Mathew Lowry

Why Blog Anyway?

Just a short post to Give Thanks for LobbyPlanet and LinoTheRhino for precisely puncturing our pompous reflections on the European public space:

“I blog as a cheap means of therapy … WordPress and my PC are my two sanity vents when used in combination

… should we truly care about the “influence” of euroblogs? Is the whole purpose not to create an image of EU stuff that removes a bit of the dust and shows it can be fun, interesting, important, a source of a job, etc? Or is that influence and is my definition of that concept too tied to my professional perspective where influence = power = uses and abuses = egoland?

Let’s hope the Euroblog does not become the Egoblog cause then I will have to find a new place to do my therapy”

– That Euroblog discussion from the perspective of a lobbyist

Like all good stuff, it made me laugh and got me thinking.

“Why I blog”

There are a variety of reasons people blog: a search for “Why I blog” (with the quotes) gives about 160,000 results, so it’s a classic topic for bloggers to hold forth on.

My reason is simple. I’ve been working on communicating Europe online since 1995, and it shows no sign of boring me. This blog has been one way for me to work some things out. Because I’m doing it publicly I get a few good ideas along the way. And the human interactions help keep me interested and working away at it, despite the fact that most of these ideas will not be affecting me in my Day Job for a few years yet.

That’s the principal reason, but I suspect I have a few more. Like the fact that I just like writing, but don’t get to do it as much at work as I’d like. And the fact that I get to know people with similar interests.

I’m not really that interested in showing the EU as interesting or fun, or a source of jobs, but I do want to help figure out how to bridge the democratic deficit of ignorance which Tony Barber mentioned in his Farewell to Brussels.

Under the influence

I definitely don’t blog to influence anything or anyone, because it doesn’t. For others it might.

But then again, how would I know? It’s not as I’ve even been a lobbyist, or an accredited EU journalist, or worked at a corporation or an NGO, or been a young political science PhD, as so many eurobloggers seem to be.

So tell me: why do you blog? If I get enough ideas, maybe I’ll throw together a survey for September.

We could even make a report out of it…

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  1. Hi Mathew

    Thanks for reading my post and quoting it…I agree with you that many people blog for many different reasons and that is what keeps the spectrum of euroblogs so interesting. I hesitated for a long time before posting my euroblog piece because I am one of the newbies and also not a very typical euroblogger compared to all the brilliant detailed people out there. Upon reflection, I thought that that was exactly what made me a euroblogger and defined the “ecosystem”: nothing’s typical but the common denominator is the “EU”. A bit like that movie “There’s something about Mary”…We all think “There’s something about the EU”
    Caroline aka Lino

  2. Absolutely. I’m quite glad to see the “euroblogosphere as an ecosystem” meme get about (e.g., see laconeuropeenne), because implicit within it is the idea that euroblogging is not the preserve of any one group, brilliant and detailed or not.

    So I quite like your definition. The simpler the better.

    Building on that, it’d be quite interesting to get a snapshot on who and what the current crop of eurobloggers are, what motivates them, etc. Hence the idea of a survey.

    PS If the EU is Mary, then what’s the hair gel?

  3. Don’t even want to know what the hair gel is as long as I am not the sun burnt neighbour with tendencies to monokini that proves you cannot defy gravity

  4. Lino, anything you write is interesting, precisely because you are taking a different view on things and adopting a lighter tone! There are plenty of serious-ish Euroblogs, but very few funny-ish ones. Maybe the Eurobloggers could all make an effort to try and be more fun! After all, national bloggers are usually light-toned, at least the French ones.

    Mathew, why do I blog? At first, it was because I wanted to make a difference, hoping people would get interested in my ideas. Then it became addictive because I enjoy writing, and I just love the interactions that it creates with the people who read you. Finally, I wanted to present Europe through a different lens than the institutional one. At least, these are some of the reasons…

  5. Thanks, Europasionaria, for dropping by and giving your reasons for blogging. Totally agree that both the posting and commenting are addictive.

    For you, are there any particular themes or subjects you like exploring, or is it Europe in general?

  6. Lino is a good example of a lighter tone much needed to deal with an EU perceived to be opaque, distant and boring.

    My own motivation is primarily educational. People should follow EU developments more closely, because the union is important and many of the debates people see unfolding at national level actually happen within an EU framework they should understand.

  7. The themes I explore are linked to my interests: Europe (rather than the EU), European politics (rather than EU policies), political communication, citizen participation in democracy and the decline/renewal of political systems, social media, gender balance, etc…

  8. At first, I decided to open a blog for my students, I stupidly thought that they would read my posts between courses for insights and news on our class subject. But even fewer students (compared to dropping class presence in the year) followed the blog post. So far, it was too late, I already catched up with writing as a mean to keep my reseach on EU communications…

  9. Thanks, Europasionaria, for coming back.

    @eurogoblin, @lacomeuropeenne, can I ask you to do the same? You both mention research. What are your fields of research?

    Cheers, all.

  10. @Mathiew As a professional lecturer on europeancommunications (I am not an academic professor), my field of research are EU communications and communication on Europe by members States mainly to build case studies for my students.

  11. Definitely to learn and experiment with different social media tools… our Matilda blog is a collective learning experience, we blog to get wiser and also to share our thoughts and findings with colleagues to get the conversation moving in the commission and encourage colleagues to share their experiences and learn to use social media for the right reasons and appropriate purposes.

    We wouldn’t be able to give advice if we didn’t have any experience.

  12. Thanks for the input, everyone.

    @Lacomm: where do you teach?

    @Anne: couldn’t agree more – the only way to really understand this is to do it, so I for one raised a cheer when Waltzing Mathilda came along at last! How much traction inside the house are you getting, or is that confidential?

  13. @Mathew – My secret love is history, so any post that forces me onto Wikipedia or Google Books / Scholar to read about European history is a joy. National politics is also an area of interest, and I don’t think I’d bother learning about the politics of Estonia (for example) if it wasn’t for euroblogging. Blogging also teaches me technical skills – especially as I’m now experimenting a lot with post design in Eurogoblin.

    I guess many of the reasons I blog are selfish (i.e. to learn new skills) – but I’m also gullible enough that I actually believe public debate around issues is vital for democracy / society. 😀

  14. Kudos to Mathew for having asked the question. Fascinating to find out in the answers that in the end, we all blog for different personal reasons and all have different interests! It’s definitely a good sign.

  15. Greetings from the Belgian coast, and one-and-a-half cheers to Mobistar for getting their 3G network sort-of-working.

    @eurogoblin: history, eh? A favourite of mine, too. In fact, I’m probably only in Europe today because I had one or two quite good History teachers at school, in South Australia. I already enjoy your adventures in WordPress, and look forward to seeing more as the newest version of WP beds down.

    @Europasionaria: cheers! Yep, it’s as I suspected – not everybody blogs for the same reasons I do! 😉 Thank God! Scanning the answers above, I think that if I was to organise a euroblogger survey, I’d get at many different answers as responses. We’re clearly cats, which is much more interesting than being sheep.

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