Brussels, European Parliament, European Union, Global Politics, Politics

Skeptical that more “training” will help the EU…

I saw a post on face book which read “the EU needs more entrepreneurship.  The plan is to offer more training”.. It got me thinking.

I run my own technology and communications consulting business with clients in BeLux and USA at 28 years old, I’m from the USA. I’ve consistently see the EU always aiming to train people as a solution to get itself out of the economic hardship it’s experiencing..

Education sure, great –  to some extent, but I’m not sold.. lower taxes – more cash on hand to spend on opportunities that pop up is essential, and less stress on those who are starting a business is key. 70% of wealth is inherited in BE for example, and I was further amazed to hear the horribly run government here has the audacity to decided if you are competent to run a business. As if it’s competent to decide anything itself, which it’s not. This is where EU federalism could step in, make things more liquid and really make a difference.

Further EU citizens must come to grips that in order to make aggressive progress there are inherent risks involved… back to EDU – I’m skeptical that institutions can provide any relevant training – especially in Europe which is is run by institutions. Nothing here has really been created and perfected on globally competitive level for years in new fields – not one EU tech company is in the top 10 for example. Nokia is 13 and failing harder and harder as the world/business moves faster and faster. Perhaps that is chance, but perhaps EU society is not well equipped to deal with the adversity and speed of modern business because it rely so heavily on ingrained “training, education” which has created a lot of over head  and diluted what the word talent actually means , being educated or being really good at something are  more often than not different.  When I see “According to the plan” is part of the idea – and as a business owner knowing plans never go according to plan. A focus on knowledge management and handling adversity is key, but very difficult to create a curriculum, it needs to be ingrained in the culture of progress and risk is fun, don’t look back.

In general entrepreneurs such as myself carry a bit of disdain for institutional process and tradition, something tightly ingrained in European culture. All the great modern, dynamic companies were basically and for the most part built by institutional dropouts, failures or pure genius which never had a need for them. In France your career track and whether you go to HEC or ScPo is decided at 10 or so years old. Think of the opportunity loss on intellectual capital, for what in general is a partially false knowledge system propped up by a robust, far reaching institutional system. For any federal system such as the EU, that has aspiration of being reverent/competitive on the global level this should be considered unacceptable. Nonetheless this outlook is perpetuated in EU society. The first thing I’m asked after I explain what I do is where was I educated, as if it matters, I learned nothing from education that I do now – I run my business off my own Ideas not others – this is how business grow/succeed, not repeating and learning from the very people, ideas, and institutions that created the problems in the first place. Take a look at the past, take what is needed,continuously improve and prove your own ideas wrong. Never settle.

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Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, Global Politics, Insights, Linguistics, Lobbying

Your next firm should be an IT firm.

I’ve interviewed with them all. The big firms, the small firms. Both in Brussels and in New York.

After working in the European Commission and Parliament, I wanted to go to the private side of Communications and Policy. The problem? I had been running data and insights. Using terms like NLPSentiment analysis, cognitive science and connotation mapping to describe what I did not work well. On the other hand dumbing down would leave me looking like another 27 year old who does “the social media” and or “the internets”. Most firms doing the interview for analytics positions wanted to hear “pivot table”, “engagement”, “influence” and maybe SPSS. Upping the hierarchy on those terms to explain why “something was” appeared unnecessary and impractical since explaining this to a clients communications director is another task with in itself.

So to hell with the PA/PR firms, I joined an IT firm that also does communications – Intrasoft International, and could not be happier.  The people’s skill sets are well defined and paid, which gives them a certain confidence in contrast. They like things such as analytics and completely understand them. Their only fault is the soft side of Communications – which is now my job to merge.

IT is going to take over communications sooner than later. Current  PR firms will be left scrambling. The lack of investment in the deeper meaning (abstract knowledge such as transference, retention and pragmatics) will start to show as data/connotation mining becomes a standard practice. Most IT firms already have this infrastructure in place via their AI departments.

There will be a point where dropping shit jargon is irrelevant and companies Comm Director, who should be more of a CIO/CTO in the nearer future, will see right though it.

My 2 cents. Also check out my presentation at chandlerthomas.com

CT

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Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament

German EPP MEP Disconnect

Regional online media engagement  for  German and French EPP MEP’s:  The chart clearly illustrates Germany is not engaged with their European Parliament representation, or better, the MEPs are clearly not in touch with their constituents. Can someone say democratic deficit?

•64% of German EPP MEP media is coming from Germany.
•84% of commented media on German MEP’s is from France.
•Germany only accounts for only 10% of comments of  it’s MEPs.
•Germany  does not comment on  French EPP MEPs (0%).
•French EPP MEP comments are from the USA and France (both 48%) and Belgium at 2%.
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Brussels, European Parliament, European Union

Some Quick Thoughts About the EU

In the next 25 years I question how the EU will avoid marginalization between Asia and the US? The US is more dynamic and entrepreneurial. From Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook to Pinterest, the list goes on. There’s low investment cost for incorporation, 600% more skilled immigration, congruent legal and professional standards across all states, and 20% more productivity per worker/year. Asia has cheaper manufacturing, growing disposable income and a favourable investment climate. Both have higher patent rates and less labour/tax issues. Given the advances in technology and the higher gains conceivable by those who adopt faster, these facts can quickly become more pronounced.

So how will EU leadership plan to address these issues during political instability, and lack of leadership in the first place? Europeans need to realize the debate needs to be beyond national pride at this point.

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Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, European Union, Global Politics, Insights, Lobbying, Politics, Public Affairs and Communications, Social Media

European Parliament Leadership: Channel Marketshare


While it’s trendy for public affairs professionals talk about social media, Twitter and Blogs, it’s naïve to think these are the main channels for engagement when it come to European Parliament Party leadership. Online mainstream news simply dominates in comparison.  It sets the tone of the issue, gets the most comments, and is shared ,“Liked” and Voted on the most.

Diving back into market shares and what leader controls each medium. The chart above shows  just how dominate Martin Schulz (at the time leader of the S&D at the European Parliament. Schulz has now replaced Jerzey Buzek as it’s President) was in December. MS controlled just about every medium, as well as has the most comments.

Starting from the right we see Mainstream News percentages and how each leader stacks up:

  • Martin Schulz (MS)  63%,
  • Guy Verhofstadt (GV) 25%
  • Joseph Daul (JD) 12%

On the second box from the left “MS ind MS” shows the market share of the medium/channel, in this case mainstream, is being use by the Party Leader. Mainstream news made up 61% of Martin Schulz’s online media. Comparatively GV is at 44% and JD is 35%. In all cases main stream on-line news provides the most media and comments for all leaders. Over the past six months I’ve seen a rise in Twitter, which is by far the most equal platform, and also JD’s 2nd highest individual medium.

We can conclude two things from the prior chart:

  • MS is winning the online battle for media and engagement. He owns 94% of comments leaving only 4% to GV, and 3% to JD.
  • JD severely under performs given the EPP’s size and amount of money they have.

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Brussels, European Parliament, European Union, Lobbying, Public Affairs and Communications

The EU

Unfortunately the high cost of doing business – taxes, labour laws and questionable professional standards across all member states, threatens to marginalizes the EU between Asia and the US.

USA= Innovation, quick to adapt, dynamic work force, large integrated market.

Asia = Cheap labour, willingness to adapt, on the up and up.

The main issue is hesitation to adopt any new methods. In a knowledge economy such as the EU, liquidity of knowledge is a huge asset. None the less, as we see from the data debate, there are only worries and fears, no positives. This is partly Google and Facebook’s fault for not controlling the debate better, although with the cultural differences, I’m not sure it matters.

What ever side of the debate you are on, there is no way the Commission/Parliament will be able to regulate at the speed that such companies innovate and develop new technologies.

I liken it to a scenario:

Jose is trying to learn how to get a date. He decided to go to  a conference at a hotel that explains how to do this.  On his way to the room where the conference was being held, Jose encounters two doors.  One  leads to the conference  on how to pick up a date. The other door has a  sign that says “Successful single women’s conference. Please join us for a drink.  Anyone is welcome”.  Jose chooses the first door as he had planned, and continued learning and taking notes about how to get a date. The EU relationship with Technology is a lot like Jose’s approach to picking up a date, hesitant and unwilling to adapt in real-time, to the peril of the end goal.

In October I was giving a presentation about on-line media, trend, and sentiment analysis/monitoring to  institution officials. During the presentation I was  asked  “why do we need to understand what people are saying about us?” Admittedly  I was a bit shocked.  Interest in the EU has gone down every year since 2004 http://ow.ly/8w2Gs, as well as voting rates.  In my view  a  good place to start building a proper message that mobilizes people, is to  find out how people perceive and talk about you in the first place. Thinking about the institution officials statement further, I concluded the real issue wasn’t that that  online monitoring couldn’t be useful for their goals, but it  would have created a real-time approach, the antithesis of the  institutional process Europe is familiar with.  The incentive wasn’t there either.

In the globalized future hesitation is dead, improvisation is king, and competition will be fierce. Both EU firms and institutions spend too much time discussing what technologies such as social media mean or can do but never act. On the opposite,  competition is the USA led to elections becoming a  science. The 2012 campaigns will feature natural language processing, text mining, sentiment analysis, and data scientists. These technologies will marginalize every medium and word. There will be  no room for “educated guessing”. This is efficient and saves time and money. Further it may help  yield larger voter turnout as did the 2008 U.S. elections.  Forward to the EU. The system is not competitive. The money is provided by the public, and the European Commission  is in charge of getting  people to vote with a neutral message. And they are still having conferences  about what social media means.The future will embrace adaptability and change, you don’t get the luxury of writing a 10,000 word strategy paper, or a controlled institutional process, life and business  move too fast.  If the EU  is going to have a chance using technology to it’s full advantage , it must first take a shot, and ask it out on a date.

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Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, European Union, Insights

Sentiment Analysis: Why is it important?

WHY IS ONLINE MEDIA IMPORTANT TO LOOK AT?

I examine this question with the help of Charts and the EU. Thank you..Click on the Charts to make them bigger.

So why is looking at on-line media important? The chart above (Lau, 2001) shows online media has expanded in the last 16 years. Online news has displaced print and broadcast to represent 46 percent of all content monitored globally. Increasingly online communications/media is becoming the main source of people’s knowledge for political affairs. In the era of the mediatization in politics and democratic theory, which assumes that an informed and attentive public is necessary for democracy to work effectively (Lau, 2001), understanding on-line communications is vital.

The Analysis of on-line media is a cross between what’s called data science[1] and “Culturomics” (Leetaru, September 2011). The goal is to find cultural trends through computerized analysis of online media to develop insights in the functioning of human society, thoughts and actions (Michel, et al., 2011). This process has been very accurate in forecasting instances such as box office sales (Mishne and Glance, 2006) to the stock market (Bollen, et al., 2011). To illustrate the power of data science and sentiment analysis in a political context scientist – using a super computer, applied tone and geographic analysis to a 30 year worldwide news archive. The scientist were able to forecast the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, the removal of Egyptian President Mubarak, the stability of Saudi Arabia, and estimated Osama Bin Laden’s hiding place within a 200–kilometer radius, in Northern Pakistan.

The point of all of this?

Media is a very accurate source for insights into the human condition, as well as our thought process. Now with the rapid expansion of online media, there is a wealth of untapped knowledge and syntax to further analyse.

EXAMPLE:
The chart above shows the volume of searches based on the terms “European Parliament”, “European Commission” and “European Union”. They were also translated into French, German and Italian for further accuracy. The data was gathered with Google Insights[1] for Search. The chart does not track positive or negative sentiment, just the volume of the terms searched through Google[2]. The data clearly shows the interest in the EU has gone down since 2004. For both the European Parliament and Commission the top locations for the searches of the term were Ixelles, Luxembourg and Brussels – all home to the institutions themselves. This illustrates the “Brussels Bubble” that so many talk about
The Google insights data mirrors voting rates. In other words, voting rates (above) and participation have gone down.
The variables:
  • Lack of a unified media, hesitation on real-time engagement, failure to leverage modern instruments and an incentive to do so.
  • MEP and political parties do not have to raise money for re-election, and there is little incentive to actively engage constituents, on an individual MEP level as well since the parties puts forth the Politicians.
This frame work has lead to autonomy and citizens that look more toward national politics for answers. With the current financial “Euro” crisis it would be easy to assume that the interest in the EU – whether good or bad, would go up. This has not happened.

[1] With Google Insights for Search, you can compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. See examples of how you can use Google Insights for Search.

[2] Google’s search market share in Europe is around 90%. In the U.S. it’s around 65%.


[1] The profession of interpreting and creating value from Data.

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