Saturday, June 6, 2009

What is the Point of the EU Blogosphere?

I'm going to try experimenting more with audio and video as a blogger. I'm sure this is a better way to connect with people and show the human side of EU politics. So here's a video I've put together, showing some of my thoughts about what we could do with an EU blogosphere.

Please criticise my mad ideas!


Julien Frisch said...

First: I don't see what the special connection to the EU blogosphere is, except for the part with the technical knowledge. The rest is true for any group of network.

Second: Networks form, whether we want it or not, via interaction. And interaction can have different intentions or reasons. They can be based on shared goals, shared values, shared tasks, shared environments, hazard etc. So they can evolve intentionally and unintentionally.

The closer interactions get, the more time consuming they become. The more time consuming a relation becomes, the less time is left for other interactions.

The question you have to ask is what kind of network you want to create?

One where a few individuals interact very frequently based on close relationships forming a rather exclusive network trying to pursue concrete goals or a larger, self-organised system in which certain relations become stronger for a limited amount of time whenever there is a concrete project coming up that needs more attention, more interaction, more effort.

I have nothing against a human dimension of blogging, but as long as the EU blogosphere is as small as it is today, there is the danger of building up a small dominating elite that will narrow down the scope and potential this field has. The self-referential nature of this network would reduce diversity, and this is what I am looking for reading so many blogs and other European sources:

Get a broad view on an issue that is so large but dominated by so few.

We don't need yet another closed down group, we need an open space with the potential for change, for adaptation.

Any enhanced co-operation should pursue this goal - i.e. create a broader and open European public sphere - and it should be limited to an extend that is goal-oriented, not an interaction for the sake of itself.

What your presentation lacks is thus an explanation what you want to reach with what you propose, and which forms of interactions you think will be most effective. So far, it is just very basic network thinking.

Josef Litobarski said...

Hi, Julien!

You raise a pretty fundamental point - and it's going to be an interesting debate.

Just like the EU - we can decide to focus on broadening or deepening.

You feel we should be broadening - opening up the EU blogosphere so it's as easy as possible for people to blog and access information.

I think we should be deepening the connections between existing bloggers and improving our skills at blogging. That is how we will attract more people to the blogosphere.

We both want more people blogging about the EU. But I think deepening comes first, then broadening.

I agree it's hard to penetrate a community that is too insular - but far from making things elite-dominated, a small community that is producing results will be the first step in attracting a larger community.

People want to be a part of what is successful.

The forms of interaction I think would be most successful are video and audio based. I want to see us move away from text-only blogging, and start experimenting.

I could be convinced that we should be broadening rather than deepening, but what are your suggestions for how to broaden our community?

NewsMonitor said...

Not sure if you appreciate a complete stranger intruding on your discussion but I thought considering the issues raised by your thought-provoking post you might want some outside input. Let me start by saying that I am completely outside both the network forms you have been discussing- as far as Australia in fact! However, I recently visited Europe for five weeks and fell immediately in love with the whole concept of the EU. I now consider myself a complete Europhile which is why I follow The Citizen Europe blog amongst others. Anyway, to be honest, I would prefer to see the deepening of the EU blogosphere rather than broadening. Blogging suffers from the sheer unprofessionality that is generated from the level of freedom of exprssion it enables. For instance, someone such as myself who has only a very generalised knowledge of the EU has just as much power to blog as the likes of Citizen Europe or Julian Frisch, or do I? No, because it is the networks that empower the bloggers. Which is why it is imperative that to uphold the depth of the excellent EU blogosphere, bloggers increase the connections between each other to create an insigthful basis of communication. Anyway, not sure if that was helpful or not, afterall I am simply an observor (hence "NewsMonitor") but I hope you continue your insights into the EU. I enjoy them immensely.


The NewsMonitor

Josef Litobarski said...

Hi, NewsMonitor!

Not only do we not mind you participating, we're actually very glad to have your input!

Something both me and Julien agree on: the world of EU blogging is very small and very introverted. It needs to grow. What we disagree about is the best way to acomplish this growth.

But either way - please do take part in the discussion!

I don't think that not knowing about the EU should be a barrier towards blogging about it. Blogging is an excellent way to learn more. If you're thinking of starting up a blog about EU/Australian relations (there's a niche category!) then I'd definitely encourage it! :-D

There are certain skills we do need to learn as bloggers, and one of those is to be open to corrections and retractions. If I make a mistake, I'm careful (or at least, I TRY to be careful) to edit my post and show clearly that I was in error. As long as we do this, it is okay to blog about an area you don't know anything about.

The only problem is if you blog about something you know nothing about, and are unwilling to learn or admit you have made a mistake!

There is currently a "core" group of indy EU bloggers writing about European politics. I think we should focus on strengthening connections between that core group and improving the presentation of their blogs and their research, interview and writing skills. When we have a highly-polished core group, I'm sure more bloggers will start to join - especially if they receive help and support from the core.

It will take time. But this is how we can grow the blogosphere.

P.S. I'm actually an Australian citizen myself (duel UK-Aus citizenship) - so no excuses not to blog about Europe! :-D

NewsMonitor said...

Your comments are real food for thought! There is obviously quite a 'Catch 22' type dilemma with the expansion of the EU blogosphere. As I stated before I believe that the cooperation between bloggers is fundamental to the integrity of the EU blogosphere. However, at the same time what is the point if it doesn't connect with the wider ordiance outside the "core"? It will be interesting to see how things pan out from an observor's perspective. Your suggestion to create a blog on EU-Australian relations is certainly an interesting one. Who knows? Maybe in a while such a blog might exist.I will certainly investigate...

Josef Litobarski said...

You're exactly right about the need for the core not to ignore a wider audience!

That's why those core bloggers should work to help support anybody who wants to get into EU blogging.

Some people are already thinking about putting together resources for new bloggers to read - tutorials, and that sort of thing.

I think the biggest encouragement for new bloggers would be to say that if you blog we will read your blog, link to it, write about it and offer criticism and help improving it.

So, NewsMonitor - if you do start a blog about the EU, let me know and I will read it, link to it, write about it and offer you criticism and help improving it! Then, when you're comfortable with blogging, you can help others get involved!