"Hi, i just wanted to say thank you for the biblio messages, they really helped me get through my battle with anorexia, from which I'm fully recovered now...Thanks for this wonderful service."
Over the last decade I've built and run a platform for prototyping, developing and sustaining socially valuable uses of mobile messaging.
During that time I've worked with dozens of organisations at all sorts of scales from the BBC and Greater Manchester police at one end to residents associations and a community allotment at the other. The initiatives have been everything from using text messages for public consultation, working with local councillors in North London, back in 2008, to supporting people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
Some of those projects are still going strong after five or six years and have had amazing outcomes, such as the quote above. Some worked OK then fizzled out after a while, and some never even got past the first fence.
Based on that experience, the failures as much as the successes, I have lots of ideas about where socially valuable mobile messaging should go next, both the software development and the applications with people.
The disadvantage of having a lot of practical experience to draw on was that I had a long list of things I wanted to try out and the whole project had got a bit daunting. One of the most valuable things about FutureStart was that I made some time to think through in a structured way what I was going to do, how, and why. If you'd asked me before FutureStart if I knew what a minimum viable product (MVP) was I'd have answered of course, but somehow up until the session on MVPs I hadn't thought to apply that way of thinking to the long list of things I might do.
I went away and found the simplest thing I could think of that I wanted to try that wasn't in the existing platform, then built that as quickly as I could, deliberately stopping myself from trying to get clever and add anything else, and aiming to try it with people as fast as possible.
Over the summer and autumn I've been finding participants, based on engagement techniques I've developed going right back to the text message poetry competition I designed for the Guardian newspaper in 2001, and at the moment it has about 1800 people in West Yorkshire involved.
At the same time I've been talking to people and organisations that might want to work with me on some of the ideas I have in mind. I'm going to meet a clinical commissioning group on Merseyside in November, and a regeneration charity in South London will be getting involved after Christmas.
I'd like to work with an organisation in West Yorkshire as well, particularly a clinical commissioning group, so if you fancy a cup of tea and a chat please drop me a line: www.studiofor.co/contact