This song is dedicated to the beginning of a new week. From 1967, Joni Mitchell - Song to a seagull.

I'll come later with the story on Veliko Tarnovo. It was exhaustingly wonderful.



week'toriAl39. Presidential elections in Romania

The first round of our presidential elections took place yesterday. Preliminary results indicate that the actual President of Romania, Mr. Traian Băsescu, has won the round, obtaining 32 % of the votes, followed by the socialist candidate, Mr. Mircea Geoană, with 30 % of the votes, and by the liberal candidate, Mr. Crin Antonescu, who obtained a decent 22 %. Also, the referendum concerning the reform of the Romanian parliament (one chamber instead of two, and 300 members of the parliament instead of 471) was, most probably, validated, as more than 50% of the citizens expressed their position about its reform.

The good news about this round was the high participation of the citizens to the elections, with estimates varying from 53 to 55 % of Romanians who voted. Definitely a change for the better, when compared to a participation of less than 30% no more than a year ago, for the European parliamentary elections, or when compared with the predictions - which spoke of a no more than 45 % participation. It means that people DO care about what happens to this country, and actually this is the best thing happening in Romania for a long time.

The question is now who will get through the second round as winner. None of the two candidates is perfect. Mr. Băsescu comes after five years of continuous conflicts, and people are disappointed by how he promoted his family to important positions. I don't know how natural it is for a westerner to see the daughter of the President becoming a member of the European parliament, but for me this was definitely a bad, a very bad and truly disappointing move. Not to mention that ordinary people do NOT actually live (much) better now than in 2004.

Now, the problem is that his contender (or what his contender represents) is, in my view, even worse. It is sadly ironic how Mr. Geoană, our former ambassador to Washington some 10 years ago, went in a private visit to Moscow in April this year (visit which he kept secret, of course), demanding Russian support for his election as President of Romania. So, my question: how can we possibly vote for a candidate who proves himself to be dependent of the support of a foreign power? How credible would Romania be, as a member of NATO and the EU, with such a politician as its head of state?

However, this is not my main concern, nor the reason for which I shall (reluctantly) vote for Mr. Băsescu on the second round. Some may have forgotten, but one of the most important issues five years ago in Romania (ruled, then, by the very same party which now proposes Mr. Geoană as candidate for presidency) was freedom. Freedom of the press, to be more precise. Freedom to criticize the government without the concern of being charged for hooliganism or imprisoned for alleged defamation of an official. Do we really want to come back to such a situation? I mean, the picture of what our entire press could be reduced to - in a matter of months - lies right in front of our eyes, as journalists from some of the most important Romanian media trusts have virtually no editorial freedom on political matters.

I, honestly, do prefer a situation of continuous conflict (like that from 2004 to 2009) to a situation where I have to be careful about what position I take (like the situation from 2000 to 2004).

Just my two cents.



Tuesday at noon I'll be leaving for Veliko Tarnovo.

I already entered a state of anxiety and I'm thinking of the last details, although objective reasons for this are sort of lacking - Veliko Tarnovo is only about 200 km from Bucharest (something like Brasov, to give an example) and actually I went abroad more than a dozen times - but still, it is only the second time that I go abroad alone, and I think anxiety, in this case, is good.

My presentation is almost completed, but there still is some amount of work to be done. And this is a reason for me being awake at this hour (2.19 am in Bucharest) - I could not sleep, so I said I could use this nightly hours for a bit of work.

You know, after a good deal of traveling abroad, I got to a point where I decided that, while abroad, I would only listen to Romanian music. I know that listening music from your own country while abroad is exactly the opposite to the idea of getting into the atmosphere of the place you are visiting. Still, I found it necessary. Part of my decision came from trying to assume and represent my cultural identity in front of strangers, but also for personal reasons and needs. Might be foolish. Just that I believe in cultural diplomacy, including on a personal level.

The video below might be a sample. Enjoy.

PS. Before leaving I shall write - I hope - the post I promised on the WBF (it is a work in progress...). I'll have my mobile connection with me, so I guess I'll try to update daily on the nice and interesting things happening there.


blogging6. The World Blogging Forum - session 2 - afternoon

The afternoon session is about Online journalism.

14.41 Introduction by Petrisor Obae (Pagina de media).

14.42 Onnik Krikorian speaks about the two bloggers from Azerbaijan who have just been sentenced to two years, and two and a half years in prison respectively, and about the subject of censorship. He feels that the draft declaration concerning their case is not strong enough.

14.47 David Sasaki from the USA speaks about the 185 bloggers under arrest around the world (search Threatened Voices), then speaks of responsibility of bloggers. He thinks that everything we publish on blogs and social medias is because of self-interest. He also believes that, yesterday, Romanian bloggers lost a wonderful occasion to ask president Basescu about sensitive issues, knowing that presidential elections are just around the corner. Well, this brings us again to the issue of the participation of Romanian bloggers at this event.

15.09 Jeff Jedras speaks about credibility and the need for standards in blogging.

15.29 Jakub Gornicki addresses social media and its development in Poland. His most recent project is a live video talk-show.

15.39 Dvorit Shargal speaks about her blogging experience and her blog, Velvet Underground. She believes the success of her blog is a result of two reasons: the initial anonymity of the blog and the fact that journalists like to get feedback.

15.53 Erkan Saka from Turkey addresses the issue of online journalism in Turkey: Youtube is banned in the country (as are a good number of sites and blogs), and freedom of online expression can be improved. Erkan Saka is, almost, the only blogger from Turkey speaking about Turkish political issues in English.


The second part of the afternoon session concerns The influence of blogs upon civil society. It is a short session, taking merely an hour.

Jakub Gornicki brings up a Polish case of assistance for a girl in need for an expensive surgery. In order to help, a match between Polish bloggers and artists, with fund-raising purposes, was organized. She got to the surgery (70% of the funds raised via online activism) and is healed.

Helge Fahrnberger speaks about the activism of Austrian students and their lack of satisfaction concerning the Bologna process. He mentions their site www.unsereuni.at and the model of organization of the students. He also raised the question of difference between online and real support (which is much lower, unfortunately), and I think this is an important issue.

Next, Giovanni Rugerri describes his activity in support of Father Zosim Oancea and the museum of icons on glass organized in Sibiel, containing 600 icons. Go see the website of the museum, it is a must-see and I added it on my blogroll. I really enjoyed this presentation, the more for the fact that Giovanni Rugerri addressed his speech in Romanian.

Also, presentations of Onnik Krikorian (he mentions a conference in Yerevan about social media and social change, to be held in april 2010) and Ramon Stopellenburg. The internet connection and the power source felled down, which is the first and the only bad thing of the event. I am happy that I don't depend on the wi-fi here, but on my own mobile connection.

World Blogging Constitution & Declaration of support for detained bloggers all over the world

In the very end of the Forum, a debate on the drafts of the documents proposed by the organizers. The space created for their popularization and editing is here, and anyone can come with suggestions and ideas, so my invitation for you is to go there and have you say. Because this is what, in my opinion, would determine the success of the Forum: if bloggers will consider these documents seriously and make them count.

On a personal key, I want to apologize for getting low with the live blogging in the afternoon session, as I became more and more tired after two days of such high intensity. My congratulations and reconnaissance to the organizers, for the possibility granted - to take part directly to this event. The organization was above my highest expectations, so a big thank you goes to ASLS and Miss Mihaela Draghici personally.

There are still some very interesting things I have to write about regarding my participation to this Forum, so stay close for my conclusions.

blogging5. The World Blogging Forum - session 2 - morning

Good morning, everyone. This session is about the future of blogging.

I arrived here as Loic LeMeur was holding his speech, so I did not open the laptop. I noted my observations on paper and shall include them progressively during the second part of the morning session.

09.30 Loic LeMeur spoke about a variety of topics. What kept up my attention was the discussion concerning Facebook versus Twitter, the first being private and the second public. Under the pressure, the first reacted and became public too. Another subject was e-commerce. If I understood well, the idea was that all the applications which became popular did so because of the commerce.

Loic LeMeur also spoke about Twitter and how could it be used. For instance, talking to a restaurant by Twitter; on a lower key he believes dating won't work on Twitter. About what is to follow, he thinks Google won't buy Twitter. For monetization on Twitter, more and better applications are necessary. On a different level - answering to a question of Petru Terguta - Loic LeMeur does not think that an application similar to Google Translate would work on Twitter.

The main idea of his presentation is that, the more we share, the more we get.

Some tips he gave, for a situation where you have ~ 20 followers on Twitter and you want to change it: dont't be scared. Don't think, just share. Failure is OK. Don't overpromote yourself. Don't be too rushed, it can take a long time. Twit in English (the best way to promote yourself on Twitter).

10.00 Matthias Lufkens (he is German, representing Switzerland) does not consider himself a blogger. He describes the social media relations of the World Economic Forum in Davos. His idea is that you have to be on all the media, you have to be everywhere. Also, we should share on Twitter/Facebook and he recommends Creative Commons - a new way to share contents. Also, mention is made about sharing by live-stream and video-blogging.

About companies and Twitter, Matthias Lufkens believes it is vital that companies have an Twitter account, but it has to be personalised and it cannot be outsourced to the PR department. As well as citizen journalism, there is a CEO journalism.

10.30 Dario Gallo from Argentina brings three bad news about blogging:

1. blogs won't bring money;
2. governments will use blogs for political interests;
3. social networks will make blogs have less success. The more popular gets Twitter, the less is blogging.

Then, he speaks about blogging in South America. Bloggers are payed by governments, in certain cases, to attack other bloggers. Writing a blog is like writing a tango - you have to suffer. Blogs are fundamental because they help people open their eyes. It is more important that blogs defend liberty, than gain money - this should be the objective of the mass-media.

Question about Yoanni Sanchez (Generation Y), the recent developments of her case, and blogging in Cuba. Remember, there is a link to her blog in my blogroll.

11.00 Eric Dupin from France has a dense presentation about product design and online marketing.


11.36 Ritchie Pettauer speaks of the future of blogging and of the monetization of blogs. The problem is that if you want to monetize, you should know what the readers want, and that is quite the opposite of blogging. Another fact is that the only way to monetize is increasingly by the content, not by banners, for instance. Monetizing a blog is a very experimental process.

11.59 The moderator of the session - professor Dorina Gutu - reads the draft of the declaration of support for the bloggers trialed today in Azerbaijan.

12.01 Emin Huseynzade announces that the two bloggers - Adnan and Emin - were sentenced a few minutes ago. He continues speaking about how blogging should evolve (towards a more colloquial form), tagging and mobile blogging.

12.09 Ramon Stoppelenburg thinks sharing income with your readers might be a good development. On a personal level, we should include more people on a blog, because it strengthens blogs.

12.15 Luca Sartoni speaks about reputation and about the fact that being online is much more important than your reputation.... Reputation is connected with participation, which can be achieved by sharing. Give back value.

12.26 Pedja Puselja speaks about microblogging and social media as the future of blogging. However, Blogger keeps being important. In Serbia and Croatia there are about 5 million internet users.

12.37 Andrea Vascellari thinks future cannot be predicted properly. He discusses (personal) branding and new advertisement methods, with emphasis on honesty, transparency and being human.

Comments and discussion about the importance of visual images and the topic of not being perfect on blogs.

13.06 Lunch break.


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.

blogging3. The World Blogging Forum - session 1

09.30 OK, here I am, I arrived and installed my hardware, and I hope my mobile connection shall not cause any trouble. I took the first contact with the Parliament's Palace, like an hour ago, and I had the same feeling of amazement and being-crushed-like by the absolute hugeness of the building as the last time I visited it, last year. My impression still is that this Palace is so huge that is is not quite functional. I had to walk like 10 minutes to find the coffee shop. [Update 11.00: so far, I like the organization of the event. Minor, if any, inconveniences. The organizers even brought a string quartet for the coffee break.]

Some of the big names arrived and I feel just like a rookie among them.

09.37 The Romanian President, Traian Basescu, came. The event started.

09.38 Welcoming speech by Mr. Dumitru Bortun. Next, the Romanian President holds the first speech on the subject of the Forum, in Romanian.

The President speaks about the new communication medias, then about the Romanian blogosphere. The number he gives is 100,000 blogs in Romania, with about half of them using publicity. A big part of the Romanian blogs discuss political subjects, many of them with a very good analysis. That because - the President says - many journalist prefer to discuss political matters independently on a blog, rather than submitting their work to media holdings and to their control. The President did not miss the opportunity to attack media holdings and their owners, thus praising the independence the internet provides.

Next, the President speaks about the question of freedom of expression on the internet and the recent virtual wars in Estonia and Georgia, as well as the mini-revolution in Chisinau.

In conclusion - the President says - as well as liberty, responsibility is an important issue on the internet, both being essential to the functioning of the new medias. You cannot ask for responsibility without freedom, you cannot speak of freedom without responsibility. The main concept the president wants to propose is self-regulation. Also, a few words on technology - it should not be used as a mean for surveillance.

In the very end, the President speaks against violence on the internet, demanding for the establishing of a set of rules by the bloggers themselves.

10.00 Speech of Mr. Daniel Buda, president of the Juridical Commission of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies. He speaks of the freedom of expression and pluralism, and wishes the best to the Forum.

10.05 Speech of Mr. Gabriel Badescu, president of the Romanian Agency for Governmental Strategies. His speech concerns civic associations, civic involvement and democracy, transition and how Romania evolved, stating that differences on this matter still persist between Romania and the West. He also wishes the best to the Forum.

10.10 Short welcoming speech of Miss Mihaela Draghici, president of ASLS, the organizer of the Forum.

10.11 Speech of Mr. Loic LeMeur, blogger and entrepreneur.

He speaks about his work, the companies he created (Seesmic) or the events (LeWeb, Paris). Then, Loic LeMeur speaks about the steps communication took throughout history: telephone, telegraph, cinema and TV, and finally the internet (for the very first time there is a possibility of both conversational and mass communication at the same time). Professional media has lost its dominant position, for the very simple reason that there are more bloggers than journalists, and for the fact that information is transmitted faster on Twitter, for instance, than on the classic medias. Then, speaking of recent news (the shooting in Texas), Loic LeMeur calls for responsibility and respect of privacy. Information should, too, be treated with care.

About blogging, on a lower key: it is complicated, intensive, takes a lot of time; also, in politics and enterprise blogging mostly failed because it is not authentic.

(Short) Conclusion of Loic LeMeur: anyone should build a community and a brand online.

10.30 Break

11.00 The break is over.

11.05 From China, Zhou Shuguang, in English. His presentation is called "Across the Great (Fire) Wall". Some of the slides are in Chinese, and thus they are more difficult to understand.

He speaks about the status of the digital media and censorship in China. Numbers: 340,000,000 internet users, 40,000 internet "policemen", 500,000 websites, 80 people in jail for the last year.

He speaks about URL filtering, self-censorship (IP blocking), the control of mainland hosting and the blocking of the overseas independent sites. For instance, Chinese from the mainland cannot acces overseas Chinese sites. Some overseas hosting IPs are blocked in China, and some popular Web2.0 sites are also blocked.

In order to access news from China, proxies are necessary, but also normal methods, like RSS, which is very important, since Twitter for instance is blocked.

11.20 Questions, one concerning Google search and the other concerning the Chinese Twitter and the freedom of use on it. The third question is a demand for an example of problems that can determine the blocking of a Chinese blog by the Chinese authorities. The answer of Zhou Shuguang is that most of the social problems can determine that measure.

11.30 Wael Abbas from Egypt. He begins by saying that he cannot hold a proper presentation, since it is impossible to bring a laptop or electronic devices over the Egyptian border as an independent blogger.

The Egyptian media is controlled tightly by the State. Access to the Journalists' Syndicate is difficult. At times, papers are delayed in the printing process, sometimes the videotapes are confiscated from TV stations, some papers are closed. So, there is a need for a new media in Egypt, since the internet is less controlled.

Wael Abbas speaks about blogging in Egypt, its advantages (like interactivity and independence, including financial independence), about the fact that the Egyptian printed press, at a time, took materials from the blogs without concern for the rights, the fact that the Egyptian bloggers imposed to the media important subjects (such as torture, sexual harassment, discrimination towards minorities). One Egyptian blogger was condemned to 4 years in jail, others were character-assassinated (including Wael Abbas), some bloggers were arrested for 2 months for participation in different events.

As a conclusion, Wael Abbas thinks that recent crackdown on Egyptian bloggers is not a reason for optimism, but at the same time, the impact of Egyptian blogs upon the society is not to be neglected, as Egyptians are better informed about their rights and some changes are visible exactly because of the activity of the Egyptian bloggers.

11.55 The moderator concludes: a case of false freedom of expression was made clear by the presentation of Wael Abbas. A question concerning the Egyptian NGOs.

12.05 Jeff Jedras speaks about blogging in Canada. He gives a description of the Canadian trends in the blogosphere, about some challenges (transparency issues, some conflicts with the press).

12.13 a question about Facebook (it is very popular in Canada), coming from David Sasaki - could this popularity be a reason for a lower extent of blogging? / another question about activism in Canada. Jeff Jedras speaks about the question of visas - demanded now - for Mexico and Romania.

12.21 Michael Reuter from Germany (Munich) speaks about blogging in Germany. One issue is about the small reach that most of the blogs still have, and thus about the need for aggregation platforms with specific content.

Three ideas:

1. we should have in freer countries platforms with content about situation in non-democratic countries;
2. we should try to aggregate content on platforms, to have bigger platforms with more reach;
3. (political) bloggers should be able to monetize from their blogs, so that they have the possibility to live from their blog and thus to be protected from external pressure (example: The Huffington Post).

12.31 questions: about credibility of monetized blogs addressing political issues.

12.36 Ramon Stoppelenburg from The Netherlands speaks about his experience with monetization for specific travel purposes and his website - www.letmestayforaday.com. That gave him the possibility to visit 18 countries without spending any money at all, to communicate with people from different cultures. His idea is that the more we share, the more we understand each other.

12.46 questions / a comment about a Romanian blogger visiting Mongolia in a similar way (www.mongolia.ro).

12.52 Mattias Dobo from Hungary speaks about social media in Hungary. The question he raises is about how to get attention, because much information is actually lost and freedom of speech does not mean very much anymore. He thinks blogs can get better attention by addressing business matters primarily, and that - now - bloggers are too small to act for themselves, so specific applications are needed.


13.14 Andrea Vascellari from Finland asks the word. He speaks about citizen journalism and a personal recent experience he had (concerning a shooting in a public school), and also about the ethical aspects of being a citizen journalism (he refused for instance to interview people affected by that situation, and mainly to do anything else than reporting on the situation).

13.34 Lunch break. For the afternoon session, I shall begin a new post.


Good morning everyone.

Do not forget that in less than three hours from now the first ever live-blogging marathon session (as it will last almost two days) will begin on this blog, so keep an eye around.

20 years ago, the Berlin wall felled down. It was the event that marked the liberation of Central and Eastern Europe, and the whole world could see it. Now, there are problems in other parts of the world that are supposed to be taken care of, and if I speak about it, it is because my feeling is that these two days of gatherings, debates and meetings in the very core of Bucharest have the primary mission to connect blogging with freedom.

Well, see you there :)




5:58 am in Bucharest; a white night behind me. And, I hope, a beautiful day ahead.

As some, many, or most of you might know, next week the capital of Romania will host an event which, for the blogging world, is ambitious, should be quite interesting and, hopefully, it will prove to be important. For, ladies and gentlemen, from November 9th to November 12th, the first edition of the World Blogging Forum will be held in this dreadful city; yours truly will attend to the debates and will live-blog here for the very first time.

I must say that I am eager to attend, and impatient, since A list bloggers from + 30 countries will be here as well (at least they were invited) and will have their say on the topics proposed. Speaking of topics, they include establishing principles of the citizen journalism or of the freedom of expression on the internet. I am especially interested in the next discussion themes (and I quote from the official site):

- Blogs & citizen journalism – global trends;
- The influence of blogs on the civil society;
- Freedom to differ – ideas worth fighting for;
- The future for blogging – what’s next?;
- Science blogging and sharing ideas.

For more details, click on the (most recently added) banner on the left of the page.

I think, this event should help the Romanian blogosphere overcome its isolation. Of course, Romanian bloggers and internauts read foreign blogs, but openness is not the main key of most of the blogs in Romanian. I never had the curiosity of studying the entire list of blogs on zelist (it would be an Sisyphean effort), but at a guess, less than 5 % of the ~ 35,000 blogs listed there have on the blogroll one or more foreign blogs. No, I should correct that. Less than an optimistic 1 %. And these limitations are unfortunately visible in the topics.

But this is not the subject of this post; it is just its pretext. What I want to establish now, for me in the first place, is (a part of) what blogging means to me before attending this forum. Next week, my task will be to determine what blogging means to me after the end of it.

You see, I blog for some two years now and I avoided strictly, so far, thinking and speaking about "how to/ how not to" anything about blogging. If I had questions, I usually solved them on the spot. So, here I go: this is, partly, what I can say about subjective blogging.

1. for me, blogging is not about the money. Given a certain number of unique visitors per day, adds and reviews to products are possible on a blog, but they should not be the core of the blog, of the writing and such. It is why you don't/won't find any adds on this blog, and if I post a promo once in a while it is non-paid and based only on my taste.

2. blogging is not about getting to be known. Of course, I blog so that my ideas and/or preferences get to be acknowledged and circulated, but I don't do it in order to become a star or a public person. At the same time, blogging is not - primarily - about attracting as much visitors as possible, but about attracting people with specific individual profiles. It is why I like very much reading science blogs.

3. in my view, blogging is not a full-time job and should not be treated as such. For a very simple reason: I believe it is very wrong (socially) to spend most of the day in front of the screen. Not to mention it is unhealthy.

4. blogging doesn't bring you closer to people. I shan't speak from theory here, but from experience. In more than 2 years of blogging, I never acquainted a friend on the blog first (or on the internet in general) and in real life afterward. Of course, it can happen, but it is the exception, not the rule.

5. blogging is not about keeping an online diary. I believe it is more than that. I believe it is about things with a social (not individual) relevance.

On a positive note,

1. blogging is, happily, personal. Blogs are inherently placed in the realm of subjectivity.

2. if a blogger wants to practice civic journalism, he/she must observe all the rules of the classical journalism. Plus one: to escape the impersonal feeling mass-media often implies. A blogger is not less responsible than an journalist; on the contrary. But he/she is not a journalist employed by an impersonal entity; he/she speaks out his/her own mind.

3. blogging, if done properly, should bring sense, both to the blogger and to the readers.

And so on. There are (many) other things to be put forward here, but they don't cross my mind right now. So a second post on this topic is on the way. Disclaimer: These are just my two cents; nothing less and nothing more.

PS. My laptop will make a pit-stop to the service today, so blogging could be impossible for a few days. See you around.



state> half asleep
soundtrack> Marie-Joseph Canteloube de Malaret - La delaissado/La delaissee (from Chants d'Auvergne, 2nd series)

I find myself in the empire of sound, trying to oppose the permanent enemy: another empire, the empire of uselessness and boredom.

And speaking of sound>

I arrived recently on a personal web-page of a pretentious someone criticizing modern music, such as house, dance or trance, for being over-simplistic and based on a poor melody line, while, for instance, classical music is real music. Well, I don't know if that is precisely the case. Actually I have good reasons to believe this is not true at all. It is just like arguing that culture, for example, is only composed by high culture and that popular or pop culture has absolutely no meaning, and thus no importance.

When I discovered trance, back in 1997, I was amazed precisely by its capacity of expressing emotions by melody and small variations only, with a minimal voice theme, if any. Another thing that comes to my mind is that well-known trance producers - such as Brian Transeau, a.k.a. BT, Rolf Ellmer a.k.a. Jam El Mar from the German duo Jam & Spoon; or, for the Romanian case, the band Sistem, are in fact trained (and, which is even more to it, well trained) in classical music.

My view is that we should not automatically infer that, if a new form of expression is simpler and more minimalistic than a classic form, it is necessarily poorer, 'tough this is unfortunately often the case. This is a confusion. The opposite could be, in fact - and in a good deal of cases it actually is - more appropriate.

I would finally like to demonstrate my point. Thus I invite you to listen to the next song. Composed in 1997 by Brian Transeau and part of an epic album that I already mentioned on this blog quite a few times - Electric Sky Church Music, a.k.a. ESCM -, album which actually set up trance music as a independent genre, firewater is simple and minimalistic if we consider the musical texture, but at the very same time rich by its meanings.



promo2. Cristi Gram - State of Mind

Small promo session. Thus, be aware this article is a form of publicity, although non-paid.

I just found out about a concert to be held at the Radio Hall (Sala Radio) in Bucharest, on the 21st of November, at 20.00 hrs. Cristi Gram (a well-known guitar player, member of the legendary Romanian band Phoenix) is launching his first solo effort> State of Mind.

I had the opportunity to listen to some of the songs on the album (courtesy of Andreea, who will also be - along with her viola - a member of the band), and I have to say that I was very impressed, so I shall definitely be there. I can say that the music on the album is well crafted, very energetic and powerful, yet blended with a great deal of melancholy and melodicity. Just perfect for a haunted soul like mine.

So, I guess, on the evening of November 21st I shall put on my black shirt and attend this event. I invite you to do the very same.

PS. Cristi Gram on MySpace - here.