Tom Allan on Edinbuzz: a force for good

The idea behind Edinbuzz is to help people to use social media for social good. That might mean setting up a blog for a community newspaper, or a Facebook group for a local library. It might mean training young people to use videos cameras and set up a you-tube account, or helping a community council use twitter to hold councillors to account. We believe that these free resources can be powerful tools for communities to organise themselves, and stay informed about what’s going on at both the local and city-wide level.

 

So far, we’ve held two social media surgeries, one in Wester Hailes and one in Oxgangs, and helped around twenty people from eight different community groups and charities. The drop-in sessions are informal, friendly and fun – “patients” are paired up with experienced “surgeons,” who come from a wide variety of backgrounds – journalists with an interest in social issues like Michael Macleod, people working in technology, business and PR. Some of them, like Vanessa Meadu, already work in the non-profit sector, and already use social media tools in their work.

What they all have in common is a desire to share the skills that they have found useful in their personal and professional lives.

The sessions wouldn’t be possible without the support of Edinburgh City Libraries, who are funding this pilot stage of the project, and who are hosting our events in libraries across the cities. So far we’ve been really impressed by the facilities on offer – both Wester Hailes and Oxgangs had good computers in a dedicated room (and even sorted us out with tea and coffee!)

I spent much of the last session at Oxgangs with library assistant Stephen Archer, who was keen to use Facebook to promote the library.

Ultimately, we’d like to see what happens if you can achieve a critical mass of community groups and active citizens using social media across the city. We’re not quite sure what that would look like yet, but we’re starting to build up a picture.

If you are interested in finding out more about the project, we have a website, blog and a Facebook page where you can sign up to the events, and discuss what you’d like to see from future sessions. If you’re already on twitter, please follow what we are up on @edinbuzz.

The next Edinbuzz surgery is in Stockbridge library at 6:30pm on the 7th of February.

Thanks to Tom Allan for this post. Tom is a radio and multimedia journalist based in Edinburgh.

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