The SMC_MCR events are held on a monthly basis and are free to attend. They act as a forum for all people interested in Social Media and Digital Innovation in Manchester, provide a space for talks and discussions and the opportunity to network and share ideas. This initially began as Social Media Cafe Manchester in 2008 covering subjects such as the future of blogging, the impact of the iPad and hyperlocal news reporting. It has now relaunched as SMC_MCR with a focus on developing the use of digital technologies at it’s events rather than just a focus on social media. This was in evidence at their event on Tuesday 6th September where they live tweeted key points of the panel discussion about the Manchester Riots and the role of online media before, during and after. The discussion was also filmed and is now available to view on their blog http://socialmediamanchester.net/.People were invited to tweet their questions to the panel which allowed an extra opportunity to interact if you didn’t happen to be one of the people with their hands up who got chosen. This was not obviously stated, however a comment from one of the panel led me to check their twitter feed on my phone during the discussion adding another layer of meaning for me. The people featured on the panel were Amanda Coleman – Corporate Communications Director and Kevin Hoy – Web Manger for GMP, Paul Gallagher – Head of Online for Manchester Evening News, John Popham -Social Media Surgeon, Rebecca Rae – Social Media Architect from PushON Ltd. The debate was chaired by Martin Bryant – European Editor for The Next Web. There was very much a focus on the police at the event and opportunity to get their perspective on how they used social media and the results this has had for them subsequently including the unprecedented number of requests from the public to become special constables. Paul Gallagher also explained the reason why the Manchester Evening News were somewhat late to the reporting of events as they were proceeding with caution, not wanting to publicise rumour and exacerbate potential situations. Some discussion was around how right it was to publish names and addresses online of those who had been apprehended and charged which was rebutted by MEN and GMP by the fact that these details are already reported in newspapers. Paul Gallagher emphasised the importance from his perspective of reporters in court to get out to the public a judge’s reason for their sentencing of rioters, and some discussion ensued about the need for the courts to engage with the public more and show the processes they go through. Dave Carter, in the audience, did raise the question of what next and how social media could play a role but I didn’t feel the panel were fully qualified to answer this question, as the Police’s role is to capture criminals and bring them to court not necessarily to work with communities and understand the reasons why so many got involved in such actions. I think for me what was missing was the fact that such disorder happens means we have a problem, and the fact that so many young people were wreckless and willing to throw away their future in such a way means that they were feeling quite desperate – but this is only my take. What needs to happen is for people who got involved to tell their stories about the reasons behind their actions and get it to the people who might be able to do something about their situation if they have the will to do it.
You can follow SMC_MCR on Twitter @smc_mcr
The next event will be held at Matt & Phreds in Manchester’s Northern Quarter from 6pm on Tuesday 4th October