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Posts tagged with: Blogging

This blog will soon be 10 years old, and if you’re reading this you’re invited to the party

blog915 Back in 2005 I was coming towards the end of my term as President of JEF-Europe but I still had ideas. No one will ever invite me to speak at conferences again I thought, so I better try writing things instead. Some friends of mine in Swedish politics were blogging at that time and they inspired me. I thought I would have a go at writing about the European Union, British politics, and whatever else caught my imagination. The blog post that started the whole thing off is here, and my first serious post was about why passengers are so inept at boarding planes.

The odd thing is that back then – and even now as well – I still do not consider myself a writer. But after 1900 blog posts, and a total of 591000 words (enough to fill 5 books), and 11000 comments left by readers, this blog has somehow come to define who I am. While blogs like Nosemonkey and Fistful of Euros started before I did, and Kosmopolit and Julien Frisch shortly after me, I have nevertheless – through stubbornness and persistence – churned out more blog posts about European Union politics (and plenty of other things besides) in the last decade than any other individual. The rise of Twitter, and my intensive use of it (63000 tweets so far) from the autumn of 2008 onwards has proven to be a tremendous complement to the blog.

The blog has had a few successes over the years – it ranked high on Iain Dale’s old blog lists back in the early days, was the launch pad for the atheist bus campaign, became the place for the most intense debate about to pass the Commission entrance exams, and was one of the blogs at the start of BloggingPortal. Writing this blog has allowed me to meet hundreds of people in real life that I would never otherwise ever meet, play some sort of role in the political debate I would never otherwise have, and has remained my favoured place to express my thoughts. I was living in London when I started it, and it has accompanied me to Brussels, back to London, to Copenhagen and now to Berlin. It has been an ever present through whatever other tumult I have been facing in my life.

Anyway, to celebrate the first 10 years of the blog (the exact anniversary is 19th July 2015), you are invited to the 10 Year Anniversary on Saturday 18th July in Berlin. If you are reading this, consider yourself invited. There will be a barbecue (or blogbecue if you like) at Tempelhofer Feld grilling area on the Columbiadamm side from 1800 onwards. Food will be provided, but bring your own drinks. I’d simply ask you to confirm your attendance by e-mail, by DM on Twitter, or by commenting below, so I can have an idea of numbers.

Here’s to the next 10 years!

Struggling to come to terms with the establishment

republicaTomorrow at re:publica, the annual tech and politics gathering in Berlin, Tobias Schwarz (from Fistful of Euros) and I will talk about 12 years of blogging about European Politics and the EU. Fistful has been around a little longer than my own blog; I’ve been writing here since July 2005.

The biggest thing I’ve ever done – the Atheist Bus Campaign – brought me to re:publica in the first place, in 2009 (pic is from my speech that day). The Atheist Bus Campaign worked because it had edge, and we did it at the peak of Facebook hype. Facebook was booming back then. Meanwhile much of the networking for the early stages of the campaign took place among independent bloggers in the summer of 2008. Bloggers without editorial teams or production budgets still had a role; they do not to the same extent now.

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Back to basics – a new blog design


The previous incarnation of my blog – more of a magazine style – allowed me to present a more diverse range of content. But what is the point of that if the format imposed means you are restricted in how to categorise what you write? Finding a way to make the old Max Magazine theme work for the sorts of things I wanted to write never worked quite the way I wanted it.

So I’ve gone back to basics. This blog now, once again, looks more like a blog. It is based on the Focused theme by Site5. Here’s a summary of the main changes:

  1. A more blog-style homepage
  2. Fully responsive design – so the pages should look good on anything from a small phone screen up to a 30″ monitor
  3. More space for larger photos
  4. A clearer, lighter and simpler design
  5. Use of Google fonts for headlines
  6. 2-click social media sharing buttons for better data protection
  7. A clearer overview – in the main menu – of the main themes of the blog
  8. Dedicated sections for the articles I am writing elsewhere, and for live streams and videos of my presentations, including adding all old material into these sections

A slight mishap during the rebuilding process meant some subscribers were deluged with e-mails – this has now been solved!

Anyway, do let me know what you think of the new design!

Do let me know what you think!

[UPDATE] A few stats looking back. This is at least the 5th different design of my blog in the 8 and a half years I have been writing it. The first year it ran on pLog (that became LifeType) and since then on WordPress. There are 1778 published posts, meaning 1 post every 0.57 days in that time. 11086 comments have been approved at the time of writing.

3 years of BloggingPortal.eu

Today marks 3 years of our little blogging project – BloggingPortal.eu

It started as a conversation between Stefan, Andreas and I, and all the coding work was done by Stefan. The inspiration for it came from this blog post I wrote, and I still own the domain name. Beyond that I am a rather inactive partner in the enterprise these days – others have taken on the everyday work.

The aim of the project is as important now as it ever was – to bring an alternative perspective on EU affairs to a wider audience. The site does not try to be a complete take on EU affairs – we cannot achieve that. But for an alternative view, something from outside the Brussels bubble, it remains a vital resource. We still have no cash and no real organisation behind the site, something we wonder about fixing, but we’re still going strong.

Why there’s no LabourList column from me today

It seemed like an excellent opportunity – to write a weekly column for LabourList, one of the biggest left-leaning blogs in the UK. Take EU matters to a new, wider audience. So I thought. In the second half of 2011 I churned out more than 20 columns, and a variety of other pieces.

But things have not turned out as I had expected and – at my own choice – I am weighing up whether the columns should continue. Things are on hold for now.

Above all, the joy of blogging (here on this blog in any case) is that hitting Publish is only the start. I learn from the comments, the comments are largely civil, and themes grow over time. Importantly I get an e-mail notification every time a new comment is posted to allow me to follow discussions. On LabourList I can’t get this, meaning that by the time I go back to the website I’m treated either to a stream of critique, or comments that have departed at a tangent. There I don’t have the tools to engage with the audience properly. Secondly, there is no RSS feed of just my posts, meaning no way to auto-import into Facebook or auto-tweet my posts, two important ways I generate useful discussion around what I write here. I’ve even volunteered my technical assistance – for free – to solve these issues, to no avail.

More widely, writing to a weekly schedule is rather tiresome, as I am used to the immediacy of blogging, while writing columns on a Sunday morning is probably the last time I would choose to do it. Plus – apart from an interesting spat with Emma Reynolds over my critique of Douglas Alexander – what I’ve written has generated very little substantive follow up. I also have no meaningful feedback on whether what I write – either in terms of style or substance – is what the readers of LabourList want.

Thoughts and comments from LabourList readers and others would be most welcome in light of this blog post…

The notion that social media is a great leveller is wrong

For someone as active as I am in social media, perhaps the title of this blog entry is a little extreme. But bear with me. Or, to be more precise, bear with me those of you in the ever dwindling band of people who are going to read this.

This blog, I have concluded, exists mostly thanks to a combination of fortuitous circumstances 6 years ago that has seen me through to this, my 1461st post.

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