A picture named dd10.jpg

"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ethan is asking questions about what it would mean for GV to get much more multi-lingual and how do we get there? What are the big ideas for GV going on?

Some ideas :

  • Pat Hall from Blogamundo starts off by saying distances stop becoming an issue in this online world, but language remains one. You keep hitting language barriers. One model is for translation facilities for certain posts in language. The other case is for a model that brings voices in different languages per se into the GV conversation - eg a Chinese GV or a Spanish GV. How can GV enable posts to be translated from Spanish to Chinese? Machine translations will not work says Pat Hall.
  • Farid Pouya tells us about an idea he had - bloglogue. Blogs + Dialogue. He proposes that we could select subjects and invite people to debate them - bloggers and non-bloggers too. Can we therefore create a reservoir of information around a wide range of topics and issues.
  • Creative Commons as issuing 'remix' licenses (am not sure if i got this right)
  • Evolving Chinese-English lexicon on women in law - an example. Chinglish (reminds me of Hinglish). One learning on process - it wasn't as important to have that lexicon product - but the debates and conversation over the whole year and the process by which it happened were incredibly interesting. . Suggestion - use the process to build lexicon. Rebecca then suggests should the translation happen on a wiki? We need a blog-wiki hybrid she says -- I agree !!!
  • Do we start pages by language at the wiki? We have pages by country now, but not by language.
  • Meeting in the middle - can bloggers who have bridge blogs be more sensitive to the fact that they may be translated - when writing posts?
  • Learnings from BBC World Service -- initially employed translators - wasn't great, instead got journalists in local languages. It may be a good idea to have people who are bilingual - students, interns etc - who could scan which posts would need translation - so that they are funnelled down to a handleable and more relevant size.
Broadening the conversation beyond translation into other projects we may take on.
  • lets not talk about 'tools' - its a social activity
  • consider how to produce many different views on content without weighing readers down with bothering about tools.
  • democracy project - creating a blog on democracy - GV is a network that can be tapped into for other issues as well. A network of possible future activists?
  • Haitham who is the Middle East editor - what about countries where there is no blogosphere. Also, in regions like Middle East and North America there is a big gap between NGOs, human rights activists and bloggers. How can we bridge this. And finally, nobody knows what a blog is in the media, unlike in other parts of the world. How do we reach out to media?
  • Hoder - GV gives voice to people - we have always focussed on the 'what' - what is going on in these countries. What we haven't done is contextualising - why are these things going on? Recommend - move the link posts by regional editors to another place - and focus more on the analysis. Worry about right wing organisation funding GV - we need transparency around this. And finally, commission the writers. Dan Gillmor says - take money from right-wingers so long as you maintain transparency !
  • A request for Mobile blogging from the IRC channel from Angelo.
  • Publish a book
Rebecca on going forward - use the list, wiki, schedule time in the irc channel and post the transcripts.

I really do hope some of these conversations continue - one day felt too short for so many really interesting issues. One thing I'd like to see added to the blog are online presence indicators and callto or talkto buttons using IM and VOIP to better engage in conversations!

11:38:40 PM    comment []  trackback []

Ethan leads this session with the questions - what makes some local blogospheres so vibrant and others not so? What can we do to engage more people with blogging?

Ory Okolloh - shares how the Kenyan Blogosphere has evolved - she says it's first important to support new bloggers by commenting at their blogs and linking to them, create competitions, and build community. They recently got a blogger home which has turned into a community. It's much more than a virtual world, but transcended into a community especially for young Kenyans where they can express what they want, without the fear of judgement.

The Jordanian blogosphere is also vibrant. Roba Al Assi tells us that Jordanplanet.net is a community that aggregates about 50 blogs daily. And they meet once a month - they discuss how they can spread blogging in Jordan, even in schools with outreach programmes. Aman went through a terrible tragedy recently with the bombings. The media is very government controlled - and people were upset by how they were covering it. The bloggers took it upon themselves to go and take pictures, real pictures of what was actually going on in the zone. The blogging was heartfelt and honest.

Bun ThaRum from Cambodia tells us that local media writing about bloggers helped publicise and resulted in people starting blogs. Most blogs are in English because software isn't so ready for Khmer.

Neha on the Indian blogscene - says it took off for two reasons - livejournals were popular, and they transferred to blogs on Blogger. And the tsunamis blogging did take blogging further. The Indian blogworld seems a little insular. Desipundit.com is an aggregation of 'best of' posts from Indian blogs. Everytime there is a controversy like IIPM, there is a wave of fresh bloggers coming in. Also, collaborative blogs are set up because there is passion around specific issues. Competition with the Pakistani blogosphere is alive too - but it didn't take on serious proportions luckily. The personal is political and the political personal. Worries - the Indian blogworld is insular, they don't play in the international arena. One of the things that motivates Indian bloggers seem to be rankings and ratings.

Scoble says, why doesn't technorati rank us on number of outbound links :)

Enda Nasution - in Indonesia - 10 million people using the internet - but it's still a very small percentage of the population. He feels that people need coaching on blogs as a tool, bloggers should be more aware of their surroundings and not just focus on personal lives. Different types of Indonesian blogs - some are personal, some are around technology, some are around media, and bloggers are becoming like media watchdogs.

Iria Puyosa on the Venezuelan blogosphere - the first generation shared a lot on tools and tech. Second generation - becoming more political and focusses on the quality of the conversation, they may not be very tech oriented like the first gen. Worry - they want to change the world, but feel they aren't being listened to. And they have very high expectations that they would get quoted all over the world.

Hoder talks about things that worked in Iran - in the beginning there was low credibility for blogging, and he looked for big names to blog, so they have influence. The other thing was that he wanted to ensure that some of these big blogs list names of all bloggers. Well-known bloggers linked to and supported new bloggers. Like gardening, you plant a seed and take care of it. There are also cultural requirements that place greater value on self-expression and the individual, and blogging works in these conditions.

Sokari Ekine talks of the problems in the Nigerian blogosphere - they haven't been able to create a community like Kenya has. But there is a lot of ethnic diversity and political differences that get in the way. Zimbabwean and Tanzanian blogospheres are small as well.

Some solutions discussed --- special focussed target groups and encourage them to blog, get public figures to blog, get corporates to blog, be passionate and authoritative about what you blog about, be smart with search engines,

Rebecca has been updating the wiki with all the challenges - read them here.

Discussion on IRC channel --- should there be more political and social blogs encouraged, or personal blogs? Initially, they felt that the first and not personal blogs. Also - is there some sense of how the blogosphere can be controlled.

One of the best points made in this session is by a friend of Hoder's - who says sometimes stories about people's personal experiences can be very enlightening to outsiders to learn how people are living. There is a need to to translate these human experiences. Let's focus on real life experiences and not just political blogging. And in the process you will uncover not just the politics, but also the socio-cultural, economic and human themes and preoccupations that emerge. I LIKE THIS THOUGHT!

Another interesting point of discussion - should GV start a series on customised tools and documentation around them.

Also, how do you evangelise blogging off the ground?

Ethan sums up the session --- get beyond the current blogworld through outreach programmes, we have a wide range of strategies that work in different blogworlds like central lists, high profile personalities etc. One of the questions is can GV become the centre and distributor for evangelising blogging.

9:17:09 PM    comment []  trackback []

Tools to continue our conversation globally :

GV05 Brainstorm Wiki

IRC Channel

8:07:08 PM    comment []  trackback []

Tons of pictures of the Summit available at Flickr and a live conference blog where Angelo is doing a marvelous job of transcribing all proceedings via the webcast !

6:55:17 PM    comment []  trackback []

Dean Wright from Reuters sets the tone for the session with the basic thought that mainstream journalists must embrace blogs and engage in conversations like the one we are having here. I then was asked by Rebecca to talk a bit about the Tsunamis and Katrina experience and share learnings around them. Following my experiences, Georgia Popplewell who tracks the Carribean blogosphere talks about media being lazy ... she sees a synergy between bloggers and journalists, and believes that once they realise that blogs can help them do their jobs better, blogs would become more popular and effective. She's one of the few podcasters in the Carribean.
A picture named GV Summit05 018.jpg

Lisa Goldman who blogs from Tel Aviv starts of by saying it's really difficult to have a sane conversation about the middle-east. She gets flamed by hate comments from Palestinian commenters. We shared a room last night and I know Lisa was disturbed by responses to a recent post she had made. Most Israeli bloggers whose native language is Hebrew don't blog about politics. The English language bloggers in Israel take stands and blog about political issues as well. It is a diverse blogosphere - and it can result in cacophony. Her attempt is to 'humanise the other'

Jeff Ooi of the Malaysian blogworld is asked by Rebecca, to what extent he feels he is a journalist, and to what extent a blogger. He says bloggers try and give context to mainstream journalism. When bloggers first made it to the scene, they were despised. There was an onslaught from mainstream media on bloggers who were sharing alternative views on political issues. But it's encouraging to note that perceptions of bloggers have now moved from 'Unrestrained do-gooders' to 'Byword for freedom of expression' (terms traditional media coined!). There is democracy and freedom of speech enshrined in the constitution, yet there is one major challenge, which is there is not absolute freedom of speech - which means we need to have a good sense of judgement and responsibility, in what we blog. Jeff's blog is all about how to migrate Malaysia from a production-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. But things are changing - and one sign - for the first time, the Malaysian government has issued press passes to bloggers for an international conference which will take place soon.

Dean picks up and reiterates the point that Jeff makes on blogs providing a context for diverse voices on issues.

Neha does a quick round-up on journalist-blogger issues in South Asia - she says it's contextual - where mainstream media doesn't do its job - bloggers do it. In the Bangladesh bomb blasts, bloggers took the lead. In Nepal, on the other hand, blogs were supporting mainstream media. In India there is now the emergence of blatant plaigarism by traditional media off blogs. Also, she raises the issue of - do bloggers want to be journalists? (I tend to say I am a blogger, not a journalist).

Rebecca - how do we vouch for the credibility of bloggers? How do we make sure people trust what we are doing? What are the responsibilities of bloggers, with all the added attention? Does this change the way we blog today?

Kevin Anderson from the'BBC World - 'Have Your Say' raises the issue of fusion in media - in newsrooms, in the blogosphere, in the interactions between the two. He issues an open invitation to all of us to work on how we can help each other shape the future of global conversations.

Mary Joyce talks about the strengths of subjectivity - journalism is about someone telling someone's story, whereas blogs tell their own story. The personal voice will always differentiate bloggers from journalists.

Sokari Ekine says bloggers don't have protection from organisations - sometimes if you write about issues within your own blogosphere on controversial issues - you set yourself up for negative responses - and you feel very isolated.

Ory Okolloh talks of the Kenyan blogworld, where there was the case of a journalist who had plaigarised a blogger, and the bloggers relentlessly went after him until they got an apology. Blogging isn't being given the importance it should. But bloggers are filling a role that traditional media isn't - as bloggers are more 'real' , they are less lazy and not corrupt like journalists.

David Sasaki who is the America's editor and has recently attended a course on blogging sees the blogosphere as a conversational space - a cafe. He did go through a phase when he was debating journalist or blogger for himself.

Onnik Krikorian who is a journalist blogger based in Armenia talks about media feeling threatened by blogs and tells a story from Azerbaijan - where he posted a picture on his blog from there, and they sent him a warning because they didn't like the fact that a blog was using their material.

Lots of discussion on how we should be blogging at GV -- should we neutralise our personal viewpoints somewhat? How do you gain trust? Brendon who is a journalist says that while bloggers do this intuitively, it would be great to have a guide around clues to help journalists decide who is genuine or not. (?). Cecile feels that we decide whether we want to trust CNN or Fox or any other newsstreams - so it's the same thing. Dan Gillmor says that transparency solves a lot of problems - it would be great if people understand who the people behind all the posts at GV are.

6:48:49 PM    comment []  trackback []

The summit has started ... after some announcements, Ethan and Rebecca are making a request to get more involved in the GV program, especially in filling out the wiki.

Ethan then takes us through the history of Global Voices Online, which was started just a year ago, and what our goals are for this summit. Where we are today, and where we want to be. Some stats - the blog averages 11,000 visitors a day, a Google rank of 8 which is so impressive. According to Technorati - 1800 weblogs link to GV, at least once. BlogPulse ranks it as the 97th blog in the world. 45000 posts, and around 3000 comments, which indicates that it's a space that is definitely engaging people in conversations.

A picture named GV Summit05 015.jpg

One interesting trend is that increasingly, GV is becoming a resource for journalists when they need information around a specific region - and this has a huge amount of influence. This visibility and dependence on GV brings with it challenges - we must be there to help them out. Expectations are high. We become a part of media. We must be transparent and diverse, and not worry about being "fair and balanced". The big challenge is to figure out how we want to take GV forward.

Regional editors are now telling us what they feel about their roles and what they have gained and learnt. Themes that emerge ... attempts to correct perceptions about what's going on in the world - egs. Middle east and Africa. Also, bring in voices from parts of the world that aren't represented well enough. Getting together face-to-face has also been a great tool to bonding.

A picture named GV Summit05 012.jpg

Some thoughts this brings in - who are we existing for? The community of bloggers? Readers? Who do we want to spend time nurturing through our architecture?

Some more announcements - I like this one - we are planning to take over the London Geek Dinner!

5:14:42 PM    comment []  trackback []