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Thursday, 4 October 2007

The Miliband effect

Colin McKay from Toronto posts about the new Foreign Office (FCO) blogs, led by the inspiring, youthful 'gay icon' (according to the Telegraph) Mr Miliband. Hat tip- Simon Dickson.

Colin says:
It’s important to remember that EVERY member of a diplomatic service is trained - extensively - in skills essential to a blogger:

* the comprehension of complex ideas and themes
* the synthesis of debates and positions, often conflicting
* the rapid creation of understandable but nuanced subject briefings
* and, most importantly for a government blogger, an acute awareness of the influence and impact of their words and writing.
Precisely. All the skills needed to blog are exactly the sorts of skills diplomats have anyway. And many other public servants — not many new rules needing inventing in practice.

As I commented on Whitehall Webby, who was worrying about blog maintenance by the chosen FCO authors (there's six all up, including one by the Afganistan Ambassador, who appears very keen):
It implies a shift in resources, i think. That’s a better way of looking at it rather than as another imposition on time on top of something which will continue. Think of how other sectors have shifted resources, such as in marketing, have preempted us in some areas (though behind in others). If online engagement is as effective as we think then it should have resources including time and energy from senior people. However I also think that methods for easier use with emerge as tools match needs. things like twitter are ridiculously unusable but reading scroble twittering his son’s birth was mesmerising - that gap will close.
So on the one hand blogging can adopt existing experience/skills but on the other hand it will - and should - take up reallocated time and resources.

Here's the 'kitted up' Ambassador at the Kabul TV station Tolo TV


  1. to me, that's the possible sticking point: in an incredibly formal reporting system like a diplomatic corps, how will the desk jockeys in London react to reading about current developments on a blog - rather than in a detailed telex from the post?

  2. I doubt that they'd be reading the same words! The 'telex' (really?) would have all the juicy detail of various local actors sleazy sex lives, megalomania, violence and corruption - I think Craig Murray's experience shows that we won't be reading things like that. It'll all be very, very worthy, like the Army and now the Ambassador's Afghanistan content.