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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How can we tell better stories about the EU?

Microsoft’s Chief Storyteller

Steve ClaytonI met this week with Steve Clayton, “chief storyteller” at Microsoft.

A few years ago, Steve was working at the company’s offices in Reading.  His job involved talking with startups and small tech companies based in London.  Many of the people he met viewed Microsoft as dull and conservative.  This clashed with Steve’s sense from within the company that a lot of his colleagues were actually doing some pretty cool and innovative things.

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Participatory budgeting – “giving ordinary people real power over real money”

US cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle have all experimented in recent years with initiatives designed to give local people a direct say in decisions on public spending.  These initiatives are inspired by the concept of participatory budgeting, which was originally developed in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

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American students quiz MEPs

Debating Europe Schools

One of the things I love about digital media is their capacity to bridge geographical divides, establishing new connections between people who would be unlikely to cross paths in the offline world.

So I was delighted to be able to offer my students here at the University of Washington in Seattle an opportunity to put questions directly to Members of the European Parliament.

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Govloop – a knowledge network for government

Govloop logoAccording to the small world theory, we are all six connections or less away from anyone else on the planet.

I’ve been putting this theory to the test during my stay here in the USA by trying to connect with various people who are doing interesting things with digital media.  One of the people I was keen on talking to is Steve Ressler, founder of Govloop (a social network for government employees).  When I spoke a couple of weeks ago to Washington State’s social media network, it turned out that one of the members of the network knows Steve and he put us in touch.

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Celebrating Europe Day in Seattle

2013 Europe Day Lecture, University of WashingtonEurope Day has been marked with a series of events this week at the University of Washington in Seattle.  Colleagues from the EU Center at the University organized a European quiz that attracted morning crowds crossing the central “Red Square” on campus, lured by the promise of free coffee and EU giveaways!  And I was honoured to be invited to deliver this year’s Europe Day lecture to a group of students, faculty and representatives of the local community.

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