December 26, 2009

Global Voices Turns Five

One of my favorite places in the Internet Global Voices has turned five years this month. It was incubated and launched five years ago at the Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Read Rebecca MacKinnon and David Sasaki's posts to learn how all this happened.

I am writing for Global Voices for about four and a half years. In my early blogging years I was interested about other blogs in Bangladesh and some from the neighboring countries and would write about them. My blog was being linked by Global Voices and I was approached to write for Global Voices. My first post in Global Voices  was published on July 23, 2005 which was about a Bangladeshi-Canadian girl talking about arranged marriage. Soon I started writing regional roundups and last year I took over as the Regional Editor for South Asia. These years have been a revolution for me which changed the course of my life.

Now lets discuss why writing for Global Voices is important and why I find it as an activism rather than some mundane routine. Global Voices co-founder Ethan Zuckerman wrote:

People pay attention to subjects they care about. They tend to ignore subjects they know little about. Media, trying to serve its customers in a free market, responds by giving them more information on subjects they’ve demonstrated an interest in and ignoring other subjects.

So he emphasizes that the bloggers fill the voids of the uncovered parts and the bridge bloggers (who contextualize conversations, issues, and debates from one community and share them with another) have the responsibility to bring them forward. Global Voices has been the platform for the bridge bloggers across the world talking about blogs from every corners in the world, translating from and in multiple languages. It would be an interesting research to learn how the communities have used this platform.

What impact GV has made on Bangladeshi blogosphere? Remember the days when blogger-journalist Tasneem Khalil was arrested we were able to share the news to the world within a couple of hours? We informed about the news like YouTube ban, Ban on Tibet exhibition in Dhaka to the world, some instantaneously, some after verification of facts. We have reported how Bloggers exposed the fake Tajmahal scam. We shared what expatriates are talking about Bangladesh or Bangladeshis. Almost each day we link to interesting blogposts of bloggers (thus introducing more and more new bloggers). Check the Bangladesh feeds for our coverage.

Jillian C. York writes about the role of Global Voices:

In my own, the Moroccan blogosphere, there are times when GV breaks a story–however “small” the story might seem–which leads to Moroccan activists and bloggers getting interviewed by U.S. and international media.  We spread stories.  We spread words.

Global Voices has also helped the diaspora to connect back to their own country. Milton Ramirez writes:

As a result of living in the U.S. I could not let out our ancestral roots. Global Voices has served not only to make us better and more informed about Ecuador, but has allowed us to establish fraternal ties with Ecuadorians over there in the half the world.

Now I would like to emphasize on the contributions of the authors of Global Voices. Global Voices is now what it is because of its wonderful authors across the world. I know that writing for GV is for most them a labor of love and they look for finer things. Most of the authors are the very best among their own blogosphere and some of them are almost celebrities. I am proud to say the Iraqi blogger Salam Pax, whom I saw as an idol in my early blogging days is part of this very big family. The Global Voices summit resembles that of a mini UN summit and it is really wonderful to meet all these wonderful individuals.

But I feel that we have not been able to achieve our mission as we need to do more. David says that we are only 10% there and still there are miles to go. We need to engage more authors to cover more areas of blogospheres.We need to highlight more about different cultures, different literature, different religions, different communities.

More than often bloggers want popularity and they want a scratch in the back for whatever they do. They forget that a part of their social responsibility is the activism, to do something with their blogging space. They need to understand the difference between wasting time on social networking and creating their own activism with the power of social networking. They can play a role as an author for GV by transcending from the confined community and crossing borders. The important thing is to engage in global conversations, connect the local blogosphere with the world.

The achievement of Global Voices has been multiple. Apart from agggregating and curating global voices, it has broken down the language barriers with GV Lingua, extended support for newer voices in the underrepresented communities with its outreach arm Rising Voices, defended freedom of speech and helped the bloggers in danger with GV Advocacy and Threatened Voices.

For more reflections on Global Voices please check this special coverage page. Fellow GVer Vadim Isakov sums the achievement of Global Voices in these few sentences:

The world is talking and it has a lot of very important things to say. It's comforting to know that we have a global space where people who do not even speak the same language can become closer through their narratives. It is refreshing to see that geographical, social and economic borders shatter when people are willing to come together to make the world a better place.


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