Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Euroblogs

by nanne Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 01:09:08 PM EST

On sites like Cafe Babel, there has been talk about the supposed high potential of blogs to stimulate a more interactive and democratic kind of politics in Europe.

This is all fine, but in practice it appears that there are only a few blogs that really engage in European politics. What's more, of these few blogs the two largest are openly hostile towards European integration.


So the Euroblogs are only a small group. They also don't form a real community. Rather, this site is a community unto itself, and then there are a couple of blogs and a lot of people that hover around the EU Referendum site and its forum. That's basically it.

Of course, there are a number of pretty good Euroblogs, or ones worthwile checking into every now and again to see what the right wing is chattering about. This afternoon I have tried to compile a list of all the topical and active blogs that could be found. The results are on the loicwiki on the European Blogosphere, which is on the blogroll below.

Direct link.

Of course these things go a lot quicker if you do them collaboratively, so, if you're reading any blogs on the EU that are not there, feel free to add them.

(I consciously excluded oD Today, Sirocco (sorry mate), Tim Worstall and Pourquoi Pas? for having too little European focus).

I also created an A- and a B-List. Don't know how much sense this makes (explanation on my blog), so feel free to change it.

Finally, a list of the (English language) Euroblogs according to Technorati ranking:

  1. EU Referendum (#762)
  2. The Brussels Journal (#777)
  3. A Fistful of Euros (#4562)
  4. ¡No Parasán! (#5492)
  5. European Tribune (#5909)

In terms of traffic, it's probably a different picture, with Eurotrib higher and Margot Wallström's blog also certainly up there, but I have no stats for that.

So, here is a call for aid. Is there anything missing?

Display:
I haven't had time to read all this in detail, but great work! I don't have any big ones to add so far.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 03:31:59 PM EST
Thanks. I added a couple of links to the diary, so you can judge for yourselves.

I think that I pretty much covered the big sites, but if you look at it, this means that there are only about 15 (English language) blogs with an explicitly European focus amongst the first 50,000 ranked on Technorati. That's not a lot.

There have to be more small sites than the ones I found, though...

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 03:47:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[Note I'm from the UK so I will concentrate on the English language blogs, others are in a far better position to comment on others.]

So I'm browsing around and shortcut looks like great reading material. Of course, not living in one of Europe's fancier cities it's not a place I can contribute to much, but hey, it's nice to live vicariously through others living in exciting places. ;-)

Wallström's blog is one I should read more often now I have found it, if only because it seems to be something of an attempt by someone in power to communicate.

The comments section is a bit disappointing. Not much diversity and plenty of "Eurosceptics." But that is a potential danger of an English language site.

She mentions the Debate Europe site, which is an offical EU debating area it seems.

http://europa.eu/debateeurope/index_en.htm

I'll have to look at it more closely.

Brussels Journal seems to have very few comments.
Not really my kind of place, for reasons I will come back to later.

Perhaps we should try some alexa searches to compliment your technorati ratings? I will try and post a comment on them later.

¡No Parasán! has a few more comments than BJ, but (perhaps as ET does on occasion) they read more like an extension of the US blogosphere than a European one.
(This is a curse of the English language media on the internet, but that's a diary for another day.)

EU Referendum has a weird comment area that makes it difficult to estimate the number of comments in comparison with other blogs, but it does seem to have a good number, probably more than ET, but I'm not sure how many more.

EU Ref and BJ are not to my taste not simply because I'm centre-left, but because it's hard to have meaningful discussions about Europe with people who are so firmly anti-EU.

It's not that they don't have some good points, but there isn't much to talk about with people who are on a crusade to completely take apart the current Europe and replace it with something else. My goals for improving democracy and the civil sphere in Europe (for example) are not so interesting to them, despite the face that we probably agree on the existence of a democratic deficit, because they feel my ideas "just strengthen a bad system in the short term."

On your page you note that ET runs from "centre-left to far-left." I guess the obvious question is, where is the site that runs from "centre-right to far-right" (if you like.) I'd be curious to see it, although I suspect you'd like the place more than I would, nanne...

At the same time, blogs tend to be communities and thus they are likely to be people who can agree on some things. Thus, we can conceive of ET, ET-Right and possibly ET-Centrist (Centre-left and Centre-right) but it's hard to see how the relatively weak community ties in a blog can sustain anything wider than that.

Afoe I haven't mentioned so much because it's linked every now and then from here, so I think it's better known.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 04:22:54 PM EST
Metatone,

The debate Europe site is actually the next best thing to Eurotrib in terms of community potential, only the commentary there is often not well-informed. It runs from Far-Left to Far-Right with everything in between. Cafe Babel also has a forum which is actually used, but I haven't delved into it.

A center-right to far-right site doesn't exist among the Euroblogs. Places like EU Referendum and the BJ are obviously far off the map. A Fistful of Euros is quite centrist, it has some moderate right- and left-wing bloggers. But posting there is a bit irregular. The TransAtlantic assembly is another interesting group-blog, somewhat more to the left and always on the cross-section of law and politics, and with a lot of intellect.

The Federal Union Blog and John Worth's Euroblog (which I only just discovered) seem to be part of a larger trilingual online federalist mag called Le Taurillon. Also well worth reading.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 05:18:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe it's just me, but the killer for Debate Europe is the interface. It seems quite painful to deal with. Is there a sizeable centre-right Euroblog that you know of? That is something I am not aware of. Language is a big issue of course, because you mostly get Brits, USians and "European Atlanticists" posting in English which can result in particular biases against full exploration of European issues. I've dipped into Cafe Babel forums occasionally, but of course here the language issue is writ large. Their Alexa ranking indicates they are pretty big, but that audience fragments by 7 in the forums. Also, the forums are sort of an add on which doesn't always lend itself to discussion.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:20:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The interface on Debate Europe is poor, true (you have to scroll down every time to see the actual comment). There is no sizeable center-right Euroblog that I know of. Carl Bildt's blog is apparently 'to the right' of A Fistful of Euros. But his blog isn't really sizeable, and doesn't have comments. More a personal voice, but generally sensible.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 07:24:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Alexa info.

Bizarrely I seem to be having trouble getting to Alexa right now. I'll try again later on.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 04:28:50 PM EST
Alexa is back up... Ranking, so smaller number is better. Wallström's blog is unfortunately arranged so no proper figures are available, but it would certainly seem to get more traffic than Brussels Journal, but it's difficult to quantify. I added in boomantribune (US) and harry's place (bloghouse)(UK) and escolar (ES) and dKos (US) for general comparison purposes. It's also worth noting alexa distorts against non-Internet Explorer users and indeed, non-alexa-philes. But orders of magnitude are usually sort of informative.

Site		      Alexa Rank
----		      ----------

dailykos.com		  1,850
escolar.net		  8,185
Wallström region	 ??????
Brussels Journal	 71,822
cafebabel.com		 85,623
bloghouse.net		118,687
boomantribune.com	141,869
EU Referendum		198,515
fistfulofeuros.net	330,604
no-parasan		331,699
eurotrib.com		476,106
taurillon.org	      1,352,381
jonworth.eu	      2,438,332
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:03:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is screwed up - according to Alexa, I rank higher than EuroTrib, despite having only quarter to half the traffic according to Sitemeter.
by IdiotSavant on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 07:52:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I did mention the caveats. Alexa only measures people who visit who have the alexa toolbar installed. I could probably boost ET massively over the next few weeks if I wanted to, the sample sizes are that small.

Like I say, the order of magnitude is the real indicator. The known comparator sites (kos, escolar, booman, harry's) rank in sort of expected order. So I treat them as rough groupings. This indicates how small the EU blogosphere is.

AFOE has sitemeter, I wonder who else does...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 04:02:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sitemeter info: (I've picked "Visits this week, which is an imperfect comparator, since it assumes we're all August slumping together and that the "visit" really is calculated right.)

Site		  Visits this week
-----		  ---------------- 

DKos		       3,541,674
escolar 		 118,759
EU Referendum		  69,883
Booman			  45,002
Brussels Journal	  31,106
no-pasaran		  15,462
Eurotrib		   8,443	
AFOE			   3,999	     
No Right Turn		   3,543
Sadly neither cafebabel nor Wallström use sitemeter it seems. harry's place sitemeter link seems broken too.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 04:24:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So we're still pretty small

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 04:35:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Small, but extraordinary...

Nimble, agile, (insert cliche here)...  ;-)

More seriously, escolar is clearly a lot bigger than us, but in terms of comments per day, we're quite up there.

That's a characteristic of scoop sites, of course, but it shows an engaged community.

My general feeling is that what these figures show, more than anything is smallness that is European blogging in general.

I'd love it if you or anyone could name some big beasts from other languages (like escolar) to throw into the mix to give us some more data on that.

As an addendum, I looked up a couple more "well known" UK bloggers on sitemeter:

Site              Visits this week            
----              ----------------

Tim Worstall          13,862   
Recess Monkey        ?10,000? (estimate)
Guido Fawkes         ?40,000? (estimate)

Unfortunately, there's next to no info about Guido Fawkes blog that can be interpolated to a sitemeter reading. Guido is probably the largest UK political blog outside of the big media sites.

So I looked at this and guessed:

This is a potentially interesting take on UK blog reading from the Times:

http://timesnews.typepad.com/news/2006/08/britains_weblog.html

This is an interesting Lib Dem blog, apparently they are having a competition for Lib Dem blogs.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 05:28:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Escolar seems to be a clearinghouse of the Spanish [mostly left] blogosphere. I have not been reading it for that long, but he basically seems to post mostly links to other Spanish blogs, with short excerpts [isn't this what Moon of Alabama  does, too?] and occasional posts by Escolar himself. The centre of the universe for the spanish right-wing internet is Libertad Digital, which is not a blog but an online publication run by Federico Jimenez Losantos, the Spanish Rush Limbaugh.

I have to agree with poemless on a parallel thread that we shouldn't underestimate the power of scoop. I am beginning to believe that the reason the UK (and Spain) blogospheres is so poor in the opinion of many here (just my impression of the Spanish one, I'm sure I'll get flamed for it ;-) s the absence of a dedicated scoop site. The I-post-you-comment model of most blogs is generally a very poor debating environment. For instance, IMHO the addition of a comment section did nothing to improve Juan Cole's blog: it was a necessity brought about by the incresing volume of e-mail he was getting. "Celebrity" (e.g. Wallstrom) blogs are even worse in the quality of their comment sections.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 2nd, 2006 at 04:58:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU Referendum's stats are somewhat inflated here. Their traffic increased about 10 times the past two months because they were investigating an alleged 'staging' of the aftermath of Qana in Lebanon and thus got a lot of attention from Little Green Footballs, Michelle Malkin, etcetera. When they get back to full-time discussion of the eeevil EU I think they'll settle around the level of No Parasan.

AFOE seems to be on holiday, normally they get a bit more than what they do this month. Another good blog with a bit of traffic is Europhobia (which is not Europhobic), gets about 2,000 a week on average.

On Wallström's site I found a comment by the moderator  last december saying they got about 15,000 unique visitors per month. Now Sitemeter counts unique (30-minute) visits, not visitors, so I don't know how this would measure up (nor how it's developed since then).

Thanks for the stats!

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 06:23:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the info and the starting of the topic off!

Unfortunately, as you say, no-one uses quite the exact same set of measurements, so it's hard to know where people who don't use sitemeter fall into the list I made. My guess is that Wallström's audience is quite big, as I imagine she gets readers from both the Eurosceptic blogs and the cafebabel set, as it were.

What's the blogging scene like in DE? Are there big beasts like escolar? Or is there a corporate slant like with the BBC and Guardian in the UK?

Finally, it seems to me that you've spent more time looking at the "eeeevil EU" sites than I have. My instinct from looking at No Pasaran and some of the others a bit is that these sites can be broken into two factions:

a) Indigenous Euroscepticism (largely British in the English blogs, naturally enough).

b) Sites dominated by an American discourse of the world. The comments are often filled with Americans and the posts often look at international issues from a US point of view, which one might say does not naturally lead to tolerance of the EU as an institution.

What do you think?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 06:58:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I actually don't know much about blogging in Germany (shame on me). Most of the blogs that I know are expat blogs or German blogs in English. I do know some of the Dutch blogosphere, where there are a number of very big sites like geenstijl.nl, retecool.com or volkomenkut.com. These are all juvenile, populist and somewhat right-wing  blogs, though.

Your two categories will work for most sites, though the indigenous Eurosceptics from the UK have plenty to do with the US right-wing blogosphere. I would add that some of the Eurosceptic blogs (like Tim Worstall) are part of the Libertarian International rather than a particularly American discourse.

Here in Germany there is a site called David's Medienkritik that is more or less an extension of the American right-wing blogosphere.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 07:07:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, here is all you need to know:

I've looked at all those blogs and ET is still way the best.  We have a problem of PR, not quality.

Observation: lots of UK-oriented, anti-EU or conservative blogs out there.  Not a rich selection of pan-European lefty blogs.

And do not underestimate the power of scoop!  I swear to god it is single-handedly turning the tide of politics in America.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:09:21 PM EST
I suspect nanne is more interested in centrist blogs than lefty ones, overall.

However, the key issue here is "ecosystem."

Scoop is a good thing, but ecosystem keys into how both technorati and google and other search engines work. People find scoop sites because of the ecosystem. They stay because of the quality. But you need the ecosystem.

Also, lots of good bloggers are (for better and for worse, I suppose) stubbornly individualist and self-promoting. Out in US lefty-land I read stuff by people like Juan Cole, billmon, digby. Sometime I only read it because it's been linked by someone on ET or dKos, but the fact is, the "individualists" produce a lot of the good content that keeps discussion on the big US scoop sites going.

That's part of what is missing. Not just blogrolling, but the sort of regular reading and referencing each other. And no, I'm not sure how we "make" it happen, but it's worth thinking about.

[Now I think about it, perhaps "specialists" is better word than "individualists".]

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:34:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's part of what is missing. Not just blogrolling, but the sort of regular reading and referencing each other. And no, I'm not sure how we "make" it happen, but it's worth thinking about.

I agree wholeheartedly.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:37:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Metatone, you hit the nail on the head there with the ecosystem.

I'm personally interested in all kinds of blogs (also Billmon, Eschaton and Juan Cole, though politically I'm closer to Talking Points Memo in US terms).

But I do miss a sensible center-right blog in this picture. EURSOC is as sensible as they get, but still too far right and eurosceptic for my taste. The electoral plurality in the EU Parliament is the pro-European center-right, not raving libertarians or nationalists. They should get blogs.

I also think that the overall number of blogs is way too small for the European Blogosphere to be taken serious as a new or even emerging force in politics. The European Tribune has the largest potential for political organizing and is the most lively blog, so in that sense it's unbeaten. But it's still worthwile to read more, a couple of these other blogs are very intelligent and also generally left.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 07:07:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The electoral plurality in the EU Parliament is the pro-European center-right, not raving libertarians or nationalists. They should get blogs.

Nanne, if you read Spanish I suggest you take a look at "Libertad Digital". This is what the self-described "pro-European centre-right" looks like in Spain. I think you may be thinking of the CDU which seems not to be half as rabid as Spain's PP.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 2nd, 2006 at 05:01:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately I don't speak Spanish. The PP is looking pretty ugly, yes. I was indeed thinking of the CDU, or it's Dutch and Belgian counterparts, or the French Gaullists.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Sep 3rd, 2006 at 10:57:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean the Dutch right wing that graced us with the Ayaan Hirsi Ali scandal, or the French Gaullists of Sarkozy [who was a keynote speaker at the PP convention a few months ago]?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 3rd, 2006 at 11:27:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ayaan Hirsi Ali was a member of the neoliberal VVD party (who in the EU are members of ALDE, I think), and it was the somewhat more right-wing immigration minister from this party who more or less caused the scandal. Verdonk lost the internal party vote for leading the VVD into the elections, by the way.

The Dutch counterpart of the CDU is the CDA, from which Balkenende himself comes. They are as center-right as you can be while being on the right wing in the Netherlands (the balance having shifted somewhat).

The French UMP is also fairly center-right, I think. Here too it is the person (Sarkozy) who on the right wing of the party, from which you also have de Villepin.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Sep 3rd, 2006 at 05:50:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The European Tribune has the largest potential for political organizing and is the most lively blog, so in that sense it's unbeaten.

In terms of orders of magnitude we have about one registered user (not regular commenter) per million English speakers. We have a lot to grow.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 2nd, 2006 at 05:03:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Beware - in my experience the quality of discourse goes into a long decline once a site (scoop or otherwise) gets about 2x as big as eurotrib is now. If you feel that a site like dkos does a lot of good because its size creates tremendous organizing opportunities, however, it can be a worthwhile tradeoff.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:39:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the level of discourse at DKos leaves something to be desired, but I guess you have to ask yourselves if the goal is discourse or throwing the bastards out.  I'd say that this point, the majority of Americans would pick number 2.

I don't understand why people think the size of Kos is a problem.  Seriously.  Anyone can write anything and potentially be read by thousands of people -boom- just like that.  Including the mainstream press and the staff members of Congress.  I mean, isn't this what the internets are about?  Isn't this how democracy is supposed to work?  Got a modem?  You have a voice.  People may not like what you say, but it's the same in real life.  Only in real life you don't usually get a stage to stand on and speak your mind to thousands of people everyday.  

It has it's problems, but it's doing amazing things.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:47:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree, I think if we'd had something like this in '68 and '69 we might not have been in retreat by '73.  I really enjoy the ET, and I think the quality of writing here is generally pretty high.  I wish I spoke a couple more languages, english and ancient high-school french is my limit.  dkos may have some pretty wide variations in the quality of writing from day to day and item to item but it is a forum that brings encouragement and hope to the struggle against the complete corporate takeover of the US political system.  I think there is a name for that....hmmm.

I look in on the ET pretty regularly, but don't often know enough to have a worthwhile opinion on a lot of your topics.  One thing I've wanted to see is Europeans writing in on dkos and describing their experiences with universal health care, vacations, stronger unions, and things like this.  It would be enlightening.

I hope this is not too off-topic.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson

by NearlyNormal on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 10:31:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing I've wanted to see is Europeans writing in on dkos and describing their experiences with universal health care, vacations, stronger unions, and things like this.

I second that!

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 10:48:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 01:59:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome, you know that is at least partially what I mean.  I followed the links from your work on dkos to here and am an unashamed fan or your work, especially the energy seminar that you have provided.  But what I think would also be helpful is to have people post the day-to-day stuff that Europeans have accomplished and that we have not obtained.  Really nuts and bolts things like health care, how it is provided, what kinds of things you think it does well for your life, how you get your vacations arranged, how long they last, what the rules are.  I think it is very helpful to have proof posted that these things are possible to have without bankrupting the state-though we may have to tone down the adventurism-sort of a reverse Norquist theme.  I'd like to see people who work in trade unions spelling out not just the advantages of them but also the nuts and bolts of how they work.  This all would be in addition to your usual great work, not in place of it.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 10:08:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know what you mean, I just had the list of my diaries handy. Actually, there are a fair number of European posters on dKos, it's just that they get swallowed in the mass and are not that visible (also they tend to write in the European morning, I've noticed). I have the advantage of having more visibility, so I do try once in a while to get these kinds of stories in - but it's getting harder and harder to get to the reclist.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 11:48:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, I think I'll just go on vacation in your honor Jerome.  I'm taking next week off and heading for the Wild West, although since i'm in California it is actually East of here.  I'm one of the lucky ones, I get about 6 weeks vacation a year.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 10:16:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, like that. :)  

But, and really, don't take this the wrong way, nothing against you, and we could never get tired of your or anything, but it would be nice to hear from other Europeans too.  

You are right that they do post on Kos, but it is usually on American issues or the way Europe fits into American issues.  I'm thinking we need more diaries like "a day in the life of a German or Italian or Brit or whatever."  Things that are NOT news to YOU, but would be very informative to us.

And I think we are especially interested in benefits.  What does the gov't pay for or garantee?  What is expected of you in return?  How does a "welfare state" actually function?  Where does all the money come from?  That kind of thing.  

More clear examples of how, exactly, what Europe is doing differs from what America is doing, and how we might try to implement similar policies and lifestyles in America.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 12:34:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Way waaay back in the dark ages (ca. 2003), when I was a young and naive blog user, I tried to discuss healthcare and welfare systems in Europe in places like Dailykos, Agonist, and several others. I ended up either getting ignored or ridiculed, so I gave up pretty fast. I would think the situation would be even worse now, especially at Dailykos.

I seriously think that most Americans are not interested in seeing how things are done elsewhere, unless it reflects well on the American way of doing things. The exception would be when the way they do it elsewhere in the world fits perfectly in with policy initiatives by one of the two parties...

by Trond Ove on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 02:39:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
God, I cannot believe I am even having this conversation.

So much for enlightened Europeans.  You are just as ignorant as the Americans who digust you.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 02:49:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pot. Kettle.
by Trond Ove on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 01:19:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yep!
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 02:49:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the response you get can be much affected by how you phrase your discussion attempts. No one likes to be told that they are doing it wrong, and we here in another country knows how to do it right. The same seems true here when someone from the US writes on, for example, their approach to integration, and how it is superiour to ours. It makes people defensive even if they would readily agree that their own system lacks much. I think it helps a lot, especially in the beginning before people "know your name", to start in a softer way. For example:

"I have noticed that people on this forum feel that the current healthcare system of the US does not work very well. Let me describe the system we have in my country. Our system is also not perfect, it has advatages and it has problems, but maybe knowing about its workings can be useful for those of you that want to think about how your system should be changed." I haven't tried this on blogs, but in some e-mail conversations and some live conversations. It seems to work pretty well if your goal is to have a discussion.

I know nothing about what you wrote so I am not judging it. But I know that I have read a couple of diaries by Europeans that were quite, um confrontational is not the quite right word, but something like that. Diaries that when I read them I feel on the one hand "yes, I agree with you, the author." But also "the way you write, the way you express yourself, I know already what the reaction will be in the comments. You are not sparking fruitful discussion here, people will get defensive."

I find it a bit annoying in general how touchy people can be. How quick they are to assume the worst intentions of others. How unwilling they are to read that which pisses off a second time, with a more charitable approach, and then try to shape a non-confrontational response for fruitful debate. But maybe their intentions and goals are different than mine? But I am also willing to assume that this will be the case and I attempt, as much as I can bear, to take into account this tendency to defensivness and preempt it as much as I can. It only works when I am in a good mood...

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 03:56:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for giving the response I should have given but instead got too upset to give.

It's just been my experience that most DKos people are willing to hear Europeans out.  In fact, the argument that Americans don't want to hear about Europe and other ways of doing things holds no water when you look at Jerome's numbers there.  Of course, if you don't have the name recognition, it hard for anyone, European or American, to get a good response.  

Anyway, yes, I guess I just feel a certain kind of nihilsm toward Americans that angers me.  And which becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy.  

And yes, it work the other way around too.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 04:08:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I was basically told by relatives of an American ex-girlfriend of mine that  I was not entitled to an opinion because I was not, nor did I intend to become a US citizen. My experience is that outside of the sheltered environment of a University Campus, Americans don't want to hear Europeans out.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 2nd, 2006 at 05:12:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there may have been some changes since the dark ages, and this is a place for the seeding of changes.  There are some dunderheads at dkos, but it is a good forum for getting a message out there, and I think that it is an important message.  It is the same battle here as there, and we have been losing here.  I am not sure, and don't want to succumb to American exceptionalism, but I think it will be difficult for Europeans to prosper in the long run if the forces that are ascendent in this political system are uncontested.  Mybe I'm wrong, and maybe the political factors inherent in Europe now will protect you from the slow and steady grasp of neo-liberal economics which values economic freedom over all other facets of freedom.  If we lose, I hope that you are able to prevail and flip Churchill on his head and have the old world come to the rescue of the new.

I would humbly say that I think your last paragraph has the usual amount of truth as any other stereotype.  Some, but not the whole story, and that is what I, and poemless are asking for, tell the whole story, or your portion of it.  We are so big and insular that we have more myopia than is healthy.  I had a Spanish girl as an Exchange student in the early 90's and even here in Sonoma County California it was culture shock for the kids who would ask her stupid stuff like, "Do they have cars in Spain?"

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson

by NearlyNormal on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 04:43:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would humbly say that I think your last paragraph has the usual amount of truth as any other stereotype.  Some, but not the whole story, and that is what I, and poemless are asking for, tell the whole story, or your portion of it.

Well, my last paragraph was not very diplomatic. (Consciously so.) But I did include the qualifier most americans. This was based on most of the Americans I personally have met on and off the net.

But then it is difficult to extrapolate on how people behave outside of ones own frame of reference. I haven't talked to enough Americans for my sample to be statistically valid, so I guess I might be full of shit. But it was based directly on conversations I have had with Americans.

The knee-jerk reaction by poemless to me telling about my trouble with communicating with Americans (and my theory for explaining it) fits quite neatly into the pattern. I doubt she would have reacted as she did if I said "most republicans" instead of "most americans".

by Trond Ove on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 01:38:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You think because you are on a Eurpean forum America bashing is safe, don't you?  Hell, go to town, not my site.

But it speaks volumes that in a diary about how to make the European blogosphere better you spend it talking about how much Americans suck.  You still make it about us. ;)

I can communicate quite well with any number of Eurpeans, on this site in in real life (half of my co workers are...).  Maybe it's not Americans, maybe it is YOU!

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 11:37:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You still make it about us. ;)

Nearly Normal, upthread:

One thing I've wanted to see is Europeans writing in on dkos and describing their experiences with universal health care, vacations, stronger unions, and things like this.  It would be enlightening.

I hope this is not too off-topic.

Reply from poemless:

I second that!

That was how this subthread about Europeans writing on American blogs began -- by a (perfectly reasonable and intelligent) request from two Americans. Disagree with Trond Ove if you like, but don't say he hi-jacked the thread.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 01:12:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where oh where is Condi when her intervention is so urgently required?
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 01:19:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not "your site", and there has been no "america bashing", no matter how much fun it is for you to throw claims of anti-americanism around.

Now, the big question is why did you feel it was appropriate to start yelling at a total stranger on the Internet?

by Trond Ove on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 10:29:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I guess I think "appropriateness" is overrated.  That's why I can't fault you for giving me a 1.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Mon Aug 28th, 2006 at 08:28:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<sigh> poemless isn't a troll.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 28th, 2006 at 08:34:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you know?  Have you ever seen me?  Just sayin'...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Mon Aug 28th, 2006 at 08:52:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed. Let's allow people to have a bad day. It happens to everyone, no need to smack each other over the heads with the dreaded 1s.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Mon Aug 28th, 2006 at 09:12:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. Now play nice, kids :-)
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Aug 28th, 2006 at 09:31:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know. I have tried to remove the 1 several times. Don't know what is  wrong...
by Trond Ove on Mon Aug 28th, 2006 at 05:49:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems it is possible to change the rating, but not to return to no rating. At least for me in Firefox.
by Trond Ove on Mon Aug 28th, 2006 at 05:53:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Might be to prevent people from giving "knee jerk" ratings...

I don't think you can change them.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon Aug 28th, 2006 at 06:22:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The reason why I wanted to remove it was not because I thought it wasn't deserved. It was because I thought it was wrong both to troll rate you AND answer you back. So this wasnt a case of "knee jerk" reaction.

To be honest, I think you acted like a bully. I hope you will choose to attack the argument and not the person the next time you read something that annoys you.

by Trond Ove on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 09:45:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure, and don't want to succumb to American exceptionalism, but I think it will be difficult for Europeans to prosper in the long run if the forces that are ascendent in this political system are uncontested.  Mybe I'm wrong, and maybe the political factors inherent in Europe now will protect you from the slow and steady grasp of neo-liberal economics which values economic freedom over all other facets of freedom.

There are no "political factors inherent in Europe" protecting us from anything. I'm pessimistic.

I had a Spanish girl as an Exchange student in the early 90's and even here in Sonoma County California it was culture shock for the kids who would ask her stupid stuff like, "Do they have cars in Spain?"

My cousin was an exchange student in Muncie, Indiana in the 1980's and she had some really weird stories along those lines...

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 2nd, 2006 at 05:15:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IMHO American expatriates are best placed to write those diaries. Things that you or NearlyNormal desperately want to know about or would be interested in are just part of the landscape for me [or others] and there's no real motivation to write about them. It wouldn't "scratch an itch" to paraphrase ESR's The Cathedral and the Bazaar.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 2nd, 2006 at 05:08:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My experience as a euro posting on american sites is not very positive I'm afraid.

Granted I'm a cynical so-and-so, but I found that my willingness to be critical of US foreign and domestic policy was not welcomed. It was a case of "hey limey, Shut the F--- Up, you're not from here, you don't understand why we are how we are, your viewpoint is neither valid nor welcome"

So, I have no intention of posting on an american site again.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 06:37:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is too bad, Most of the posts I've seen from foreigners on dkos has been pretty well received, but you'd know better than me.  I certainly have been well-treated here and am sorry if some of the louts over here were assholes.  They don't seem to know that perspective requires a look from two different vantage points.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 10:11:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll second that, by and large. If you want to post on American blogs, get yourself an ultra-thick skin (everyone knows I've got one of those), and prepare to be surprised by the exceptionalism even of American lefties.

Honour where honour is due, though: I was generally well received on Digby's blog. Moon of Alabama (where I didn't post) seems very open too. But I don't post on US blogs any more. Apart from anything else, there's so much to do here.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 10:11:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome doesn't seem to have a problem with it.  

There is a nice bunch of people on Booman doing it too.  (From the Americas as well as Europe)

I think you might have trouble getting noticed because of the sheer number of diaries on Kos, but I've never seen anyone go after someone because they are European.  Like, ever.

Of course, if you go there expecting Americans to be rude and exceptionalist it will probably be reflected in your writing and we Americans have a pretty good radar for detecting that.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 12:25:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, if you go there expecting Americans to be rude and exceptionalist it will probably be reflected in your writing and we Americans have a pretty good radar for detecting that.

I hope the irony of phrasing was intended.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 01:45:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
we Americans have a pretty good radar

What do you know, "we Europeans" too...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 04:27:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's something that needs to be said about how internet forums work. They all have a narrow set of accepted norms, this place included. Deviation from those norms will cause problems for the poster. To their credit the people here are very cordial, so on the occasions where I have skitted the edge of the local norms I wasn't told to "f*** off and die" or other such nonsense which can be common elsewhere.

I think people forget or downplay the fact that internet forums are used for social purposes just like real "forums" in meatspace (the local coffeeshop, hobby groups, book clubs, etc). The average poster doesn't read or participate to debate and learn only - they are looking for approval, acknowledgement, and friends as well (I certainly enjoy getting 4's for my comments). Just as in meatspace, it takes time to gain acceptance from the broader community, and before that happens feelings of isolation and indifference can be very common.

Americans do differ in that Europeans and Russians are much better conversationalists and are generally better at arguing. Arguing is a lost art in America. The odd co-evolution of conformity and individualism in our culture has led to a view that to argue with someone is to attack them at their very core. When the extra step of removing the face to face interaction is taken things can get quite ugly.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 12:22:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll obviously have to disagree with this. My experience on dKos has been mostly positive, with only the odd hostile comment, even if there are sometimes surprising disagreements, on economic issues for instance (where kossacks are to a surprising extent to our right).

Always try to get a clarification before you take any comment as an attack or an insult, you'll be amazed at how much civility this brings into the discussion.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 11:51:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Helen's experience wasn't mine. I didn't get insulted. But I didn't find much interest in what a non-American might have to say -- even when the topic was ostensibly something like the health service in different European countries. Now it's true I have never posted a diary on DKos, and things might have been different there. Might.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 04:34:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My views about Americans and non-Americans on the net are colored by having spent the past three years of regular attendance at The Guardian talk board. There is a substantial group of Americans who have invaded the place for the entertainment value of picking fights with the "Euro lefties". It is not hard to find similar people on US based web sites. Even for people with liberal domestic politics there is a pervasive attitude of American exceptional ism that has been dumped into us from the cradle. I think the the Rest of the World is thoroughly sick and tired of it.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 05:03:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, "exceptionalism" can cover a range of things. It can be aggressive (the kind you mention on The Guardian), or it can be naive -- meaning spontaneous, unthinking, "innocent" in the sense not meaning any harm. And shades in between. But whatever shade, it's a considerable obstacle to communication.

And it's something that, over time, I thought would lessen. Looking back, young Americans of the Vietnam era I knew were (it seemed) more critical of the American Way (of life or whatever), less imbued with the unexamined conviction that there was just one natural way of doing things, than Americans now. In other words, things don't appear to have improved, meaning that America has remained as isolated as ever. What I sometimes get is the impression (and, please, this is not some superior, elitist, condescending, arrogant European position, and it is not coming from any certainty that the EU is a miracle-working solution to anybody's problems) of an American regression, by which I mean that (despite hi-tech etc) America has missed a train somewhere.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 05:32:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As one of those Americans who was young during the Vietnam era, I often feel that the train is headed in the wrong direction. As a nation and a society we did not not learn what we needed to learn from Vietnam and that has led us into a similar quagmire. Even though a growing number of Americans are beginning to get the smell of quagmire in their nostrils they are mostly sitting there saying how could this have happened to us. When someone attempts to explain that, the response is predictably defensive.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 05:52:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As an American who is critical of American society on some fundamental issues that go beyond the particular party in power, I have had somewhat similar experiences. You can't knock the system or The Way Of Life. However, there is also a particular strain of xenophobia that describes your experience.

European sites to me are something more than bring just non-US sites. By their nature they are compelled to be international sites. I can't think of much on which Europeans stand united. What I seek is an opportunity to escape the claustrophobia of any body's nationalism.

by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 01:01:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I seek is an opportunity to escape the claustrophobia of any body's nationalism.

If there's one thing that makes me want to believe in and support the European project, it's exactly that.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 04:40:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not off-topic, it's about blogs, right? One problem in Europe is the language divide, it's part of what's keeping people from talking to each other more. So basically, if you want to organise a Europe-wide grassroots campaign against anything, you'll have to do it in multiple languages. This means that traditional websites have the edge over blogs.

Personally I can write somewhat flawlessly in two languages (English and Dutch), and my German writing is serviceable. French I have trouble enough reading, and that covers it. I can understand about 50% of Europe's population and address about a third in their native language. There will be exceptions, but generally it doesn't get better.

Kos is a bit too chaotic for me to read, but I'm impressed by what the community has accomplished in terms of political organising, raising funds for candidates and getting Senators to write diaries. I was also impressed by the kind of organising that Josh Marshall did on TPM around social security, a kind of collaborative activist journalism.

The only succesful internet organising that took place on the EU level was the campaign around software patents, and that campaign mainly used a number of traditional sites, translated in many languages (see nosoftwarepatents.com). Still, there is potential for this site, and it does exciting things, like taking part in the consultation on biofuels. That's a big step.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 07:45:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is just too much of kos to read, so it's worth being selective.

I usually read the front page, and dip into the recommended list. I might look at a normal diary if it relates to aparticular interest, but generally not.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 07:52:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it is quite painful to see a extrem-rightwing/fascist/racist/heinous blog like ¡No Parasán! in the list.
by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 02:04:06 AM EST
I don't often agree with you, fredouil, but on that point I do.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 02:53:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tim Worstall ? Sorry, but he manages to conjure up a sense of sneering-at-everything in his posts. I accept that may be an unfortunate means of expression as his Britblog roundup is a very inclusive thing, tho I notice it prominently features mostly rightish contributions.

Also, his commenters have a tendency to avoiding examing issues and simply deciding right or wrongness. I appreciate he cannot be held responsible for his commenters views, but blogs tend to accumulate the audience they deserve.

Maybe I am maligning him and his intentions, but reading his posts makes me feel tired.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 06:45:09 AM EST
I actually agree with most of that, I don't mean to recommend Timmy (or No Parasan, or any number of Eurosceptics for that matter). He has the occasional insight, but overall he's too caustic. I mentioned him because he calls himself a Euronihilist and does post about Europe occasionally, but too little to be a European blog.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 08:23:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it's interesting how sometimes sirnames seem so uncannily accurate with regard to character...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 08:09:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm very interested in this and will try to spend some time and energy over the next year looking at the question of a European blogosphere. I'll let you know what's going on as I work through things.

Your point about language is one clear difficulty to a large mass blog on the dkos scale and style. However, a European blogosphere would not have to be organized on the same principles. It really might be a series of smaller regional/national blogs with interaction to a couple of metablogs. These few metablogs would likely be in English and/or French, German, and Spanish.

Can you say "subsidiarity"? :)

There are, of course, other possible models.

by gradinski chai on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 08:41:52 AM EST
Thanks. If you come up with anything that would be great.

I added a few new blogs which I found to the list. One B-List (Florian Mueller's blog on software patents in Europe), the others small.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 27th, 2006 at 07:29:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a guy:

http://fsfe.org/en/fellows/ciaran/ciaran_s_free_software_notes

he's been a real hub at various points in the SW patents campaign. I think that campaign may come to prominence again in the next few months. Maybe it will be useful to see if he becomes a hub again.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Aug 28th, 2006 at 05:09:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Software Patents (or Patent policy in general) is definitely one to watch. I think I blogged a bit on it in response to Ciarán's post and your diary on that. So, that's one to add, yeah.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Aug 28th, 2006 at 08:32:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
looking at dkos, i feel like i'm looking at some huge v8 roaring off, ad then ET seems like a mini compared!

their 'job' is different at dkos, because they are trying to unite enough energy to pull a dagger out of their nation's heart.

necessity etc...

here there isn't the urgency, and the tone is mellow.

i would imagine this site to slowly accrue intelligent and amusing contributions bit by bit, perhaps also developing a more activist bent, as discussion here continues to inform and enflame us.

the beginning has been great -thanks gnomes!

the us common language is a great help; here we have so many individual gvts to watch, and then the eurocracy on top of that!

kos and here are my fave 2 on the web, when i've supped here, it's nice to po out for some more bloggery at kos.

feed your head....

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Aug 26th, 2006 at 01:49:05 PM EST


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