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Bonkers Blog September 2010

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25 September - OFCOM takes an interest in community websites - click any image for photo gallery (9 images)

OFCOM meeting room The audience gathers The lecture begins

Along with other London bloggers I was invited to a meeting today organised by OFCOM and The London Civic Forum to discuss the impact and influence of websites such as this one on the local community and borough authorities. It was gratifying that so many of the attendees had seen Bexley-is-Bonkers and remembered its name, probably because it is catchier than some. The conference leader told me it was one of his top two interesting sites but I rather suspect he may have said that to everyone. Much of the day long discussions were taken up with how to run and moderate on-line discussion forums and how to subdue belligerent political activists, none of which applies here because I decided I didn’t have sufficient free time to manage a forum; however today’s comments suggest I may have been over-cautious.

Perhaps the most interesting session was about the rôle of local websites within the government’s Big Society agenda. It is possible that the government’s interest comes from getting volunteers to ‘spread the word’ at little or no cost. A number of examples were provided of council’s refusing to play ball with the Coalition’s plan, all Labour controlled apparently, but no one produced an example of any council of any political persuasion actually co-operating. They still don’t accept that monetary cuts may compel them to relinquish some of their powers and give up what was referred to as “tribal tendencies“. It is fair to say that not a word was spoken in praise of any local authority for the whole day; indeed it was said that some had offered monetary inducements to bloggers to influence their output.

The six additional photographs in the gallery are pure self-indulgence on my part. From 1966 to 1968 I worked in the very same room as today’s meeting when Riverside House (OFCOM’s H.Q.) was a Civil Service building occupied by G.P.O. Telephones. I enjoyed the glorious views over the river and the city but by comparison with the decor provided for OFCOM, the G.P.O. was drab and dirty.


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