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Newsletters > May 2011 > The spirit of INTERREG IVC and the mindset of SHAREIT in Timisoara
09/12/10
On the 9th and 10th of December 2010, the DGASPC (General Directorate for Social Affairs and Child Protection) in Timisoara, Timis, Romania organised a conference as part of the SHAREIT subproject under the PEOPLE mini-programme. The subproject and the conference were about the use of ICT and social media to empower young people and to make them participate in society as fully-fledged citizens. You can read more about the subproject at their excellent website http://www.peopleshareit.eu

The participants at the event in the beautiful Chamber of Commerce came from several sectors of society in Timisoara and from the Venice and Noord-Brabant partners participating in SHAREIT. Several insights and experiences were presented from both the subproject and several speakers from Timisoara. More details about the presentations and content of the conference are to be found at the website of the subproject as well.

 

It is therefore not much use to go into too much detail about the conference here, I would like to leave that to the organiser of the whole event, Delia Costan, who managed to pull that off in sheer brilliance. The conference was excellent organised both in terms of content as well as logistics and it shows that the DGASPC put its most talented manager at this subproject.
 

Instead, in this short article I would like to give a few observations about the whole event that are relevant for the PEOPLE project. Being the coordinator for the subtheme of Social and e-Inclusion in PEOPLE Ė from which SHAREIT is a part of Ė  I have a special interest to both the concept of Social Innovation and the use and impact of social media.

 

Social Innovation

Of course the PEOPLE programme is about innovation and societal change. Itís about learning by doing, open innovation and exchange of experiences. Itís about connecting people and organisations from several sectors to make Europe better, wealthier, healthier and a nicer place to live. Itís about multi-stakeholder cooperation and create new networks that learn and work together. And exactly this is what happened in Timisoara. And I saw it happen before my own eyes. After less then one year of work of the SHAREIT subproject they managed to have influence in Timisoara. They managed to start a process of Social Innovation in which experts and professionals from several domains started to work together to improve the system. People from DGASCP, municipalities, regional government, business incubators, university and civil society found each other around this theme of using ICT in the social sector. Concrete products were made and experiences exchanged. Not so much only the outputs and results in the subproject were of great value but moreover the fact that new alliances and networks were created that are ready for more. Joint ventures and connections that otherwise would not have been developed that easy. And the cliché is true: Itís all about people! Itís also about the chemistry between the right people that find each other and start building nice things. They are the necessary frontrunners of innovation and inspiration. Itís about the people that take the risks and are willing speak up and swim against the stream. And I saw those people in Timisoara and they also managed to influence their organisations and the policy makers.

So I was happy to see that it actually worked as it was meant to be and that this is what INTERREG IVC was made for.

 

Social media

Talking about Social and e-Inclusion itís hard not to speak about social media. The use of tools like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube is still growing rapidly worldwide. The influence of social media on our society and way of living has only just started and weíve nothing seen yet. And of course in the SHAREIT project also social media like YouTube are used for the storytelling stuff. But I didnít have high expectations about the actual use of social media during the conference prejudiced as I was about the use of new interactive media in Romania. So at the beginning of the event I was minding my own business and tweeted a little about me being present at the conference and about what was said during the opening. And to my surprise I already immediately found more activity in twitter space related to the conference. My tweets got retweeted. It took only five minutes before most users of Twitter identified another physically in the room. Immediately also people twittering in Seville, Brussels and the Netherlands started to get involved. Nothing was organised but spontaneous connections were made with the help of social media. Not only very fast but perhaps otherwise those connections would not have been made at all. And it helped me to be digitally informed about the background of who I was speaking with much better then by exchanging business cards.

 

Within minutes connections were made on LinkedIn as well. It was however not a surprise that the experts I got to know were mainly people from a business incubator, university and civil society  - all of them young of age, typical early-adapters and the more communicative types.

Most inspiring and surprising was a tweet at the end of programme from the European Commissioner of the Digital Agenda Mrs. Neelie Kroes who showed interest in the results of the subproject. And is now following our Twitter account @people_eu Sheís an active user of social media and personally seeks contact once in a while.

 

Mass media

Of course old school mass media are until now much more important and relevant in terms of dissemination and reaching the wider audience. For that matter it was very pleasant to see a massive and very positive media attention after the conference. There was an actual press conference with reporters present from several writing and audiovisual media. Interviews were given and it was my debut in an international press conference in Romania. The point is that also the management of involved organisations and authorities were proudly speaking about a project that they 18 months ago still were very sceptical about. It was hard for them to imagine how it could benefit their organisation because of its complexity and the idea that Romania is not ready for such advanced societal innovation. And now they were nervous that media would be critical about the project. So another success of SHARE IT is therefore the large media attention and the positive articles and newsflashes about it.

 

If you have any questions or require clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail or phone.

 

Kind regards,

 

Edwin Mermans

Regional coordinator PEOPLE project

Department of Social and Cultural Development

Province Noord-Brabant

The Netherlands

Tel.: + 31 6 55 686 574

E-mail: emermans@brabant.nl

Skype: mermans