The oddest thing is not a gathering of almost 200 people choosing to spend a Saturday enthusiastically debating how they can use their deep collective knowledge of the workings of public services radically to improve them. That is startling enough, but it’s not the oddest thing.

Considerably odder than that is that having spent a day enthusiastically debating how they can use their deep collective knowledge of the workings of public services radically to improve them, so many of them then spent so much of the next day writing about and sharing the ideas that had been prompted the day before.

And oddest of all – or not oddly at all, depending on how you look at it – is that they will all go to work on Monday morning wanting something to be different.

This was the weekend of UKGovcamp an unstructured and open unconference at the intersection of IT, social media, public services and democratic engagement.

Dave Briggs, one of Govcamp’s leading lights, warned participants that Monday would be the most depressing day, as the exhilaration and sense of possibilities of the weekend crashed into constrained reality. Perhaps. But making things better can only start from where we are, and understanding that place is as critically important to successful reform as having the ambition to move beyond it.

If there is a single way of summing up Govcamp participants – and it is one of their many strengths that there is not – I would say it is this, that almost every one is a starry-eyed pragmatist.

Monday morning may not be so bad.

The wordle at the top of the page was created by Sharon O’Dea.  It is made up of the words participants used in the introductory session as their reason for being there.

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