I’ve never been a big fan of blogs.
Partly it was the word – there is a type of geek-techie who just loves to use a new word that no-one has ever heard of, just as everyone gets used to the old word – intranet, blog, web 2.0, whatever – as a way of singling themselves out as knowledgeable insiders. In the early days, that’s what blog seemed to be – something to talk about – to say ‘you need a blog’ to people and sit back knowing full well they wouldn’t have the faintest idea what you were talking about.
After that, the word became fairly common, but I was still unsure… after all, blogs barely exist. What is a blog? A content management system, essentially, and these already existed. It’s not necessarily an online diary – you don’t need to use it like that. It is a tool which allows you to post content onto a website, and let people post comments – if you enable that functionality. And that’s it.
Then there were the window-dressing ‘blogs’ – ministerial blogs that weren’t written by the minister but by lackeys, or BBC journalist blogs that were essentially just online columns with a few comments from people with whom I usually violently disagreed.
I also objected to the type of blog that was supposed to be the news that the mainstream media did not dare to print – in my experience, this was simply ranting from non-journalists that the mainstream media would certainly not print, but just because it was not good enough to print.
But now blogs are commonplace, and everybody with a pulse has one, I think there are some interesting uses emerging, and one is for local politicians. In the UK Mary Reid, former Mayor of Kingston, and many others have pioneered their use as a tool to connect with and keep in touch with their local constituents in a way that makes much more sense than with national politicians. They can go to local meetings, and give out their blog addresses: this gives people a follow-up, to look at photographs of the meeting they were act, and to join in a real dialogue with their local politicians and other local citizens. This is valuable for the politician, and valuable for the citizen. And it works.
So why am I blogging about blogs?
Because there is an interesting new project encouraging and helping civic leaders to blog: ‘Civic Surf’ Its driving force Shane McCracken of Gallomanor wrote an article on the project in this week’s E-Government Bulletin (email me if you want to see a copy, add ‘dan’ to ‘@headstar.com’), and the website is worth a look. It is at:
There is a pack you can obtain too, with a DVD – find out more also by emailing me.