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    March 15th, 2011EuropasionariaEuroblogosphere, Europe

    Or is it the opposite? Last week with fellow Blogging Portal editor Ronny Patz, we became the first bloggers to be granted an accreditation from the Council. Actually, it was also the first time bloggers got press accreditation to a European institution.

    A blogger tweeting with a press accreditation. Welcome to 21st century communication!

    We covered the Competitiveness Council for 2 days – well actually Ronny covered 2 days, I could only cover the second morning. This happened thanks to the spokespeople of the Hungarian presidency aka Kovács & Kováts, whom we’ve met a few times since the beginning of the year to discuss the activities they could do online. Trust was built throughout these initial meetings. And with a little push from our two supporters, we got offered accreditations as a pilot project. This time only Ronny and I could go. Well yes, the other bloggers are either not Brussels-based or had day commitments they couldn’t get away from.

    Dana_Council, EU Girl Geek and Council insider, showed us around the building and even gave us the opportunity to visit the Council meeting room, yes the one where you usually see Nicolas Sarkozy giving a pat on the back of fellow heads of State.

    Then we spent most of our time in the Council’s press room – well one of the many Council press rooms – following the Council live, tweeting and blogging it (read here our coverage of day 1 and day 2). It was fun to be there with journalists, interesting to see how they work and to get a feel of the overall vibes of a Council.

    For the sake of the blogosphere, we behaved so hopefully this pilot will open the door to more regular blogger participation in this kind of event. But then, what bloggers should get an accreditation? What should be the criteria? This is quite a Pandora’s box. Many discussions have already taken place on this topic and many will in the future. I’d be interested in knowing your views on that.

    From our experience at the Council, I see a few bloggers’ qualities that can bring value in getting them to cover European institutions’ events:

    • We don’t have a format constraint. We can blog as we wish, about what we want, using the tone we like. As a consequence, what we do is more spontaneous and human.
    • Being outsiders, we have a different view on things. We get surprised at the things around us and talk about details of the institution’s workings journalists wouldn’t cover for news outlets as it would probably not get the interest of a wide public.
    • One big plus was our live tweeting. Minute after minute we tweeted details of the Council and our impressions. As @Wed2EU put it, we helped EU geeks stay much closer than usual to the Council’s action.

    I hope we opened a door. Let’s see what happens in the future!

    Would you like to know more? Mathew Lowry is keeping track of all that’s written on this pilot project.

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    January 12th, 2011EuropasionariaBrussels, Euroblogosphere

    There were lots of familiar faces at the Butterfly Europe event this afternoon.

    © Joseph Boss

    When you are an EU geek -by that I mean a person who is both active in EU affairs and in social media- you tend to attend any single event that talks about both. And as social media is the “it” subject in the EU bubble at the moment, there have been many of these events in Brussels in the past months. So when you are an EU geek, you tend to always see the same people around, be it online or offline. As Antonia and a few of us EU geeks put it today on Twitter, at the Butterfly Europe event, the usual suspects were attending and some of them were speakers too. We are indeed a bubble inside the bubble. No surprise there: the EU bubble is already small enough that the group of people in this bubble who are also passionate about social media is inevitably smaller.

    Amongst the EU geeks usual suspects who attended Butterfly Europe, there was a shared impression that the discussions turned around in circles, and that somehow, any event we go to talks about the same things amongst the same people. Being of optimistic nature, I look at things in a different way.

    First, if we get the impression that nothing new is said in the social media events we go to, well that’s actually a good sign for us on a personal level. It means we know our stuff! As early adopters of social media in the EU bubble, we are and always will be ahead of others who are only starting to develop an interest in it.

    Then, of course the usual suspects were there. We know each other, appreciate each other and naturally gather and chat when we are at these kind of events. Here comes the bubble effect… but gladly, there were also plenty of new people at this event, let their tweeting commence!

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    December 21st, 2010EuropasionariaEuroblogosphere

    E-blogs Wikio

    Earlier this year I enthusiastically welcomed the launch of e-blogs by Wikio. The project was to translate into 5 languages blogposts from different European countries. “Great initiative”, I thought, especially since it was a private venture whereas projects of this type are usually funded with public money. But here we are, it didn’t work. E-blogs didn’t generate enough revenue and now it’s closing down.

    It’s sad but at least they gave it a try! So congratulations to the e-blogs team for their bold initiative!

    I recently read an interview of Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. He said that real entrepreneurs fail – a lot actually- and that it was a necessity for their succeeding in the future. It reminds me of what Caroline De Cock aka Lino The Rhino said in an interview to Butterfly Europe, a quote I published here a couple of days ago: “The day my kids will have understood that failing is not a bad thing as long as you learn from it and try again, I just know they will be the next generation of innovators.”

    It’s simple. Those who fail have dared to try. If you never take a risk and try to do something, even though you might fail, then you will never succeed. So praise your failures, as that’s what your successes are made of!

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    December 13th, 2010EuropasionariaEuroblogosphere

    This weekend I had the pleasure to be invited by the great folks of the office of the European Parliament in Spain to a roundtable on how to communicate Europe online along with about 50 bloggers, journalists, EU officials, and MEPs. I was asked to make a presentation on the topic of “How to communicate Europe through social media” on behalf of the Blogging Portal. My grandparents fled Spain in 1939 because of the civil war. So for the French woman of Spanish origin that I am, being invited in Cordoba to talk about Europe, which is above all a project of peace, was very symbolic and also quite emotional.

    Although I am following closely what’s happening in the French and English-speaking Euroblogospheres, I am not too aware of what’s going on in the Spanish one. This meeting was a true crash course. It’s always good to get out of the EU bubble. In Brussels we live and breathe Europe. Having regular meetings with national actors is not only beneficial but also essential. In the end, the Cordoba meeting was exactly the breath of fresh air I needed after 3 hard-working months. And I’m back to Brussels overwhelmed with ideas. Talking about them all would probably take about 10 posts. But here are my general impressions of the meeting.

    Spain is different

    You wouldn’t believe this. The meeting started with an “ola” performed by the 50 participants around the table. The “ola” is the human wave you see supporters do at football games. This reflected the general atmosphere of the gathering: friendly, laid-back, and above all, cooperative. I’ve previously written that I would like to see more public figures talk about Europe with passion. Not surprisingly I found passion in Spain this weekend. Cultural difference? Probably.

    Communicating Europe vs communicating between Europeans

    The main point I wanted to make during my presentation was that in today’s networked world, European institutions should stop trying to “communicate Europe”, as if Europe was a message to broadcast to the masses, and start interacting i.e. talking about Europe between Europeans. As Pau Solanilla from Europeando.eu pointed out: “Either we understand that hierarchy is not the organising principle anymore or we haven’t understood anything”. In social media, communication is personal. You will not be successful communicating online if you speak as an institution. Therefore, European institutions should give away a bit of control and allow its representatives to speak, not as institutions, but as people working in institutions. Bárbara Quílez, who is in charge of the European Parliament’s web page in Spanish, made a very subtle remark on this point: “We [European civil servants] can humanise Europe, not personalise it”. Indeed, it’s about giving Europe a face, not about being the face of Europe.

    In the end it’s all about relationships

    According to Pau Solannilla, networked communication is about content, channels, and relationships. The success of the meeting in Cordoba demonstrated something online activists know very well. Building relationships online leads to strong relationships offline. Although I have been interacting for months with all the Spanish Eurobloggers who attended the meeting, I had never met them in real life. My experience has showed me that online activities are always strengthened after bloggers meet in person. That’s why meetings such as the Cordoba one are essential.

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.[1]

    On Saturday #PEredes, the hashtag used at our meeting in Cordoba managed to get into the Twitter trending topics in Spain, and talking about Europe at that! For Europe to be in the public debate, it just takes a full room of EU geeks and good wifi.

    At our meeting, Susana Del Río, a sociologist specialising in European communication said: “Debate between Europeans creates political creativity”. I couldn’t agree more, Europe is the future of politics. Nowadays throughout the Western world, democracy is in disarray: low election turnouts, falling numbers of party memberships, lack of trust in politicians… we are all politically disenchanted. In such a situation, speaking about politics between Europeans can lead to new solutions and regained interest in politics. The European Union is a UPO, an unidentified political object. It is up to us, European citizens, to shape it the way we would like it to be. As Francisco Luis Benítez put it: “Europe is worth it”.

    Eventually I would say that the initiative of Ignacio Samper’s team of the European Parliament’s office in Spain has led the way. We need similar meetings held in other European countries. I would like to see this happening in France, for example, where the blogosphere is one of the most dynamic in Europe. On top of it, I would like to see a general Euroblogger meeting organised in Brussels. European Parliament, do you read me?

    [1] Margaret Mead, American anthropologist

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    November 16th, 2010EuropasionariaEuroblogosphere, Girl Power

    The launch of a new good Euroblog is always a source of joy and hope for the blogging advocate that I am, even more so when it’s written by a woman!

    So I’m very happy to announce this week that two of my EU Girl Geeks mates are either launching a new blog or revamping an old one:

    Ladies, congratulations and long live your blogs!

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    September 26th, 2010EuropasionariaEuroblogosphere, Europe

    [This post is in Spanish as part of the Day of Multilingual Blogging, an initiative to celebrate the European Day of Languages.]

    European Day of Multilingual Blogging

    Como es el día europeo de los idiomas, en paralelo con amigos blogueros del Blogging Portal, hemos decidido participar en un día de blogging multilingüe. Vamos a escribir en un idioma diferente al que usamos habitualmente en nuestro blog. Por eso, hoy blogueo en castellano.

    Este blog ya es bilingüe. Casi todos los artículos se pueden leer en francés aquí y en inglés allí. Es un principio muy importante para mí. Por una parte, escribo en inglés porqué es el mejor idioma para integrarse en la comunidad de los Euroblogueros. Así también doy una visión francesa de los problemas europeos. Por otra parte, escribo en francés para traducir a mis compatriotas lo que sucede en Europa. En pocas palabras, quiero construir puentes.

    Si escribiera únicamente en inglés, quedaría bloqueada en lo que llamamos la ‘EU bubble’, el pequeño grupo de gente que saben algo de la Unión Europea.

    Si escribiera únicamente en francés, sólo me leerían los franceses.

    Es simple. Cuantos más idiomas hablas, a más personas puedes llegar. Idealmente me gustaría también tener una sección en español en este blog pero ya es demasiado trabajo escribir en dos idiomas… Quizás podría, de vez en cuando, traducir algo en castellano… como los artículos que hablan de España, por ejemplo. Quizás un día… ¡Veremos!

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    July 26th, 2010EuropasionariaEuroblogosphere, Girl Power

    Rosie the blogger - CC Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com, after J. Howard Miller

    With the folks at the Blogging Portal, we ran a funny experiment last week. Editors nominated their favourite Euroblogs and ended up with a list of 30. Then Blogging Portal users could cast a vote online for their top 5 Euroblogs. The results were announced yesterday.

    I’m happy to see that at least one female Euroblogger made it to the final top 5. Congratulations to Lobby Planet‘s author for her continuous quest for trying and making the EU look funny. We need more light-toned Euroblogs, and we also need more female Eurobloggers.

    I’ve analysed the top 30 through a gender lens (see full list below). If you leave out the collectively written blogs, which have both male and female authors, there are 6 female bloggers in the list as opposed to 18 male bloggers. That’s right, just one quarter of the nominated blogs are written by ladies, this is even lower than the gender balance ratio of the current European Commission. This is not too bad but it could be much better. As French feminist blogger Olympe points it in a reaction to the Wikio classification of top political blogs, women are as underrepresented in the blogs that are deemed influential as they are in high positions in politics and at work.

    Generally women are not as comfortable voicing their political opinions as men are. I see this at every conference I go to, when it’s question time, only men dare speak. Surely not because they have more to say but because they are more confident that what they think is of interest to others. Ladies, your opinion matters. Whatever you write, you will find an audience, your very own audience. So, get blogging!

    I’m still surprised each time I publish a blogpost to see that people read what I write and that they are not my family and friends. I’m flattered that my fellow Blogging Portal editors nominated my blog as one of their favourites, and even more so that I actually made it to the top 10 of the readers’ favourites! See, just like many ladies, I still lack confidence in the value of what I do.

    I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on this blog before but in the same spirit, with my Twitter friends Kattebel and Linotherino, we launched the EU Girl Geeks network last year. EU Girl Geeks is a group of women who combine a geekiness that is both linked to techie stuff and to the EU bubble. Thanks to the genius IT skills of Linotherino we have now a website where we list blogs about Europe that are written by women. Have a look and feel free to suggest other blogs we might not yet know of! We are also on Facebook and Twitter. By the way, we are meeting this week for drinks and dinner so if you are geekie and girly, feel free to join!

    Results of the Blogging Portal's poll on your favourite Euroblogs

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    July 24th, 2010EuropasionariaEuroblogosphere, France

    Thanks to the European blog search engine Wikio, there is now no need anymore to speak 5 languages to discover the best European blogs. Each day on e-blogs, blogposts from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are selected and translated into 5 languages. What a fantastic initiative! Bravo Wikio!

    As far as translation is concerned, there is a novelty on this blog too. As a matter of principle, this blog is already bilingual. Almost all articles are available in English here and in French there. I took that decision right from the beginning in order to present a French view on European affairs to English speakers on one hand, and to build bridges between the Euroblogosphere and the French blogosphere on the other hand. However the fact that Spanish Eurobloggers such as Encarna of Más Europa, Emilio of europe@s and Jorge Juan of Cuidadano Morante have recently started to comment in Spanish on this blog pushed me to do more for multilinguism. This is why below the language button you can now see a Google translate button for all the people who are not comfortable with either English or French. This button can also be used to translate comments you don’t understand the language of, and even to reply in a language you can’t speak! Amazing, isn’t it?

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    July 21st, 2010EuropasionariaEuroblogosphere

    This week it’s been a pleasure to see enthusiasm mounting around the French-born idea of founding a collective European blog. On Monday, a few French Eurobloggers and sympathisers met for drinks in Paris to discuss the idea further (read minutes herehere and there).

    Along the initial idea of a collective European blog, another one emerged, that of using the Blogging Portal as a basis for creating a sort of intranet for European bloggers. The blog Se former à la communication européenne makes detailed proposals on how to transform the platform into “Blogging Portal 2.0”.

    As I am part of the Blogging Portal’s team of editors, I’ve been intrigued by this developement. I’m surprised to see that my fellow-countrymen consider the Blogging Portal to be hardly more than a Euroblog aggregator. Blogging Portal is in fact much more than that. The initial editors’ mission -making a daily selection of the best posts amongst over 600 listed blogs- has led to creating very strong bonds between the bloggers who are part of the team. A dozen of some of the most active Eurobloggers have daily online exchanges about how to develop the European public sphere. Together we design and carry out different initiatives during our free time, and without any financing at all. However it’s true that these exchanges and initiatives have been taking place in English so far as this is the only language we all share.

    Interestingly these discussions among French Eurobloggers are emerging at a time when Blogging Portal editors are going through intense discussions about the future of the platform. It’s perfect timing. So, dear Frenchies… would you like to join us in the Blogging Portal? You’d be more than welcome!

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    July 15th, 2010EuropasionariaEuroblogosphere

    Since I started blogging a year ago, it’s the first time I witness a blog chain in the French Euroblogosphere. Even though I’m French, I’m much better integrated in the English-speaking Euroblogosphere where interactions between blogs happen all the time. One starts blogging about something, another one picks it up, then another writes about both articles, and so on, and so forth.

    A couple of days ago, as a response to the closing of two emblematic blogsSamuel Faure called for the creation of a common European blog to which different bloggers would contribute with diverging opinions on Europe. Then Jean-Sébastien LefebvreGreg Henning and Michael Malherbe replied to him. If you can’t read French, you can still use Google Translate to get an idea of these exchanges. As Samuel kindly asked me to jump in, here is my contribution.

    I’m one of the strongest advocates of the fact that politicising Europe -confronting different points of views and projects- is what will make the interest for Europe grow. In my opinion, this is the positive side of the debate we had in France on the constitutional treaty for Europe. For the first time in France, we had a real debate on Europe! Everybody was talking about it! This is why I find Samuel’s idea interesting.

    However I am not sure that it is the solution we are looking for, simply because the people who would read or contribute to this collective European blog would be people who already have an interest in Europe.

    One of the main issues of the European Union is that it is of interest to very few people who usually gather up in tiny closed in communities, such as that of the Eurobloggers. The Blogging Portal community, which I am part of, was created in order to promote blogs that deal with European affairs. The Blogging Portal has been a tremendous tool for networking the English-speaking Euroblogging community. However, this community rather hardly interacts with Eurobloggers who write in other languages, and does not interact much with the national blogospheres either. Fair enough, it’s difficult to be in different places at the same time. It’s a good thing to develop a network of bloggers who care about Europe but on the other hand, we should avoid the self-referential tendency that sometimes leads us to talk about ourselves among each other.

    The more I think about it, the more I believe we should probably not write only about Europe in our blogs. Let’s write about Europe of course, but let’s also write about other things too. If our blogs only talk about Europe, we will only attract people who are already interested in Europe. If we want to get people interested in European affairs, wouldn’t it be a better strategy to deal with Europe as one topic among others? Let me explain… If we talk about life and generally all kinds of stuff on our blogs,  we will certainly attract a wider public. And if that public keeps on reading us, it’s probably because they like our style and the way we think, no matter what we talk about. Although they might not be interested in European issues at first, they might one day find one of our posts on Europe interesting. So if we write about Europe among other stuff, there is a chance that we actually get more people interested in Europe in the end, isn’t there?

    Update on 19 July: Samuel has responded to the various reactions on his idea. Click here to read it.

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