How to microblog in high heels

A geek girl's guide to social media and online engagement

Notes on Talk About Local 2010

Ray Duffel at #TAL10

Ray Duffel leads a session on news gathering for hyperlocal at Talk About Local conference 2010. Photo: Josh Halliday

Yesterday’s Talk About Local 2010 conference in partnership with Guardian Local has no doubt left hyperlocal publishers across the UK feeling inspired, enthused and reinvigorated.

After coming back to the unconference following the first one six months ago in Stoke on Trent where I went as a hyperlocal publisher for it was great to see the changes and developments in the hyperlocal scene since last time.

Some old faces were there – hackneycitizen, London SE1 blog, Ventnor blog,, thelichfieldblog – but there were also a lot more new faces and we had our very own Welsh contigent with the boys from Politics Cymru and the yourCardiff people coming up to Leeds.

On a personal note, I was particularly pleased with the number of young women at this event – last time I was one of few women there (and probably the youngest) but this time there were quite a few more – making up about a third of the turnout.

On top of this, there was a distinct change of mood from the last event. Will Perrin from Talk About Local summed this up at the unawards later in the evening:

Last time, it felt like lots of hyperlocal publishers were meeting for the first time and saying ‘gosh! I didn’t know there were so many people doing things like me out there!’, where as this time, there was a real sense of professionalism – people wanting to solve problems and get things done.

Sessions I went to

In particular, I enjoyed hearing about the SCIP project in Brighton – Mark told us how he has tied in community work with giving people the tools and training to become hyperlocal storytellers should they so wish (without directing them to one platform). There was a productive geek session in the morning at the end of which it had been decided there needs to be a platform for hyperlocal publishers to share their techy problems and tips.

There was a healthy session on news gathering for hyperlocal in the afternoon – much of which is in Adam Westbrook’s book – and may be second nature to the traditional hack (see tips from Bucks Free Press journalist The Silhillian on WikiSplash). But Tom Steinberg from My Society and Chris Taggart from Openly Local also added some helpful tips for news gathering online – including scrapping the RSS feeds and alerts from the mysoc sites (theyworkforyou, whatdotheyknow…) OPSI’s unlocking service, and Will Perrin chipped in with the less-thought-of tip to search through the British Library’s 19th century news archive and the Old Bailey. There was also room for an interesting debate on the ethics of news gathering from social networks which I think ought to take place somewhere and there was a real feeling of an uprising to tackle the gap of reportage of council meetings.

Later in the afternoon, there was a short session on covering the elections, with sites for elections leaflets, for candidates, for billboards and for voters all cited.

More on the unconference

Lots of food for thought and no doubt more in depth posts raising some of the issues from the sessions will crop up across the blogosphere.

For now you can see replay the live updates from the Guardian beatbloggers who spread themselves out across the sessions here and on the Talk About Local site there was a live blog drawing in the tweets from everyone about the event.

Overall a fantastic day for anyone involved in hyperlocal, blogging local, open data, and civic and community engagement online to meet vital support network, share thoughts and ideas, amke some things happen and disperse from Leeds to various points in the UK feeling brimming full energy. Thanks to all who organised and took part. Oh, and any newbie hyperlocal bloggers who came along should add their website to the UK hyperlocal map (also winner of best map in the Talk About Local unawards).

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