Monday, 19 October 2009

Downsides of local sites Some of us are working to persuade local and central government of the merits of local sites and we're keen to get in front of some of the problems and downsides that might emerge, such as capture by specific interest groups, misleading or dangerous information, domination by doom-mongers etc. It's already too easy for council officers to justify non-involvement and decline to offer even the most modest support. Here's one clear take on the way it can go, from an article about Sheffield Forum, written by John Peterson and published hard copy in Now Then Sheffield, a free magazine for the city. (Thanks Martin). (The Now Then blog is here): 'Conjecture uttered as fact seems to find its way onto the pages of SF with remarkable frequency with the potential to unfairly affect businesses, property prices in areas being denigrated and all kinds of social relations. On this point there are also a huge number of postings regarding issues of race and multiculturalism. Many of these take a highly negative view and are dressed up in that much-loved Yorkshire idiom of 'plain speaking'. Some are obviously active campaigns for far right groups such as the BNP, others are genuinely held (if sometimes ill-thought-out) opinions of forum users.' Things that anyone responsible for a local site may fear, I suspect, without always knowing quite what is needed to keep them from happening. We need to be bringing these and other negative aspects (actual or perceived) to the surface, and examining them, the better to understand how to pre-empt or eradicate them. All eyes turn to Talk About Local to play an important leading role (no pressure guys).

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