The past few days I have been paranoid, which has led me to do some research on Public Affairs Blogs. Years ago in high school German class, the Frau always yelled at us “Keep it simple s…” She often was not very nice about it. The positive result of all that yelling, however, is my paranoia of doing things more complicated than necessary. Is La Flog a good idea? Is there already a template and format fitted to what La Follette needs? What would best allow the La Follette community to share ideas, social activities, and professional development?
Surprisingly, though, few masters programs in public affairs (public policy and administration) seem to have public forums for discussion and online debate. The Hubert H Humphrey Institute in Minnesota is one notable exception. They have a large collection of blogs that cater to specialized areas (general news, regional news, politics, and policies). These blogs, more or less, function as the Institutes’ public website, showing current research and interests (much like La Follette’s News site).
The Humphrey Institute also hosts a student government blog, “An Affair to Remember.” Much like La Flog, this blog publishes student government activities and general social events. Unlike La Flog, it seems to focus on student government and not general issues of public affairs. The University of Minnesota encourages blog use, and the Humphrey Institute seems to be taking full advantage of this “new” technology.
Other public policy-oriented schools I found using blogs:
- University of Georgia’s Public and International Affairs program apparently used to have a blog;
- Georgia Tech’s undergrad Public Policy program has a blog; and
- Berkeley’s Goldman School is planning (I think?) a blog (www.policymatters.net) to accompany a student-run Journal.
For a different perspective, many business schools have been blogging for quite some time. The Wharton School at Penn, Chicago Booth, Harvard Business School (go ahead, google HBS Blog) all have a blogging presence. Interestingly, many are moving past blogs to Twitter, video posts, and other new inventions beyond my understanding. (Check out University of Texas’ McCombs School blog for a good example.)
Another example that could provide an example is the University of Liverpool’s Masters of Public Administration blog. Their international presence has been improved through building online dialogue, topics, and connections through the pre-existing networks.
More or less, La Flog stands to be a good first step in experimenting with online, public affairs discussion and collaboration. Perhaps Twitter, podcasting, or other forums might be more appropriate? In my mind, a simple, robust, and online space connecting opinions and information from La Follette students and faculty could add greatly to our community. Just as the Wisconsin Idea seeks to extend the borders of the University throughout the state, La Flog and its online discussion can broaden our scope and appeal.
Blogging does take time and work, but experimenting now, during school, will no doubt be beneficial for our future employment, whether in public or non-profit service or in the private sector. The success of government blogs has yet to be seen (although the OMB Blog, the CBO Blog, and even the EPA Blog have gained some attention), the private sector has also been increasing their use of blogs (even Google has a policy oriented blog). The overall trend is to expand access to public affairs and policy discussions. La Flog seems to be on the right path, but we have some catching up to do.