Blogging Citizen Media WeMedia 2008

Supporting the Othersphere

The GV Summit is amazing for a number of reasons – the connections we make, the names put to faces, and of course, the sessions. Session 3 today, “When Biases Meet Biases,” China was the hot topic – namely, Tibet and the difference of opinion between the Western media and Chinese media of all forms, and bloggers from different countries. It was said that the West doesn’t quite grasp why Chinese are upset about the protests, and that Chinese see Tibet as simply part of China. Claire Ulrich gave a similar example from another part of the world; how, despite the fact that the fighting over hijab in French public buildings has slowed, it’s still discussed intensely and heatedly within much of the Muslim and Arab blogospheres.

The concept being addressed was the fact that blogging and participatory media are great tools for communication between such different populations. More importantly, it was said that lesser-known opinions, countries, blogospheres, blogs and what have you (in other words, alternative ideas), will not feel heard unless those of us in a position to do so link and promote them. During the session, Rebecca MacKinnon said:

Attention equals support in many cases; for people who are saying something that’s not quite mainstream, just getting a link from other people and having the awareness that other people are paying attention and that your opinion counts really encourages you to get talking

I truly believe this, and Rebecca has inspired me to put into practice, more than I have been doing. When I started with Global Voices in April of 2006, I began reading more of the “othersphere” – in other words, blogs from countries of which I didn’t have much knowledge. At the time, I’d lived in Morocco for a little under a year and had begun reading Moroccan blogs in French and Arabic; it was true then and still is that much of my knowledge of Moroccan current events and pop culture comes from the blogoma (Moroccan blogosphere). I therefore figured that, to learn about the rest of the world, why not start with blogs? I suppose that’s what Global Voices is really all about.

And so, although I read as much of the international blogosphere as I can find time to do, I would now like to take it one step further – and encourage you to do so as well – and make the extra effort to link to those blogs, to promote those blogs, and to tweet those blogs.

To start this effort, I am proud to share with you the blog of Cristina Quisbert, a member of Rising Voices and Voces Bolivianas and now, I’m glad to say, a friend as well. Cristina is from Bolivia and part of the Aymara, an indigenous group. I met her at WeMedia Miami 2008 in February, and was pleased to discover how fluent her English was (that’s of note because apparently even the people who’d known her for a year had no idea that she spoke it!) She said today, during session 1, that her experiences at WeMedia inspired her to blog in English, as well as Spanish and Aymara. Her English blog shares a title with her other one: Indigenous Bolivia. Check it out – Cristina blogs about everything from music to local artisans to her life in Bolivia and paints an incredible picture with each post.

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