Networking civil society revisited

News that the Local Government Association was planning to close their Knowledge Hub prompted me to blog about issues of the sustainability of closed system platforms, whether we should embrace more open models for social ecosystems, and networking civil society not just local government.


  1. I've created a Storify here of the tweets that followed the news of the proposed closure of the Knowledge hub. The tweets below focus on the wider issues.
  2. The piece I posted included this: 

    I’m interested in looking at things from the other end – that of helping people become their own knowledge hubs within the wider knowledge ecologies Steve Dale explores in an excellent second post on the topic. As well as developing personal digital literacies, in the social ecology we’ll need digital curators to help make sense and join up conversations and people: what I’m calling social reporting. Digital curators are working “in the wild” rather than as online community managers on knowledge hubs, which of course raises another business model challenge. How do we earn a living? And how do the curators cooperate within a field to make things as easy as possible for others? That’s for another post.

    Meanwhile I have been exploring alternatives to the knowledge hub model in recent posts, prompted by ideas for a sort of civic Facebook or similar system developed by the new Lobbi initiative. The original vision there has been for a system to connect politicians, officials and citizens to tackle local issues and revive local politics. I love the enthusiasm behind the idea … but if a big outfit like LGA can’t make a knowledge hub work with fairly digitally savvy professional users, with shared culture and practises, is it realistic to think it possible to do something big with a far more diverse set of users?

    In any case, whether or not sustainable knowledge hubs can be maintained, they won’t do everything, and anyone aiming to use digital technology for social good will need a set of personal literacies and tools to do that: hence my exploration of Creating a whole kit (and caboodle) for community enablers and agents of change and What’s digital life like for a community enabler?

    I did write in an earlier post that I thought whatever challenges Lobbi faced in developing a platform, it could have an important role in acting as a convenor and catalyst for a wider movement for social technology for social impact, linking politics and local social action. Maybe it’s time for a get-together around the new architectures, roles and skills needed to meet The Challenge of Networking Civil Society, as I wrote a year back. It’s not getting easier.

  3. I dropped some tweets into discussion about the Knowledge Hub to raise the issue of where wider civil society discussions might take place.
  4. Dave Briggs, who responded to the closure of the Knowledge Hub with ideas for a replacement ...
  5. ... agreed on the need for wider connections.
  6. Shirley Ayres and then others picked up on the availability of a range of tech resources, and the need to help community enablers use them. I had previously blogged about this in Creating a whole kit (and caboodle) for community enablers and agents of change and What’s digital life like for a community enabler?