March 5, 2010
A while back I and a number of others were blogging about how a very light, bottom-up usage of Web2-style tools and techniques (bloggingportal, delicious, tagging, google alerts, etc.) could help build links between national and EU online discussions and develop the slowly emerging European public space.
The importance of this was brought home to me recently when I realised that the European public space is already splintering into almost completely separate online groups – there is not much overlap in membership, or interaction between, say, the IABC web2eu “twibe” (mainly Belgium-based lobbyists and EU officials); the independent, quite in-depth bloggers supporting bloggingportal.eu (located all over Europe); bloggers on Cafe Babel (traditionally studenty, if that makes sense); individual bloggers here on Blogactiv (who sometimes don’t even allow comments), and so on.
And yet they’re all using social media to discuss Europe (or, in many cases, just bluffing their way through).
Anyway, I’ve always thought that we’ll miss the essence of what social media offers the EU, particularly if the Brussels bubble simply projects itself into social media and isn’t connected to anything else.
But there’s bugger all I can do about it – the only reason I bring this up again is that around the same time I was reflecting on the abovementioned “EuroSplinternet”, I stumbled upon, via an article on RWW about SocialText, a wishlist from the early days of social media:
“I think Reed’s Law should be refined to state:
“The value of a group-forming network increases exponentially with the number of people in the network, and in inverse proportion to the effort required to start a group.”
… When I come across a post on an interesting theme that seems like it might have lasting value, I want to be able to:
1. Create a topic, with a title of its own and a definition or description …
2. Subscribe to that topic. Subscribing has two effects: it adds the topic to a personal topic list of mine, and it means I’ll get posts by other people on that topic …
3. Post to that topic whenever I talk about it in my weblog. This has to be *easy*, like checking a box or selecting from a drop-down menu …
4. Access an archive of posts on that topic somewhere on the Web.
5. Let anyone edit the description of the topic when important things are added to the “state of the art” on the topic, or when other related topics spring out of the discussion…”
– Making group-forming ridiculously easy, Seb Paquet, 2002
Exactly what I was looking for (and expressed so much better), so it’s a shame that this was posted eight years ago by Seb Paquet, who’s quite influential and now blogs here, and yet only now are we seeing services like SocialText basing their ideas on it.
Even then, it’s still a long way off, as SocialText is aimed squarely at corporations and project teams.
To see what I’m actually looking for, you’d need to:
- watch their video,
- substitute ‘company’ and ‘organisation’ with ‘Europe’
- substitute ‘project’ with terms like ‘EU policy debates’ and the like
- imagine that their technology is ubiquitous – i.e., it comes pre-installed in most browsers, and/or is as standard a feature in social media software as RSS
Still, a man can dream, I guess ...Mathew Lowry