Spain tops European elections online debate

Following on from my previous post, here are the latest trends in the online debate about the forthcoming European elections (based on statistics collected during the last week).

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How diverse is the online conversation about the European elections?

The online conversation about the European elections provides some fascinating insights into the issues at stake, the electoral process and the positions of the protagonists from the different sides of the debate.

But if we step back a bit from the specifics of the election campaign, what can these online exchanges tell us more generally about the state of digital engagement with the EU and the Europe’s evolving “digital public sphere”?

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Can we measure social media’s impact on the European elections?

With three months still to go, people are already talking about the European elections on social media.  But will social media actually make a difference?  And, perhaps more importantly, can we get beyond speculation and measure the impact of social media on the 2014 European elections?

In this post, I’m going to take a brief look at three areas where I think social media could potentially have a quantifiable impact.

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Will 2014 be Europe’s Twitter election?

Obama four more years image from Twitter

Twitter was a major feature of the 2012 US Presidential elections, with a combined 14 million tweets during the Democratic and Republican Party Conventions and over 10 million tweets during the TV debate between the candidates in October 2012.

No less than three of the Brookings Institute’s Ten Communication Lessons from the 2012 Presidential Election relate to the game-changing impact of Twitter, including the democratization of political debate and commentary.  Pollster Stephen Mills commented in the Guardian during the campaign that “tweeters, not bloggers or pundits, will decide debate winners as politics shifts from a 24-hour news cycle to a 140-character one”.

So, will Twitter play a similar role during the 2014 European elections?

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Mapping the EU digital public sphere(s)

As I have tried to argue in previous posts on this blog, digital media are enabling the emergence of an online public sphere (or spheres) where issues related to the EU are debated across national and linguistic borders.

But how can we make sense of the tangled mass of conversations that are taking place on different platforms?  I think that social network analysis is one technique that can offer some potentially interesting insights.

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Lessons in storytelling from Jung Chang

Jung ChangBestselling international author, Jung Chang, was the closing keynote speaker at a conference I helped to organize in Brussels on 9-10 December 2013.  Entitled “Telling the Story”, the event was a gathering of around 800 European communication professionals.

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Sharing stories about “Europe in My Region”

Photo competition winners with Commissioner Hahn

Winners of the 2013 “Europe in My Region” photo competition with Commissioner Johannes Hahn

It was a pleasure to meet Ourania from Greece, Joseph from Malta, György and Tünde from Hungary during the European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels.  They are the four lucky winners of the 2013 “Europe in My Region” photo competition.  Ourania, Joseph, György and Tünde came to Brussels on 9 October to collect their prizes from Commissioner Johannes Hahn and to share the stories behind their winning photos.

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Will digital media transform the European Union?

After returning to Brussels earlier this week, I’m back at work now and already finding plenty of opportunities to apply things I learned during my fellowship at the University of Washington.

E!Sharp magazine published an article I wrote about EU governance and policy-making, based on the research I did during the fellowship:  Will digital media transform the European Union?

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All good things must come to an end …

University of WashingtonMy time is almost up at the University of Washington.  We are packing our bags and getting ready to return to Brussels in a couple of weeks.

The Fellowship has been a fantastic experience, and I have enjoyed sharing some of my adventures with you on this blog.  A big thanks to everyone who has taken an interest in my ramblings, as well as providing useful comments and feedback!  I have learned a lot and made some great new contacts – more evidence of the power of social media!

I haven’t quite decided what to do with this blog now that the Fellowship is finished.  I may continue to post occasionally if I come across interesting examples of digital media and policy-making from the EU, USA and elsewhere.  But I don’t think that I will be updating the blog as regularly as I have been over the last 6-9 months.

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The benefits of open data

Where is the money going?

recovery.gov mapAs part of its response to the economic crisis, the US federal government approved the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – a stimulus package worth $787 billion (subsequently increased to $840 billion) – in February 2009.  The Act provides financing for tax cuts and benefits, “entitlement programs” (such as unemployment benefits) and federal contracts grants and loans.

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