In 2004 (I think), the MySociety gang launched Downing Street Says – a blog-style presentation of the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman’s twice-daily media briefings. It included an RSS feed, which the No10 site (at the time) didn’t; and it included the ability to add comments. Oh, and it was built in WordPress.
Fast forward to 2009. Derek Draper launches LabourList. Some people didn’t like the presentation, or the approach to comment moderation. So they went off and built Labourist: same content, arguably a better layout, and a more open approach to debate.
There is something deeply troubling about a quasi-official site, where content is provided by members of the Labour Government, edited by a former Labour party employee and where comment is allowed only by the handpicked few. LabourList.org requires registration and sharing of personal data in order to join their debate. Contributors are asked the screening question: “Are you a Labour Member?”. LABOURIST thinks this is just wrong.
That perception may or may not be fair; but that’s not my point here. Some people (perhaps only one person?) didn’t like how LabourList was working; and resolved to do it better. LabourList’s copyright policy allowed him/her/them to republish it; so he/she/they did. The new site was up and running in a matter of days. Oh, and it’s running on WordPress.
Then Dave Briggs notes the launch of Big City Plan Talk. Birmingham City Council has published a plan to ‘revitalise Birmingham’s city centre over the next twenty years’. (Frankly, it probably needs it; and I speak as a former – happy – Birmingham resident.) Their website even feeds into the Council’s main Consultation Portal. But a bunch of Brummie bloggers felt it needed something more – clearer language, more straightforward commenting. So they did it themselves, within a couple of weeks. And what did they use? WordPress.
You know, I’m just saying…