Stephen Hale now blogging at FCO

Simon Dickson reports that Stephen Hale, the FCO’s “Head of Engagement, Digital Diplomacy” is now blogging:

Makes sense for numerous reasons of course, not least as a means of setting a good example for colleagues. I mean, would you trust a ‘blogging expert’ who didn’t blog?

Stephen’s first few posts are all pretty interesting, and he’ll make a great addition to the Public Sector Blogs line up. I’ve now added him to the list.

Public sector bloggers: the OPML

I have made another quick addition to Public Sector Bloggers, with the availability of an OPML file to download. Rather than subscribe to the combined feed, you can instead import each individual feed into your RSS aggregator in one go.

To do this, first right-click the link and choose whatever your browser offers as a term for downloading the file to your computer. If in doubt, left click the link, then when you are confronted with what looks like a page of code, choose ‘Save Page As’ (or similar) from your browsers’ file menu. Do remember where you saved it!

Next go into your aggregator and choose to import the file to add to your feeds. This will differ depending on which one you use. I’ve found some handy help files online:

If you need any help, yell in the comments, or email me.

Public Sector Bloggers Update

I’ve been putting a bit of work in updating the Public Sector Bloggers site, which aggregates a load of feeds from folk in the public sector who blog (duh…) in one place. The website gives a quick overview on the latest additions, or you can subscribe to a combined RSS feed or by email.

One thing I have changed is how the feed is generated. Before, I used Yahoo! Pipes to merge them all, which was a bit of pain in the neck. So I have now gone for a much easier way, which is to organise all the feeds in my Google Reader into a specific folder, and made that folder public, meaning it produces an RSS feed. I then use that feed to drive the site. Now to add a new feed, I just need to subscribe to it myself, and whack it into the right folder. Easy.

When I mentioned it last time, I had quite a few suggestions for additional feeds to add to the service. I’ve added quite a few more, so the list now looks like this:

Again, if I have missed anyone obvious out, please do let me know.

Yay! Another Govblogger!

A big welcome to the blogosphere to Neil Williams, all round good government web egg, who has started a blog called Mission Creep. He says in his opening post:

It genuinely feels like exciting, important things are starting to happen in government’s use of web right now. It just got really interesting, and I’m going all in.

Neil has done a stack of cool stuff, like getting David Miliband started with his blog, for example, so I really do recommend folk subscribe to him and listen to what he has to say.

He’s on Twitter, too, by the way…

Setback for public sector bloggers

Paul Canning brings to our attention the case of a sacked blogger at the Welsh Assembly. As reported at WalesOnline:

AN Assembly Government civil servant who was sacked for running a political blog is taking his case to an Employment Tribunal.

Last night a former AM who himself is a regular blogger said he found the decision to dismiss the civil servant “heavy handed”.

The former Assembly Government employee, whose real name has not been disclosed but who ran a blog called Christopher Glamorganshire, provided what readers saw as a neutral running commentary on last year’s coalition negotiations involving Labour and Plaid Cymru.

An Assembly Government spokesman said: “This issue regards a former Welsh Assembly Government employee who was dismissed for activities related to the Glamorganshire Blog that contravened the Civil Service Code. The case went to the Civil Service Appeals Board, which we won, and it is listed for Employment Tribunal in Cardiff later this year.”

It is understood the elements of the Civil Service Code regarded by the Assembly Government as relevant to the case come under sections headed “integrity” and “rights and responsibilities”.

Obviously the material appeared on the blog before the recent guidance was developed and published, however it does show that the need for the guidance has been pressing for some time – it will be interesting if it wil be raised at the tribunal as being part of the blogger’s case. Let’s hope that sense prevails – this kind of heavy handed approach to bloggers doesn’t do anybody any good.

The issue that this case does raise, though, is that of how these guidelines can be applied to those not working in Whitehall. The argument will be made, I am sure, that they apply to anyone who also has to conform to the Civil Service Code, but what about all the public sector workers to whom this does not apply? I think there is a role for the developing Public Sector Webbies/Web Managers’ Group to come up with some guidance for anyone working in the public sector to work to – and to get some recognition from employers on the issue too.

Public Sector Bloggers

I’ve been wrestling with how to bring together and publicise the bloggers who have always been around, and those who are springing up following the publication of the guidelines.

So, I have started hacking together http://publicsectorblogs.org/ which takes a bunch of feeds, bungs them into one using Yahoo! Pipes and then republishes them on one page using SimplePie. Sophisticated it ain’t.

There is a combined feed to subscribe to via Feedburner, and an email subscription option too, but I see this more as a tool for people to quickly scan rather than anything else – there’s probably too much of it to begin with.

The bloggers I have used so far aren’t just civil servants, or local government officers, but anyone who works for or in the UK public service, and who write about it now and again. This is an inclusive kind of thing! They are (in no particular order):

If anyone has any further suggestions, do let me know in the comments.

I do need to make some improvements to the site, the most important one being to highlight where each post has come from. But this is my first time with SimplePie – and I suspect my use of Pipes complicates matters – and so any offers of help are appreciated!