Lunched with Mom and daughter today. We have Ladies Lunches, when all three generations of us females go out to lunch together and share sandwiches, cake and giggles. We met Mom at the mall and she looked rather harassed.
She sighed, “I have this letter from the Council about my refuse collection and I don’t understand it so I brought it along for you to look at. I tried phoning but I just get one of those ‘push the button’ things and you know with my hearing….so I hung up.”
“No problem”, I said brightly. “Let’s get lunch in the Community Café, the food’s organic and they have the Community Computers free to use.”
I logged in using my Community Collaboration Online ID and password. I am registered for this town so I go straight through to our council’s virtual reception. I click on Refuse Collection and within a couple more clicks my avatar is in a room with the avatar of a Refuse Collection Advisor. We press the sound button and after some verification questions she talks to my Mom about the letter, and they have it all resolved in a few minutes. As my Mom is hard of hearing the Advisor text chatted as she spoke, so that my Mom could read it on the screen too. Mom was relieved to have the matter resolved, and very impressed.
Then Mom took my daughter off to check out the cakes on display, so I whizzed around some of the other Community Collaboration Online portals. I paid our council tax bill, booked a routine check for my husband at the health center, and confirmed that my avatar will be attending and filming next month’s PTA meeting at the virtual school (it’s my turn to do the video-minutes) – and all before our food arrived!
This doesn’t really happen in my town. Can it? Yes, and it can happen in your town too. I work part-time for a local government in England, and part-time for Rocoza Designs Ltd. At Rocoza we have two tags to keep us focused. The first is ‘virtual works for the real world’; if it doesn’t, there is no point in doing it. The second is ‘communicate - collaborate - innovate.’ Communication is not organisations talking to their customers, it is multi-directional, real-time, ongoing. Collaboration is not having a couple members of the public on the committee, it is the empowered sharing of ideals and ideas. Innovation is what happens when people do these two things together. I had the fascinating opportunity recently to co-edit the OGI Conference TweetBook (a first of its’ kind), despite being in England and the conference in DC event:http://bit.ly/158GSY. One of my favourite quotes from this event is
#ogi Weinberger: The smartest person in the room is the room.
This inspires me, and a lot of people are doing great work with this philosophy already. My passion and imagination explode when that room gets to be virtual, because then it can include an unlimited number of participants, it can operate 24/7, be cross-departmental, cross-organisational, international, and like the OGI Tweetbook, innovative, participatory, and giving. This is what I imagine for my town. What can you imagine for your town – and beyond?
Marie Crandell, who lives in England, is Lead Designer and co-founder of Rocoza Designs Ltd, a not for profit company whose aim is to assist governments, educators and other NFP organisations to explore and utilise virtual worlds and web-based collaborative technology. She is also a Mom, and believes that our children need to excel in the two C’s: Computer skills and Community spirit.