So David Eaves is on my blog-writing radar since I got on his blog as part of the “Rat Pack of public service sector renewal . If you ask me, I think a more fitting name for this group of non-conventionalists is “Rant pack” (see what I did there? It’s punny) considering how 6 out of 7 of us blog (except for Mr. Kearney of the Government of Canada wiki GCPEDIA) .

So I pulled this blog posting out of my drafts and dusted it off. I wrote most of this a while ago after reading David Eaves’ blog post “why the government of canada needs bloggers“. (Warning to David: “cover your eyes…NOW!”)

I have calculated how the critical mass for blogs in the public service is 13 blogs.

Blogging is like crowdsurfing; it isnt for everyone, but anyone can do it, people support you, but you can fall, and its nice to have a crowd.

Blogging is like crowdsurfing. It isn't for everyone, but anyone can do it. You need people to support you, but you can fall on your ass big time. You can do it with a small group, but it's nice to have a big crowd.

My methodology

It’s crude, but let me give it a shot. To find out how many blogs there are out there, I checked Technorati:

  • 133 million

Balance that against an Internet penetration of 1.5 billion – that’s 1/11 people with Internet with a blog (consider how anyone can start a blog in minutes).

But keep in mind that the take-up of blogging is high, and drops down fast. The real number is in how many blogs are posted to weekly. In my opinion that’s a real blog.

1.5 million regular bloggers out of 1.5billion total Internet users = that’s 1/1000.

My best guesstimate is that 1/1000 Internet users regularly blog. World-wide.

Presuming all Canadian public servants have Internet,

  • 250 000 total public servants x 1/1000 Internet users who blog = 250 bloggers, blogging on any topic. Gardening, their snow-mobile, their pet rock. Or the public service.

How many of those would blog about the public service?

I’m guessing not that many. Who wants to blog for work after finishing work? And risk losing their job doing it?

My guess there is=1/20 – one of twenty bloggers would blog about work.

250/20 = 13 (rounded up). That’s my upper estimate.

Which brings us to our lucky number of about 13.

How many GC bloggers are there now?

I sought out to find out just how many Public Servant bloggers were blogging about the public service. So I created a page on GCPEDIA, the government of Canada wiki titled “Public servant bloggers” (I admit, I was inspired by Nick Charney‘s interesting GCPEDIA page “Public servants on Twitter“) . I specified on the page to list public servant bloggers:

“…who blog about the Government of Canada (and not Public Servants who just have a blog). These are personal blogs rather than official corporate presences.”

Up for only 24 hours, the number came in: 10.

And not all of them are active. I won’t provide all their link here (because they largely self-identified themselves on a public-servant-only webpage), but from what I can tell, only 5 are ongoing on a regular basis. It’s pretty hard to measure, as many public servants are on break during the Summer (enter stereotypic joke here) but still, apart from the dabbling, 5 seems like the proper number. But let’s stick with our number of 10.

Therefore, for those keeping score, the Government of Canada blogosphere has room for another 3.

Ought there be more Public Servant bloggers?

I’ve discussed this point some time ago with another regular blogger (won’t tell you who as I don’t want to get in the habit of citing my inter-personal talks. He/she will tell you if they want to be known), and I defended my point that Public Servants ought not to blog. The Government environment, I believe, is still not supportive of Public servant bloggers.

Would I encourage a GC public servant to blog? No. But I wouldn’t discourage them either.

Do I think any public servants should blog? Not any public servant, but those who are well supported by above, and who understand blogs well. But then if they’re going to blog, they don’t need anyone’s support.

I think this substantiates Etienne Laliberté and Nick Charney well. They are supported by their organisation executives and most importantly they understand the medium well. Were I to encourage a public servant to blog and they get criticized, black-balled, or heck, even fired for whatever umpteenth reason possible by Values & Ethics review, there’s no way I can take responsibility, or offer enough solace.

Unless…

Either the system changes, or the technology changes.

Throughout the past two weeks I’ve been working on both fronts. Since finishing my graduate studies, my raison d’être (and drive) for maintaining this blog has dissipitated (this blog was supporting my academic studies on Web 2.0 and Public Management). I’ve been looking for other avenues to keep blogging, effectively, to my target audience: Government of Canada public servants.

I want to continue, but I can’t publicly – too many great things in the Government of Canada and Web 2.0 are going on, behind the curtains, that I can’t, won’t or shouldn’t blog about publicly. Maybe I can anyway, I don’t know. But following my own advice, I don’t see how I can.

But, if we can blog privately, I can see how David Eaves can be right. The Government of Canada could have more, much more bloggers. And an audience reach of 250,000 public servants is quite a big audience… to support quite a big rant pack.

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