Brussels itself is boring. Belgium has a fully lit motorway network, so the night-time scenery as you're landing is fantastic, but the city just feels uninspired. The hotel (with traces of grandeur, but a bit of a shithole these days) was in the vicinity of the train station, which is never good, but I stayed in the Termini region in Rome and that was far more interesting. The European Parliament building is, apparently, copyright under Belgian law - one is not allowed to reprint its likeness without paying the architect a licensee fee (and Tony Robinson, the spokesman for the Socialist group, claimed to have paid 400 Euro for the right to post on his blog a picture of the EP compound that he'd taken himself in 1983). I'd say the impression I got from the city was that the Belgians are sufficiently organized and orderly to keep it all running, but don't care enough to make it sparkle.
Originally uploaded by Flasher T
Originally uploaded by Flasher T
That sort of criticism cannot be levied on the conference itself, however. As sceptical as I am about the supposed power of the blogosphere - and even more so about the storyworthiness of the European Parliament - the gathered crowd made it an awesome experience. The organizers from the European Journalism Center were genuinely enthusiastic, and did a stupefying amount of work to bring together nearly 90 people from every member state in the EU. I now understand why people go to events such as PAX or SXSW: not necessarily for the cause and impact, but for the sheer buzz of being around so many interesting people. Some of these were bloggers, a lot were journalism students and various other activists who made an effort to get into the competition. It's difficult to describe the joy of being in a room full of individuals, where absolutely every person is guaranteed to be worth your time and attention; the ones I spent a bit more time talking to were downright fascinating.
The project will go public on Sunday, when the Th!nk About It website will begin to publish contributions. In the meantime you can check out the EJC's BloggingPortal, an aggregator of stuff on European politics with a far wider catchment area. Or you can click on the new badge in the sidebar.
Great start in the competition. I guess the organizers are overjoyed :) Glad that you had a good time, too!
I am building a scale (1:50) model of the European Parliament in my backyard, replete with white noise generators that put a steady whir and hum, and an actuator that emits the sound of rhythmically creaking bed springs.
Does that licensing issue mean I can't charge admission?
Some of my more provincial American neighbours who don't know where Europe is but who might have heard a thing or two about the smaller scale of interiors in Europe, think that is in fact the ACTUAL European Parliament building, an illusion I am, of course, highly keen on fostering.
I would argue that it would be interfering with my rights as an artist, promoter and entrepreneur to have to credit publicly the building as being a mock-up.
Happy to hear that you enjoyed yourself in Brussels. It was indeed great meeting you!
Just a clarification: The bloggingportal is not a project of the EJC and the EJC was not involved in any of the aspects of the page. We just used their event to launch it!
It has been developed by Stefan, Jon and myself without any financial backing of any institution.
John: there's a difference between a mockup and a mockery, so I think you're fine.
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