Blogging, Podcasting change lives in Belarus and Uzbekistan
The modern world powered by technology has drastically altered our traditional understanding of what a community is. However, in a shift from physical to the virtual, the term “community” has retained its validity, contrary to the gloomy predictions of doomsayers terrified by the atomization of individuals and the disaggregation of communities that never happened. Instead, many new communities sprung up to take advantage of the wealth of information that became available thanks to the Internet. And although “bowling alone” has often morphed into “blogging alone,” the latter manages to amplify and stimulate a truly global conversation in unprecedented ways.
This new digital revolution has brought even more benefits to already existing communities, which have found new means of recruiting new members and establishing links with other communities. One cannot afford to remain passive anymore; one has to be actively on the lookout for partners, colleagues, etc. I think that the emergence of social bookmarking, for example, has greatly enhanced the intellectual lives of many users, who are now trusting each other’s surfing and browsing choices. Furthermore, I have a lot of examples from my current job, where blogging and podcasting creates a huge difference in the work of the real communities.
Thus, a Transitions Online blogging project that started in Belarus allowed us to work closer with political and human rights activists, who with the help of blogging managed to raise awareness of their activities among their constituents. A similar blogging project affiliated with Transitions Online in Uzbekistan gave voice to activists concerned with women’s issues, who with the help of blogging managed to start a nationwide public debate about gender discrimination in the country. If not for the Internet, this community would have remained silent and certainly unable to speak with a loud, national voice. Raising awareness of certain marginalized communities—like the Roma in Europe—is another priority for us. Having the real Roma blog about the issues they confront in their daily lives offers the world a chance to feel the suffering of this community firsthand. It would be hard to recreate the same depth with writing an article or shooting a documentary.
In my work with Transitions Online, I’m trying to build from scratch, with the help of blogging and podcasting, new online communities around specific issues or countries. At the moment, we are also trying to launch user-driven social content websites, which would extensively rely on online communities to rank the content. For this reason, exchanging know-how with other professionals from this field at the We Media 2007 conference would be extremely important for me.
Director for New Media, Transitions Online (www.tol.cz)
Belarus and the Czech Republic