Back from Ghent and what I hope was a very successful EuroBlog Symposium. Keynote speaker Neville Hobson, and roundtable members Guillaume du Gardier and Philippe Borremans have already blogged some impressions. Philippe has also posted a video interview he did with EuroBlog lead researchers Ansgar Zerfass, Swaran Sandhu and myself, which you can also find on You Tube.
The Symposium was part of a longer conference at Artevelde Hogeschool marking the contribution to PR education made by Jos Willems and it was very enjoyable occassion - thanks in no small measure to the efforts of Anne-Marie Cotton and Serge (No Copy) Cornelus. Many thanks to you and all your colleagues.
The line-up featured a stimulating mix of academics and practitioners, with Ansgar setting social software into a broad theoretical farmework, Neville opening people's eyes to the potential of Second Life and other virtual worlds, with practitioners including Marieke van Zuien and Mark van der Wolf from Lewis.
There was an interesting range of nationalities in the line-up, including speakers from Belgium, Germany, Switzerland Italy, Netherlands, Lithuania and the UK. My Euprera colleague Toni Muzi Falconi was among those blogging about the conference; I'll add links from other bloggers as I find them.
My contribution included a presentation which tried to argue that the New PR is sufficiently different to existing models to require new theory to explain its workings. Others, including roundtable chairman Jon White, regard social softwares as a technological innovation that may become part of PR routine but which doesn't change the nature of the discipline.
I am prepared to stick with the view that the evolution we are seeing is cultural as well as technological, and they are bringing fundamental changes to the way society operates. Interestingly, several speakers, including Ansgar but also Peter Mechant of the University of Ghent, saw merit in looking to sociology for insights into what is happening.
I'll go back to my own contribution later, not least because it marked my first serious engagement with Facebook as a PR phenomenon. Facebook has swept like wildfire through Sunderland with the majority of my PR students now hooked.