Duo quit Social Media Club committee to launch Digital Citizens

Two members of the Social Media Club Sydney organising committee have quit their roles to launch an alternative organisation aimed at attracting a wider audience than marketing professionals.  

Mumbrella can reveal that Digital Citizens will launch in Sydney on Tuesday March 9.

It is the work of a committee of five including SMCSYD co-founders Heather Ann Snodgrass and Cathie McGinn. The others are James Fridley, Gavin Costello and Scott Rhodie.

Former Amnesia and Host staffer Snodgrass now works with PR agency Klick; McGinn works at digital agency The Reading Room; Fridley is from a research background; Costello is a technologist at Telstra and Rhodie runs digital PR agency House Party.

In a release to announce the launch of Digital Citizens the group said:

“The intention is to provide an open forum which encourages free and frank debate. Digital Citizens is an inclusive, informal organisation dedicated to knowledge sharing and discussion of social, political, ethical and professional issues related to new technologies and the social web. It’s agency agnostic and the only qualification for participating is the desire to speak.

McGinn said the split with SMCSYD had not been acrimonious, telling Mumbrella: “It was very much focused on the marketing agenda, and we wanted to have a wider debate.”

Social Media Club Sydney launched last year, meeting every six or seven weeks, generally with an audience of 2-300. It is yet to announce its program for 2010. Among the remaining lead members of the SMCSYD committee are  co-founders Doug Chapman and Tiphereth Gloria who both work at digital agency Amnesia.

McGinn added: “We wanted to create a place for the exchange of views – the last year has demonstrated that even the professionals get it wrong alarmingly often. We’re all still trying to establish best practice and having open conversations about the digital space is of benefit to us all, whatever industry you work in.”

Snodgrass said: “The hunger for knowledge in this area is something that has really become apparent to me in the last eighteen months. With Digital Citizens, we’re going to do our best to sate that desire in a fresh, interactive environment that encourages not only debate from invited speakers, but from the audience and community as a whole”.

The topic of the first Digital Citizens debate, at Sydney’s Burdekin pub on Oxford Street, is the issue of what happens when people’s personal tweets impact on their jobs and whether they should be allowed to use social media to publicly disagree with their employer or clients.

Participants will include US lawyer and social media advisor Adrian Dayton, Engineers Without fears blogger Matt Moore plus others who have found themselves in hot water when personal tweets or blog postings have been linked to their working lives. Journalist Bronwen Clune will moderate.

The Digital Citizens Twitter profile is @ecitizens.

The Digital Citizens website includes a statement of principles:

  • Aim: an inclusive, informal organisation dedicated to knowledge sharing and discussion of social, political, ethical and professional issues related to new technologies and the social web
  • Format; the format may change depending on the subject under discussion, but the intention is always to enable free, frank and respectful debate
  • We will invite subject matter experts to share their case studies and experience with an emphasis on the exchange of views, rather than a one-to-many format
  • The organisers will suggest topics for future events but we encourage the community to submit subjects for discussion, to be selected democratically
  • Digital Citizens is agency-agnostic, transparent and open.

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