Blears blogging

In what must be the most exciting day in the Department for Communities and Local Government ever, which has seen the start of a Twitter feed and the publication of a major white paper, the latest news is that Hazel Blears is now blogging!

I want to hear everyone’s views, from local citizens to local authorities. As a citizen – I’m keen to know what would make you get more involved in your local community? What are the barriers or challenges you face? What could we, or our colleagues in local government, do to make it easier?

For local authorities or organisations hoping to increase public participation – please tell us about your successes and challenges and what we can do together to get people more involved.

All the important bloggy stuff is there – RSS feeds and comments on posts, which is great. It seems to be a fairly short lived affair – only running for a week until 18th July – and I am not sure if that will be true of the twitter feed too, it seems likely. Still, if it’s useful I guess it will be possible that it will return again in the future.

It seems to be running on Community Server, which CLG use for their forums too, which itself runs on Microsoft .NET technology rather than the open source based approach that the recent developments at Number 10 have gone for. I’ve used Community Server myself quite a bit in my work at the Information Authority, and while it isn’t quite as flexible or intuitive as WordPress on the blogging front, it more than does the job.

So, welcome to the blogosphere, Hazel. I hope you enjoy your stay.

17 thoughts on “Blears blogging”

  1. 7 days Dave… 7 days…, 7posts, 7 topics!

    I just blogged too…. also agree about the CommunityServer vs WordPress front.

    Next step …Communitiesuk Webjam?

  2. I hope the comments won’t close after 7 days, or at least that the shift from the blog to the forum is done sensibly.

    Would the webjam last for 7 hours?!

  3. I don’t know about the plan for topics of each post – but there are 7 topics laid out to be covered in the White Paper…

    I understand the reasons behind wanting to keep the blogging commitment fixed and brief – (after all, time is the enemy of the blogger – and when you begin blogging its difficult to imagine what on earth is in it for you!) but I do hope that it will prove a valuable enough trial run to ensure that it continues…

    Twitter could work v.well in the long run if the blogging were to become a burden…

  4. I think that while having a very time limited blog might not necessarily be ‘blogging’ in the sense that many of us lot understand it, we shouldn’t necessarily be too quick to jump on attempts to use the form in a slightly different way. It is, after all, just a medium, and people can do with it what they choose, and what they are comfortable with.

    So while it seems a little odd, let’s give it a chance and see how it develops.

  5. Community Server can be a bit of a nightmare. We use it on the NHS Expert Blogs pilot (talk.nhs.uk) where we have multiple authors writing on specific conditions. Unfortunately there’s no way to let people simply post to a blog – they can all edit eachothers entries as well as change the blog settings so we’re trusting users not to be malicious! (not that we have any reason to believe anyone would be, I’d just rather we didnt have to be THAT trusting!). I’m sure WordPress could be used just as effectively, and with a lot more control over roles and permissions. I assume it’s because it can be easily intergrated into SharePoint which is what a lot of the government departments prefer to use to maintain their website.

  6. Hi Caspar,

    My name is Rob Howard – I’m the CEO of Telligent, makers of Community Server – if you wouldn’t mind drop me a note – rhoward@telligent.com. I’d like to quickly chat about the issues you are running into with Community Server so we can fix it for you.

    It’s designed to easily facilitate multiple bloggers – and I think I know what you are asking for.

    Thanks,
    Rob

  7. Paul – yes, I also hope that the blog continues onward (or is re-launched under a more permanent banner…) but do think that the commitment+concept can be daunting – a trial run is a good way to ease people into blogging who might otherwise not participate. Hopefully, once tried then they’ll just keep going….

  8. Alice – I hope so too – and totally agree blogging can be hard, but if you have an interesting subject to blog about and lots of people eager to read and join in the conversation with you it does become much easier.

  9. What I see as being more important than keeping the blog going is that some of the detail of the white paper – such as that on digital mentors as I picked out in a post today, but others too – is developed collaboratively between DCLG and interested parties.

  10. Hmm. Blogging is all well and good, but is it enough to let the public really engage in, say, decisions about environment? I think governments need to take public participation more seriously. There’s a global network working on these issues over here: accessinitiative.org .

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