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August 11, 2005
Political Weblog Project launches
OK, we're just about ready to roll on my end. The time has come for me to reveal this new project and call in some willing bods.
The first thing you may notice is the back-dated entries that form a developing timeline of political blogs in the UK and include some commentary on technical aspects and cultural events. I've done a fair whack of the history of weblogs by (and for) our elected officials, but there's a lot more that needs doing. There are about 25 councillors to add, for a start. I also need to expand the categories to include MEPs, members of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.
I'm launching without the full history in place because time is of the essence.
I want to get more elected officials blogging properly. I want to do this by offering them a full blogging package at rate they can afford... on pretty much the sole condition that they use it properly. (These elected officials are better off paying for this out of their own pocket for reasons I outline here.)
I don't want to be the only provider. I want other producers, designers, coders and providers in on it, too.
What we have to do in these early stages is discuss the nuts and bolts and what they cost so there are standard packages available at a set price.
Also, we need to agree on which nuts and bolts to use. To create a fully-functional ecosystem, we need to use formats and tools that can 'speak' to each other; Movable Type, WordPress, and so on. Custom solutions will be welcomed to the fold, so long as they don't use query strings, have good comment moderation features and are compatible with other major blog formats (in terms of trackback, etc.).
I pondered on Blogger.com (tweaked to include trackback) FTPed to a server under a this-is-my-name-domain as the base package, but I'm wary of creating a lowest-common denominator solution (especially as Blogger.com has two major weaknesses; poor archiving/categorisation and poor comment moderation). Take a look at how many MPs set up a bare-minimum profile on ePolitix and leave it at that and you'll get a pretty good idea of what I'm worried about. (Perhaps - just perhaps - we can offer this as an entry-level option for Councillors.)
But, ideally, what I'd like built for each willing individual is a sturdy and suitable blog installed and hosted with a good domain that they control. Something that will suit them no matter what the future holds.
I have an introductory article ready, but when MPs come back from holiday and file back into Westminster, I want to be holding mini-seminars on the potential and proven value of two-way communication via weblogs with at least this core package ready to roll.
So, if you can design, build, code and/or host a weblog and think this is a good idea, I'd like you to get in touch:
manic AT bloggerheads DOT com
Let's agree on formats, criteria and cost... and get moving.
Posted by timireland on August 11, 2005 12:51 PM in the category News
But don't forget:
"# Blogging puts you on the record. It provides a rich source of opposition research for your competitors. Political writing is often boring because staff polishes off all the sharp points and hard edges, but that means you say your message without offending anyone.
# Blogging adds to the problem that you can't say one message to one audience and a contradictory one to another.
# Blogging provokes questions and conversations that you may not want to answer.
# Blogging may create false expectations of access, frustrating voters. Weblog comments are often spammed, making it difficult to tell constituents from spammers.
# If your campaign depends on branding your persona inauthentically or emphasizing only one or two elements of your character, for example your military record and family values, then your weblog may reveal your real personality, causing you campaign problems.
# If you are a controversial figure, your commitment to frequently update your weblog may pose physical or information security problems unless charefully orchestrated."
from fellow-dutchman Roelg: http://roelg.nl/index.php?itemid=62
Posted by: FransGroenendijk at August 17, 2005 12:55 AM
Most of these appear to be very valid reasons for voters to encourage those elected officials who can blog to do so.
Posted by: Manic at August 23, 2005 12:52 PM
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