Read instead.

The site has moved.  Subscribe to’ve changed the name of this project to better reflect the audience we need to reach and we’ve now changed the name, design and most importantly the location of this blog.

The blog and project will live on at so please go there now, right now and subscribe to the new RSS feed. You won’t be disappointed.

Posts arriving soon include a trailer of the CivicSurf documentary film, a report from the evoice conference in Norwich where the film was premiered and extended footage of the interviews conducted for the film. And much much more.

Channel 4 News carries an intriguing story from Malaysia :

Candidates contesting some posts in Malaysia’s ruling party will be required to set up blogs, an official has said.

The move was a surprising turnaround for governing politicians who until recently derided online political writing as lies and rumours.

Abdul Rahman Dahlan, secretary general of the United Malays National Organisation party’s youth wing, said all those vying for national youth posts must have blogs to introduce themselves and their programs ahead of party elections in December.

“All candidates must have blogs,” Abdul Rahman said. “If not, they are not qualified to be leaders.”

Cllr Tony Tomkinson, from Clavering in Norfolk, started blogging in January 2008 as part of the civicsurf project.  His main objective was to use his blog to maintain communications with the 25 parish clerks in his constituency.

He used the blog to inform readers of developments from Norfolk County Council that affected his area.  In March he wrote about the possibility of a gravel pit in the village of Haddiscoe. He had been to a public meeting the night before attended by over 100 people from the village.  Over the following week Tony had 400 people visit his blog and within four weeks 37 comments had been left on the post.

I’m sure some of the people leaving comments had been to the meeting but by using the blog they are able to ensure their views are in the public domain.  Possibly some had not been able get to speak at the meeting. Also of interest is that people from outside the village were able to contribute including those with experience of gravel pits.

The post is a superb example of how using a blog a civic leader can gather considered and in-depth views from a wide range of people with a wide range of views.  The blog hasn’t replaced the village public meeting but it has complemented it very well.  Although Tony is prevented by his position as a councillor from expressing an opinion before the Planning committee meeting, he is providing leadership by encouraging discussion and opinion through having a place for that discussion to take place.

Image of CivicSurf backgrounderI’ve added a page to the site to describe “What is CivicSurf?” The page includes a downloadable PDF (single page A4).  Hopefully this might be helpful to any officers wanting to discuss the project with colleagues.

Draft CivicSurf logoWe asked the opinion of the people on this site and a few Gallomanor friends in local government and the response was strongly in favour of civicsurf.

We’ve even started developing a logo and soon this website will transfer to with a fresh new look.

One of the reasons I particularly liked civicsurf was that it gives a label to something important that was previously undefined. civicsurf is the aggregate of online local information about a town or area. It is comprised of blogs, sites such as, local press and public bodies. In essence the civicsurf is like a public meeting occurring online all day everyday. Our project will inspire civic leaders to get involved in that meeting, those conversations through contributing and hopefully leading.

Interviewing Tom Watson

Originally uploaded by G J R

Tom Watson was an interesting chat this morning. He had a lot to say about blogging and is clearly fired up about the whole social networking thing.

We also filmed Steve Webb, Member of Parliament for Northavon and Lib Dem Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Energy, Food and Rural Affairs, who was maybe a little more reserved about the process of blogging, but who also had seen in his year of posting how it can be an effective new tool for reaching both his constituents and a wider audience.


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