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At today's Green Week session, the DG for Communication explained how the European Commission is trying to reach out through new media etc and said that officials are "even encouraged" to use twitter. A question came from the floor saying that twitter and new media is a waste of time and people should be educated instead and he responded "I agree that twitter is idiotic".

While I'm not taking issue with the Commission or the particular official, who did in fact make a lot of sense on other points, I just wanted to put the question out there. I've been on twitter for a few weeks and it's both interesting to follow people and as a source of information from the feeds from news channels and blogs. I even had a business proposal after being on there only two weeks.

If the people leading the European Union's communications take the approach to just tick the right boxes (twitter - check, YouTube - check, EUTube - no comment etc) how can they reach the people of Europe with credibility and integrity? Or are they just missing the point?

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Kathryn,
I wasn't at that meeting (but work in the building). Who talked about Twitter (and social media or web 2.0) on behalf of DG COMM? I am not aware of ANY discussion there and other departments like ours are desperately asking for it.
Telling that officials are "even encouraged" to use Twitter means that the person didn't know he/she was talking about.
When I/we had reacted 14 years ago in the same way when we started the web in the Commission there would not have been an Europa server. We would still be handing out the Official Journal on paper (6 weeks after the Commission decision).
So to put the facts straight: DG RELEX and 6 others in the European Commission have started to Twitter. I am compiling an overview at http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/twitter/index_en.htm. If you know of any, please mail me!
We twitter our news that can be found as well on our website. I haven't been engaged through that way in a discussion or something similar.
We are also preparing a mobile platform version (PDA, Blackberry, iPhone) of our newspages.
By the way, most of us in the Commission do inform or communicate with (specialised) stakeholders most of the time. To reach the "people of Europe" is something that I believe is up to the politicians in the member countries.
The overview you are compiling is certainly useful. Let the group know when you are ready to spread the word on this. Thanks, Kathryn

Benedictus NIEUWENHUIS said:
Kathryn,
I wasn't at that meeting (but work in the building). Who talked about Twitter (and social media or web 2.0) on behalf of DG COMM? I am not aware of ANY discussion there and other departments like ours are desperately asking for it.
Telling that officials are "even encouraged" to use Twitter means that the person didn't know he/she was talking about.
When I/we had reacted 14 years ago in the same way when we started the web in the Commission there would not have been an Europa server. We would still be handing out the Official Journal on paper (6 weeks after the Commission decision).
So to put the facts straight: DG RELEX and 6 others in the European Commission have started to Twitter. I am compiling an overview at http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/twitter/index_en.htm. If you know of any, please mail me!
We twitter our news that can be found as well on our website. I haven't been engaged through that way in a discussion or something similar.
We are also preparing a mobile platform version (PDA, Blackberry, iPhone) of our newspages.
By the way, most of us in the Commission do inform or communicate with (specialised) stakeholders most of the time. To reach the "people of Europe" is something that I believe is up to the politicians in the member countries.
Harvard University Professor Jonathan Zittrain said:

“It is easy for Twitter feeds to be echoed everywhere else in the world. The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what make it so powerful.”
I've blogged on the outcomes of the session in 'Media Bashing At Green Week' on my blog www.sustainabilityconsult.com, in case Benedictus you're interested in reading more.
Thanks Kathryn!
From he programme I gather it was Claus Sörensen the Danish Director general himself talking about this.
Correct?
And the word can be spread as much as you like on what we do. I am more than curious to know if what we do on Twitter makes sense or not. Is it useful? Would someone want to engage in some form of feedback?
Using twitter won't necessarily make the European Commission more credible or give it more integrity.

While EUTube is probably an example of a box ticking exercise ("we're on Youtube, so we're hip"), not all use of social media by the EC falls under this umbrella. It all depends on whether the way they use the media is appropriate to the content, or whether it's just another "me too", jumping-on-bandwagon exercise.

Dick's use of twitter looks like an appropriate use - follow RELEX if you actually want to be updated in real-time, like an RSS feed. Twitter has a lot of other uses, but I haven't really figured out yet how well can be applied to EU communications to non-specialists, particularly as long as officials must remain grey, faceless bureaucrats.

For another view of Twitter, I blogged an entertaining video on it a while back - worth a look: http://mathew.blogactiv.eu/2009/04/01/everything-you-almost-wanted-...
Swedish presidency of the EU takes it seriously - see http://www.se2009.eu/en/services/2.1070
That is clever, we like that! Sweden had a very switched on presidency last time round. Being on twitter just reminds us how things have moved on since 2001!

Carla Caprioli said:
Swedish presidency of the EU takes it seriously - see http://www.se2009.eu/en/services/2.1070
Kathryn. After a somewhat sceptical start on Twitter I've grown to like it and learned to use it both sparingly and stratigically: BNO is a particularly good feature; being able to follow some thought leaders has made them accessible; coming up occasionally with my own "gems" has gained me followers and I have also some friends who've done business as a result of being picked up on twitter.

It's probably not everybody's cup of tea, but then some people prefer coffee! However, after it's role in the recent upheaval in Iran, it's strange to hear a leading communicator at the EU say it is idiotic. Methinks he has missed something...!
I've certainly found it both useful and interesting. I also had a business proposal through it which surprised me after just a couple of weeks' use. I'm also increasingly getting news through twitter, without having to trawl round various sites. I'm not familiar with BNO but will check it out.

Gerry Murray said:
Kathryn. After a somewhat sceptical start on Twitter I've grown to like it and learned to use it both sparingly and stratigically: BNO is a particularly good feature; being able to follow some thought leaders has made them accessible; coming up occasionally with my own "gems" has gained me followers and I have also some friends who've done business as a result of being picked up on twitter.
It's probably not everybody's cup of tea, but then some people prefer coffee! However, after it's role in the recent upheaval in Iran, it's strange to hear a leading communicator at the EU say it is idiotic. Methinks he has missed something...!
European Commission sets new information society challenge: Becomin...
Commissioner Reding observes: "... people who cannot use new media like social networks or digital TV will find it hard to interact with and take part in the world around them. We must make sure everyone is media literate so nobody is left out. Citizens are being talked to all the time, but can they talk back? If they can use the media in a competent and creative way we would take a step towards a new generation of democratic participation."
See DG INFSO on Facebook on 'Cheaper Roaming in Europe': 'Sea, Sun and SMS'
Hi Carla! How's life these days?

I never really got to grips with INFSO's media literacy activities, despite working there when this particular competence came across with Reding to join the EC. It's interesting that one of the main points if the press release concerns protecting young people, which is the responsibility of a different INFSO programme.

One can't help thinking that any course taught in schools on being digitally literate risks being out of date before the curriculum material is finalised ...

I blogged about Sea, Sun and SMS, and other ways how INFSO's been using the web to advocate for the Roaming regulation, a month or two ago, when the Facebook group launched. One of the comments was from Pierre-Antoine, who worked with me at Blogactiv before moving to INFSO, and is our newest member here! The other was from Hugh, who actually launched 'here'. Hmmm ...

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