Puzzled by Euro policy? Social media could help
A project to create an online "profiler" helping people explore their views on European policy issues such as immigration, and linked to discussion with their friends on social networks, was launched this month.
"Puzzled by Policy" is a three-year project funded by the European Commission. It is run by a consortium of 12 partners from nine European Countries led by the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at the National University of Ireland and including UK partner 21c Consultancy.
The platform allows users to compare their views on immigration with national and EU immigration policies, as well as with the opinions of relevant stakeholders. They are then encouraged to join discussions on aspects of immigration policy they feel strongly about and use "widgets" and other tools to bring the discussion into their existing social networks such as Facebook.
For the trial period the platform has been customised for Greece, Hungary, Italy and Spain, although it can be viewed in English.
The trial is the latest in a long line of EU-funded projects attempting to engage citizens which have come and gone with few tangible results, a fact acknowledged by DERI research associate Deirdre Lee. But she said this time, greater efforts are being made to hook people in and make use of social networks.
"There have been a lot of different e-participation projects, attempts to use ICT to re-engage citizens, many with moderate success," Lee told UKAuthority.com this week. "Policy can be dry and complex, so what we're trying to do is a bit different. We're trying to bring it into everyday lives of citizens. That's what the profiler is - so we're not just asking people to come and contribute, we're offering a service in that we'll provide more information about policies, and let you see how your views compare.
"Once people are engaged through the profiler tool, we hope they might feel more comfortable to contribute."
A Puzzled by Policy widget can then be embedded on people's social media pages, websites or blogs to help spread the debate to their friends, Lee said. "People are already sharing and collaborating online, so we're going where they are already participating, not just advertising a URL and saying come to our website. We've only just gone live, and already had a lot of embeds."
Beyond the three-year funded period, the consortium will look to continue to develop the tool as a for-profit or not-for-profit enterprise, Lee said. Again, this has been tried many times in the past: time will tell if the new formula, with its greater emphasis on the use of existing social media activity, is a winning one.
Puzzled by Policyhttp://www.puzzledbypolicy.eu