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I see blogging as a two way process - as a talking with an on-line community - so it can't just be about self expression or writing into a vacuum. It also has to be about meeting felt needs at some end of the universe. Right now the things which bother me are the economic and political melt-down in Ireland - so many people are losing their jobs; what I see as an ossification of the European project; and what I sense as a failure of "progressive cyberspace" in Europe to connect to the "real world" of opinion makers, political leaders, and popular culture. I am part of that failure. A whole generation has been let down - badly - and although I could see it coming, partly, I could do nothing effective about it.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Meaning well doesn't cut it for me any more, but political effectiveness when you have never felt comfortable within the political culture and don't have political skills is also not an easy task. So for the moment I play around with ideas, write a few LTEs and work for a few voluntary organisations. The blogging is becoming a distraction. Like a lot of people here I think it may be time to move on. No doubt others will join up to keep the place going if some people want to keep it going. A bit of turnover can be healthy. Blogging is supposed to be fun. When you stop enjoying it its a sign that you're past your sell-by date and its time to leave the fun to others.
I'll still be lurking occasionally and perhaps publishing if inspiration beckons. But the focus must increasingly be else where.
notes from no w here
For me, it's a little different. My capacities have been grossly underused these past few years, and part of this whole project I'm into is about meeting this challenge I've set myself. Foreign policy gets my special attention because there's a real and pressing need for a rise in the level of public debate. I imagine that I'll be criticizing the America press quite a bit for the way issues are framed here.
"It Can't Be Just About Us"--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
and what I sense as a failure of "progressive cyberspace" in Europe to connect to the "real world" of opinion makers, political leaders, and popular culture.
I tend to see it as two different trends coinciding and having interesting effects on each other. On one hand we have the real world leaders distancing themselves from their populations, shifting the window sharply rightwards. This trend has gone on since the 80'ies and has accelerated during the 00'ies. The EU project is suffering badly from this as a) EU-made-me-do-it is one of the more popular scapegoats and b) the EU structure is rather fluid and has a lack of public input.
In Sweden, one of the metrics indicating the abandonement of public consent is the number of members in the political parties and just to pull some numbers:
In 1979 there was 1 582 000 members in the political parties represented in parliament. About 19% of the population. In 1991 that number has shrunk to 625 000 or 7%. Last year with availeble data is now 2006 with 280 000 or 3%. (Members, Population)
The progressive cyberspace is the first pan-EU public space and as such is very interesting. It has little influence because there is little interest in listening, which is of course frustrating. From my experiences with the swedish pirate party I would say that blogs and other means are wonderous means of communication and discussion. You do not get a direct effect by a good argument, effects has to be forced through. Having good arguments and dispersing them are however crucial once you have activists handing out leaflets and organisers getting 10 seconds of airtime. It can also be used as means for organisation.
Again I will use Sweden as example. The FRA law was almost sneeked all the way through parliament. Through party organising (that would be pirate party - forum, irc, skype, IRL), wikis, action pages and blogs momentum was built until this was the main question in the swedish blogosphere. Then on the day of the voting 2000 gathered outside the parliament:
The interesting thing is that this happened without the old media (papers, tv, radio) catching on. Not that it was not tried, but as the narrative was not in pace the story could not break. Until there was 2000 people outside parliament that is, then the story became how this happened with blogs - blogquake was on of the terms. Law was passed tough, but the FRA law turned into the story of the year.
So my general tips for affecting change is organise, analyse the situation and find a path to what change you want to effect. Then work hard and expect to be patronised, lied about and not listened to by anyone who has power now. If people in power listened to reasonable arguments we would not be in this situation in the first place. Reformation is no tea party.
I am late to the general crisis/pity party here and not at all sure what it is about. Though I suspect it has a lot to do with the frustration of creating wonderous deconstructions, undressing the myths and prescribing good ways and not affecting clear political change. Over and over. If so I would like to point out that the stop Blair campaign worked, at least for the time being. I think more such campaigns could work if we formulate:
I suspect a lot of us (Europeans) are looking envious at the USA and the attention / influence blogs are getting there. There is nothing comparable in the EU. Maybe in some of the member states? I don´t know.
I do notice however that blogs even here in backwards Germany are starting to get mentioned in the news media sometimes. It´s a tiny step but I think US blogs have started in the same way years ago. :)
And the European Tribune is one of the few blogs trying to engage / inform Europeans from different countries. That is something precious and shouldn´t be lightly discarded.
To mention just an example.
Your diaries about Ireland. You gave me more information about Ireland than the German media did in the past years. The same with Jerome and his economic and wind energy diaries. And several other diarists / front pagers too.
The point(s) I´m trying to make:
In the end though, I will have to respect your decision. Although I ask you (and all the others) to think about it. As I said above, on the one hand we seem to see a return to the (comfortable) nation state for the solution to the crisis. Which - on its own - unfortunately can´t solve the current economic problems. On the other hand I believe I see a slowly growing media awareness of blogs even in countries like Germany.
If you want to help Ireland and get the Irish point-of-view to an audience for example in Germany, I would respectfully suggest you shouldn´t stop posting diaries here. I don´t quite know where else you could publish an Irish opinion so cheap and get it read by other Europeans?
I don´t quite see how we can help Ireland, the EU or all of Europe by just disintegrating at the first time of economic troubles?
(Mind you, I´m not criticizing anyone personally. Each of you might have different reasons for thinking about leaving European Tribune. I´m just asking you to think about it.)
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