In Budapest for the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2008
Here I am in Budapest, interesting city, with beautiful people all around speaking a peculiar language. The whole environment exhales history, but the streets are full of young and interesting people who seem well tuned to the beat of the moment. I could sense many similarities with Brazilians.
The Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2008, which gathers managers, editors, authors, Lingua sites coordinators, collaborators and other fellow communities that somehow are linked to the Global Voices Online project, is happening here.
As I arrived here, I thought it might be important to mention some aspects of my relationship with GVO — something I’ve never described before. With many simultaneous projects on my plate, it is difficult to properly document the interconnections of what I’ve been developing and implementing, especially when it comes to the “cross-layering” where aspects of one project contribute to other ones.
My collaboration with the GVO community has been invaluable to me, and some aspects are quite present in many other things I’ve been doing. The use of WordPress at the Brazilian Ministry of Culture wesite, for example, resulted from what I saw happening within the Global Voices community. It’s a wonder that so many collaborators from all parts of the world, remotely contacted and trained at a distance, are able to master the collective use of a common open source publishing platform. I realized that this must be a damn good software solution.
I recognized that such a tool would facilitate the fostering of collaborative environments for content production inside the Ministry of Culture, even in cases where the users held highly diverse levels of computer knowledge. The result of this adaptation of GV’s concept of using WordPress for the management of an institutional portal has grown and prospered into a full set of plug-ins that we are sharing at Xemelê. We will soon be launching the first WordPress theme complete with all the Xemelê plug-ins preinstalled, which will consistently help all who feel like implementing the same solution.
Another important lesson I learned as a Global Voices editor was how to make good use of remote networking. I understood that it is possible to transform a wide variety of people from different cultures and languages who have never met into co-workers which is something that you have to see happening in order to believe that it’s possible! Based on this experience, I have conceived and helped implement some projects at the Brazilian Ministry of Culture, among them the Rede Web Mercosur website, which links participants in several South American countries.
There is a special kind of magic behind each of the accomplished online communities, and GVO is no different. Indeed, the GV Summit is great exactly because of what it inspires: it shows (and illustrates) how to enliven the spark that unites bloggers worldwide around these strong words: “The world is talking. Are you listening?“. In fact, global collaboration requires more than inspiration. Such a dynamic global structure operating 24 x 7 demands a lot of work — 90% of which is perspiration, I should say.
It’s been great to meet again dear colleagues like David Sasaki, our fantastic co-manager Georgia Popplewell, and precious teachers like Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca MacKinnon. Today was the first day, centered on advocacy for free speech online and coordinated by a great pal: Sami Ben Gharbia.
It was especially interesting to learn about how Internet censorship can be countered with different approaches, using many tools like technical, political and legal aspects, but what emerged as a revelation was the more intimate power of cultural and social censorship. Like when one participant complained that “it is one thing to resist an authoritarian government, another is to confront your own father”, in a case where the local culture is built on censorship. I thoroughly suggest the reading of the ‘live blogging‘ pages for a fascinating discussion of the issue. (photo by Luiz Carlos Dias, click for more)