Camden Town may be changing with the relentless advance of corporate chain stores (no, not those kind of chains) and glass and steel canalside developments but the Council is upholding the area's reputation for cyberpunk techno-progressiveness.
It's launching webcasts and podcasts to be more accessible to the teched-up community and encourage local residents to get involved in local democracy.
So, has it recorded a punchy, motivational and trendy radio show with a slurry call to arms from Camden favourite, Amy Winehouse? Have they pulled some gorgeously louche indie boys out of the Good Mixer to give advice on recycling for your downloading delight?
Er, no. They've recorded all the Council meetings and put them online.
Yes! You could be on the 29 bus into town tomorrow morning listening to the proceedings of the Development Control Committee from September 6th. Or sitting at work with your sandwiches watching Cllr Marshall slag off Cllr Stewart for "ludicrous" remarks 53 minutes into the Full Council meeting of 10th September.
The webcasts are, in fact, incredibly good quality and include index points in the Real Player box telling you who is speaking on what agenda point and there's an option to download any presentations from the meeting. You can almost pretend you were actually there...
Which brings us to the major drawback of this surprisingly efficient, smart and helpful service. The content is really superbly dull. The webcasts have been available since 2003 and, in total, only about 22,500 people have used the service. That's roughly 5,500 or so concerned citizens a year (and we think most of those were Councillors' family and friends getting having a giggle at their loved ones' performances in the chamber). Considering it might cost £30K to run the podcasts alone over 2 years you'd think they might want to spice up their broadcasts to make it a bit more worth watching. Have meetings in fancy dress for example, or instigate dance-offs on crucial issues rather than boring old voting.
Still, we applaud Camden Council for its aspirational transparency and look forward to following the activities of the Licensing Committe, live and uncut, on October 8th.
Be wowed by the Camden Council microsite for webcasts and podcasts here.
Image courtesy of kodachrome65's Flickrstream.