The Practical Democracy Project: New Zealand edition

4 min readJun 20, 2018

Wednesday was the day of the Delib ‘Practical Democracy’ event — the reason why I am currently on the other side of the world.

It was a fun day in a lovely room (with amazing food) at the National Library — particular highlights for me were the presentations from Anna Brown — whose background as a book designer meant she had the most beautiful slides as well as an inspiring talk — and Pia Andrews whose work I have admired from afar for years and who hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to chat to at the Open Lab session on Friday — the Better Rules Project is fascinating and I love the magpie approach that the Service Innovation Lab embrace — looking sideways on a global scale.

As well as Anna it was great to meet some of the other staff from the Design+Democracy Project from Massey University’s College of Creative Arts and chat about the work they do. I really like the sound of their approach and hopefully will fit in a visit before I leave to learn more.

I finally got to meet Sarah Casey after failing to get to Teacamp when she was in the UK — her first class live tweeting of the event also won her a copy of the ‘Public Digital’ book and it was lovely to catch-up with Vic who I was pleased to find out is coming over to the OneTeamGov event in a few weeks!

Once again I was struck by how small the world is sometimes when I ended up chatting to Andrew Ecclestone about his international adventures in the Freedom of Information world and his significant knowledge of mySociety and especially WhatDoTheyKnow!

My own plan to recycle a popular existing talk to save some stress didn’t really work as I just kept adding and editing slides right up until the time I spoke — which wasn’t until the close of the day — Google Slides is a blessing and a curse! The audience and emerging theme of the day was slightly different than I expected and at one point I was tempted to dust off a talk I’d been working on at mySociety that was much more in line with some of the other talks but in the end I decided to stay the course — with a few modifications. I’m glad I did as it seemed to go down quite well (though that may have been sympathy!) but I was a little pressed for time and the wine was being poured as I spoke so I skipped one section of the talk (my ‘hacking hiring’ part that I really love but is not the crowd pleaser that the culture stuff is..)

The interesting thing is that since discovering the Westrum Model after reading Accelerate I now have a new way of framing all my thinking about this stuff and it is fast becoming more coherent as a result.

My slides are here but if you are reading this there is every chance you have heard (or read me) riffing on the topics before.

Afterwards I once again realised just how little I can drink these days(!) as a couple of classes of wine and 3 or 4 beers left me pretty wobbly…an enjoyable day though so thanks to Delib for the invite, everyone for attending and Hamish for getting the drinks in!




Applying the culture, practices, processes & technologies of the Internet-era to respond to people’s raised expectations…as a service :)