The sub-conference RE:UNITE at this years re:publica will be a big opportunity for those who are engaged in European issues. The central questions like why do we have so few blogs dealing with politics offline topics or why do we not know more about eurobloggers are crucial for the future debate.
I had the same feeling when I started looking for political blogs in general and for European blogs in specific. One of the main portals you’ll come across instantly – The bloggingportal. It may serve as a useful tool to search for interesting blogs. But the site aggregates almost 1000 blogs and it’s more a reservoir for blogs than a platform of communication and debate. Nevertheless it is one tool to reach out to those who deal with European issues and are active in the citizens’ debate about the European Union.
My European blogosphere – very individual point of view
From my point of view the interlinking effect of blogging has not yet occurred in the euroblogging scene. Of course you come across some prominent bloggers and online players all the time. If I have to name some of them (and this is a very individual perspective) I would especially mention the blogs
Ronny Patz, who is running the last blog, has written a post “On the road to #rp12” which faces the problem of EU blogging from the language perspective. I guess his thoughts are useful for the future debate.
Anyway, I believe that all euroblogger have the same small amount of blogs in their bookmarks without knowing about the others or not able to read them. And this is the main aspect to deal with.
Individual blogs are needed for a European public sphere & one language
Even if we always mention in the European debate that we all don’t want a European centralized super state and how important the European diversity is for everybody. Culture and language of the 27 member states of the EU are sacred – with good reason. If Europeans do met each other, work together or learn together they have either a common (agreed upon) language or they use hands and feet. This is possible in face-to-face meetings. I don’t think we will develop a sustainable (I know horrible word but appropriate for my thought here) European blogosphere if we don’t use a common language which in my opinion has to be English.
My blog is also written to a bigger extent in German as it is my mother tongue. I feel more comfortable if I can express my thoughts about European issues and politics in the language I can use best. Nevertheless I have also posted much European stuff in English. There are off cause mistakes and awful grammar but I think that I was so far able to express what I wanted to.
That said I would argue in favour for a European blogosphere in one language. It’s not about erasing culture or language. It’s just the knife and the fork for a common understanding on a written basis in the internet. We cannot use hands and feet and we cannot express with mimic. We have to use written words to understand each other. To discuss and debate the same policy area or current affair we need the same written language. No matter how good or bad our language skills are.
Traditional media and European public sphere
I guess we have the same experience when it comes to traditional media. We have projects like Presseurop which translates national media to another language. It is a great service as I can now read Spanish or Dutch articles. A great pool of information although from the specific national perspective.
We don’t have a common European public sphere. The citizens think in national categories or discuss European topics through national glasses. This brings us if we want it or not to the general question about the structure of the European Union. It is no wonder that people do not feel European and behave like that as the EU is not a nation state. The emotional identification with the EU is unincisive. We don’t have one European newspaper, there is not a European TV channel or a European radio programme. Why should be there a European blogosphere?
To go one step forward we have to interlink European blogs in one language, we have to discuss in one language to have different European perspectives about one European problem. I don’t think we will gain much in translating. It is not quick enough, we would need a lot of man- and women power to do it and it would probably costs a lot of Euros. I don’t think we would loose much by abandoning the other 22 official languages of the EU not mentioning the other European countries which are not members. In this case platform like the bloggingportal would be a far more useful tool as everybody can interact to all the content.
What about those who do not speak English? Good question and I don’t have an educated answer on that right now. In the long run it may be a European policy to be implemented by national education systems to have at least one official language for the EU so that all Europeans are able to communicate very easy with each other. But that is another topic.