New recruits to Gov 2.0

I’ve been thinking that I really should do a blog post on the soft-launch of the Department for International Development’s new DFID Bloggers site (based, very intentionally, on the pioneering FCO Bloggers site at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.)

Front page of DFID Bloggers

Trouble is, the new launch has been very well covered by other bloggers such as DavePress; and in particular by Simon Dickson, who as the supplier setting up the blogging satellite site for DFID has been able to give something of a behind the scenes account over at his site. Meanwhile Owen Barder also gives his approval to the project: he ran a private blog while on staff at DFID last year and ran into some hot water with the Mail On Sunday as a result, which serves as a cautionary tale.

Another government blogging start-up has unfortunately been more rushed and not – initially at least – quite so successful. Jim Murphy took over as Secretary of State for Scotland last Friday, and despite reportedly being a reluctant blogger while at the FCO is clearly such an enthusiastic convert to the concept that he’s made it a first-week priority at his new department. Unfortunately his enthusiasm currently appears to outstrip the department’s technical capabilities and the ‘blog’ appears to be a basic web page with none of the essential blog features you would expect, like the ability to comment.

But Mr Murphy’s commitment to blogging should be cheered and I very much hope that work is underway to put in place to put in a proper blogging platform in the coming weeks, because it would be great to hear more about the work that the Scotland Office does – it’s almost forgotten about by the public these days after the Scottish Parliament came into being, and I’m sure there’s all sorts of fascinating details about dealing with devolution on a practical, day-to-day level that a blog would be perfect for.

In the meantime, the big problem is getting to be keeping up with all these new government blogging initiatives. Should there be a central government ‘blog portal’ – a BlogDirectGov? or maybe we’re getting to the point where blogs should no longer be regarded as some strange curiosity, but as a natural and to-be-expected part of a department’s online presence? That way we won’t have to ask “which government department has a blog?”, we’d just know it was there.

How Gov 2.0 will that be?

[UPDATE: Jim Murphy’s blog over on the Scotland Office site is indeed now a WordPress installation with RSS and comments. Not a bad turnaround at all, and great to see. The Secretary of State’s commitment – and his new department’s – are now firmly established.]


  1. I’m the proud owner of… and when time permits, I’ll get round to doing something with it.

    What’s slightly frustrating about the Scotland Office example is that it would have been just as quick for an experienced WordPress developer (eg me) to put together a WP theme based on the existing Scotland Office templates/CSS. Keeping things fairly simple, I’d say a day’s work tops… maybe two if you didn’t have server space already available.

    Yes, I’m available. 🙂

  2. andrewlewin

    Oi, did you just pitch for work on my blog? Gerroff my land! 😉

    Difficult to judge what the issues may be at the Scotland Office that may be holding them back. I’ve seen too many government departments with all sorts of roadblocks to rapid development, and really don’t like to judge. Sometimes it’s just because the folk there are in uncharted (for them) waters and don’t even know there’s an easy answer; other times it can be problematic IT partners.

    As for BlogDirectGov/GovBlogs – wouldn’t be too hard of course, either as a site along the lines of Public Sector Bloggers or an aggregated feed via the likes of Feedburner, Google or FriendFeed. The whole point of a proper blog with RSS is the way is can be picked up, fed in and spread round after all.

  1. 1 Mission Creep | Neil Williams » Blog Archive » Three cheers for the DFID bloggers (or Officials: Unofficial)

    […] New recruits to Gov 2.0 (Andrew Lewin) […]

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