Glimmers has been a real-time investigation into the relationship between technology and civil society.
Civil society is committed to “building back better” but for that to happen, it needs to be active and thriving — not exhausted and over-stretched.
In response to our findings, we have created the Glimmers Toolkit to aid recovery for civil society organisations, and are calling for a Community Tech Stack, so the future of digital social infrastructure is not dependent on either big technology platforms or start-up “unicorns”.
The full final report is available on the Glimmers website. Our findings and recommendations are summarised below.
The pandemic has shown that, for UK civil society:
- Crisis management is not the same as time travel
- Infrastructure investment is needed as well as improvisation
- Platform dependency is not sustainable
This has been a real-time research project, understanding events as they have occurred. Our findings also point to an urgent need for longitudinal ethnographic research into the impact of digital civil society on specific communities, the importance of community and building social capital, and a widening of the concept of “digital inclusion” to include accessible service design.
- Community groups and civil society organisations should invest in their own recovery. To make this easier, we have launched the Glimmers Toolkit.
- To kickstart renewal, there is an opportunity for cross-sector, collaborative action so that civil society intelligence influences and informs how technology is made.
- In the longer term, a Community Tech Stack is needed, so that digital social infrastructure can be decoupled from “big tech”.
The UK’s digital social infrastructure cannot depend entirely on commercial technologies. Strong communities need solid foundations. People have extraordinary potential, and deserve the tools to realise that on their own terms — out of the shadow of Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos’s ambition.
If you would like to join the movement to build a Community Tech Stack, drop an email to email@example.com with “Community Tech Stack” in the subject line.
We would like to thank everyone who took part in interviews and workshops for sharing their experiences and insights so generously, to Cassie Robinson for her input, and to The National Lottery Community Fund. for their support.