First Impressions of Alastair Campbell’s New Blog

Alastair Campbell Website

[ UPDATE 06/02/09: Comments have been enabled on Alastair Campbell’s site, albeit in an unusual place. At the moment it’s unclear whether they apply to the whole site or each individual post. Nevertheless, you can disregard some of my criticism below as Campbell is also responding personally. He explains that the original lack of comments was down to “first day teething troubles”. ]

Alastair Campbell has somewhat belatedly launched his own text blog and video blog.

For someone so strongly linked with political communications in the UK, he’s a little late to the game. But I for one am a little intrigued about how he will choose to use it.

He’s also on Twitter now as @campbellclaret – presumably a reference to his chosen football team, Burnley.

First impressions? He talks about having discussions, but there is no comment facility on the blog. Why do high profile bloggers shy from this? People will talk about you, so you might as well encourage and “own” some of the discussion. A busy comments area brings people back, especially if there’s controversy. And Campbell is not unfamiliar with that.

He’d even retain the power to moderate comments, which is again something at which he’s had plenty of practice.

Otherwise they’ll use a system like Diigo to maintain annotations about your site elsewhere, as we saw with recently.

Incidentally, call me picky but the convention is that the whole thing is referred to as a “blog” and one article is referred to as a “blog post”.

There’s also a video blog and the first entry (I mean post) is a very slickly-edited piece with some footage from the glory years with Tony Blair and the upbeat sounds of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” on the soundtrack (I wonder if they sought permission for this).

It’s entertaining.

I generally think people’s expectations of online video have lowered these days. Just shoot a quick and frank piece to camera from your living room – it’s cheap, it’s immediate and it feels more open and honest. With such high production values from the outset, I’ll be surprised if he can sustain this regularly.

The New White House Online

At Native, we do like to note when current affairs and news intersect with online media.

The site has just relaunched for the new US administration. We’ll be looking particularly at their blog as well as Barack Obama on Twitter and any other officially-sanctioned tools and sites, to see how the US government are embracing them.

If this flood of US news is getting too much, the Kazakh prime minister has not only started a blog but also ordered his ministers to start their own blogs.

Hello, world

We have now launched NativeHQ.

Our core belief in starting NativeHQ is that regular and meaningful communication is vital. This company blog is a key thing for doing our own communication. It’s a living part of our business, where we model what we endorse.

We will mainly be discussing the wider subjects around our work, which covers social media, the web and the useful aspects of technology.

With this blog we want to avoid a one-way “broadcast” model which is perhaps the strongest temptation with a blog so closely allied with a business. We will listen, read, watch and otherwise check out what everyone else is offering and regularly respond here. We much prefer that way and we suggest that the benefits of real discussion are massive and ever increasing. On that note, anything that is (or resembles) blatant advertising has no place here.

We have deliberately set a broad remit and this will be reflected in the blog, which we plan to guide and shape along the way.

That leads us to our hope for you too – that you enjoy reading it and that it will help you in your work over time.

December 2008