BloggerConII: International Session with Rebecca McKinnon
This, too, was a well attended session. There were only about two non-Americans there in meatspace, but several Chinese and Iranian bloggers were on IRC.
The discussion leader has written up her notes from the session on her blog
Others have also done write-ups, too, so I'll just add my notes and views.
It seems at least superficially that blogs would be a good way to find little-reported information on developing countries; however, Ethan Zuckerman's research
shows that the countries that are well covered in the western media are exactly the countries that are well covered the the blogosphere; that is, blogs are no better at covering Africa, Asia, etc., than CNN is. The thought is that Americans are the largest group blogging, and we don't care about these countries (not true, but perhaps the perception). How do we, in this room, get more coverage of these countries?
A successful example of a LDC blogging is Iran. This can be directly linked back to one expat in Toronto who translated instructions for blogging into the local language and made it possible. We were cautioned that the Iranian phenomenon cannot be extrapolated to China or African countries. In Ghana, for example, the political discourse is mainly on Talk Radio which is ephemeral. Transcripts are not kept or put on the internet. How do we fix this? How do we connect Talk Radio with blogs? In Asia, text messaging is key. There are tools to text message blog entries, but how do Americans who don't read Chinese, etc., use these resources?
I still believe that we need to go to the local public libraries in areas where there are large immigrant communities (Dearborn, MI; Alexandria, VA) and conduct training for the immigrants. These people use the internet to keep in touch with the situation in their native country. If we get a couple of bloggers from each session, and they talk to their friends about it, we could start a movement. I believe this would be a lot more successful than each of us adopting a country, because we still will not have access to more information than we can get using the western media-- especially if we don't speak and of the languages of the country.