Blogging for Queen and country

A small part of the work I’ve been doing at GDS is helping to get the blog running at full speed again. A couple of weeks ago I started twisting arms to get people to draft posts, jerry-rigged a streamlined approval process and generally harangued people to get them to write in their spare time. As with everything else at GDS, it got a bit of the wall too.

It’s worked. Since the start of October there have been 23 posts published, covering topics as varied as what it means to code in the open, redirections, how the Finance team work and a load more. For the writers, it takes just a little bit of time (for the most part, at the end of projects) to get some thoughts into a document before getting it approved and getting it live.

Why do all this? Well, it demonstrates that GDS is committed to being open (lots of teams have been blogging for specialist audiences anyway), it shows how decisions have been made in the run up to GOV.UK‘s release, and it helps everyone in-house see the work being done by colleagues (to paraphrase James, sometimes it’s impossible to see the shape of work being done by someone when they spend all day tapping at a laptop).

Mazz’s post – on the day to day of being a developer at GDS – was probably a high point. Partly because there’s Lego in it. But also because (as Mazz would be the first to admit) she was so tentative about putting something up there; it’s a genuinely lovely post, and it’s had a great reception from devs who have read it and recognise the sense she makes. It feels good to have played a small part in helping it happen.

It’s sort of confirmed what I knew when I tried doing this at Last.HQ – a blog should be a little bit of work for a lot of people. The more keyholders and gatekeepers you put between a nervous writer and an audience, the less tempted they’re going to be to sit down and write something.

I’ll be moving on to other stuff at GDS once I’m back from Web Directions, but hopefully the blog’ll continue to tick over nicely.