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Interview with:

Megan Eskey [meganesque] 

What is your blog address? What subjects do you deal with?
http://dad-memorial.blogspot.com. I blog about Open Government and legislative reform in general. I have focused primarily on the newly formed Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus (CABC) recently as I feel that this is perhaps the most significant Caucus in Congress today. My post exposes weaknesses in the current system that protects victims of bullying in the schools, workplace and elder communities. The mission statement of the Caucus is very broad and could include other aspects such as domestic violence and child abuse, subjects I know less about. I will post new information on my log here at Whohub as it becomes available. By the end of 2013 I had ~15K pageviews on my interview/log, and ~30K pageviews on my blog. The whohub counter was reset to 0 for 2014. The mass appeal of mobile devices and social media is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, public events and public offices are "opening up" and becoming more interactive and engaging. On the other hand, people are becoming more robotic, less emotional and connected in an interpersonal/face-to-face way. Bullying is on the rise partially because cyberbullying makes it easy and impersonal. In the United States, government departments and agencies are top heavy because of a broken system that protects renegade managers at any cost. There are many bullies in government today, including the human resources and legal representatives. In many cases, the harassed employees are specialists who are hard to replace, whereas the managers and their reps are not. Identifying bullying supervisors, managers, and HR/legal reps is an important step towards streamlining and cutting costs as budgets are reduced across the board. Bullying is an international issue, with profound and far-reaching costs to human and civil rights; mental and physical health; and safety and productivity in the workplace, schools, and elder communities. There is a global effort to move more women into positions of power to provide a more balanced perspective on legislation related to reproductive rights, child poverty, rape, violence against women, world peace, and many other challenging issues. As a general guideline: when we focus on civil and human rights, we are moving in the "right" direction.
What was it that made you create your blog? On what date did you start it?
I started blogging in 2009 primarily because of the release of the Open Government Memo by President Obama, but also because of some family issues that I wanted to share with a broader audience since I did not know how to resolve them alone. I initially viewed it as a forum for expressing my own challenges in the language of OpenGov, leveraging the processes and tools that were available to me at the time and the magnetizing effect of social media to attract solutions. I think it was this personal touch that made it so popular; it's not simply a dry record of laws, documents and software, but rather a timeline showing the snowball effect of my words and posts on others with similar issues and interests. In addition, there is something unexpected about my conclusions, which often counter long held beliefs deeply ingrained in the consciousness of Americans over decades and across generations. The fact that it has become a valuable resource to the international OpenGov community is thrilling to me, with the new resources (docs, youtubes, s/w, etc.) that are being produced surpassing the originals. I add new links and media as they become available, so that the content remains fresh and timely. My blog is a constant work-in-progress, and the new posts are largely spontaneous and unplanned, and are based on what I feel is the most compelling issue or story of the day.
What blogging system have you adopted and why?
I use Blogger or blogspot.com by Google. It is very easy to use and allows me to import media via gadgets for a clean design in addition to the chronological posts. The gadgets are shown on the top level at all times, and can be used to highlight youtubes or other media. In addition, Google indexes the posts for worldwide searches, and has a good web analytic engine built in to show pageviews by country, operating system and browser.
How many visits a day do you get? What type of comments do you receive?
I rarely get comments, but I get many visits, about 500 per week. My audience is fairly sophisticated in terms of internet skills, so the communication is generally via links to youtubes or software that is inspired by my blog, and then reposted on Twitter with a cc: to my account @meganesque. Another way my visitors reach me is via my profiles on multiple social media sites. My visitors are content creators, not just consumers of the information on my blog. I find new relevant content to repost on my site every day.
How has 'having a blog' contributed to your life?
I have learned more in the past 4 years than ever before. There is a magnetizing force that bloggers learn to love, with an increase in followers on all social media accounts and an increase in the visibility or impact of your "voice" that is very rewarding. Blogging about issues that were important to my father (like the "spiral of injustice" in Palestine) has helped me to understand him better. He witnessed many injustices in his lifetime, and did what he could to remedy the situation through his work. However, as a private citizen he was limited in what he could do. Now the tables have turned, and with the help of new "disruptive" technology, I am able to effect change more easily in my role as a private citizen than I was in my role as a government employee. I would like to see that change, and was gratified to see that there are ongoing discussions about creating Senior Executive Service (SES) roles in the Federal sector that are cross-functional, and would enable more cross-Agency outreach and projects. In this age of "radical connectivity", stovepiped organizations and very specialized social media roles make little sense, and only serve to artificially limit or restrict employees who could otherwise effect change on a global scale given the right tools and leverage.
Have you created relationships with other bloggers or readers of your blog?
Yes, I have a blogroll, or a list of favorite blogs and bloggers.
How often do you post? Does regular posting of your blog require a lot of effort on your part?
I keep the number of posts down to a few per year, but some posts are very dense and are edited and expanded over time to include links to other related articles and posts as they become available to support the core message.
Does blogging bring in income for you? Can one make a living from posting?
I was employed by NASA when I started my blog. However, I am transitioning to a new role as an independent consultant for Open Government worldwide. Blogging is a great foundation for positioning and marketing. I am particularly interested in helping the Open Government Partnership (OGP) participating countries to establish a strong foundation in Open Government principles and practices, refine the quality of their action plans, support effective implementation of their commitments, advance the assessment process, and encourage active, constructive engagement with civil society actors as they develop and implement their plans.
How do you promote your blog?
Most of the visits to my blog are via Google searches, but I have used Facebook ads and posts on my own social media accounts to expand my reach.
How would you define your readers? Have you got a faithful audience?
My visitors come from all over the world, and include many Open Government thought leaders, social media experts, anti-bullying activists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, MTV musicians and many other influential people who can take my words to the next level, and can drive change at a more hands-on level, such as submitting new bills to close loopholes in our laws or to empower or inform vulnerable members of the general public. I'd like to see my visitors from online media change their approach a bit. Rather than reporting the explicit details of violent and non-violent crimes, why not add a paragraph at the end of your posts with links to the specific laws that were breached and resources for the victims? The challenge today is education, and the internet is by far the best forum for that. I think we will look back on this era as one of a very primitive global society. Any crime that is non-violent should be treated as a lesser offense, with shorter sentences. Violent crimes should not be condoned. Let's establish a goal of raising the U.S. Global Peace Index ranking to the Top 50 by 2015. Peace can be planned. Disrupt violence.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to begin a blog?
Write about subjects that are close to your own experiences and focus on topics that have depth. Stay current. Being the first blogger to expose or focus on a sticky subject will bring many loyal followers with similar issues or interests. As difficult as it may be, try to maintain a good work/life balance while working at a full time job and blogging. Don't make blogging your primary focus. I will leave you with this beautiful thought: https://soundcloud.com/nessigomes/true-love-will-find-you-in-the

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Megan Eskey
San Jose, CALIF

[meganesque] Megan Eskey
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© Megan Eskey
Web address for this interview:http://www.whohub.com/meganesque

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