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There are plenty of things online to be found, various open source developments, social media platforms, bits and bobs of all sorts of things. Back in 2008 I got offered a place at HealthCamp UK – what I said, to get the place was that I was working on an idea that could model any kind of connected online health services from cms, file sharing, social profiles, shared health gaming etc using what was already find-able on the web. I actually didn’t know what that meant exactly – but in my head the bits and bytes were like stickle bricks and putting them together in a variety of different ways would not only create blogs, social network platforms, navigable sites but that fitted together, with relevant interconnectivity.
When I say relevant interconnectivity I mean, for example the way in which an app on an iPhone could, if linked to the data on your iPhone offer a full individualised service to the user rather than a simple app portal.
Back in 2008, as was the want back then – it was an interesting idea (or a nonsensical one depending on who I discussed it with). But I think anyone fiddling around with the how’s was on their own somewhere also – I wasn’t finding them.
Looks like it’s a good time to start talking to each other.
I saw an event on Facebook today. Kissing is cool. I thought, yes. Kissing is cool, I’ll have a look at that event. I may like it. What I saw prompted some thought about the future. Or what I think needs to be. Or both.
The event is to mark the fact that Facebook has apparently deemed same-sex kissing photo’s being posted as offensive and these have been removed. I’m not sure if that’s true. I haven’t done the research fully.
But it did prompt me to think that I do think its time to move away from Facebook. I’ve heard/read similar posts saying so for a while now. And I’ve alway’s weighed up the gains – connection to friends and family that I wouldn’t ordinarily have. Re-finding old friends, keeping up to date with people’s lives. The positive connections.
But I don’t think I can agree ethically much longer with the decision makings driving the platform.
I don’t want to lose what Facebook has given me – the social platform. But I do want it more on my terms.
I want a co-operative Facebook. A fair-trade Facebook. I want one where the people behind it are people I believe in for their politics. With a small P. I don’t just mean that in an abstract way. That I’ll say it and hope that somehow, that will change their decision-making. Why should it? No, I mean it in a different way in a ‘if I say, and I mean it, am I prepared to do something about it?’ way. Do I value what I get out of the interaction enough and devalue what the makers of it bring to do something, somehow about that?
I don’t know. Maybe.
I’ve begun a process of putting together the archive of where I came from and where I am and maybe I hope it will give an indication of where I’m going. It probably won’t.
I’m doing that here, in my work life and I’m doing it elsewhere. In my other life. The split between the two, is really only to do with that word, professionalism. But it’s probably time to redefine what that means. Certainly for myself.
Interestingly, as I began that process an email from the number 27.org project I’m signed up too landed in my inbox with the video above. I’ve had this idea for a while that the fragments of our online lives if we so choose, will be threaded together and become the hand-me-downs for generations to come.
I went through my old Tumblr today. A beginning. There are a few bits inbetween also. But this is a good start.
And below is the moment when I took the basic understanding I had of emergent idea of combining the mental health and wellbeing field with the field that ‘techie types’ were in. I wasn’t sure why I was speaking, I really wanted to learn from them. I didn’t really feel like I knew enough to share at that point. But I’ve since learnt that its unlikely I’ll ever really know enough and I’ll never be a fan of public speaking. Not unless it involves absurdist poetry.
How do you make things happen? The more I think about this the more it sounds like an existential riddle.
If you make things happen in the woods at night and there’s nobody there who’s see’s you do it, does it mean that the doing it didn’t happen?
Or, what’s the sound of one hand happening?
That sort of thing. But then I think – cogito ergo sum and carry on as before.
Making things happen from within healthcare is Not Easy. Attempting to make an online infrastructure as a platform to drive innovative and collaborative online projects and applications within the world of Wellbeing and Mental Health is impossible. Well, almost.
To do it – you have too:
I am currently somewhere between 7, 8 and 9. I’m glad to be done with 6. Not that there aren’t still panickers. But its no longer my job to do the stopping of the panicking, alone.
Give it three months and my current piece of Making Things Happen will have happened. And if I do it right it will all seem so simple no one will even imagine the impossibility of how Making it all Happen actually was (is).
Except for me. And the bear. In the woods.
* as an addendum to anyone in the independent sector reading this and saying – ‘but this is an insane way of doing a startup – what madness!’ Yes. Exactly.
** as an addendum to my use of the words insane and madness. Using them here, to describe the way in which processes within health and social care directly oppose wanted innovation and entrepreneurial developments seems a very apt application. Much more so than to describe people having meaningful responses to distress.
I’ve been having this debate for 6 years now. And it might be time to end the debate – from a personal and professional perspective.
The discussion seems to stem from the idea that online is another world. But online is actually a description of people using what we collectively refer to as the net or web or internet. As much as there is Wellbeing – as an idea, or a way of being in our offline lives, their exists the capacity for it in our online lives. And as much as exists the perils of living in ways that harm or impact negatively on our individual or community wellbeing – so that exists in our online lives.
What is the internet – exactly? In it’s simplest description its a communication tool. A complex, developmental, interconnected and fragmented communication tool. Within it are the means to subvert, engage, disengage, exploit, promote and do good. The capacity for making positive decisions when using that tool rely on the user. And their definition of positive.
There’s also a separate issue of time. Exercise is great – too much time or obsessive time spent in exercise is not. Athlete’s spend a lot of time training and exercising, they need too, it’s their business. It’s different for each person, dependent on them, as an individual. And this relies on honest self-understanding of how the exercise or online activity is being used.
There’s also a whole subset of discussion on the ways in which it is possible to present identity online, from work related self promotion to predatory activity.
It all rather sounds exactly the ways in which the offline world communicates – in person, on television, on mobile phones.
And so there is a real need here, as well as an opportunity to apply the knowledge of mental health and wellbeing. And to do that from the perspective of services users, carer’s, workers and organisations. As well as everyone else – the people that the mental health people sometimes forget to talk about. The ones who don’t use mental health services or work in them but are actively making positive (and negative) wellbeing decisions in their own lives.
It’s not really a new idea at all.
But actively and consciously working and engaging in a wellbeing focused way online is a new culture. As is embedding those principles and ideas online. And more status quo shaking’ly – embedding peer to peer communication concepts in real world mental health and wellbeing services.
In some ways, the win’s may be more significant for the mental health world – with online communication and developments the focus has to be on ‘self-management’ to name a buzz word. Or more basically – individual’s taking responsibility for positive decision making in relation to their own wellbeing when using the internet in it’s myriad of ways.
It also seems unlikely that their will ever be an end point. A moment when the issue is resolved. Instead it will be an evolving interaction between online, offline and wellbeing. It is there. And it is there for as long as we are.
In February of last year I began work with Rajinder Nagra seconded from Barnardo’s to National CAMH’s. She was scoping a tool, as it was it called then. The tool was to be built online and was to provide a means for commissioners to find out young people’s views on mental health services and specifically what they wanted from them. At some conference or other she had been told about me, beavering away in Leeds and we met at the West Yorkshire Playhouse over lunch.
I can remember looking through the compiled scope and asking a very simple question – do you know what this looks like?
The answer was. No.
I also asked if she wanted cake. The answer to that was yes.
And so we talked some more. And eventually I came to offer a bit of my time to help visualise some of the concepts for the group. Because behind this work was a large group of individuals meeting regularly to bring the project into being. None of which had ever worked in the medium of online service development. I mean, how many really can say they have in the NHS?
I formulated a couple of questions and a design plan.
The questions were:
why would the young people give their views of mental health services to commissioners?
and, in terms of sustainability do you understand the role of the technical team in the service design?
The basis of these questions have come to be fundamental in all my design work and support. Because the answers are straightforward but in asking them they change the focus of understanding of anyone beginning to work with Health and online developments.
In this case the answers were –
because the commissioners will respond with an understanding of the responsibility that they have undertaken by asking these questions. They will use the tool to provide evidence of how they have listened to the views, needs and feelings of the young people and applied them in real world mental health service design.
and, the technical team will come to be an integrated part of the service delivery – they will at procurement, evidence their commitment and skills in service user involvement as part of their technical design offer. In this case, the understanding of the approved provider was so deep and mental health focused they have taken over the service as a non profit venture – particularly in light of changing NHS landscape.
And so, Puzzled Out is online. I think they’ve done a good job, my involvement was small and whilst it definitely shifted the thinking – the openness to that thinking was already there. I don’t say this lightly, but I’m impressed with what they have done since. Because looking through it, I can see how the basis of ensuring that what is put in by the young people, is rewarded by the commissioners by returning the commitment. It has a good, constant and effective feedback loop. And it’s as close to innovative as I have seen for a National Healthcare project – embedded within the NHS infrastructure but operating independently. No mean feat. As I and many will know.
I hope you can pass on to services, young people and commissioners who will find it effective.
as an addendum – this work was undertaken when the role of the commissioner was defined in a very different way to what it may become. And, I can’t help but feel – the methodology behind this project could prove to be a very effective way to work between service users and commissioners, across the board.
There’s a major project I’m in the early stages of hammering out for Leeds, about it’s Wellbeing alongside a whole set of co-conspirators.
A couple of months into it and I received an invite to speak at – Delivering Quality Patient Information in London Town, actually, the previous Manager of Information for Mental Health (which is no more – and which also requires it’s own blog post) received the invite but with her departure I responded instead.
As I’d been part seconded over to Leeds PFT for a few months to kickstart this Citywide WellbeingWeb project I invited Victoria Betton to join me in putting together a presentation on using social media in health service settings. We both did our bits and I referenced a few things: The Leeds Social Media Surgery, Cultural Conversations & a thriving offline/online independent community in Leeds. And the way in which having a different limb in statutory, voluntary, independent & business sectors had been central to me being able to initiate a unique health collaboration and the vehicle that connects the conversation, is social media.
There were two really interesting things that came out of the day for me.
1) The questions I was asked as an ‘expert’ on the panel
“the internet is dangerous – why can’t you make an intranet which mental health people have to use instead?”
“Facebook has known paedophile’s on it, so why on earth are you suggesting we should work with social media?”
It’s quite fascinating how these have been constant themes for the last 6 years, certainly that I’ve heard. I’m not sure if they’ll ever go away. But it is useful for people outside of health working in the arena of social media communications to understand just how prevalent these fears really are.
Of course my response was;
“I don’t have the money to rebuild a ‘safe’ internet and I can’t sit beside everyone and make them go to the sites I decide they should go too, I’m afraid. We’re going to have to work with it. And. Yeah, there are many danger’s out in the World, it’s true. Pretty much why we do our jobs – to support the more vulnerable to navigate it as safely as possible.”
We’re going to have to work with it.
2) and. If I could deliver a package of social media support & training to the PiF members
Which I’m in the process of putting together now. PiF is interesting – their idea that information is a tool for recovery is fundamental. And their emerging recognition that social media as informant is the increasing norm, alongside more traditional and tested mechanisms is also key for the shifts happening all over in this area.
But it does raise an issue – how many individuals regionally in the Yorkshire and Humber have the dual knowledge of Health Practice & Policy and Social media understanding and application needed to really seedbed organisational change? And how do I find them…?
I’ll be looking to put together a bank of such individuals – so if you are one such or can recommend someone please do let me know.
I was invited by Steve Walker to a workshop back last year as part of a collaboration by the Open University and Manchester Digital. It came under the guise of IBZL. An opportunity to radicalise around the notion that with the advent of fibre deployment in the UK the speeds at which the internet delivers will enable possibilities that we currently don’t design for – them not being possible at current speeds and all.
In my own mind, for a while I’ve been dealing with the difficulties that arise culturally within organisations and City decision making that dis-enable innovation – specifically (although not limited to) in relation to idea’s and concepts that have driven social media emergence. I had a basic model in my head (and here) of a 3D process map that I’d been developing in various projects that I have been using as a visual reference to this and the continuing struggles I’ve had with it.
So this is what I brought to the IBZL project. What it brought to me, was an opportunity to meet with other thinkers and doers working within architecture of the internet (for want of a better way to describe all the people involved and their varying skillsets) and to begin thrashing out some future planning ideas.
Since that first workshop we’ve met again, three times in total. And we’ve taken the original concept of re-modeling cultural and societal change into process and made it concrete. Well, more a geodesic dome.
We’re forming a group of core individuals to act as a Body to inform, address and implement change Nationally on digital, tech & social media and where it meets all areas of the UK’s infra-structure – economics, education, health etc. For the moment we’re calling it a Digital Thinktank as shorthand (basically because thinking is our favourite thing and we’re being a bit self-referential) But the aims are beyond believing that we alone are the key to the solutions – more around this in future #IBZL posts.
Currently I’m doing a bit of asking and scoping on why something similar isn’t already in place and if there is, why isn’t it meeting the needs of people working at Service Design and Delivery level.
I’ll keep you posted.