FOI Man explains why he has decided to remove his mask in 2012.
Happy new year to you all! 2012 – it’s going to be an important one for anyone interested in FOI. But more of that in my next post…
A long time ago (well, 15 months ago in truth) in a flat in South London, a humble Information Compliance Manager pulled a mask over his face, took it off again and cut eyeholes in it, replaced it, and began to type. And so, with the technical assistance of his loyal butler Alfred, and the loving (and proofreading) support of his very own Vicki Vale, FOI Man was born.
Why the mask? It meant I could be frank about the issues I cared about, without causing embarrassment. It was a way to dip my toe in the waters of the blogging world. It meant I could speak freely. That, at least, was the idea.
And it has had its advantages. I’m sure that at least some of the interest generated by this blog has come from the mystery attached to its author.
But over time, the anonymity which originally seemed so liberating has started to restrict the development of FOI Man. Whilst I receive many positive comments about the content here, some are reluctant to use it or draw attention to it as long as the author is unknown. I’ve had to turn down offers to speak at events in order to preserve my anonymity. And there was always (acknowledged) irony in the idea of a blog about freedom of information and transparency being written by someone who chose to keep his identity secret.
There are important debates about the future of FOI in the UK that will be had this coming year. As long as I remain anonymous, there will be those who will, not unreasonably, question my motives and identity as I take part in those discussions.
Fundamentally, I’m proud of this site and the reputation that it has built up, and in future I’d like my name to be associated with it.
Before reaching this decision, I spoke to my employer, and I’d like to thank them for their understanding. But it is important to state (and I will reiterate this here many times, I’m sure) that the views I express here (and on Twitter or any other forum where I write as FOI Man) will always be my own. As I’ve said right from the beginning, this blog isn’t about attacking or embarrassing my employer (or indeed my previous employers), but about the experience of dealing with FOI as a practitioner, and the views I’ve developed whilst working as one.
This blog isn’t about me. It’s about the Freedom of Information Act and other associated issues. But if anyone does want to know more about the man behind the mask, in future you’ll be able to do so by reading the About section of this site. I hope this won’t affect your enjoyment of the blog.
Hello to you Paul. Great decision
Hello Paul. So pleased you’re able to unmask. I really appreciate your blog and regularly recommend it to colleagues with interest in FOI.
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Hello Paul and Happy 2012 to you and yours. Thanks for “coming out” (so to speak).
Always an interesting read and truly value the wider view of the world than I could get from the day job.
A number of us had speculated but the mystery, as you suggest, added some charm. Nothing lost by the removal of your mask. You really have built an excellent and interesting site. Well done Paul/
Where did you put the old mask?
PS we miss you 🙂
Thanks Rudi! Good to hear from you and maybe there’s room for a higher education FOI Officer at a future LIRF meeting?
There has always been a place for you Paul 🙂
Thanks for all the supportive comments – much appreciated and stay tuned.