Last Thursday I gave a presentation on eDemocracy in Scotland for Urban Learning Space in Glasgow’s Lighthouse. This is the first opportunity that I’ve had since then to post about it – things have been pretty busy (that’ll be obvious from the irregularity of the posts on this blog).
It was first public-speaking gig since November last year. I had quite enjoyed the lay-off (for a while there it felt like I was doing one every week) but I really enjoyed getting back into it – although there was definitely a bit of rust. What felt particularly good was the chance to speak about Scotland, its experience of eDemocracy and what might happen in years to come. It’s a subject that is never far from my mind but I’ve had few opportunities to present on before this.
I was opening up the event to be followed by Iain Bruce (who was set to provide the ‘media view’ but was unable to attend due to illness) and Sarah Davidson, Director of Communications at the Scottish Government (who was obviously there to provide the Government’s perspective). Sarah gave a very measured, frank and informed account of where she thought the Government had made achievements, where it had been less successful, demonstrated a good grasp of the theory and practice and offered some very encouraging thoughts on where she believed the Government should direct its future efforts. The ULS plans to upload a recording of the event to their site, so I’ll not go into the detail of Sarah’s presentation here – I’ll let her do the talking.
With Iain and Sarah on the bill, my job was to set the context and stick with an empirical account of Scottish politics online. With the time we had I focused on the experience of the Scottish Government compared with that of the UK Government, and also looked at differences and similarities in take up of digital technology and democratic engagement in Scotland. I tried to keep my views out of it but as with all historical accounts, some interpretation obviously slipped in. Again, the recording has the detail (albeit short of five minutes because I forgot to switch on the recorder as instructed – sorry Calum). But I’ve attached my slides as a PDF – Ross Ferguson presentation slides from Democracy 2.0 – for anyone who wants a look (note that I wasn’t representing my employers when I was giving this presentation or participating in the discussion afterwards).
Luckily, I won’t have to wait another year to talk eDemocracy again. The next opportunity is at Scot Web 2 – are you going?
I’m going to be opening (with a very brief presentation) and facilitating a session about politicians’ understanding of eDemocracy and the political will for citizen engagement. Should be quite edgy, maybe even a bit – dare I say it – political, but then it will be appropriate to the event, which should serve to be a great opportunity for anyone with any interest in Scottish eDemocracy (and eDemocracy generally) to network and share experiences and views on what is an increasingly mainstream component of the democratic process and discourse.
Just like to end by saying a big thank you to everyone who attended the Lighthouse event. I thought our post-presentation discussion was once of the best I’ve been involved in at an event like this.