New Statesman digital award winners

For the last ten years The New Statesman’s New Media Awards have been recognising innovation and the positive moves that peer-to-peer digital technologies are having on modern life. This year the awards have attracted more entries than ever before, from a whole range of ethical and enviromental sectors, and the winners have been announced..

Award categories included Democracy in Action, Inform and Educate, Campaign for Change, Community Activism and Innovation.

As the technology becomes cheaper and easier to use, more people than ever have access to these types of interfaces. Audiences are increasingly fluent in interactive environments and are ready and willing to reap the benefits they offer. What’s more, it’s not just the trivial stuff either.

The BBC’s Radio 4 program Your and Yours was the winner of the “Democracy in Action” award.  An extension of the Radio 4 consumer programme, it provides additional info about the topics brought up on air.  The site’s “Care Map” feature in particular lets the user calculate the level of care they’d expect depending on where they live in the country.  In May the “care calculator” was visited by 81,000 people in one week alone. 

We’ve talked about the merits of this one before - School of Everything won the “Inform and Educate” award.  The site’s a great example of how learning can really feed off the success of social networks without coming across as trying to be one of the cool kids.

“It’s our NHS let’s make it better” is the byline of the Community Activism award winners  patientopinion.com.  Patient comments, both positive and negative, are posted of hospitals around the country.  Hospitals doing well can be openly praised – certainly a good thing.  What worries me a bit is a negative reviews could result in a hospital being blacklisted for an isolated experience.  After all, a person is more compelled to write about a bad experience than a pleasant one.
 
Everything is open and independently moderated so in theory this shouldn’t happen but the potential is still there.  It would be morally and technically problematic to impose restrictions as the open access, free-for-all ethos of the network would be undermined. 

Innovation winner “What do they know?” by mysociety directly allows members to ask for important information from the government – which since the Freedom Of Information Act (2000) we are entitled to know but which is difficult to get at.  It sits perfectly at the intersection of civil lifeand digital technology that The New Media Awards are all about.  Information requests are diverse, ranging from information about the “Child Support agency computer systems” to the number of young people in the UK who get home tuition.”.

It seems that in the battle between the masses and the powers that be, the wisdom of the crowd is shining the light ever brighter on the workings of Whitehall

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