As part of some work I was doing recently, I had a chance to talk to a local councillor who has a weblog. The purpose of the conversation was to evaluate what she thought of the blogging software she was using, but uncovered several other fascinating snippets relating to the culture of weblogging within local government.
First was that the councillor’s decision to use a weblog was not at all supported by her fellow party members. They were wary, if not distrustful, of what she might expose on the blog without a certain amount of censorship by party officials.
“Having a blog makes me look like a maverick, rather than a part of the group,” she said.
“My own side see it as a problem. They have to trust me a great deal, not to say something I shouldn’t.”
She didn’t say so in as many words, but it was clear that she felt that not all of her political group did trust her. They even insisted on monitoring the blog during election time.
She’s started the blog to communicate with the local residents she represents, but over time found that the people who read it most were:
The work is ongoing; we’re trying to understand how e-democracy can work better. One important starting point is that “e-democracy” doesn’t actually mean anything; right now, it’s used as a label for everything on the web that’s vaguely connected to politics.
The blogging councillor I spoke to continues to post. She’s prolific by any blogging standards, and much more so than almost all other councillors.
(3rd January 2007)