Government 2.0, NGOs & Nonprofits, Social media & networking, Sustainability

New resource on evaluation and technology

A few weeks back I received this invite via email from colleague Duncan Rintoul, of the Institute for Innovation in Business and Social Research (IIBSOR) at University of Wollongong. Given the topic, I thought it was worthwhile sharing here also:

AES tech-eval: A new SIG focused on the intersection between evaluation and technology

These days it is no surprise to see mainstream and niche programs making use of tech-based platforms: web-based self-help tools, mobile applications, SMS-based reminder systems, viral videos, conversations on social media… the list is much longer than this, and ever growing.

We need to develop capacity among evaluators to work confidently in this environment, designing and executing sound evaluations that understand what these technologies are, how they can be used and how their impact can be measured.

There are also great opportunities for using technology in our evaluations — wikis, online forums, online surveys, social media monitoring… again the list is long and growing.

Spilling over from one of the parallel sessions at the 2011 AES conference, a crew of around 15 people has started pulling together a new AES Special Interest Group around this intersection between evaluation and technology: AES tech-eval.

It’s early days yet, but two things you can do for now:

  • Join the email listserv
  • Check out v1.0 of their resource library of conference papers, published evaluations and other resources for evaluating tech-based programs and program elements.

Go on, join them! If technology freaks you out, swap fear of the unknown with curiosity and see where it takes you. If you’re already working comfortably in this space, help lead your colleagues forward.

Business 2.0, Social media & networking, Sustainability

Platforms for shared value creation (redux)

I’ve just completed 3rd semester of my masters degree, and I wanted to share one of the papers I wrote on the concept of Platforms for shared value creation, that builds on the model that I outlined in my Web Directions South 2010 talk.

Diagram outlining the 'Platform for shared value creation' concept

The paper, which is provided under a Creative Commons license:

…proposes a model of service delivery that has the potential to create shared value (Porter & Kramer 2011), addressing pressing societal and environmental needs while delivering commercial returns. The aim of this paper is to introduce the model — the “platform for shared value creation” (PSVC) — as a first step towards further exploration in the future. The model is not yet fully-formed and as such this paper should be considered more as “thinking in draft” for further discussion and refinement.

While the nature of these things means it takes an academic tone, I hope that it provides some value as a contribution to discussions around shared value, Collaborative Consumption, and social innovation. I would love to know any feedback you might have, so please drop me a note in the comments if you find it useful, or want to challenge or probe any of its assertions.

Design, Social media & networking, Sustainability

Communities & Technology conference

Just a quick note to say that I’ll be attending the Communities and Technology conference happening in Brisbane next week. In addition to attending the Friday and Saturday presentations, I’ll be participating in the Food(ing): Between Human-Computer and Human-Food-Experience workshop on Wednesday.

I’m particularly looking forward to the workshop as an opportunity to learn from others working in this area, and to share my experience from both my masters studies work and the learnings from the FlavourCrusader initiative. In related news, my participation in the workshop stems from a proposed book chapter that my friend and colleague Penny Hagen and I proposed to the Urban Informatics folks at QUT, that hopefully will be going ahead soon, but I’ll have more on that in the coming months.

NGOs & Nonprofits, Presentations, Social media & networking, Sustainability

Presenting at UX Australia

I’m really excited to be presenting at the UX Australia conference this year, being held in Sydney. I’ll be presenting on our learnings from our work to date with the FlavourCrusader initiative, including the session we ran at the last Social Innovation Sydney event.

My session is called Eating our 2 and 5: Designing to change food behaviours using mobile devices and will explore how:

  • Designing for sustained behaviour change benefits from consideration of additional factors than those found in a purely commercial context
  • User experience techniques can be utilised to provide an understanding of “enabling” (and conversely ‘disabling’) factors of behaviour change, as these often present themselves only in context of use
  • Novel rapid testing and research techniques can be utilised to simulate such context in a group testing environment
  • User interface design choices take on extra gravity when considering behaviour change as an outcome. For example, applied appropriately, game mechanics can be a powerful driver to encourage desired behaviours beyond product use.

On that last point I’ll definitely be interested to attend Paris Buttfield-Addison’s talk Gamification sucks: Lessons from the field, though I suspect from the description we have somewhat similar views on the matter ;)

In fact, I’m humbled to be included in such a diverse and inspiring field of presenters, including contributions from our friends at Digital Eskimo, Rob Manson, and Oliver and Rod from Mobile Experience, among others.

It looks like a fantastic event, which given the feedback I’ve heard from past years’ events is the norm — well worth picking up an early-bird ticket for I’d say…

Government 2.0, Social media & networking

Which is riskier: engagement or ignorance?

I’ve just finished reading Ignorance (of social media) is risk, a great post by Craig Thomler exploring the lack of social media engagement by public servants.

I think the issues that Craig raises reflect a lack of perceived relevance (and therefore importance) of social media by professionals in their own context. My experience has been that a lot of people working in a professional context (be it government or corporate) find it hard to determine how social media applies in this context. While many have Facebook accounts that they use for personal use, they are unable (or in some cases don’t want to, as social media is seen as, well, social) to connect this personal use into their work. While they see major brands operating in the space, given the differences in approach/context — e.g. between consumer brands and say public service — it’s difficult to translate this into their own sphere.

Also, they are often unaware of the “non-Facebook/Twitter” options that are available — such as Yammer, LinkedIn, wikis, blogs etc. This is understandable — we all have a tough time keeping up with the things that are directly relevant to our professional sphere, and if social media is not a high priority (either by mandate, crisis, or personal interest) it’s even harder to keep across all these different tools.

This, of course, creates a vicious cycle — they don’t understand how it might apply professionally, therefore they don’t engage, which means they don’t get experience, which makes it difficult to understand how it might apply… This is especially the case, I think, with tools like Twitter, where IMO you have to actively use the tool, and connect with others, to “get it”. Trying to make a decision on the basis of signing up for an account and looking at a couple of suggested feeds means you’re unlikely to truly understand the service. (The number of people I’ve spoken to that reflect this pattern of usage is pretty significant.)

I also suspect that some professionals and senior managers mistakenly see the “social media crisis” as a result of engagement — so “if we don’t engage, we reduce our risk” — “wilful ignorance” if I put it bluntly. This is problematic on a number of levels — not least of which is the fact that many crisis moments emerge because of lack of engagement, or similarly because of a lack of experience in dealing with crisis moments caused by lack of exposure. If this is the case and this kind of perception is bubbling beneath the surface, it might explain some of this lack of engagement.