Citizen-to-institutions communication still looks like a quasi-impossibility at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, and there where it happens you see mixed results - but still results on which basis we can continue working.
I have discussed the issue of European communication already two weeks ago in reply to a blog post by EU Commissioner Margot Wallström and so I do not have to go back to the discussion (see the comments) about the value of blogging and my hopes that at least one or two of the new Commissioners or their staff will be involved with the blogosphere.
But now Margot Wallström has written her very last blog post as EU Commissioner (UPDATE: Well, Margot has added a real Goodbye post) in which she mentions a few of us eurobloggers personally (thanks for the hint at Eurosocialiste and Oscar), and so we have to say good bye, sending warmest wishes to Brussels and Sweden and taking our hats off for the blogging work and insightful posts by Commissioner Wallström.
In the meanwhile, the web editors of the European Parliament are succeeding pretty well in employing Facebook for citizen-to-MEP chats, as Steve can tell in their latest blog post, and maybe other institutions can use the example and do similar things, whether on Facebook (where the crowd is) or on the EU websites (where there should be more crowd).
But there are also less stylish interactions in 2009, interactions in which you still feel the weight of formality that rules the external communication of public institutions:
Andre wrote a letter to the German Foreign minister supporting his decision to reject Erika Steinbach (see my post on that matter), and he actually got an answer from the ministry in the name of the Foreign Minister - although it is pretty sure he doesn't write himself - and strangely enough the answer is both personal in style and standard in content.
And I commented on a blog post of German MP Eva Hoegl, member of the Bundestag (German Parliament) committee for EU affairs and vice-president of the "Europa Union", and today, 9 days after the comment, I got an answer from her office manager via email, an answer that doesn't actually answer my question on the blog, but that should at least have appeared on the blog itself.
The funny thing is that I have interacted directly with MP Hoegl via Twitter these days (she made me aware of the fact that Günther Oettinger will be in the Bundestag this week), so that it is strange to get a kind of formalised answer via email on a blog post comment by the staff of someone who is already using the techniques of direct communication.
All examples show that this kind of communication is still not well established, that one Commissioner blogging doesn't mean a new communication attitude by the institution, that Facebook chats are still experiments, that direct answers from a minister are no direct answers, and that new communication styles and old communication styles even mix with the same person.
The question is: Are we witnessing moves forward, or are these just experiments that will be left aside if they don't bring the immediate results?