Jonathan Smith

Jonathan Smith

Jonathan Smith

Telling our story - what do you think?

Over the last month or so we’ve been working on a bit of narrative for the organisation. As a new campaigning ‘start up’, Jeni, Tim and I wanted to produce a short public facing story to communicate who we are, what we do, the people we want to support to make change and the problems and solutions that lie behind this. You might call it a ‘brand narrative’.

It’s been quite a challenge, though a very interesting one. What we are working on – the collective impacts of data and the need for community voices in data governance – are pretty new concepts and there’s not necessarily lots of existing, simple ways to explain it.

But after a fair bit of back and forth, we’ve now got a work-in-progress version we quite like and wanted to share to get a sense of what other people think.

In the spirit of openness, we’d really welcome feedback – good, bad and ugly – to try and take it to the next level. It’s easy to get lost in what you are doing and think you’ve captured it and then find you’ve missed your audience altogether!

You can find our draft brand narrative in this Google Doc.

There are 5 bits to look at – none of them very long! Comments on any or all of them would be very appreciated.

We wrote them at this stage with a non-expert but engaged public audience in mind. Think someone general in tech, broad funders or your average MP.

Please do let me know what you think at jonathan@connectedbydata.org.

A bit more background

If you are interested, here’s more on the sort of thing we’ve been wrestling with.

What do people think?

We looked at some audience insight work to help get us going. There’s some very interesting stuff from the Ada Lovelace Institute here. It certainly helped us to talk around the insights and challenges involved.

A campaign for change

We brainstormed what we wanted to get over, including that we aren’t just a data policy think tank but a campaign to help empower communities to have a say in how data is used in their interests. We wanted to frame it as a campaign on the side of those with the least power, but involving us all.

Connect individual + community, not individual v community

Most people don’t really get how data from their lives is used, its impacts or see it beyond a very individual privacy or ownership angle. This is obviously important but we needed to take it further. We wanted to get over the fact that you can be impacted by data about other people through what it implies about you, as much as data that’s about you. Also that the harm can be at community as well as individual level. We wanted to try to build this on more collective intrinsic values rather than individualistic extrinsic ones – there’s some great stuff about that here from the always interesting Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC).

Data is very techie

The datasphere is very abstract and intangible so we wanted to connect it to real world impact and real people’s lives. We realised finding the examples and stories that really land this is going to be key and that’s why we are also commissioning some research right now to dig for them. Interestingly there’s lots from the US, but we also really need them from the UK to support our work closer to home.

You need a baddie

To give a campaign some energy and focus, it’s often said you need a baddie as well as a positive solution. We discussed quite a lot about who this might be. We were also grappling with the fact that the data itself is not bad, it’s more about how it’s used and how those who use it are held accountable. In fact, we also wanted to get over that it can be used for incredible good too, if the governance and accountability is right. It’s tricky though, getting both the good and bad thoughts over at one time though.

Building from what’s already there

We’ve already got quite a lot about who we are and how we work on our website. We wanted to take this and make a more pithy version that’s more ‘campaigny’ and tangible.

So, we’d welcome your reflections. Mine are that it’s hard but I hope we are getting there.

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