Tag: euroblog

4 years Bloggingportal.eu

Happy Birthday, bloggingportal!


Three years of bloggingportal. And what a journey it has been. I remember sitting around a huge table in a flat in Brussels – with a certain Jon Worth and the (back then) mysterious Brusselsblogger – dreaming up something that is now known as bloggingportal. Well, resources were scarce and it took us only another year to launch the actual website in January 2009.  As I said at a conference a few years ago: “Three people, one idea, no money” (hey – I always wanted to quote myself in a blog post!)

Ironically I am blogging this while sitting at exactly the same (and now truly) legendary table in a flat in London… Well, in many ways I would not be here without bloggingportal and all the people I met through the project. So thanks a lot for all your help and support!

We have learnt a lot over the last three years – especially how not to do things. But I guess this is how it has to be. The problem is still the same: We are a bunch of enthusiastic people without a real structure, without money and without much time on our hands. It is a bit like herding anarchist and hungry cats…

So what does the future hold for bloggingportal? I  blogged about our problems in the past and called for a bigger EU blogosphere. As you can imagine not much has been solved – although EU blogging has arguably grown somehwat. To get an idea about the debate on the future of bloggingportal head over to BrusselsbloggerRonny Patz  and Mathew Lowry’s Tagsmanian Devil who all have written more substantial blog posts on the issue.

If you are reading this and you are thinking “well this blogginportal stuff may be a fun thing to do…” – why not get in touch ?  I think we do need people with fresh ideas who are motivated to invest some time in developing the website as well as the bloggingportal concept (whatever that is…). Because it is simple: The media landscape has changed, blogging has changed – even the EU has changed (well, ok this is  debatable!). So maybe bloggingportal needs to change too!

PS. I am not dead – honest. Pseudo-regular blogging resumes as soon as possible… (Reason: new job in London & flat-hunting)

To flattr or not to flattr…?

Yes, this was the question. And after several months of contemplation I decided to give it a try! So, what is this  flattr thingy you might ask – apart from all these little buttons? Well, it is a newish social micro payment system and provides an easy way to share money and make small donations.  Check flattr.com or watch the video below for a better explanation. Basically, if you have a flattr account you can click on one of the buttons on this blog to give a small amount of money.

Although I find the idea behind flattr fascinating  I doubt that it will be a huge success on this blog because of various reasons. First of all I don’t think I have enough readers (a common problem among eurobloggers!). I also suspect that most of my readers do not have a flattr account.  The second problem is that flattr is not yet popular enough. It seems to me that only few blogs  (mainly tech related), add-ons and several NGOs (wikileaks being the most prominent) use it actively. Only in Germany flattr seems to be a known service.  This  situation is a problem for thus blog. Very few readers have even fewer flattr accounts… So I suppose the main aim for your blogger – to re-finance the server/hosting costs – cannot be achieved. Nevertheless, I would greatly appreciate your flattr love… 😉

So the  main reason why I am using flattr now is twofold. It gives me the opportunity to flattr others and I hope to get to know the system better. Maybe I can use it in other projects more successfully!

We need a bigger EU-Blogosphere! But how?

The so-called “euroblogosphere” is a rather small specialised blogging scene. It has always been like that. However, lately I have the feeling that not enough new bloggers take up the challenge to write about EU topics. It seems to me that  only very few new blogs have been launched in the last months/years.  Moreover, there are simply not enough good blogs around, somehow not much has changed in the last 2 or 3 years. From my own experience, it is very difficult to motivate people to blog about EU politics – and keep them interested for several years.

There is also the argument that blogging is on the decline because of twitter, tumblr and facebook. I am not sure whether blogging about politics  (as political arguments usually need more than 140 characters!) is actually affected by this trend although it is true that the EU twittersphere seems to be growing. OK, blogging is not for everyone and not everyone is motivated to blog regularly. However, if there was a bigger EU-blogosphere it would probably motivate more people to start blogging!

But how to create a bigger EU blogosphere? I don’t really have an answer for that but somehow I have the feeling that we should step up our efforts to ‘recruit’ more bloggers and to keep active bloggers motivated! Especially the community building aspect of bloggingportal.eu has been a success – albeit with a limited impact.

If we think about target groups there are several groups that spring to mind:

(1) I think students are an important target group  (especially in European studies, journalism, politics, economics, social sciences…). At the same time it would be good to have people from other more specialized subjects in order to strengthen the EU policy-blogging scene (for example energy, competition, single market, environment, fisheries, agriculture, standardization issues…). What I also would like to see is more local and regional blogs that could evaluate  EU funding projects from a non-Brussels perspective or provide a regional links to EU issues. What needs to be done to motivate students to start a blog? And even if students start blogging – how can they be motivated to keep blogging after they receive their degree?

(2) The second big target group could be the thousands of interns in Brussels and elsewhere. There are quite a lot of internships in the EU bubble. They should (on average!) have slightly more free-time than other people and could use the blog for job hunting if they manage to create some buzz in their field.  Especially in Brussels I think there could be a huge potential as many interns work in EU related jobs. Maybe blogging could give some of them the necessary extra qualification to succeed in the job market! But how to reach them and how to motivate them?

(3) Blogging should not be restricted to the younger generation. People that work  in a job that has something to do with the EU or linked to EU issues are missing in the blogosphsere. Private and professional blogs are also not present in the EU blogging scene. Lots of people that blog on national politics do it as a hobby – is the EU not a topic that can be a good blogging hobby? Generally, it seems that within this target group EU blogging is not seen as a very useful thing to do. But how to change this?

(4) Academics. This is another complex story and I have first hand experience with ideasoneurope.eu The main problem is that the academic community in Europe does not appreciate blogging. And there is also a lack of true European public intellectuals, which is surprising as the internet in particular would be the perfect arena, but again, it is not happening. Partly, because the concept of a “public intellectual” does not seem to be popular in Europe –  but also because a lot of  academics are not familiar with the internet. (I am not kidding!) So, if you are an academic and you blog instead of writing a journal article you are basically wasting your time and it does not seem to help your career. But what can be done to change this?

(5) Retired professionals. With or without a EU job background. Is it possible to motivate this age group to take up blogging as a new hobby?

(6) [Update] Civil Society. There are many NGOs that could use blogging and social media to get their points across. It is a cheap and rather effective tool to engage with the public.

(7) [Update] Think Tanks. I argued before that think tanks should start thinking about blogs and social media. Especially if a think tank wants to reach a wider or specialized audience. Only very few EU affairs think tanks write a blog or use any social media tools. CER or ECFR are good examples how a think tank blog could look like.

(8) Existing bloggers in national blogospheres. There a many bloggers that write about the EU in a national context but they do not engage with a wider European blogosphere.  They might just write a couple of posts a year about the EU. But nobody outside their national blogosphere takes notices. At the same time many bloggers writing in national context are not aware of the EU stuff. How can that be changed?

(9)  Existing Eurobloggers. This is the big question about motivation. What needs to be done to create a system to keep people motivated. For me it is the community aspect, meeting people in real life, doing projects, talking to people.If that is part of the answer, we need to create more possibilities to move the blogging experience into the real world. And what would be the role of the various blogging communities such as  bloggingportal.eu, ideasoneurope.eu, blogactiv.eu, cafebabel.com or 27etc.? Can we create better synergies and learn from each other?

There seem to be several interrelated problems (that also have not changed for the last years):

  • How to motivate active eurobloggers and how to keep them interested?
  • How can EU topics be integrated in national blogospheres? And how can the link between different national spheres and between the national and the European level be organised?
  • How to get more people interested in blogging about the EU?

A post with more questions than answers. If you have any answers or any idea how to approach any of the issues raised in this post – just post a comment!

The future of bloggingportal

During the last weeks the editors of bloggingportal have been discussing the future of bloggingportal. The attempt to kick-start a public debate on our editors’ blog here failed, partly because we had some server problems last week. So I thought I should give it another plug here.

So why do we need to talk about the future?

  • bloggingportal.eu is a loose network of bloggers. The site has been developed and maintained by volunteers in their free time which is not the most sustainable structure…
  • There is only a small core group of bloggers that is actively engaged.
  • There is no permanent organisational structure.
  • And you might have guessed it: no money, no funding, nothing
  • The page is rather slow and could certainly be made more user-friendly.
  • We don’t have  enough users – only a highly specialized group of EU geeks.
  • The link to national blogospheres is missing.

What needs to be done?

  • We need to think about whether we need bloggingportal at all? What is the niche for bloggingportal?
  • We need more bloggers to be actively engaged in the project.
  • We need  more users and more visibility.
  • We have to think about what core functions should be developed? How to attract more users?
  • How to organise permanent links to national blogospheres? How to get an overview of EU debates in different national blogospheres?
  • What are possible incentives for bloggers that decide to  help bloggingportal?
  • We might need a complete re-development of the page (new design, new user interface, new functions…). But what exactly are the functions we should focus on? (are categories or tags necessary? what about different languages?) And the underlying problem is how to finance a new version of bloggingportal? Or is there any volunteer out there who would like to develop a new version of bloggingportal?

The solutions?

  • Where to get funding for a redesign of bloggingportal? I think the only agreement we have is that we should not seek EU funding for the site.
  • Should bloggingportal become some sort of social media business? Is there a business model somewhere?
  • Is sponsorship the solution? If yes who would be interested?
  • Is there a chance to cooperate with NGOs or private foundations or other institutions?  Who would be interested?
  • How to create a sustainable service that is a credible and independent source for EU content in social media?
  • How to get more people interested in collaborating with bloggingportal?
  • How to attract more editors and users?

As you can see: a huge list of problems and a lot of question marks!  We would like to hear from you – whatever your background is. Maybe you can help us to think a bit outside the box.  Are there any similar projects around that we could draw inspiration from (organizational structure and design/usability)? Do you know anyone that might be interested in getting involved? Do you have a good idea for the future of bloggingportal?

Just leave a comment here or start the debate on our editors’ blog.

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