Network trust BEFORE hyperlocal – a different approach worth our time?

This morning, Damian provided us with a useful round-up of some of the #CJ15 round-ups. Each approached the event in a different way – clearly demonstrating the essential plurality of the moments hyperlocal (whatever it is) is going through right now.

Although the videos and presentations are shortly to go online, and all left their imprint on my oft scatty mind, one in particular set me thinking with respect to our generally current practice – and especially with respect to the order in which we go about things.

To such an extent I’d really like to talk about it now.1


This project, “Community Channel, South West”, whose presentation at the conference was headed by Neville Higman, Innovation lead, Adult Social Care, Dorset County Council, and Martin Wright, Innovation Project Manager, Appello, is aimed primarily at creating networks of trust for the elderly and vulnerable:

[The project aims] to create a social-media based channel […] in the South West of England, designed to reduce the risks older people face when they become isolated from friends, family and community. […]

It’s clear in the context of the target users why it might be more important to encourage such people to feel confident before encouraging and getting them to actually communicate. Without this initial objective, the communication might never get started.

But what I began to think as I watched the brief presentation was that such an order – network trust before any mention of hyperlocal (journalism or otherwise), rather than high quality journalism first in order to inspire inevitable and earned network trust – could just as easily be helpful to any community, whether constituted of the vulnerable or not.

In fact, in the presentation itself the word “hyperlocal” only appeared right at the very end, if I remember correctly – not tagged on as an afterthought, though, but there instead as a goal towards even the least advantaged in society could one day aspire to participating in.

The rough and tumble of the web is not noted for inviting the vulnerable to participate in confidence. Yet “Community Channel, South West” – whilst as I understand it a platform first and foremost, whose all-defining connotations of planned infrastructure may generally lead the idiosyncratic practitioners of hyperlocal to shy away in varying degrees of resistance – is surely giving a lesson in inclusion that many in hyperlocal could do well to take note of.

In particular those who use Twitter and Facebook to supplement and reach their audiences. So how many of the elderly and/or disadvantaged figure in your tweets, forums and news feeds?

It’s a good question, I think – one that this project and people like Nesta are right to address.

I look forward to seeing more information and detail if the pilot programme is the success I think it deserves to be, and it gets rolled out more broadly as they say it could very well be.

Just one reservation: when you create these wonderfully trustworthy networks, don’t lock us into the world of proprietary code, OK?

Please do resist that so-very-easy temptation … trust belongs to us all as a human right, and should be distributed as a utility we should all be able to access, don’t you think?


  1. Update to this post, 14/09/2015: Appello/Dorset presentation added and embedded.


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