I went to the BBC’s Connecting Communities Conference at MediaCity in Salford last week. I sat in on several good sessions, but I thought I’d pick out a couple of points which I found particularly interesting.
He’s discovered that there are 432 sites defined as “active” – meaning they’d published at least one post since the start of this year. During a ten-day sampling period in May, 313 of those produced 3,819 stories, with one being published somewhere every two minutes during weekday daytimes.
Most interestingly I thought was Dave’s finding that about 20% of the sites produced roughly 60% of the total material. So really, it seems we’ve got about 90 hyperlocal sites in the UK currently producing a comprehensive and regularly updated news and information service, making hyperlocal a notable if still small part of the media landscape. Hopefully the work of Dave and his colleagues will reveal a lot more in the coming months.
Something else I enjoyed came in the session on money and resources, something I’ve recently drawn on my experiences with Saddleworth News to write about (last week, my book chapter turned up in a messily edited form on the Guardian website). Rick Waghorn of Addiply was on the panel, and he mentioned a pioneering project involving the Diocese of Norwich, in which parish churches are being used to roll out proper broadband to rural communities.
Making broadband better and more affordable is the most important challenge facing everyone interested in using technology to improve our communities, especially away from the big cities. Maybe with the help of the Bishop of Norwich, we’ll get there a little faster than we might have thought.