Shane I were at the e-Democracy conference yesterday – Shane was speaking, I just tagged along. Here are a few of my unstructured thoughts on what I saw and heard.
First up was Stephen Coleman, who I think it’s fair to say was pretty challenging. I’ve read a few of the reports that Professor Coleman has written about e-Democracy and new technology and there has always been something interesting in them even if I haven’t agreed with what he’s saying. So too with yesterday’s key note speech. It’s been my view that Professor Coleman doesn’t much like blogs, and yesterday he said that he didn’t see any point in any more councillor blogs.
Strange as this might sound I think he’s got half a point.
There isn’t much point in any blog that doesn’t try to become part an eco-system, by which I mean you need to read those that are writing about similar themes as you. In this case councillors (it seems to me) should try to make sure they are connected to others who blog in their locality, they shouldn’t expect to be the hub around which the system works.
But that’s different from saying “lets have no more of these pointless exercises”. And indeed I think Professor Coleman’s point was rather undermined when later in the day Councillor Matthew Ellis spoke about his conversion to using blogs as a way of connecting with his community.
Matthew told us that 18 months ago he’d been very wary, seeing them as too much trouble and of little additional value. But 18 months on he’s had 200,000 visitors to his blog and seems to be signing up constituents to being automatically notified of new posts via email growing exponentially.
Clearly Matthew’s constituents are finding something useful in him having a blog and I’m sure that would be true of many other councillors both those already blogging and those that might take it up in the future.
I’m told that the day’s proceedings will be available on 18 Doughty Street at some point, and I also know that David Wilcox was there doing interviews with all sorts of people and I’m sure they will be worth taking a look at too.