Blogging and working in the open

Steve Messer
7 min readJan 25, 2020

Originally published at on January 25, 2020.

This is a talk I gave to the GDS product management community a year ago. It’s mostly aimed at other people working in digital transformation of government, but actually I think everyone should blog a bit.

There’s lots of ways of working in the open, blogging is just one of them.

So what is the point of blogging?

First we should define what a blog is. The noun ‘blog’ means a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

Blogs have been a part of the Web since the 1990s when web publishing tools were made easier-to-use for non-technical folk. They’ve always tended to be in a diary style, allowing people to talk about what they do, their interests and anything they please.

But what’s the point of blogging in government?

Blogging helps to

  • open up government
  • form a dialogue with our audience
  • share what we’ve learnt

It’s really all about starting conversations and sharing knowledge. The audience might be fellow service creators or it might be end users.

But it’s worthwhile taking this a step further. Blogging is all about working in the open. Working in the open causes you to be honest about your work and makes it easier to collaborate with smart communities of peers.

I’ll expand on that…

What’s the point of being open?

The Government Transformation Strategy says that ‘a culture of open, digitally enabled policy making and service delivery is critical to our future success.’ It’s written into our values as an organisation too: ‘Make things open, it makes things better.’

Being open is about the importance of working across organisational boundaries to make things better for users.

If someone in Department A talks about a particular problem and someone in Department B says they’ve encountered the same thing, they’re likely to ignore the boundaries and differences between their departments and explore the problem together.

Steve Messer

Product manager, GOV.UK Design System, Government Digital Service