We need to talk about @UKGovCamp ticketing…

UKGovCamp is an unconference for people interested in how the public sector does digital stuff. I’ve helped organise it for the last few years.

It is a popular event. Very popular. So popular that tickets go unavailable in seconds and are sold out in minutes.

Unavailable means all the tickets are in the process of being applied for. Sold out means all the applications are complete.

To try and make it fairer for everyone we release tickets in batches. We publicise these batches in advance.

But many people still don’t get tickets because they’re:

  • physically or mentally challenged
  • not at computer when tickets go live
  • not sure when the tickets are available
  • not aware of UKGovCamp until its too late

The only advantage to the whole situation above is the buzz of actually getting a ticket. I’ve seem many jubilant tweets in the moments after tickets are released.

But I really worry about anyone without the dexterity to bag a ticket. It feels like we’re potentially excluding a bunch of people.

Theres also a large number of people who are used to this. They know the rigmarole and technique to acquire a ticket. Some people call them the “govcamp clique”.

So I propose we make a change for future events – a ticket lottery. This would mean:

  • anyone who wants to come could apply for a ticket
  • we could open ticket applications much sooner
  • it would hopefully be less stressful
  • attendees would be picked at random

That last point is worth clarifying. By random I mean we would:

  • close the ticket applications
  • download details of everyone who applied
  • randomly sort them in a spreadsheet application
  • Give the lucky 200 people at the top a ticket

To be totally transparent, the randomisation process could be live streamed.

Hope that makes sense. Please let me know if not.


UKGC15 survey results – the complete data set

The United Kingdom Government Camp (UKGovcamp) is the free, annual unconference for people interested in how the public sector does digital stuff.

As one of the organisers, I used a survey to research user needs and help shape the 2015 event.

You can download the full results (including comments) in the following formats:-

The only surprise was that most people don’t want a souvenir, eg a t-shirt:

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 20.22.21

You can view all the bar charts by clicking here (excludes anything entered into a ‘free text’ field). I’ll publish a full writeup of the results in early August 2014.

Over the 4 days the survey was open, it received 319 unique visits and 120 completed responses.  Thats a 38% completion rate:

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 20.28.27


Has UKGovCamp affected public sector service design?

I gave a 5 minute lightning talk at the Service Design in Government (@SDinGov) conference on Monday 19 May 2014.  The topic was, “Has UKGovCamp affected public sector service design?”.  This blog post is about what I said (scroll past the photos below if you’re in a hurry to read it).

What is the UKGovCamp unconference?

An unconference is different from a conference in 2 special ways: –

  • its a discussion – Q&A happens throughout, not at the end
  • there is no set agenda


Attendees pitch their session idea at the start of the day


Photo by Sasha Taylor https://www.flickr.com/photos/sashataylor/12158464774


A time and space is allocated for each discussion.
Photo by David Pearson https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidpea/12132960804


People then vote with their feet and attend whichever sessions they want. 
Photo by David Pearson https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidpea/12154492645


What I said in my SDinGov lightning talk

I’m not a fan of conferences.  I like asking questions, giving answers and being challenged.  Unconferences are great for that.  Conferences less so.  So to find out whether UKGovCamp affects service design in the public sector, I knocked up a survey and tweeted a few people.


The survey had 2 questions: –

  1. Has UKGovCamp affected public sector service design?
  2. How has UKGovCamp affected public sector service design?

Of the 221 people I contacted, 75 (34%) responded and answered the 1st question

  • 8 (11%) No
  • 46 (61%) Sort of, kinda indirectly
  • 21 (28%) Yes, its had a direct effect


2 people tweeted me saying they couldn’t answer the question, because they didn’t know, e.g.: – Image

Lesson learnt here is always include a “I don’t know” answer.

The 2nd question was more challenging, and only 39 (51%) of original 75 answered it.

Some themes emerged, the main one being several people believe UKGovCamp helped bring the Government Digital Service (GDS) into existence.

Rather than go through other themes and responses that emerged, I told the audience I’d tweet the data using the #SDinGov hashtag, and we headed off to the pub.

The following evening, I had more time to study the themes.  I re-read each response to the 2nd question and summed, up in a word, what I thought the main theme was for each. This isn’t highly objective, so please feel free to download the data and try for yourself.

Here are my results:

  • 9 (26%) community
  • 7 (20%) learning
  • 6 (17%) gds
  • 5 (14%) data
  • 3 (9%) fail
  • 2 (6%) user
  • 2 (6%) delivery
  • 1 (3%) design

This means that 46% of people who answered the 2nd question, felt community or learning were the top affects UKGovCamp had on service design.  Only 14% felt it influenced the creation of GDS.

So although I was correct in saying it was one of the top themes, it wasn’t THE top theme.  That was community 🙂

You can view the full dataset via http://j.mp/ukgovcamp-service-design-survey

#ukgc14; revolution not evolution?

A few months ago, I stepped up to the plate at work and asked if anyone was interested in forming a softball team.  Fast forward to today and despite some teething problems, the “GDS Griffins” are 2nd in the London based Publishers Softball League.

Now its time to throw another curve ball.

I’ve offered to help organise the United Kingdom Government Camp for 2014 and along with a merry band of fellow TeaCampers, I’m starting to think about where, when and how.

Right now, I’m only concerned about 2 things : –

1) where?

2) how many people?

Several venues have been suggested, including this year’s IBM Client Centre in London, previous year’s venues and a 500 person maximum capacity venue in Slough (which isn’t going down well on Twitter, as I type few people like).

So far, most people think sticking with London is best and around 200 people is “easier” to manage.

However, I like to mix things up.

What if everyone who wanted to take part, could take part?  (there is this thing called videoconferencing that I’ve heard of + we had 250 people at Microsoft London, 1 year).  Skype / Google+ Hangouts / another solution  +  multiple venues (each limited to 200 people).

Maybe we could try stretching the event over 2 days again, focusing discussion on day 1 and planning on day 2? (even though it was knackering)

So basically, what do you want? Same again? Something different? I’m all ears.

Please either comment below or preferably join in the conversation at the newsgroup and prompt your ideas on Twitter using the #ukgc14 hastag.

My 10 #HousingCamp things

1. Jon Foster is a born leader
2. Thames Valley Housing Association have great offices
3. There is a real need for further UK housing unconferences
4. Universal Credit will impact rent arrears if we don’t start help tenants now
5. Sounds like the Reflective Practice & Imaginarium sessions were, er, fascinating
6. Lloyd Davies is great at setting the unconference scene for newbies
7. Post-session drinks in a pub are a must
8. I miss working in housing
9. I’ve learnt so much
10. I have so much to learn.

See my online session grid via http://j.mp/housingcamp

Check out http://housingcamp.org for more.