It’s time for a change. From today, the public strategist is becoming rather more public. The threadbare pseudonymity of Public Strategist has outlived its usefulness – the new About page tells all.
There were two reasons for being faceless and nameless here. The first was distance. I wanted to be very clear that there was – and is – a separation between what I write here and the work I do as a civil servant. I have gone on about that more than once, so will only say here that this blog does not and will not contain material about the substance of my working life, though it does and will talk about issues on which I have something to say in part because of my experience as a civil servant. Having sustained that distinction for quite a few years and a few hundred blog posts, I don’t think it needs any longer to depend on pseudonymity as well.
The second reason was caution. There is a great deal more social media openness in government than there used to be, but it can be hard to remember just how recent and limited a phenomenon that is. It has matured a bit since I wrote about the voices of government in 2009, though the basic picture hasn’t changed much and this still feels like a slightly odd thing to be doing. But when the head of the civil service and my about to be permanent secretary are both active on twitter and when the former has a blog, the balance of risk is clearly tipping. I have always operated here on the basis of seeking forgiveness rather than permission, but always with a slightly niggling doubt about how easy forgiveness might be to come by. That can’t – and shouldn’t – ever go away entirely but here too the balance feels different from the way it did a few years ago.
There is a recognition of reality here too. A pseudonym is not a binary state, there are degrees of opacity. This change is the end of a slow process: it has never been a great secret and I very consciously made a link between my name and my blog when I joined twitter four years ago. Google has long made the connection and the distinction gets ever more artificial.
So, blinking slightly in the unaccustomed daylight, the Public Strategist emerges.