Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Looking back, looking forward - where now for the eGovAU blog

Stepping into the fifth year I've operated the eGovAU blog, I wanted to take a look back into its history, and a look forward to what readers can expect in the next year.

I started eGovAU in 2008 to help access and share information and experience across the online communications space within government, as I found there were few formal networks or forums for people working in this space to get together and share their expertise and challenges.

At the time few agencies employed social media or Government 2.0 in their official activities, there was low awareness of the options and considerable concerns about the risks of new media channels. Public servants who used social networks personally kept a low profile, while many middle and senior managers I spoke to simply didn't see the value of social media in government communications, service delivery or policy work.

Now, just into 2013, I've published 1,259 posts (including this one), ranging on topics from open government and social media to how new media can and is changing the process of service delivery and policy development. I've had 1,353 (non-spam) comments in my blog, though many more through content syndicated in other sites.

Monthly page views to the eGovAU blog
eGovAU has had over 400,000 page views and, with content syndicated or republished on five continents, the actual traffic has been much higher - as has the number of comments.

While this isn't amazingly high, there's realistically a small core audience for my main topics, and I've received enough positive feedback in person and via other channels to feel that eGovAU is worthwhile.

Traffic to eGovAU has grown consistently over the years, despite decreasing my post rate from five per week in 2008-09 to three per week in 2010-12.  I like to think this correlates with the growth in interest in Gov 2.0 and social media within governments in Australia.

In the same period of time - 2008-2013, we've seen the majority of state and federal agencies, and many local councils, adopt social media channels as a core part of their external communications and engagement. Many have mandates, support and guidance for social media, open data and Government 2.0 activities - though there's a few tail-enders still resisting the trend.

Gov 2.0 and government social media groups have been established in many jurisdictions, with regular free events helping to formally and informally help public servants to share successes, seek experienced help to address individual agency challenges and to help share and build on good work, improving processes and outcomes for governments.

My blog has also become more cumbersome - with over 1,200 posts, finding older (but still relevant) content is tough - even for me. While I use largely standard tags to organise posts, I can't easily divide content into different types - product reviews, case studies, resources, thinking.

As such it's time for my blog to change tact, from the goal of building the Gov 2.0 community, to a focus on supporting the existing community, helping it to expand beyond its digital communications and IT roots into every corner of the public service.

So this year you'll see a number of changes to eGovAU, starting soon.

This will begin with a change in the blog platform (and by necessity the location), to one that provides better control over the design and layout of content. This aims to make information structurally easier to find and read, allows me to improve commenting, rating and sharing systems and to address comments about the colour scheme (FYI John).

Following this change I'll begin providing a broader range of content posts, designed to both help people new to Gov 2.0 and social media in government and to provide useful content and resources for experienced practitioners. This will include (but not be limited to):
  • product/service reviews to help busy public servants understand the options available to them, 
  • topic briefing papers to help middle and senior managers make quick sense of specific areas, 
  • a searchable resource centre indexing useful third-party papers, articles and research reports, 
  • templates and tools to help agencies 'hit the ground running' with specific social media projects, and
  • an improved calendar of public-sector relevant Gov 2.0, open data and social media events.
I've also begun working with an editor to develop a series of free eBooks, each focused on a different Gov 2.0 theme, to make it easier to find and absorb information on particular topics. These are based on my blog posts, but will include additional content updating them and linking them together.

I will also be pushing into video and audio posting, to provide a different way to access content,  providing a regular snapshot of what is happening in the Gov 2.0 space and allowing me to support interviews and video case studies with various people involved in open government and Gov 2.0 around the world.

Looking back, I'm proud of what I've achieved with eGovAU and of how actively many across Australian governments have adopted digital channels to help their agencies continue to be relevant and effective in a networked world - often despite great internal resistance.

Looking forward, I want eGovAU to continue to help public servants to realise the promise of new media, to amplify communication, increase transparency and accountability, inform debates and bring more citizens 'inside the tent' on developing and implementing government policies and services.

As always I welcome suggestions and comments - positive and negative - of what you'd like to see more or less of. I'm almost always available for a chat on Twitter and will be around in person as well.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Craig, keep up the great work.
    PS, between your day job and developing infographics, writing eBooks and transcribing archives when the hell do you sleep?

    ReplyDelete