blogging4. The World Blogging Forum - session 1 - afternoon

Before going through the second meeting, my short impression on what happened so far. I liked especially the presentations of Michael Reuter, Wael Abbas and Andrea Vascellari.

I had a short discussion with Emin Huseynzade from Azerbaijan and I asked him what can be said about the issue of freedom in the Caucasus. He told me of some cases of harassment by the authorities, but I think more important is the emphasis he put on self-censorship. The issue was also raised, in his presentation, by Zhou Shuguang from China.

I am very disappointed by the low participation of the Romanian bloggers. A handful at most (and none very well-known in the Romanian blogosphere) - which is absolutely heartbreaking. Update: I spoke with some of the organizers and they explained me that, from the very beginning, the idea was that only 2 bloggers from Romania ought to be invited to hold speeches. OK, I understand that, but I think I should explain a bit further my disappointment: there are (tens of) thousands of bloggers in Bucharest and very few actually applied for an premium invitation.

14.40 Introductory speech by Mr. Dumitru Bortun. The theme of the session is "E-democracy. Blogs and freedom of expression".

14.47 First presentation, Giorgi Jakhaia from Georgia. He speaks about his blog, written in Russian, which covers problems concerning the city of Sukhumi, and the regions of Abkhazia and Osetia. His aim was to counter-react to Russian propaganda. After some attacks on his blogs, he had to move his blog on a Blogger domain.

After, he speaks about conditions and problems of blogging in countries such as Kazakhstan and Russia, then compares the situation of the blogosphere in these countries with that in Georgia.

14.58 Emin Huseynzade from Azerbaijan. He speaks about internet access and infrastructure in Azerbaijan and - on a larger scale - the countries of the Caucasus, and then he addresses issues concerning freedom of speech and online access to information. The first time when bloggers understood their power was when a terrorist act took place (for the very first time) in Azerbaijan. Other blogs spoke of corruption in the universities. Some blogs are banned (in the case of Armenia, 2 blogs).

The price of internet access is very high in the countries of the Caucasus. During the Georgian-Russian war of 2008 sites from Azerbaijan were also attacked, because they provided information in Russian. Buying domain names starting with a certain letter was also, in some cases, forbidden.

15.11 Parvana Persiyani, also from Azerbaijan. She is not a blogger, but she wants to present the case of two bloggers of Azerbaijan (Adnan Hajizada and Emin Mili), who were recently beaten in a restaurant in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, and then accused of hooliganism and trialed, because they uploaded a film on the internet criticizing the fact that some donkeys were bought from Germany with 41,000 euros each by, as I understand, Azerbaijan officials, using public funds. The next term of their trial is tomorrow, so their case is in progress at this very moment. A video concerning their case is presented.

15.32 Luca Sartoni from Italy speaks, in a few words, about digital identity and how companies should address topics such as freedom of speech (in this case, the issue of criticizing companies).

15.43 Coffee break.

16.28 Start of the second part of the afternoon session. Introduction by Mr. Dumitru Bortun, on media agenda vs. public agenda. The question is if public agenda generates media agenda, or viceversa.

16.32 Mihaela Onofrei, a Romanian journalist active mostly (but not only) as a correspondent in Transdniestria, speaks about her experience as journalist in a secessionist area during the '90s and during the last decade, but also about stereotypes about the region and recent changes. As a comment to the presentation, Mr. Dumitru Bortun makes a short history of the secessionist region and discusses the ethnic and the social aspects of Transdniestria, such as the rejection of the market economy by the relative majority of the population of the region.

16.52 Petru Terguta, a journalist from the Republic of Moldova. First of all, he states that the language of his speech is Romanian, not Moldovan.

Blogging in the Republic of Moldova is an alternative to official media. A problem is that a majority of the blogs in the republic have an emphasis on political and national topics, keeping a national paradigm. He speaks of a competition between journalists and bloggers and mentions the initiative of some Moldovan bloggers - www.privesc.eu - which has a bigger success than many TV stations active in the Republic. He also mentions the false freedom of expression as an actual issue in the Republic of Moldova - mainly a result of the action of the former Communist power - and the division created by language or political orientation.

The journalist counts the problems Unimedia had with the former government in late 2008 and early 2009, culminating with the events which took place in april 2009. He mentions the role of the alternative medias, like Twitter or Odnoklasniki.ru. Then, he adresses the question of the (low) monetization of the Moldovan blogosphere.

In the end, some allusions are made about the Moldovan bloggers in Romania, mention being made of Stela Popa or Vitalie Cojocari. Then, Petru Terguta complains about the low culture of blogging in the Republic of Moldova and the similarity of topics treated.

A very good presentation, really.

17.10 - comments - Malina Paun (a.k.a. www.newdada.wordpress.com) asks about the blog of InConstantin, blogger from the Republic of Moldova established in Romania, who enjoys a (very) good image among Romanian internet users. Other bloggers worth mentioning in the Republic of Moldova, in Petru Terguta's view (excepting Stela Popa, who is widely known): Soacra Mica and ceziceu.

17.15 Onnik Krikorian from Armenia speaks about blogging in this country, internet penetration and dis-/misinformation on the Armenian blogs. He calls for empowering people. He speaks of Azerbaijan blog on a high note and demands for attention on the Georgian blogosphere.

17.25 Mr. Dumitru Bortun makes a synthesis and asks for the possibility of a joint declaration in favor of bloggers who face trials and jail because of their run for freedom.

17.28 Pedja Puselja
from Serbia speaks - in French - about blogging issues in Serbia. He emphasizes a lack of a blogging and democratic culture.

17.35 Ritchie Pettauer from Austria speaks - in a few words - about the results of blogging and the need for international coverage as guest posting on blogs - an idea similar, as I understand, to that of Michael Reuter.

17.39 Helge Fahmberger of Austria speaks about the cease and desist letters and their effect on discouraging freedom of expression on blogs. Michael Reuter brings some German examples. The discussion moves then to the fact that in most cases these letters are not made public because the authors of the letters ask for this.

17.51. End of the session. The next one, tomorrow, starting at 9.00 am Bucharest time.

Keep in touch, everyone. Have a good evening.


nd said...

Well done!

stranum53 said...

@Nadia Dincovici:

cum şi dumneavoastră şi eu suntem vorbitori de limbă română, nu este necesar să comunicăm într-o limbă străină, chiar dacă e folosită pe acest blog.

am vizitat blogul dumneavoastră şi sunt plăcut surprins de el. îl veţi găsi şi în blogroll la mine, din acest moment.

vă mulţumesc frumos pentru comentariu :)

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