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.