Blogs – weblogs that offer a personal viewpoint – seem to be all the rage these days, particularly among the younger, more technically-savvy set. And while we’ve seen them crop up on a few corporate web sites, Portland Mayor Tom Potter’s blog is the first we’ve seen posted on a major city’s web site.
This innovative approach to communicating with residents offers several advantages. First, it is unintimidating. By its nature, the style of a blog is somewhat informal, and so isn’t weighted down with heavy terminology, and its tone is inviting.
Second, through his blogs, Mayor Potter can cover a wide range of themes related to city government – without having to go too deeply into any one topic. Blogs aren’t generally meant to be long, and they can span a wide breadth of content.
It also shows personal involvement and conviction. By talking with residents through his blog, the Mayor shows his human side, and is able to express his own opinions.
One of the greatest benefits is that a blog invites response from readers – in this case, primarily residents. Unlike a letter that talks to the reader, a blog allows the author to talk with them. Readers are invited to submit their thoughts and ideas in response to material that has been posted.
As in all public forums, a blog exposes the City to a risk that someone might post offensive content or language, but as is stated on the web site, the blog is monitored to ensure its appropriateness.
That’s a job that the City of Portland is apparently willing to accept. And we think it’s well worth it in exchange for quality, meaningful communication with citizens.