Blog works in not so mysterious ways

Every time I meet a fellow blogger in person, it validates and sustains my belief in the power of internet to build real relationships. Imagine the thrill I felt when I attended the Global Voices annual meeting in India two weeks ago. There I met bloggers from around the world who understand the language, potential and limits of blogging. There I learned how blogs are effectively used to advance various advocacies.

In Vietnam, a blog was set up to record the plight of street kids. In India, there are bloggers who chronicle the resistance of people living in slums whose houses will be demolished. An outreach program which gave training seminars to university students, journalists and other young people about the effectiveness of blogging was successfully conducted in Kazakhstan. In Brazil, the Ministry of Culture promoted blogging as a tool for children to digitize their culture. A radio show devoted to blogging was put up in Ghana.

Internet censorship is a reality in many countries. In one country, personal blogs are required to be registered with the government. There were bloggers who were arrested because of what they espoused and exposed in their weblogs. Some bloggers lose their work just because they maintain blogs.

Judging blog content is a contentious matter. Should we look down on bloggers just because they chose to write about entertainment, gossip and narrative of their uninteresting lives? The consensus is to respect what bloggers have decided to highlight in their blogs. That bloggers tend to upload videos, podcasts or articles about their favorite food, movies and celebrity news means that these things are important to them. Why should we deny them the right to express what they feel the world should know about their lives?

On the other hand, bloggers should be more responsible and sensitive about what they write since children can visit their sites. People should be more discerning in surfing the internet since pornographic sites are accessible, scams proliferate and bigots roam the cyberspace.

How can we protect children bloggers from these elements? What is the appropriate age for children to blog? How can we protect their privacy? They may be too young to understand that some of their opinion may be offensive to others. Children are already lured by TV shows and video games while they spend less time for exercise and social interaction. Should we then encourage them to blog?

If blogging can facilitate communication around the globe, the language barrier should be addressed. How do we pursue better interaction between the english and non-english speaking bloggers? How do we improve and encourage translation of blog articles? Filipino bloggers prefer to write in English but there should be a platform urging the use of Ilocano, Tagalog, Bisaya, Kapampangan and other Philippine languages in blog writing.

During the Global Voices meeting, there was a proposal to develop a mechanism where a reader can translate a blog article in his/her native language by recording it in the blogsite itself.

There were other remarkable blog promotion ideas:

Encourage senior citizens to blog. These are people who have a lot of stories to tell. Blogging may also help improve their mental faculties.

In Singapore, its student exchange program requires participants to set up a blog to record their experience. Let’s emulate this practice in our student seminars and conferences.

Disaster blogging. Bloggers have been very reliable documenting huge disasters throughout the globe. Rescue teams, mainstream media outlets and government agencies can benefit from disaster blogs. Bloggers can point to areas in need of assistance, accurately assess the impact of a catastrophe from the field and record amazing stories overlooked by news reporters.

Blogging fuels citizen journalism. Oh my news project in South Korea (“Every citizen is a reporter”) is a good example on how to generate news stories submitted by ordinary people. But blogs can also distort the real situation. In Zimbabwe, most of the bloggers have anti-Mugabe sentiments but majority of Zimbabwe citizens are supportive of the leader.

Print edition for blogs? Well, why not? The most popular blogger in Taiwan has already published a book. Let’s hope Filipino bloggers can publish a book not just about jokes.

In Tunisia, a prison map in the web was created by a blogger to show where Tunisian authorities have been jailing political prisoners. We should create a web map to show where extra-judicial killings are rampant throughout the country.

I hope the $100 laptop project will finds its way in the Philippines.

There are real obstacles to the growth of blogging in developing countries, especially in the Philippines. Blogging is seen as an elite activity. Blogging requires a literate person with access to computer and internet connection. How can you convince the poor and hungry Filipinos that blogging can answer their problems? Was it Marx who wrote that humans are species beings, and man needs to eat, find clothing and home first before he/she can pursue other activities?

I think blogging must not be separated from the movement to end poverty, hunger and injustice. We can make blogging an added weapon to make another beautiful, kinder world.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted January 1, 2007 at 8:07 am | Permalink | Reply

    I long for the day when highschools and universities use their web resources to host their student’s blogs when they become part of the curriculum.

  2. Posted January 21, 2007 at 6:23 am | Permalink | Reply

    You need not wait too long. It is almost here and now. And we do not have to start with school servers to get that done. Go to http://joelogs.tripod.com/JoelYuvienco1.htm to see what I mean. While you are at it, why not check out http://joelogs.blogspot.com

  3. Posted March 10, 2007 at 4:17 am | Permalink | Reply

    kewl blog 🙂 i also hope that the $100 laptop project finds its way here, we could use a lot more information exchange amongst our people, so that more people could have a better understanding of what’s happening around us, and be able to voice out their thoughts.

  4. Posted March 7, 2008 at 12:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    congrats for a very thought-provoking blog. i started my own but I’ve yet to update it. 🙂 I would like permission to quote one of your entries on internet use in the Philippines for my MA Thesis. I totally agree that the internet is the new venue for all kinds of activism, and though some may think it a burgis undertaking, at least there are some who actually act on their ideas — even thru a simple task such as communicating on a website. A lot can happen by just engaging in conversation. I think this will be one of the new ways of introducing change into society, no matter how smal the steps. 🙂

  5. Posted April 28, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    bloggers are here to stay:-)

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