Moving

Not from London, or even moving house. Just moving the blog to my own domain http://www.euonym.eu Please come and visit me there. And if you have any ideas on how to transfer this blog over (the import/export tool doesn’t seem to work) that would be good too!

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Filed under Digital/social media, Personal

Westminster Media Forum on press regulation

I went to a very interesting event today, and as there was quite a bit of tweeting going in, I had a go at Storifying it. I can’t publish the story here directly, but do follow the link, if you’re interested. It was my first go, so don’t be too harsh on me, constructive criticism welcome.

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Filed under Digital/social media, Media, UK politics

The Social Network/Travelling Light

This weekend I saw a play about film and a film about social networks, which seemed to fit together nicely.

Travelling Light is a new play by Nicholas Wright, directed by Nicholas Hytner. As this is the team behind His Dark Materials, my feeling was that it couldn’t really go wrong. And it didn’t. There’s something quite intellectually satisfying about examining one medium through another, requiring you as it does to think about the characteristics of each in relation to the other. The set was, once again at the National, absolutely stunning: its 3D representation of the shtetl in which the play was set only seemed to exaggerate the 2D nature of the films that we saw. The presence of live actors reacting with joy and wonder to what were very old fashioned cinemactic images reminded us just how exciting and magical cinema must have been to its early viewers. The friend I went with commented at the end that there didn’t seem to be much energy emanating from the audience to the actors – not words you would ever utter exiting a film theatre. My (well-documented!) love of theatre does come from that immediacy – a performance once given is lost forever, and each is unique, depending on the mix on the night of the cast, crew and audience. This was all made very much more obvious by watching a depiction of early pioneers of film producing such a staged (haha) experience.

And then on Sunday I watched The Social Network, about the creation of Facebook, which was a lot better than a) I thought it would be and b) it could have been. Again, a strong script and strong director at the helm are fundamental, and a film by the writer of the West Wing and the director of Seven is likely to be a good bet. I have seen other films about computing or in which computing is a main element that handle much less well the fact that watching people type things on a screen doesn’t make great cinema. Music seems to matter a lot in film, more than in theatre, maybe because there are fewer ways to create an atmosphere in film – lighting, set etc are going to be less immediate for a film audience, who might be watching it at home with all the lights on, in a film theatre in the dark, or nowadays, on their phone on a train. So music becomes a much more important tool. And Trent Reznor’s soundtrack was amazing – atmospheric but not intrusive (I only just realised it got an Oscar, so clearly it’s not just me that thinks so). A central point for me about the film was Zuckerberg’s certainty that what he had was going to change the way we thought about a whole range of things. Eduardo trawling Madison Avenue for a few hundred thousand of old-style ad money while Mark was signing venture capital deals for half a billion chimes with the truism that Facebook isn’t free, we just don’t pay money for it. Coming as it does in a week when Google do seem to have jumped the privacy shark, it was useful to have that message reinforced.

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Filed under Culture, Digital/social media, Living in London

Inspirational youngsters

I was in Scotland last week, which is never a chore. I had been invited to chair the Annual Schools Debate hosted by the Europe Direct in Aberdeen. 8 teams of 13 and 14-year-olds debated whether the EU should make more use of social media to engage with young people and then the final was whether school mobility programmes should be compulsory. Congratulations to the team from Robert Gordon School who won, with a very impassioned performance. It was a competition, so someone won, but really it was about so much more. All the students displayed such poise and confidence in their debating, attributes I’m certain I didn’t possess in that quantity at their age. It was a real pleasure to be part of it. They were so polite, too: at least two teams came up afterwards to thank us for the event. So when people start going on about the youth of today, I have some really good examples to give.

After Aberdeen I went to Edinburgh, where I took part in a working group meeting of the Scottish European Resources Network. I was interested in what they do as I’m trying to think about how/whether to do something for the whole UK EU information scene. To please fill out/pass on the survey on this, if you haven’t already.

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Filed under EC in UK, Europe Direct

2011 in review – back at my desk

There’s been a bit of a hiatus in the blogging while I was on holiday in Mexico for three weeks. There was so much to say there, I could have written every day, but I thought that most of you probably wouldn’t be that interested. All I’ll say is that Mexico is a fabulous destination, if you are careful about where you go. The food is amazing, the people lovely and the weather significantly better than here!

Anyway, best wishes for 2012 to anyone reading this. In blogging terms, here’s a summary of 2011.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,700 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Reporting Europe 2012

Nominations are open for the UACES – Thomson Reuters Reporting Europe Prize 2012. There have been some interesting winners in the few years I’ve been going along. It’s very far from a hagiographic prize, as a brief glimpse at some of the former winners will show. I’m very honoured to have been invited to sit on the jury this year, so I won’t be doing any nominating this time. But in a year when we’ve seen European Union issues covered to an unprecedented extent, I’m sure there will be lots for the jury to get their teeth into.

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Getting in the swing of the EU

I was quite busy on Friday and didn’t get the chance to blog about the Thursday event we organised with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British Council. 58 (well 57 because 1 went astray) sixth formers came to Lancaster House to take part in a role-playing exercise based on the EU’s decision-making body the Council of Ministers. The schools all played a particular EU Member State, or the Commission or the Secretariat-General of the Council. They were sent briefing papers a few weeks before the event and came to Lancaster House on Thursday ready to debate the issues from the point of view of the country they were assigned. This time, for the first year, we had interpretation as well, giving a real sense of the multilingualism of the real Council. Not only did some of the speakers from the organisers speak in French and German, but quite a few of the students did too: the “French” representative in one of the working groups even taking verisimilitude so far she spoke French every time she took the floor!

There’s a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/EUMockCouncil and some videos on YouTube as well, with students and teachers talking about their experience.

Teachers talk about the day

The Netherlands talks about her day

It was a fabulous day. There was an incredible buzz from the beginning, and the students really got into their roles. I was following the working group on the Arab Spring and it got very passionate! There’s lots of talk about young people being disengaged from the Political process, but on the evidence of Thursday, that isn’t the case. Maybe it’s about them feeling involved. Quite apart from what they learn in terms of the EU decision-making process, several of the teachers mentioned how important it was for developing students’ confidence. Maybe none of them are looking for careers in politics or administration, but learning about engaging with people, defending a point of view and talking in front of people are all valuable skills for life.

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Filed under EC in UK, EU Careers