Friday, May 30, 2008

Social inadequates to get own social network

The reports in today's papers and yesterday's PM program ( 01:54:00 minutes in, your correspondent is quoted) about the latest wheeze from the EU to 're-connect' citizens with the project have caused a certain amount of disquiet in the Parliament. is a shiny new social networking site for politicians. With a name deliberatly mimicking MySpace) it is transparently an attempt to jump on what the EU sees to be a fashionable bandwagon. But like so many things the central authority aspect off it reaveals its inherent flaws. It is ostensibly designed to allow MEPs and national Parliamentarians (and of course selected members of Organised Civil Society) .
The ways in which the whole concept is wrong are legion. Firstly social networking sites exist already. The European Parliament already has a Facebook Group with 650 members - MEPs who are interested in web 2.0 products already have pages on it and MySpace, LinkedIn and so many other websites. And, and this is key, they are free to use and have broad public access. They are classic examples of a bottom up process, driven by the actions of individuals acting in their own interests. however is part of the EU's 'Communicating Europe in Partnership' program and is entirely funded by the taxpayer via the European Commission, to the tune of £3 million. One of the team (the contract is held by two significant players in the Euro media market, Mostra Communications and told me,

"We are going to create a bottom up process",
Errr... apart from the fact that that is logically impossible, it is absurd. You cannot create something bottom up, bottom up stuff just happens.

As Bruno Waterfield in the Telegraph puts it,

Despite the use of taxpayers' cash, much of will not be visible to the public, with its networking "restricted to parliamentarians", The Daily Telegraph has learned.

Only parliamentarians and "civil society", Brussels-speak for officially sanctioned NGOs and trade associations, will be able to use the site for comment and debate. " offers you a unique online political forum with a social networking tool, enabling you to engage with other parliamentarians across the EU," said the pilot site launched in Brussels on Thursday".

The arrogance of the organisers of this walking disaster make the point,

"After receiving an online demonstration of the website, one Euro-MP's office asked MyParl organisers whether there was a cost for the service. "Totally free. Well, not for the taxpayer of course," was the answer".

Which says it all.


Anonymous said...

At last, a social networking site with no riff-raff looking over one's shoulder.

You English types are always worrying about what things cost in Europe. You know the price of everything but the value of nothing in Europe. It isn't a question of finance - it is a question of autonomy and European independence. As you well know, there is plenty more money available for projects like this.

When is launch party?

Gawain Towler said...

Good point, sometime in October. They provided very fine sandwiches when I went along to the information session. Higgh hopes for the launch.

Michael Heaver said...

I like sandwiches very much.

But I dislike the EU.

Fair trade off?

Gawain Towler said...

Sandwiches win hands down I reckon

Michael Heaver said...

Said like a true LibDem.

Anonymous said...

M€3 for free ? is obviously based on the free Google OpenSocial API ( ).

So what the M€3 have been use at ???

Anonymous said...

Actually the web address to do such a website in 5 minutes is :

Anonymous said...

Remarks like Opensocial is a free API so the website cannot cost M€3 are just plain stupid.
Open Social is an API, IT DOESN'T MAKE WEBSITES.It is not tool for making social networking sites, like

It is a way to open up social networking sites and allow developers to create applications that can be used across the different social networking platforms. So if supports Open Social that is a plus and even an extra development effort.

Besides Open Social isn't even in a beta phase

Anonymous said...

this might be a good answer to this article with quite some irrelevant objections as the newspapers were wrong:

Anonymous said...

They should rename it my-arse