One of the reasons why I think online publishing and networking are so important is because they enable you to have a voice.
Unlike 'traditional' publishing, the intermediarties are kept to a minimum and a message or platform's audience is not limited to a multiple or dividend of the number of physical copies printed. In online publishing, the 'impact' and reach of a message often depends on how the platforms are used and how much work and time is dedicated to actually ensuring the content reaches the participants 'formerly known as the audience'.
As a bilingual native Spanish speaker from Mexico who is fluent in web publishing, I am hyper-aware that the 'World Wide Web' is a highly compartamentalised, fragmented network of networks where instead of global reach and integration it's sectarism and hyperlocalism what prevails. In spite of the undoubtedly 'democratic' possibilities granted by Internet access, mainstream information flow is still dominated by the elites of the developed world and multinational corporations (often mass media empires).
It might be my awareness of postcolonial theory what informs my decision to write in both English and Spanish and to seek to 'intervene', to 'tag' mainstream networks with information coming from different places. As a Mexican in the UK I live a double reality of different orders, importantly defined by language, culture and time zones. This means that my political and ideological life (my life as a citizen) has at least two specific areas of interest, which expand to the rest of the world. The 'World Wide Web' simply enhances, to an often-overwhelming level, the sense that this is not only possible, but desirable.
This is why one of the online projects I like the most is Global Voices. It is an ambitious project that remains incredibly human, and its success lies in a strong core of well-defined guidelines and in the selective curatorial and editorial work of a large network of highly-motivated and skilled individuals around the world.
Around a year ago I started a citizen engagement project I called #SinLugar ('Without a place'). It was both a real-time online symposium and a platform involving different off-the-shelf web services. I wrote a summary of it in English, and there I said that
One of the conclusions of the discussion was that Twitter and online citizen media in Mexico is still trying to make sense of how to transform online content into concrete actions in the offline world.
The creation of social engagement and awareness of what requires urgent action in the Mexican context required that #SinLugar was also a meta-event, promoting its very own existence/presence as an online work-in-progress through tweets and retweets. “Re-tweets” (or RTs) may seem “repetitive” and unnecessary, informational noise, but the synchronous/asynchronous nature of Twitter means that messages are picked up at different times by different people in different contexts. Hence their relevance when creating awareness is key.
And so it happens that just when I was remembering that this all had happened a year ago, Juan Arellano, a Peruvian blogger and Global Voices en Español editor, suggested a "blog festival" focused on Mexico, which he called "Festival de blogs: México – Ciudadanía, violencia y blogs". This was an excellent excuse for me to relaunch the #SinLugar blog, and we will be posting for the length of the event, and hopefully more or less frequently as well for some time after that. We will also be tweeting and retweeting using the hashtag #vocesmx.
We were born listening that all men and women were created equal, but sadly as the famous saying has it we grow up to find out that some men and women are "more equal than others". That means that though web publishing and microblogging might be leveling the playing ground, making the terrain more horizontal, democratising access, etc., some voices are heard more than others.
My country is wounded by years of corruption and symbolic and direct violence. Blogging about it will not necessarily "solve" anything per se. It is not likely to cause any 'revolutions'. But blogging and microblogging can help dis-locate discussions, open debates up, intervene networks previously unaware of certain topics and approaches. Democracy is not simply guaranteed by access to channels of communication; the 21st century has more subtle ways of silencing the Other by allowing everyone to shout. But maybe blogging can at least function as type of 'talking cure', and it might even help create more empathy and solidarity amongst caring individuals from different countries.
Thank you for reading.