Or: Searching for a European blogosphere
If Day 1 at a conference as unnerving, as Anna Ebbesen desrcibed it on this blog, Day 2 is usually tougher to get through, as most people are tired and hungover, and it’s hard for the speakers to bring around view points that hasn’t been mentioned before. Nevertheless, Day 2 was as least as interesting as Day 1. No more “what can Europe learn from Obama”, but with more focus on “how can Europe come together, digitally speaking?”. The following is my output of Day 2 in Barcelona, written from faded memory.
8:30-9:30 Networking breakfast
After having networking lunch, networking coffee and networking cocktail party on Day 1, Anna and I had our own private breakfast at the hotel. Lots of coffee and fresh juice.
9:30-10 Welcoming Remarks by Andrew Rasiej and Mark Lopez
Was it just me, or did Andrew look red eyed? Maybe it was from celebrating, after all the hard work bringing the conference together. If so, he surely deserved it.
10-11.05 Three Keynotes and a Conversation on Reinventing Government, the Power of Networks and the Transparency Moment – with Tom Steinberg, Scott Heiferman and Ellen Miller
To me Tom Steinberg was one of the most interesting speakers at the conference. He talked about his projects at MySociety.com – FixMyStreet.com and WhatDoTheyKnow.com. Services that makes people’s life easier. Websites that actually bring about change and bring about transparency. That’s admirable.
Scott Heiferman gave a strong presentation about Meetup. It might have been a bit over-enthusiatistic for an European crowd, but there’s surely no doubt that Heiferman likes what he’s doing. I would have loved to hear more about what these Meetups so popular. Does it fulfill a need that was already there, or does it create something new? Hos is Meetup.com challenged by Facebook and the like?
Ellen Miller talked about the work at Sunlight Foundation to bring around transparency in the US government. Her presentation made it clear to me that some of the problems they struggle with in the US in terms of transparency does not exist at the same level in Denmark and probably other North European countries (sorry Italians, but Berlusconi doesn’t rhyme with transparancy…).
11.05-11.25 Keynote: Mobile Platforms for Change – by Katrin Verclas
A presentation with some numbers and examples of how to use mobile phones, but nothing really new. Maybe there should have been paid more attention to mobile phones in the conference program, so the subject could have been unfolded in depth.
11.25-11.45 Coffee Break
Time to recharge computer, body and mind…
11-45-12.45 The Internet and Europe: Can We Connect the Continent? Mick Fealty, Susan Pointer, Jeremie Zimmerman, Rolf Luehrs, and Rafa Rubio (moderator)
At this point my brain had left for lunch break already. Sorry….
Brown lunchbags with sandwiches on white bread, a chocolate snack bar, some fruit and juice. Had an informal reunion at the hotel roof top terreace with the people we had dinner with the night before. Lovely view, great weather. Could have stayed there all afternoon.
2.15-3.30 Can Social Media Create a European Union? David Osimo, Stephen Clark, Mick Fealty, Andreas Mullerleile, and Jon Worth (moderator)
Out of three sessions, I chose this one about the European Union. Here Jon Worth showed some impressing multi tasking skills – he was moderating, talking and updating Twitter at the same time, which created a great dynamic on the session. Apart from that, especially the short presentation by Stephen Clark, communcations director at the European Parliament (EP) caught my attention.
The European Union has long struggled to create a kind of European public sphere, similar to the ones exitisting on national level. It became clear from Clarks presentation that the EU is still struggling to communicate with the EU citizens. He showed some great digital campaigns and initiatives by the EP, but he was also aware of the fact that the numbers of viewers and particpants were fairly low. Maybe the conclusion is that the EU as such will never be able to reach the attention of its people, and if the EU wants to gain momentum online as well as offline, the communication should be carried forward by the individual politicians?
Also, the work done by Andreas Mullerleile from bloggingportal.eu is worth paying further attention to – will they suceed in creating a European blogospehere?
4.15-5.30 Adapting and Thriving in the New Media Environment. Antonio Sofi, Vincent Ducrey, Liz Mair, Clo Willaerts and Astrid Haug (moderator)
I was moderating the panel on how to adapt to the new media environment throughout Europe and in the US was united. A fairly wide titel, with Vincent Ducrey and Liz Mair representing government and politicians, Antonio Sofi and Clo Willaerts representing the social media sphere.
After the presentations the discussion focused on whether politicians can actually learn to dance on the digital dance floor, as Clo Williaerts termed it in her presentation. And can politicians be honest enough to use Facebook and the like? Of course there was no definitive answers to these questions, but at least the panelistst gave some honest answers. I think the most interesting disclosure came from Liz Mair (she worked for John McCain in 2008), who revealed that some of the smears against Barack Obama came out of her computer.
I look very much forward to the release of Vincent Ducrey’s book, Hub Management in 2010 – I hope it will come out in English too, so I’ll have a chance to read it.
5.30-7 pm. Goodbyes and off to the airport.
Unfortunately we missed the last session, with with Julian Assange, Chris Ward, Esther Dyson, Tom Watson, Andrew Rasiej. I’m sure I could have learned a lot, but hopefuly I will get another chance to here them speak. Micah Sifry quoted Julien Assange for saying that he couldn’t understand why not more European journalists got arrested in their strive to reveal the truth.
My output from PdF Europe was:
- lots of inspiration and great Europan cases
- a European network of bloggers and new media influentials
- better inside on how – and how not – Obama’s campaign can inspire European politics.
- a stronger European feeling and a clearer idea of where to look out for a European blogosphere
Cheerio PdF, hope to see you again soon!