Digital Enabler

August 6, 2008 · Print This Article

Since announcing that I am venturing into the world of self-employment, quite a few people have asked me the perfectly reasonable question of what it is that I am actually going to do. After much umming and ahing, I think I might be getting close to actually defining what it is that I can bring to a party.

It’s funny, that because this space is so new, and developing all the time, people are identifying new roles and niches all the time: we have buzz directors, social reporters, digital generalists… and plenty more besides, I am sure.

I’m plumping for ‘Digital Enabler’. The role as I see it is helping people figure out what it is that they want to do with the web, then equipping them with the skills and the tools they need to make a success of it.

Here’s an example: a policy team are planning a new project, and would like to get some public involvement in an innovative way. Rather than just jumping in at the deep end and starting a blog, or creating a Facebook page, they get Dave in to help. I guide them through what they want to do, using fun stuff like the social media game, so that the right platforms can be identified, as well as what resources might be required to do it. I then help set up any systems, whether blogs or wikis or whatever, and coach the people who will be using them on how it works, and what the best ways to interact with people are.

So it’s about making sure the right tools are picked for the right tasks, and that everyone knows what they are doing.

I’d be interested to know how useful people think this is as a role to be played, and whether ‘digital enabler’ is the best description of it!


7 Responses to “Digital Enabler”

  1. Jeremy Gould on August 6th, 2008 12:16 pm

    Funny, I’ve been thinking the same a lot recently, partly to write a blog post but partly to describe exactly what you are - integrating these skills into mainstream work. I’ve used the phrase Digital Generalist.

  2. Simon Dickson on August 6th, 2008 12:21 pm

    I bet you’ll spend most of your time actually building stuff, rather than talking about building stuff. Certainly that’s how it’s worked for me. When I started, the plan was to do more advice than action; it simply didn’t work out like that. Clients aren’t short of advice: professional and amateur, online, books, whatever. But there just aren’t that many people able to actually deliver.

  3. PaulG on August 6th, 2008 2:04 pm

    Well speaking as a digital plumber, and if skills-shortage or time constraints are a real concern - let me jump in. If you need someone with a bag of PHP hammers, screwdrivers, blutack and with a birds eye view of uk metadata, usability and the sweb… do get in touch. :)

  4. Kevin Campbell-Wright on August 7th, 2008 2:48 pm

    I’m watching this really closely, because I think there’s a huge need for digital enablers in education and in local government. The problem is, there are three distinct roles:

    - Strategic
    - Developmental (the building bit)
    - Customer Facing (enabling learners or communities)

    Generally, it’s perceived that strategic can be done by bosses whether they have Web 2.0 knowledge or not, developmental is put down to techies who don’t know the term social and customer facing is left to CLAIT tutors who don’t know about social media or are bound by the ties of awarding bodies.

    Occasionally and, increasingly, we are seeing these roles advertised - but it will be very interesting to see how the sector responds to the freelancer.

    These roles are all ideal for freelancers - after all once the strategy is done, they don’t want full-timers hanging on. However, the cost seems to mean public sector look internally first.

    I’m hopeful you’ll be able to make this niche….I think it’s an important job and, well, someone’s got to do it! :-)

  5. Dave on August 13th, 2008 11:17 am

    Thanks for all these comments. At the end of the day, I am going to end up doing what people pay me to do (oo-er) but it’s good to have a clear idea of what my proposition is going to be!

  6. My UKYouthOnline session? | DavePress on August 14th, 2008 9:13 am

    [...] ideas for new ways of using the social web to engage young people. I’ll be on hand to do some digital enabling and help them decide which will be the best tools to use, and how they might go about getting [...]

  7. Socialreporter | Sketching the social innovation landscape on August 25th, 2008 10:06 pm

    [...] to local authories seeking to innovate using social media … and now that Dave is becoming a freelance digital enabler I know we can expect lots more in the next few months. I’m sure this will join up with the [...]

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