If you haven’t heard already, I was elected to Manchester Digital council following a vote of the 30 odd members who turned up at the AGM. The full list is available on the Manchester Digital website.
It’s great that we have a mix of new and re-elected council members, meaning that we have a blend of experience and fresh input. My intention is to use the discussion I posted on my blog the week before as a starting point for my actions on the council. In the spirit of openness, collaboration and events, I hope to use this channel to keep members updated as well as come along to a range of digital community meetups to meet people directly.
With that in mind, I’ve been keen to go out and about and fly the flag for MD in my new role. Over the last two weeks I’ve been out with FutureEverything volunteers, at the Creative Times relaunch (featuring Phil Jeffs) as well as sticking my head into Manchester SEO meetup. This week, we also held the regular Social Media Cafe where regular attendees Tim Dobson and Richard Hudson also made themselves known as council members. It’s been great to keep in touch with what’s going on and introduce myself to people in my new role.
I also set up the @McrDig twitter account (unfortunately, ‘ManchesterDigital’ is too long to be used as an account handle!). We’re using this to engage with the community and share news, in addition to our usual weekly emails (do you get these?). It’s regularly monitored, so just tweet @McrDig to get in touch, ask questions or get something promoted. We’re also using and monitoring the #McrDig hashtag for relevant content.
It’s worth touching upon my thoughts about the AGM itself. The formal report, drawn up by last year’s council, is available on the website. In the future, however, I will be aiming to arrange for the meeting to be live-blogged and more accessible ‘outside the room’. There was a fair bit of chat on Twitter and it would be great to be able to include some of the feedback from that in future plans as well as allow the meeting to be engaged with, erm, digitally.
This also means getting the paperwork out ahead of the meeting and putting any resolutions out for comment beforehand, like I tried to do with the Google Wave for the joint statement to the new coalition government. To aid with this sort of approach, Phil has set us up a Basecamp account so the council can more easily keep in touch.
I’d also ultimately like to see MD move towards a model of electronic voting, but this carries a number of questions that are worth exploring with the community. I’ve had experience of implementing this at a previous charity but it was not without its flaws and the process must be subject to scrutiny. Still, it is not impossible nor uncommon and I think it’s an ideal way to let more members help set the direction for the organisation.
All of this, I hope, will add up to a more inclusive approach to our main democratic meeting of the year. It will build on the themes of openness, collaborate and better events, but I hope people see the digital engagement elements as additional to attending the meeting in person. There’s a lot to be said for coming along, meeting other members and questioning the council and chair in person. I hope that by promoting it well in advance and engaging people with the content, we’ll be able to make it a more useful event for the membership to turn up to.
Our first council meeting is now set for the start of July and I hope we can put together a calendar of our events over the coming year. If you have any ideas, get in touch. We’re already working to identify the range of groups across Manchester and the north-west that we should be talking to, in addition to those with whom we already have a relationship. I also hope that we’ll look at what we can offer by way of support in order to focus on our core aim of making Manchester and the north west an even better place for digital business.