May 18, 2012
Your comment to my comment to your post criticising my post was long enough – rather than adding an even longer comment to the end, I thought I’d offer myself a little more space and formatting by posting my reply here. I know you won’t mind because you don’t want me to stop blogging 😉
… I found is that – to my surprise – the bubble was actually not a bubble of hyperlinked blogs but at best a group or community of “Eurogeeks” that talked about Europe without noticing much what was going left and right to them, neither in the bubble nor beyond.
This is exactly what a bubble is: a bunch of people not noticing anything going on outside their little world.
The fact that bloggers in the bubble don’t even link to each other properly is simply a sign of its (and their) immaturity:
- Some ‘bloggers’ in the brussels bubble don’t allow comments, and many don’t know what pingbacks are (see long ago rant).
- For my part, I am/have been personally involved in three different spaces within the Brussels Bubble (IABC’s Ning Community, Blogactiv.eu and BloggingPortal.eu,), and have tried and failed (as you may remember) to get each spaces’ inhabitants to take much notice of the other two.
I’ve always seen this lack of conversation problematic, albeit probably inevitable. But you write:
This finding kind of destroys the idea that it needs bridges or active (hyper)links to define a common sphere.
So the lack of links and conversation isn’t an impediment to a common sphere? I don’t follow your logic. Later, we’ll see that we probably have different conceptions on what a common sphere consists of – or, at least, what a useful sphere would be.
… this blog post on the unlinked EU blogosphere actually provoked a blog debate about European blogging, involving Eurogeeks but also a bunch of blogs (including German and Finnish blogs) which clearly did not belong the Eurogeek category that you define in your presentation. This proved that the bridges you want to build are already there, you just do not notice them until they become walked in such a way that makes you (and me) notice them. The fact that we do not notice them most of the time does however not imply they do not exist.
You choose here a good example of the sort of pan-EU conversation I want to see more of. I never said there were no such conversations (remember my point about exaggeration and simplification?) – what I was saying is that this doesn’t happen enough.
For proof of this admittedly subjective judgement (who decides how much is enough?), look to my second comment to your post. For those who cannot be bothered: in the first 5 posts you cite as examples of conversations on EU affairs involving both Brussels bubble and national conversations, I found no such links between the two.
1 out of 6 examples doesn’t exactly indicate a thriving ecosystem. As I’ve said before, however, what we need are unambiguous metrics, not just personal impressions. This would be an excellent project for BloggingPortal – what would a BloggingPortal Index measure? More problematically, who would do it?
Yes, it is true, these discussions are not hyperlinked and it would be kind of nice if they were. However, the fact that they don’t hyperlink doesn’t say they are not part of a European sphere.
Not ‘kind of nice’. Required for them to be part of a pan-EU conversation. For me, a bunch of people talking about EU issues where each remains in his/her corner, not exchanging with (or learning from) others across Europe, is not a EU public sphere. Or at least, not a very useful one. So our disagreement could simply be about how we define it.
However, the Eurogeekosphere is also not very well linked, because most tend to mostly link to themselves.
Perhaps because it is a self-absorbed Bubble? See above.
you told them that (almost) no one did [talk about Europe] and that you therefore needed to create specialist discussions.
If that’s what I said, I wasn’t clear. Remember, anyone discussing the details of EU policy in social media is – by (my) definition – a eurogeek. You don’t need to be in Brussels to be in the Brussels Bubble. So there can be plenty of eurogeeks, distributed widely. However, if they are only talking to other eurogeeks, it’s simply an extension of ‘Europe As Usual’ into the online world.
My point was that if my audience wanted to engage the vast majority of people not intimate with EU arcana, they need to think about engaging in conversations about what they’re interested in, rather than the latest procedural outcomes of the EESC (or the transparency of EU Fisheries Council meetings, for that matter).
My gut feeling is there are more people interested in non-EU topics than there are people interested in such Brussels minutiae. This may be difficult to understand for someone so entirely in the Bubble as you, but there you are 😉
And I said that this was one of a variety of methods (chosen for the audience in front of me) – there’s no one solution, so noone ‘needs’ to do anything. Particularly if you are not interested in stimulating discussions with people who don’t know the difference between the various Presidents of the various EU Institutions. It all boils down to what you’re interested in.
people were actually talking about their and other topics from a European perspective but they were too blind to notice them because they never made the effort to even look for them properly
That’s exactly what I said. Hence the slide I fitted in on Bloggingportal: “here’s the map – check it out”.
So why do you think noone looks? Because they are not interested in doing so! They are writing for other members of their community of interest, as do we all. Human nature.
I think platforms that overcome linguistic gaps or actively linking discussions that are already ongoing can be useful.
Glad you agree. These are the bridges I want to see more of. So what, exactly, is your problem?
these bridging activities are also needed in within thematic bubbles like the Eurogeekosphere were people write alongside each other in English without ever entering into any substantive discussions.
Agree, as mentioned above. It’s actually a fractal problem (you see the same problems at different scales). Here I quote myself, from two years ago:
The point I wanted to make here will recur again and again in this post – the overlaps between these and the other spaces like it are minimal. Most people inhabit one tiny bubble. And as many don’t seem to have gotten to grips with RSS readers yet, the only people they interact with are members of their own community, at best.
– 2010 annual Review
Some things I want to make clear in conclusion:
- one cannot force people to reach outside the Bubble, and you cannot force them to link to or comment on each others’ posts.
- in other areas, people do. But people in EU affairs don’t, because its not (yet) in their interests. I’m interested in seeing whether the economics of the environment can be shifted so that it does become worthwhile.
- I am as bad an offender as anyone else – for example, I haven’t yet absorbed all of Ronny’s research. But at least I link to it 😉