and Lucy Chambers driving things along very nicely.

For those of you interested in investigative journalism, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism is a good place to start.

For all things libraries and archives there is the lovely Nora McGregor, digital curator at the British Library. On a similar theme there is the World Digital Library which every so often tweets nuggets of gold. Parliamentary Archives is also a mine of tasty things for political historians.

People I’ve stumbled across in the Private Sector include Kerry at Dell who was one of the people who gave me a feel for what the interface between public and private sector is likely to become in the digital field. It was also here that I met someone who’s gone on to become one of my closest friends, social media trainer Penny Homer. Chris Osborne, who I’ve mentioned on previous occasions is also someone who I could not go without mentioning given his work on all things transport data.

In terms of staying safe online, I spotted a combined government and industry initiative Get Safe Online. I also keep tabs on the BBC’s @BBCClick stream, catching up with it as and when on TV. Rory Cellan-Jones is the BBC’s journalist you want to be keeping tabs on with these issues in mind.

On a “Holding large organisations to account” there are a number of people and organisations that deserve a mention. The Financial Accountability & Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition is one, The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is another. (Both of these are US-based). In the UK we have our national branch of Transparency International, and the Open Rights Group. There’s also the likes of Brian Cathcart, Thais Portilho-Shrimpton, Fleet Street Fox and Tim Ireland who keep tabs on all things politics and media using digital platforms. There’s also the Public Law Project, Open Corporates, Who’s Lobbying and The Justice Gap which you may also want to keep tabs on too. Ditto Open Democracy, Corporate Europe and Democracy Now.

Twitter now seems to have broken down for the evening so I’ll finish this one here.