And this is how it went...
I finally met Jim at his constituency office the other night. It was in fact one evening earlier this week so this post has been overlong in coming. Sorry. I'm not setting a very good example am I? This post has been a hard one to write - I didn't want to misconstrue anything said nor promise anything that I may have imagined in my eagerness to get this going. I've started and restarted this so many times. Here goes.
The meeting was very encouraging. Jim was very interested in the process behind blogging and I explained how easy it was to publish information and updates about issues and ongoing campaigns within the area, to link to other sources to help his constituents get a better understanding of those issues and most importantly the ease with which his constituents can initiate dialogue with him.
Because of the comparatively high numbers of students and graduates in the constituency Jim knows there is a fair percentage of his constituents having guaranteed internet access thus having easy access to the blog. We discussed the fact that more people are getting on the net everyday so the prospective audience was probably going to include a much higher number of his constituents than the groups mentioned.
While agreeing the blog would be a very useful and powerful means to communicate with his constituents Jim isn't prepared to take the blog over yet. He does however want to try a few things out with the blog as a means to gauge how effective it really is. We all know that the ease of communication the internet has ushered in has also brought with it information overload, masses of spam and various other timewasters. His main fear is that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages so wants to dip his toe in the water.
So what does Jim want to try out? First of all he's going to put something together on various new laws and more importantly their impact on the local area. He knows how boring press releases are so we won't just get a rehash of the latest Westminster communique. But the most exciting thing he wants to try is posting something on a local issue inviting responses direct to his email address via the blog. He will be garnering feedback for this through the usual channels as well so it will be a good test to see the quality and quantity of responses through the blog compared to the traditional means of cavassing opinion. To make sure enough constituents know about he will include the address of the blog in upcoming newsletters. I've been suprised at the relatively high visitor numbers but only a minority of them are local. Hopefully that should change soon.
The final details of what the actual content are to still be worked out but Jim seemed really enthusiastic about it so it shouldn't be too long before we get to see. Hopefully the trial proves to be a positive one and Jim will want to do more or preferably take over the blog entirely. Stay tuned for more soon.