Online he went as Winston, a sick manifestion of Orwell, the watched now becoming the voyeour. The wolf in a digital sheep’s clothing.
So when I agreed to help blog the 2005GV London Summitt I ended up getting a new blog assigned to me. I don’t exactly feel comfortable with having webspace designated to me, and I not doing anything with it. I am sure that I am not the only person who compartmentalizes their thoughts like I do, I have Turkish Delight for my personal thoughts, Global Voices for the articles I write, Kurdistan Bloggers Union for when I see situations that are so absurd that I am compelled to comment, Extrinsic Synergy for my writing-still in development, the Kurdistan Blog Count-also still in development, and now here….what shall I do with this space?
I am not sure yet how to breathe life into this blog.
So until I figure out the purpose of this blog, I am going to write down here some of my observations about the GV conference.
I was very surprised at how much main stream media presence was at this meeting. I understand that we do get a lot of money from Reuters, but the conference felt like a session of the press stating why bloggers scare the dickens out of them. Knowledge/Information is power, and bloggers chip away at that. I think that GV needs to thread a fine line here, or it would be very easy for them to just get sucked up into the Reuters francise. Not much was spoken about the future as we still seem to be trying to figure out what happened in the past.
Global Voices needs to figure out what they want to be before they start to expand any further…they will lose purpose if they do so. The main question is how do we make Global Voices more global? I see this as an issue involving two specific areas: language and news.
What makes Global Voices so great and innovative is the fact that it is trying to take the voices of other citizens and use those voices to accurately describe what is going on in the world. Unfortuately we are focusing on those that speak English to post about the world that they see. This means we are getting an educated POV, and what we need to be able to access is those groups of people who do not have that ability. There has been a lot of talk about having Global Voices in Spanish, Russian, Arabic, etc. Which is a great idea, but it must come from those regions. Global Voices in English is aimed at educating the west about the rest of the world. Global Voices in Spanish should be aimed at educating the Spanish speaking world about everyone else. Some people find that to be a danger as that would mean a considerable amount of telling people what is going on in the West. And while the happenings in the West dominent Global news to some extent (or so that is the perceived notion, because when I lived in Turkey, we didn’t get a lot of the news about the West unless we were watching the BBC), it is just as unbalanced and biased as the news we in the west see about the rest of the world. Therefore a Global Voices Project based out of different blogospheres is just as needed there as it is in the West. The Blogamundo project, which seeks to create translations of blogs into different languages, would have a good place to start in this environment. If there was a Spanish Global Voices, we would need a Spanish translation of the English GV and an English translation of the Spanish GV. More there we can gradually translate outwards into the different Global Voices Spaces, bit by bit, translating as we expand. That way some of the financial issues behind funding these types of projects can be ironed out. There was a lot of discussion of transparency in funding on the conference, which is something that every non-profit must face. Transparency can only be insured if patience in growth can be established. If anything that I have learned in my NGO management classes and my experience with friends who manage them, if you expand too fast you will implode. I would hate to see that fate befall Global Voices.
The other area of expansion that was discussed in the conference was that of news reporting itself. Talk was made about (especially on the Chat link that they had up) as to what was really important that bloggers were blogging about; some said the political stuff, some said the more personal stuff that you might find. I find value in both. I advocate keeping the weekly weblog roundups that we have, just as they are, because I think that they manage to cover both ends of that spectrum. The posts in general are getting increaseingly longer, so we might want to institute one of those “to see the rest of the article click here” buttons. That way the long posts do not clutter up the site, and we will be able to see statistics on how open people are reading certain posts. If we notice that there is a considerable amount of interest on a particular topic/area that would indicate a place that we might want to expand on, or in the opposite case of lower readership we might want to expand on that to create more interest. Either way, there needs to be some mechanism for that to information to be seen. As to the news… bloggers are not there to replace the news, but to add to it. I would advocate the occasional posting about specific subjects that are generating a lot of news but be sure to report if from the bloggers prescective. Case in point, I am planning on writing a piece about the upcoming Iraqi elections. A lot of Iraqi and Kurdish bloggers have been writing about it, and those points of view need to be extracted and put into one place. Other news articles could supplement material, but the important thing is that the news that gets written on GV should be strictly topic generated from what the bloggers of that area are writting about. Some might ask how this is different than the weekly roundups…to some extent the same information might be copied over…however a specific topic analysis would draw on some of that information but would be able to give it a deeper analysis and context. This would help combine some of the desire to be a more news orintated organization, but not “sell out” our mission.