The state of the UK gov blogosphere

(This is one of those posts I really seriously considered not posting, because I’m not sure whether I am talking bollocks here or not. Please leave comments, letting me know one way or the other.)

Here’s an assumption of mine which is pretty important to this post: that people blogging is important, and a Good Thing. There are a number of reasons I think this way – mainly that blogging is a great way to develop and share ideas, to create a movement, to develop a reputation. A healthy and active blogging community in a sector means that it’s a sector where there is a lot of creativity. It means that sector is an interesting place to be.

I don’t think the public sector blogging space in this country is anywhere near as developed as it should be. There are too few voices, and often one gets the impression that these bloggers struggle somewhat under the pressure that is created by the fact that too few others are joining in. This isn’t anyone’s fault, of course, and there are a number of reason why blogging amongst public servants hasn’t particularly taken off:

  • Lack of time
  • Lack of backing from up high
  • Lack of stuff to write about

…and no doubt plenty of others.

Let’s look at who there is at the moment, blogging regularly about government in a useful way:

There may be a couple of others that I have missed. There’s also a bunch of people outside government – but with, let’s say, an interest – who blog, like Simon, Dom, Nick, William, Jeremy, Shane, and me to name a few.

Public sector blogs does a nice job of aggregating this activity.

Obviously people write blogs about what they want to write about, and no one should be mandated to blog, or to write about certain topics. But I’ve been really getting into some of the tech analyst blogs recently, many of which focus on issues that are of great relevance to people working in public service: how to we go about getting adoption of ‘2.0’ ways of working within large, enterprise scale, organisations?

Check out some of these examples:

I love these blogs – full of insight, research, evidence, opinion, news, challenge and views. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a community of bloggers doing just this sort of thing for UK government?

I think we need a strong, vibrant blogging community in and around government providing some real analysis of what is happening, and some real thought-leadership in terms of what should be happening.

This should be tied to a conversation that I have been hinting at recently around not talking about social media as an end in itself so much as how we get news ways of working adopted in government, tied into technology enabled change around software as a service, cloud computing, collaborative technology and so on. Who’s blogging about what the vendors are offering government and whether it’s any good or not?

Are we that far away from this now? Does anyone actually need it? Am I way off the mark here?

I’m planning on convening a ‘State of the UK gov blogosphere’ session at the UKGovCamp in January where we can talk about some of this, and maybe do some planning around how we can get more blogging going in a more sustainable way within and around public services.

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Dave Briggs

I'm Head of Digital and Design at Adur and Worthing Councils.