Until now, dear reader, this blog has been rather unusual: it has not been accessible to the outside world. Yes, that’s a password-protected blog open only to those who have been writing it. Not really the point of a blog… I hope that this will surprise you, because if it does, it means you are reading a blog which is open to all. If that is the case, it means that we got permission to go public with these occasional musings on our professional life.
So far, it has been an experiment. We have been writing this as if it was for real, the idea being to demonstrate that it is possible for officials of the European Parliament to write about their work without trespassing on terrain properly reserved for politicians. We also hoped to demonstrate that we do actually have something worthwhile to say, something which might be of interest to the outside world. But, I’m sure you will understand, there have been two main problems with this. First, we don’t really know how interesting this all is for others until others have the chance to read it and give us their comments. (We know we will be in for some aggro from the usual suspects, but on the whole we believe that people will accept that we are people doing a job, talking honestly about that job, and therefore that we’ll get useful, creative feedback.) Second, mainly because so far we haven’t had feedback, it is difficult for us to maintain momentum, to keep up the enthusiasm for posting our entries in a void.
That’s why the time has come. We have now to go back to our bosses and ask them to look over this blog. What will they say? Have we overstepped the mark? Is it better for officials to seen but not heard? Can we, when push comes to shove, be let loose on an unsuspecting world?
I would say this, wouldn’t I, but I think the time has come to take the risk. It’s a small risk, to be set against what I believe are important potential benefits. One of the greatest problems we fight against in our daily communications is the perception outside the Brussels bubble that the European institutions are faceless monoliths, impenetrable walls of steel and glass. One small thing we can do to counter this impression is to reveal the presence of real people inside. Not earnest euro-automatons, not robots programmed to spout the institutional line, but individuals who think openly and honestly about their work, acknowledge the difficulties, see the funny side, and generally use their own minds. That’s what we are, why not be straightforward about it?
Remember too that the world of communications is changing. The web has wrought a huge change, especially among the young, who obtain most of their information from the internet. They live in a world where regular people talk to other regular people, where individuals say what they think and accept what others say in the same spirit. Web communication in this context is a conversation, not one-way information, and people need to converse with people.
We will respect constraints, but will be open about doing so. There are limits, there are places we cannot go: our political opinions, personal judgements about members… well, it’s obvious. It may be counterintuitive, but while revealing ourselves as human beings we will of course remain officials of the European Parliament! Seriously, that’s the whole point, this is a blog we write as professionals, something implying respect for the proper constraints of our job, while being open and honest about what it means to do it.
I can say no more. It’s now up to others whether you will ever read this.