Blog like the French.

The Department holds staff-student seminars on most Wednesdays. Yesterday was Dr Mary Francoli’s presentation titled ‘Political representatives, blogs and networked democracy’. A topic close to my heart. It was based on a paper that she and Dr Steve Ward (OII) had been working on: a comparative study between British and Canadian MPs’ blogs. I had extra fun comparing their research findings with Korean cases in my head.

The presentation was classically followed by a Q&A session. Many raised questions and offered suggestions, among which one particular question came to me as a surprise. A participant asked, “How come French Canadian MPs seem to blog less? Is it because they are technologically less advanced – or by any chance technophobes?” Dr Francoli replied that they were more restricted by party policies, not necessarily being technophobes. I was surprised because the question seemed to be so comfortably assuming that the Francophone world was not as enthusiastic as the Anglophone world about blogging. He added that the question was not based on any thorough observation. I guess not.

Last Oct, I went back to France for the World e-Gov Forum 2006. It was tight for me in both time and budget, but I didn’t want to miss it as the programme this time had a favourable emphasis on Korean cases. Quite a few government officials from Korea came and gave presentations, too. Overall, my impression was that the event confirmed once again the French’s enthusiasm about Internet politics. They were unreservedly certain that the Internet would be a decisive factor in the 2007 presidential elections. It was also statistically proven that the French were ahead of the rest of the world in blogging (at least as of last year). Let alone the number of blogs or the time spent in blogging, their blogs are by nature a lot more politics-oriented than the world average. An amusing article about this phenomenon is linked here, “France’s mysterious embrace of blogs”, where the writer argues that the French blog more because they have fatter egos. 😀

The question raised in yesterday’s seminar got me to wonder what made the questioner believe French people blog less in the first place. The language, perhaps? The global online presence of a site is still heavily influenced by the language in which it is written and maintained. Anyway, never mind. I have no intention to complain of the dominance of the English language on the Net. Sooner or later, we might all end up blogging in Chinese.

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5 thoughts on “Blog like the French.

  1. It is hardly acceptable anymore to make comparisons between countries on the basis of alleged national characteristics. One would very much like to see some reliable statistics in this matter. Even where figures are given in the article you mention, the evidence scarcely rises above the anecdotal.

  2. I agree with your point about the usual risk of making a sweeping generalisation when one talks about national characteristics. It is not the linked article alone that states the content of French blogs are more political than that of blogs from elsewhere – for example, at the forum I mention in this post, Phil Noble from Online Politics underlined this politics-laidenness of French blogs, which he went on to hypothesise was encouraged by cultural affinity. However, I haven’t yet found any written work on this aspect. Let me keep looking.

    BTW, I am wondering whether/how the recently passed law of yours (against people other than professional journalists filming violent incidents and distributing them online) will affect this discussion. What did you make of it?

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