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Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Membership in a networked society

The RSA Networks site is really taking off, and I've dived into the flow with a joint proposal with Simon Berry to look at what social networking will mean to membership organisations. That's led to additional discussion on what it may mean in future to be a member ... of an organisation, political party, or trade union. You can join in here - site registration is currently open. Here's the proposal, also on the wiki.

Membership organisations and associations are at the heart of civic life, but research suggests few recognise the coming challenges of a more networked society. Organisations may be bypassed as members use social media and networks to find information, services, and ways to organise. Or - like the RSA - organisations can rethink their current structures and relationships to members.
This project will invite forward-looking civic organisations to join RSA Networks in exploring the implications of social networking for civic institutions, and the practical implications of using social media, creative events, and new ways of organising for civic innovation.
We will draw on work already undertaken by the NCVO Third Sector Foresight Unit, and with their agreement invite the Unit, and practitioners involved in their technology network, to join us.
Some of the greatest opportunities for innovation lie in rural life. Ruralnet UK has pioneered the use of online systems for the past 10 years, and chief executive Simon Berry FRSA is a co-sponsor of the project.
We will run a workshop early in 2008 to co-design project plans in more detail. However, from discussions to date we would expect the project to involve:

  • Collation of current research and thinking about membership organisations in a networked society, in association with NCVO Third Sector Foresight
  • Development of briefing and workshop tools to help organisations think what the future may hold, and what they can do.
  • Events - hosted initially by RSA if possible
  • Collaborative work on online systems, skills development, and organising creative events.
If you think it is a good project idea, do throw on a comment here - or even better register on the site through the above links. It is currently open to non-Fellows.

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