7 min read
When I started EUwatch in 2013 it was motivated by a mix of technical ideas and politically driven opinions worth trying to insuflate in the very homogenous EU Brussel Bubble information landscape.
a few points :
- The idea was to trigger higher social media & real life participation in the (at the time) incoming European Election of 2014.
- Another idea was to try to cover European issues from different EU states by normal citizens like you and me with the goal to foster more participation in the way the EU is heading.
- This was motiavated after a year monitoring EU information landscape both on the wide web and on social media. (twitter, facebook, linkedin, google+)
- At the time in 2013 my feeling was that European Information was scatered among different websites covering the different institutions but it wasn't easy to KNOW right now what is being discussed, what are the new projects (TTIP or new policies being drafted up)
How can citizens in Europe have more power to put elected officials in front of their own responsibility ? How can we use the European level to put pressure on members states actively delaying the implementations of reforms that were good for European Citizens ?
How can we stop members states level to apply measures (such as TSCG or ESM) that would ultimately be a disaster for citizens all across Europe after years of demonstrations & "good lobbying" to allow the civil society key arguments to land in the isolated Brussels Bubble. ?
- How can I get all the information I want without all the noise & the interpretations of several media/news outlets sometimes organs of propaganda more than a rightful service to decrypt the issues at stakes with the goal to inform citizens instead of merely be a propaganda service without putting anything, any policy into question.
- I wanted to have only the information I wanted to have in one single news feed & I wanted to be able to control the flow, the speed, the sources of these informations and the timing/frequency it would update me.
- Ultimately I also wanted to get better at knowing how Europe works and how citizens should be able to use their voice to impact on policies and the direction Europe is heading.
So I started to wonder how I could do this and the answer was pretty easy to figure out.
First I explored the EU information landscape from its institutional structure.
I collected all the RSS feeds from the topics or policy area I would like to stay up to date with and used a simple RSS reader (think Inoreader or Feedly) to organize all this information by Institutional body.
Second I separated all this information in 2 folders :
One for what I would want to read/share anyway, because the source is 100% trusted or because the policy area or the topic would always be of public interests
a second folder for what might be interesting or good to keep an eye on but without knowing if all the items from that source was interesting & useful 100% of the time: this is my watch list.
Then I went after MEP's blogs, Officials or assistants keeping a blog about Europe or a particular key policy area.
Then I went after pressure groups, think thank, NGO's and other interesting civil society efforts already using the EU public sphere to scrutinize the different EU bodies & push toward reforms or push for debates etc...
after a while I had plenty of information :
Once I had the information I might want to publish (monitoring) and the information I would always publish (no matter if that would interest me personally) I wanted to automatize one part of the job. after all I'm just a citizen without much time, my motivation was that I wanted to really understand how Europe vs the Members States was working and for that I had to get better information on my pocket. I couldn't be available to monitor the EU information sphere 24h/24h, So how to do this without having too much work alone?
Enters Twibble.io - Twibble Dashboard :
Editing/Publishing from a RSS feed :
My EUwatch "Tweet everything" is populated by 50+ RSS feeds : from the EU section at the Guardian or DerSpiegel or LeMonde to Politico and ViEUws.
My Watch folder is populated by hundreds of RSS feeds from official EU institutions websites to journalist-bloggers on EU matters to EuroNews to whatever Blog or Website with a "Europe" section dedicated to the matter.
But I wanted to have a manual trigger to push anything I wanted from the watch folder to the main Twitter feed, and this is where Inoreader comes handy : the broadcast to channel feature creates a RSS feed of all the things I broadcast or Star or InoReader. So I connected this RSS feed : http://www.inoreader.com/stream/user/1006091104/tag/user-broadcasted to Twibble and it goes like this :
The resulst is I can check my InoReader App on mobile or on the Desktop and I can tweet + images in 2 clicks/touch :
and 12 minutes later (could be 5 min if I wanted to queue new articles manually broadcasted)
the next step was to aggregate all this information in one place : http://social.euwatch.eu using Rebelmouse as a service to aggregate content from twitter/rss feeds and twitter list but I wanted to still retain control over the structure and look of the website more than what Rebelmouse allow, hence I integrated rebelmouse with Wordpress and this is the (in construction) www.euwatch.eu website.
But I wanted on more level of engagement and I wanted this level to based on a "web-of-trust" of citizens across Europe tweeting crucial information missing in the EU Bubble information landscape.
this is when enters RoundTeam
Roundteam amplify content based on filters/rules/hashtags. EUwatch is amplifying content from 3 different Twitter list : EUdebate is filled by twitter accounts that ask inputs or questions directly to their twitter community about Europe, the monitoring-greece Twitter list is filled by a original group of 30 greeks citizens from different background that where actively tweeting about the last Greek Elections and now morphed into tweeting about the #RefugeesCrisis in Greece. the amplifyRT twitter list tweets content from different citizen initiative trying to bring more participative democracy in Europe either at states or European level.
in december 2012 @EUwatchers started with zero followers on twitter and is now in 2016 reaching 11K
precisely 10.9K without Ads, funding, or any type of subsidies. at the peak of it's success our Twitter stats showed 2M impressions per month, reguarly reaching 1M impressions per month. since 2014 I have had much less time to manually engage (on top of automated engagement) and take care of this baby twitter bot and now our stats are well under 1M.
I have learned a lot by building this little tool and since then have applied a few of these technics to bring monitoring capabilities to some citizen group, NGO's and grassroots movements.
Recentry I have played with Slack, I'm thinking on making a participative system inspired my the current EUwatch setup where people in the Slack channel would be able to influence what gets published and have their say on what should be registered as a source etc..this is pretty much are early stage ideas but if you're interested by similar ideas feel free to contact me and/or comment below.
The ultimate goal for me would be to create a similar monitoring setup completely Open-Source and completely free from using third party (paid) services but this is ideas for another blog post.
ps: I have a similar tool tweaked to do the same but about Belgian Politics check out @PolBegov on Twitter.
Update with some more stats :