I talked at an event about Contemporary Political History In The Digital Age a while ago. Not because I know much about Political History but because I did digital stuff in government. I have thoughts about that, but they're for another day.
But something occurred to me while I was doing my presentation and I can't get it out of my head.
It's this - I'm getting really fed up with always having to start at the beginning.
Every time I stand up and do a presentation about 'digital' - unless it's to a very specialist and small group of people - I have to start right at the beginning. The more senior and important the audience is, the more true this is. You can't assume they know the difference between the internet and the web, you can't expect them to know what agile is, or slack, or, whathaveyou.
For example, a friend recently told me about a friend of hers who runs a board for a large public organisation. They'd recently been presented with a digital strategy that they suspected wasn't very good. But, confided her friend, they didn't know who to ask about it. If it had a legal strategy or an HR problem they'd have someone 'in their circle' they could have turned to for advice. But they can't do that with digital - they don't know anyone from the internet. So the digital strategy sailed on into a mire.
This is, sort of, fine. It has been my job for the last 6,000 years, to get them to understand this stuff and it's relatively lucrative work.
But I'm increasingly aware that in each of these audiences there is a small percentage of people who do get it. Who know what I'm talking about. And who obviously find the generalisations you have to make to get the laggards on board deeply irritating. And they're right. These days I'm often aware that everything I put in a presentation conceals a more interesting and gnarly reality.
I would love to have nuanced and informed conversations about this stuff, but most audiences of senior people just aren't ready.
I think this is a serious problem, one that's worth trying to solve. There should be a place (hell! more than one!) where people can talk about this stuff in a subtle and substantive way. Where people are informed and expert about both 'digital' and the thing they're trying to transform - governments, organisations, whatever. Where the people who run things can meet some people from the internet.
I'm going to be a Visiting Fellow at the Mile End Institute. That's one of the things I want to try and do there - to go beyond the digital platitudes.
I don't know how yet. That's what's next.