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We’re often asked for more than one copy of the CivicSurf DVD, but not very often are 20 requested. It seems as though the North West is becoming a blogging hotspot. Wyre Borough Council, Preston City Council and now Fylde Borough Council have all recently

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This is the first in a series of posts I am going to write here at CivicSurf about real-life examples of where blogging by a leader has had a measurable positive impact on their organisations.

The first I am going to talk about comes from the world of corporate America,

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specifically that of Bob Lutz, the Vice Chairman of General Motors.

Things weren’t going so great for GM by the end of 2004

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The CivicSurf project was funded in 2008. We kept this site going for a little longer and we would have liked to keep it going for even longer.  But it's not.

We'll keep the site here as an archive, but we'll no longer post anything new. Thank you and goodbye.


software computer


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James Semple, from Seaton Town Council in Devon, asked how the internet can be used instead of town polls to help decide how to allocate public funds.
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Whilst there has been a large amount written about participatory budgeting schemes that is worth reading I'm wanting to make the point that blogging software such as WordPress can be used much more powerfully than for simple polls.

Generally it's probably cheaper to run a paper poll than an online poll.  The expensive bit is making sure that you reach everyone that is entitled to vote and that you do it in a manner that is accountable, robust and fair. It will be difficult to avoid that expense online or offline if you're looking for a binding poll.

So what about self-selecting online polls? Well they are self-selecting and therefore easily dismissed.

The real strength of using a blog to assess opinion is that it can be deliberative. Invite the competing projects to describe their ideas, to take questions from each other and any other members of the public. Don't just judge the projects as they stand. Invite them to improve their ideas using the feedback received from other participants.  Later on invite others to express an informed opinion. Let the elected officials then base their decisions on an informed constructive deliberation and let them decide what is right for the town rather than what happens to be most popular.


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Douglas Carswell is part of a new breed of MP. He believes in a strong parliament, open primaries, and a recall mechanism to enable constituents to change MP without having to

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change party. He also believes in blogging.

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Yesterday he wrote with two pieces of advice for new MPs. Firstly to represent their constituents, not just their party. He links to this article by Fraser Nelson highlighting why 3 Labour MPs bucked the trend and won their marginal seats. Labour MPs who voted in Parliament with their consciences not their parties. His second piece of advice is to blog.

Good advice.


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Thursday February 25th 2010 in London.

Themes will be relevant to anyone working with local government in the social media/digital engagement space. We are aiming to create spaces for discussion and engagement, the sharing of experiences and creation of new ideas. Conversations are encouraged. We will have lots of parallel sessions and break-out spaces. In the tradition of localgovcamps, you set the agenda in the beginning of the morning and afternoon sessions.

Anke Holst seems to

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be leading the organisation on this. I highly recommend you book a space now – use this EventBrite page. BarCamp offer so much more conversation, discussion and exploration of ideas than traditional conferences.

If you are interested in the do's and don'ts of getting your members and officers online then you should come along. Chat to those who have been there before you or even better share your experience if you've already been down the road.


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[Cross-posted from www.gallomanor.com]

Wordpress.com header

I was in Diss, Norfolk last night as part of our www.norfolkhomepage.org.uk project. We had invited various community organisations to the library to learn about how they could get involved in the project. Primarily we showed people like Trevor that he could easily set up a blog for his Diss Badminton Club to help get new members and build more of a club around his existing membership. We explored ideas with Kevin about how the Mere Players could make more of their newsletters without abandoning their existing Flash based site. With a blog they'll soon feature in the top searches for Diss Drama.

#SG_ 2009-11-25 10.5002 To help explain the power of using a platform like WordPress I showed people the site I created for my wife – beautifulbirthdaycakes.co.uk. I explained how that previously her Flickr site had received 2,000 views in a couple of years through the Flickr community, through friends and through flyers. With a GoogleLocal listing she got some traffic through Google.

Her new site created on WordPress however is just six weeks old. Already she has had over 2,000 visits, over 7,000 page views and business has gone through the roof. She is on the front page for Google and Bing searches on “Birthday Cakes in Bath” and that will only improve.

What struck me last night, and not for the first time, was that people still have this ingrained view of what a blog is. When I showed the cake site to one lady she blurted out, “That's not a blog! A blog is boring with lots of text.”

WordPress.com still promotes itself to bloggers and offers:

“Express yourself. Start a blog.”


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a website that is easy to update and optimised for search engines. End of. Let's not label it with something that puts people off.


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