Mar 11 2008

Civil Serf: part of the problem?

Published by at 9:03 am under Comms,Digital,Media,Politics

Bookmark and Share

Thanks to a four-day weekend I’m a little late jumping on this particular bandwagon. There are dozens ofmy take on civil serf‘ posts out there already, but I might as well add my own.

The facts are well-known: Young-ish, senior-ish Civil Servant with private sector background finds her frustrated at Whitehall inefficiencies. Many of us can identify, I’m sure. Starts venting her frustrations in her blog. Pulls the plug after the inevitable media interest.

My feelings on this are almost identical to Jeremy Gould’s – she broke the rules (in spirit, certainly, if not in letter). More than that, though, if you ask me (and, by implication, if you’ve read this far then you did), Civil Serf wasn’t helping to fix anything, she was part of the problem.

Sure, she uncovered some bureaucratic inefficiencies and got frustrated by them. Every bureaucracy will have them. But, having re-read a few of her posts, I’m not sure I recall much by way of positive suggestions as to how to improve things. Not a great deal of constructive criticism. I find it hard to believe that she didn’t come across the odd example of government machinery working well, either – but then, as we all sadly know, good news isn’t news.

What interests me more, at the moment, is the ongoing media reaction. Civil Serf is all over the mainstream press at the moment in a raft of identikit, superficial articles. You can hear the pack baying for her eventual unmasking – followed by her inevitable sacking, all in the name of a good story. “Hunt is on”, says the Times, for this “Demon Blogger”.

Is it?

Civil Serf’s identity doesn’t really bother me. I’d be vaguely curious to know which Department she works in, but that’s about it. But given the (Sunday) Times’s track record I guess we shouldn’t be all that surprised at the quest to tear off the rubber mask.  And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling journalists!

Now that the Civil Serf blog has been taken down, Simon Dickson over at Puffbox has grabbed the URL and, where the blog used to be, has posted a useful potted history along with his take on the subject. Which has to be better than the alternative of a page full of ads for viagra and pirate software.

He’s not quite correct to suggest, though, that Civil Serf’s content has been lost for good. Thanks to Google Reader, I have all of Civil Serf’s posts from some point in December onward. I’m not sure, at this stage, whether it makes sense to reconstruct the blog for posterity; if the author wants it taken down, perhaps to safeguard her (or his?) continuing employment, there’s an argument in favour of acquiescence. But I can’t be the only one who has them.

Bookmark and Share

2 responses so far