Coming from Brighton, I take for granted the digital dimension when attending meetings. Sometimes my colleagues at BHT, when discussing things that are sensitive, say to me that I can’t tweet the subject matter. (Note to colleagues: I can show discretion if I must!).
At a recent event organised by the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce, the debate happened both in the hall as well as on twitter. At many other events, along with housekeeping announcements about fire drills and toilet facilities, the hashtag and the WiFi code are announced.
But it’s not like that elsewhere. In the last year or so I have been to a couple of strategic conferences outside Brighton and Hove organised by different local authorities. At the first I asked the head of communications for the local authority what the hashtag was for use on twitter. He replied: “We don’t really do twitter in (the name of the authority).” He suggested I spoke to one of his colleagues, a press officer, saying that he thought she did twitter. She did, but only in a personal capacity, not for work.
The other week I was at another event where the marketing of the locality was a theme. The creative sector was an area which was identified as offering economic growth potential. Yet one speaker almost apologised for reference to smart phones and apps. Again when I asked, there was no hashtag. It was as if the meeting was full of enthusiasm for the attractions and potential of the area, but there was an ‘analogue conspiracy’ to keep it a secret.
In both these areas there are those engaged digitally, some at the highest level, but they are the exception rather than the norm. There remains too much cynicism in certain quarters about digital media.
Digital is a force for growth and provides a shop front for business, charities and local government. It allows greater participation in the democratic process, and can help improve decision making. Until it becomes the norm, certain areas will not thrive. Cynicism just isn’t clever.