Mathew Lowry

A few weeks ago I was asked to give a training on the EU online public space to a group of political science PhDs taking part in the EXACT Marie-Curie training programme (pre-session discussion here). Being a sucker for flattery I agreed, but being short for time I based it on the Prezi I did for my 2010 Annual Review.

On a whim I decided to record the audio on the day, so I could try to make a Prezicast, something I’ve wanted to do since discovering Prezi over 2 years ago. Prezicasting was harder than I thought it’d be:

  • the online video needs more graphics and animation than the Prezi given “live” – in the flesh, I’m normally more animation than most people can stand. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the spare time required to jazz it up, so I find the Prezicasted version a bit slow, and definitely lacking in eye-candy;
  • I did find the time to add a few HotSpot links here and there (the popups in red are links). This is useful, but the resulting file cannot be hosted in any of the usual places (YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo) anywhere without losing the links (more on why). I ended up hosting it on a client’s server, which looks much less professional.

So while it was an interesting exercise to explore Prezicasting, the lack of eye candy, coupled with its length and my (lack of) voice, means I doubt anyone will get through it. It worked pretty well live, though.

Take a look anyway, let me know how far you get through it, and what you thought. Due to the hosting problems, you’ll have to click twice:

Update (November 2015) : the abovementioned client’s closed the server, doubtless due to the avalanche of traffic this post generated 😉

Update: As a special favour to Dick Nieuwenhuis, the actual Prezi is here, and embedded below.

It would be interesting if you looked at both and told me whether a Prezi like this – designed to be presented by a human being – can be understood without the narration, or whether the PreziCast approach, above, is a good idea (at least in principle):

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="454" height="330" wmode="transparent" /]

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  1. Interesting and good prezi (maybe I should give it a try one day…). I would agree with a lot you say. Maybe some “social media expert ” (not me!) would ask you now what you think of the potential of facebook, twitter etc.

    Anyway I am more interested in what sort of feedback you got from the group. I’ve always found it difficult to motivate (EU studies) academics to start blogging or engage in anything online. Did anyone from the group start a blog by any chance?

  2. Hi kosmo, thanks for joining me here, where we’re not restricted to 140ch*.

    The feedback I got was pretty good, but it wasn’t really what they were expecting and was certainly very different to the rest of their course. I’ve emailed them asking for feedback, so hopefully one or two will show up here soon.

    As for motivating academics to blog, I’d say you have more experience in that field than I! When launching Blogactiv we started with the organisations in EurActiv’s CRM, so I found myself explaining blogging to lobbyists, PR and PA types, and think tankers – the first really significant blogger, for example, was Stanley Crossick, sadly now no longer with us, who was Founding Chairman of the European Policy Centre, and could be pretty academic when he wanted to be.

    But there weren’t that many academics per se in EurActiv’s zone of influence, and we definitely need more in the public space. Which is why I did the training, and why I think Ideas on Europe is such a good thing. You seem to have quite a few bloggers there now.

    * I got a lot more comments via Twitter. All very short.

  3. Meanwhile on Twitter, lacomeuropeenne askswhat is “EC-sponsored online community” at 27:48?“. While the question can be asked in under 140ch, the answer cannot be, so it’s here.

    I was referring here to Communities of Practice and Communities of Interest, convened by the EC to improve the development of policies, the implementation of EU programmes and more general sharing of ideas, best practices and networking. Such Communities are ideally integrated (i.e., online and offline), and while convened by the EC, should be owned by their members.

    My first experience with these was in 2002, when I built one for the annual event of the EC’s largest research programme (see Building Communities of Practice with Event-in-a-Box). At the time, of course, I didn’t know what a Community of Practice was, nor that what we had built was later to be called ‘Web2’.

    Essentially it allowed the participants to co-define the event’s content with the EC (via Calls for Proposals, votes, comments, etc), and to network more effectively to conceive research project proposals and converse on research policy.

    The DG in question (INFSO) has repeated the experience for each and every one of its major events since – in fact, they offered their participants ‘INFSO accounts’ before Google did. Since then, many other DGs and EC programmes have developed online CoPs – see, for example, Capacity4Dev and ProInvest (both by DG DEVCO), and RegioNetwork (DG REGIO). There have been many other attempts, all to my knowledge failures.

  4. Since, we are desperately looking for “EC-sponsored online community”, the EC Proposal for the future Life+ program for the environment and climate protection might include a future example.

    See article 12 which states that the priority area “Environmental Governance and Information” shall in particular be to “facilitate knowledge sharing on successful environmental solutions and practice, including by developing cooperation platforms between stakeholders”.

  5. Hi Mathew, hi kosmopolit

    I was probably among those in the group that were more interested in the importance that blogging could have for a common (EU)ropean public space than in the actual technicalities of blogging. So your talk provided me with what I had expected. Although I have after your talk become an interested follower of some of the blogs I found though bloggingportal, I have not started anything of the kind myself.

    Maybe I am a proof myself of the difficulties in motivating people in this field to blog, but that wasnÂŽt the expectation I had put on your talk anyways.

    Anyways, If I would start, I would now know where to begin!

    best and thanks a lot

  6. Thanks, Miguel, for dropping by with your input. Glad you got something out of my presentation, and hope to see you online one of these days.

    As I said at the presentation, if you don’t want to dive in then simply dip your toes into the water by commenting on the blogs you follow. You may find, eventually, that the comment text box just ain’t big enough, so you’ll start your own blog.

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