Postbureaucrat

Personal blogging by Steph Gray, founder of Helpful Digital and erstwhile bureaucrat

Blogging as thinking

2008-9 was a good time for me. I was a few months into an amazing new job thinking about how a government department might use social media creatively for communications and policymaking; and in the early months too of being a new dad. Work-wise, our little team did some amazing things that year, from low cost engagement with online communities to launching multi-layered digital consultations with a launch video made in-house featuring proper A-list science celebs. Bonkers.

And while output isn’t everything, it was good times on this blog too: 55 posts during 2019 apparently, or more than one a week. And so many comments! Bless us all, and our self-published ‘zines.

My day-to-day is different now, and I realise what I really miss about that 2009-era blogging isn’t just the heartwarming comments but also the process of reflection it encouraged me to go through, as I wrote up projects, presentations and ideas. There’s enormous value in forcing yourself to write things up, straightening out your own contradictions with extra Googling, and putting your pride or frustration into words that you can say out loud as a reasonable person. Going back over the last decade of posts as I’ve tidied up this blog recently, reminded me that for every post that feels toecurlingly embarrassing or dated now (Ning communities!) there’s one that still rings true, or that reminds me what I care about.

Giles Turnbull’s A blog is your brain, over time, on the internet is a magnificent read on this topic, so go read it now if you’ve not already.

These days my own focus and scale is a bit different – but let’s not get carried away: I’m still cranking out websites for public sector projects, and pondering how to stimulate positive engagement online amongst people in large corporate hierarchies. People ask me to contribute content to a schedule to fit company marketing plans, and that’s fine, but it’s not the same as the published evolution of thinking that Giles talks about, and that I used to publish here. I feel busy now, but I’m not sure what my 2009 self would make of it, as it looks like he got plenty done and still managed to reflect on what he was learning.

So, ten years on, a resolution. I’m going to use this blog more next year not particularly to build an audience or count the engagement, but for my own reflection. The themes might change a bit from the heady buzz and tools of 2009, but that’s fine. And there’s still an RSS feed here for the taking, to plug into your Netvibes or iGoogle dashboard of choice.

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