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Europe in Blogs and Social Networks – Some thoughts ahead of an academic workshop

Picture by European Parliament (flickr) | Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0

Next week, invited by @nvondarza, I’ll be speaking about “Europe in Blogs and Social Networks” (PDF, in German) with students of the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder – that’s the Frankfurt at the German-Polish border, not the ECB-Frankfurt.

There’s much to say on this subject, there has been said much about it recently, and I only have two hours, so what to focus on?

I ask this question because I think that there’s the risk to overestimate as well as to underestimate the importance and relevance of social media in an EU politics  context, and I kind of want to show both sides before discussing with audience.

Just some examples I’m thinking of from a political scientist’s perspective:

These are just some questions that come to my mind when thinking about why EU-focussed academics should or should not consider active and passive social media usage.

What is without doubt is that social media challenge EU-focused political scientists as much as they challenge many other professions today. If we as academics don’t make use of social media as another way of perceiving reality and communicating knowledge, we risk to miss important developments as we risk that our work does not find its way back into public life where it belongs.

For the former, following social media channels of well-informed insiders and commentators may be as important as following EU officials, politicians, lobbyists etc. who have something to say that matters to us both as generalists but also with regard to our specific research focus.

And by using social media to communicate, we notice if and how the things we research on and write about are perceived. We can better understand why and how some topics matter to what audience(s). And we may also learn why a search engine algorithm impacts the work of academics in the 2nd decade of the 21st century, whether EU-focussed or not…

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