On tour with the PM

I hinted that there might be more online initiatives coming out of 10 Downing Street; and true enough, next out the world-famous door is a bit of on-the-spot blogging from Gordon Brown’s trip to the United States later this week.
For the first time on a foreign visit, a member of the No10 web team is joining the PM’s entourage, armed with a laptop, a camera, a fresh WordPress installation back at base, and the passwords to the Flickr and Twitter accounts. And as Downing Street announced last week, we’re mashing it all together into a ‘live’ microsite.
The plan is to cover the set-piece events – speeches, press conferences, etc – via Twitter flashes, to be followed up with a longer, more considered blog post. Pictures will be posted on Flickr, most likely a combination of agency-sourced images and snaps from our man on the spot. And it’ll all be pulled together by the power of RSS, into the custom WordPress theme I’ve built.
When a journalist does this, it’s considered cutting-edge. But when the tables are turned, and the civil servants start doing it too? Let’s see.
My favourite element is the plotting of stories on a Google Map planted on the homepage. Granted, it’s fairly crude: articles written in Washington will be assigned a WordPress category ‘washington’, then when you click on the Google Map pushpin over Washington, you’ll see the appropriate archive listing. We aren’t talking GPS coordinates or anything. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone try doing it… and it works. 🙂
As with the Progressive Governance summit website, it’s experimental. We’re hoping to bring a new first-person perspective to things, but naturally it can’t be too personal: striking an appropriate balance could prove tricky. We’re banking on internet access being readily available; and it may or may not be practical for one person, with limited hands-on experience, to do all these things. But hey, there’s only one way to find out.
The fun starts late on Tuesday, or early on Wednesday, depending where you are. Please have a look, and tell us what you think.

6 thoughts on “On tour with the PM”

  1. yes. definitely bleeding edge, simon. all hail to you and your persuasive powers ;] maps a bit pointless but the twitter? very useful.
    one thing i noticed was his book choice in the first twitter. catcher in the rye AND Lucky Jim. sexual repression mustave been strong in kirkcaldy …

  2. The planning sounds impeccable, Simon. Nice ideas. Definitely something to note when the civil servants become cutting edge 🙂
    Following this experiment with keen interest.

  3. Great stuff. I guess it’s hard to get the security detail to allow up-to-the-minute geolocating from the GPS on the blackberry.

  4. Looks good. Not sure about the map, but presumably it’ll come into its own later. Security detail can relax: based on this morning’s coverage, virtually no one in the US knows who the hell GB is and those who do have their eyes on the Pope. Based on GB’s popularity here, numerous Labour back benchers must be hoping security detail do cock up. Alastair Campbell must be spinning in his grave/laughing like a drain – not sure which.

  5. Hmmm, twitter feed isn’t telling us the whole story. According to the beeb ‘Earlier, a meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki had to be cancelled due to scheduling problems.’ Would that be the same Thabo Mbeki who swanned in late to the progressive heads conference and who, incredibly, thinks that the Zimbabwe election is all above board? I’d also like to know whether GB asked Tanzanian President Kikwete about this scandal – http://tinyurl.com/43h9uy – and what he’s planning to do about tracking down the beneficiaries.
    Summary – some interactivity would be good.

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