I don’t want to be rude, but despite all its promise, a first look at BBC’s much-vaunted ‘action network‘ suggest it could be renamed the ‘inaction network’.
This is how it describes itself: “Action Network can help you change something in your local area. Get in touch with people who feel the same way and get advice on taking action.”
Great, another initiative to fuel the rest of the world’s BBC-envy. The site is rightly praised by bloggers like j d lasica for its open nature and action-orientation. It contains useful guides to how you can do all sorts of things in Britain.
1) profits from one of the most trusted brands in news, and the institutional, manpower, and financial support that a not-for-profit organization like the BBC can provide.
2) has had about 4 years to grow.
3) does indeed have quite a lot of members and some traffic. Some numbers circulated include 100.000 members including 10.000 regularly active (I have not checked these).
Nonetheless, all that the recently released ‘Frontiers of Innovation in Community Engagement‘ report from the Center for Citizen Media could point in terms of actual impact is that two guys are bickering about global warming and someone prevented the closure of a community center. And the source is one of the project leaders from BBC herself…
Is it just me, or is this somewhat less than a spectacular success? Would be thrilled to hear some success stories about the action network, as I am quite thrilled by the set-up and idea, and the results seems disheartening.
Though the independence that the action network enjoys seems a valuable chance for mobilization outside the structures of government, I strikes me that the absence of institutional political players will also often be a problem – if the problems people are working to change are things like the environment and local planning issues (and not organizing an independent movement of some sort, something one probably wouldn’t want to do on a Government sponsored site anyway), you may want to actually try to engage decision-makers in debate to try to pin them down on something.
I’m afraid I can’t give you any stories from the BBC’s attempts to foster participation, but just wanted to mention another British initiative, which too me looks focused and innovative.
http://www.neighbourhoodfixit.com/ lets you report on anything you like to your local authorities, exploiting local knowledge and community feel.
Found it on Springwise, whose government section generally is fun place to look around: http://www.springwise.com/government/