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How Neelie Kroes’s rant about Düsseldorf Airport wifi shows she really understands political social media

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 13.39.09I can just imagine the scene. Neelie Kroes is sat at Düsseldorf Airport waiting for her flight, tries to get online, and turns to Ryan Heath or Jack Schickler or some other member of staff travelling with her, and with that mix of steel and mischievousness in her eye she says something along the lines of “How dare they charge €6 for an hour of wifi? I’m not having that!”

Her experience is the sort of thing regular travellers encounter all the time. It’s surely also something that the other Commissioners capable of using a smart phone also have encountered. But unlike the rest of them, Kroes connects her everyday experience with the politics of the matter and actually seeks to do something. It’s the same sort of motivation that has driven dozens of blog entries and tweets of mine over the years.

She first tweeted this:

This has been retweeted 834 times at the time of writing, and covered by The Local and Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

She then follows it up with an effort to crowdsource good and bad experience:

No doubt the next step will be to write a blog entry with a kind of league table of the best and the worst. Of course this is non-legislative, but it is a political issue, and Kroes’s understanding of political social media connects all of the pieces together effectively. More Commissioners should follow her example.

[UPDATE 1820]
I’ve been pointed towards a WSJ Germany blog about the same subject, and there is also now a blog entry on Neelie’s blog that summarises the responses, very kindly also linking to this blog entry of mine.

Photo: "Neelie Kroes" by Lisbon Council on September 2, 2013 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

4 Comments

  • Ryan Heath |

    Thanks for the compliments :))
    The best and worst list is indeed on the way.
    And you’re basically right. We were sitting near our gate, and Kroes was furious – first about the principle and second at the € per 30 minute rate.
    I went to get coffee and by the time I came back she’d already tweeted.

  • marcoRecorder |

    Very good piece Jon. It highlights the possibility and the advantages of being both institutional and human at the same time.

  • Michelle |

    Same thing in the UK at Heathrow. One of the busiest airports in the world and no free internet anywhere except a connection you can sign up for that gives you a few minutes of the slowest internet on the planet (10 mins I think?) I managed to get one webpage to load in the time. I try to avoid Heathrow like the plague as I’m an online writer, which means I either pay exorbitant prices or can’t access internet from the airport and, as I’m in and out of the UK several times a month sometimes, those fees add up.

    Heathrow should be ashamed of themselves.

So, what do you think ?