ME and Ophelia

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Handbook for Bloggers and Citizen Journalists

Reporters Without Borders has produced a useful book entitled 'Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents' that can be freely read online in pdf format.

Harvard's Rebecca MacKinnon, a professional journalist and blogger who co-founded Global Voices, reviews the handbook and explains:
"The Handbook for Bloggers is for people who want to be serious participants in the emergent online global conversation: How to set up a quality, credible blog. How to get it noticed. And.. if you're in a country where there government might not like what you're saying, how to avoid getting in trouble when you by-pass the information gatekeepers and talk directly to the world.

The Handbook for Bloggers is useful for beginners and veteran bloggers alike. It starts out with several introductory chapters, explaining how blogs differ from other kinds of websites, blogging terminology, how to select a blogging tool and web-host, and how to get started. The middle chapters focus on tips that even veteran bloggers will find useful. Journalist, blogger and We the Media author Dan Gillmor tackles the issue of journalistic credibility and standards. Journalist Mark Glaser offers tips on how to “make your blog shine.” I learned a lot from the chapter on how to get your blog picked up by search engines, written by internet consultant Olivier Andrieu."
Also, Rebecca says the most inspiring section is the “Personal Accounts,” short essays from bloggers around the world about why they blog and why blogging matters. A final chapter entitled “Internet Censor World Championship” lists the Chinese government as the hands-down winner, followed by Vietnam, Tunisia, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan.

Note the handbook includes a 'Guide to Anonymous Blogging' written by Global Voices Co-Founder Ethan Zuckerman at Harvard. See Ethan's latest post on RSF Guide to Anonymous Blogging and some thoughts on reactions.

Blog Guide for Citizen Journalists

Rebecca queries the choice of the words 'cyber-dissidents' for the book's title. A better description could have been used. Who wouldn't feel troubled being classsed as a cyber-dissident, that by speaking out one is doing something terribly wrong, acting like a subversive and anarchist. It's not something most employers would want to see on a job application or resume.

Instead of 'Cyber-Dissidents' I would have preferred the words 'Citizen Journalists' or anything that puts in a nutshell Second Superpower or even "Reporters Without Borders' Handbook for Bloggers" might appeal more positively to a wider audience. Having said that, some non-bloggers I know are interested in keeping up with how Internet is used and would find this handbook useful, no matter how it is titled.

Perhaps, in time to come, the handbook will be revised and updated with new developments. I think the whole thing is a super fantastic idea and hope it will be translated into all languages and linked to by millions of bloggers. Rebecca invites comments and suggestions at her review and will be hosting an online IRC chat early next week with some of the contributors including Julien Pain, who is responsible for the handbook.

Like other great things in blogland, the handbook is free of charge. Tomorrow I shall read it, with thanks to everyone who made the book possible.

UPDATE: Mostafa Hussein, a 24 year old physician in Cairo, Egypt writes a review with an update saying parts of the handbook have already been translated into Arabic. The 86 pages PDF is easy to read.

UPDATE Oct 4: From RConversation: Saudi Arabia blocks - and photos from Flickr.
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A blog is a soapbox in cyber space

Last week, Greg blogged about Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park. At Speakers' Corner, anyone can stand up and make a speech about anything, for as long as they wish. To stand up on a soapbox in front of passing strangers in a public space outdoors takes courage, thought, time, effort, energy, passion and motivation. Speakers have to be prepared for being ignored and take whatever hecklers throw at them - a bit like blogging.

Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London

Photos via Greg's Africa Thoughts: Hyde Park -- Speaker's Corner - with these captions:

"The gentleman in the picture above spoke to people for about two hours--more or less non-stop--on that morning. His presentation was far from being the kind of fanatical shouting of religious rubbish that I expected to find. In fact, what he had to say was biblical, well informed, cogent, and answered the genuine questions of the crowd.

I observed people stopping to listen for up to ten minutes at a time....but, the speaker's presentation seemed to cycle through his message about every 10 to 15 minutes.

Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, London

There were other speakers in the same area--one man doing a rather comedic speech about relationships between men and women. (For the record he was the most verbal misogynist I have heard in public in a very long time). Another, was waving the flag of Israel and seemed to be preaching some kind of message that mixed Old Testament Judahism and Christianity--not to mention "end-times zionism" in one message.

Of course there were hecklers in the crowd, that is a part of the Speaker's Corner experience. Some speakers were able to handle the hecklers with grace and humor...while the man pictured above with the Israeli flag, hurled insults right back at this hecklers. Most of the hecklers I observed were not hooligans, but an organized group of fundamentalist muslims."

Read more at Greg's Africa Thoughts: Hyde Park -- Speaker's Corner.
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Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London

Notes from the web: "Hyde Park is one of London's finest landscapes and covers over 350 acres.

In 1866 Edmund Beales' Reform League marched on Hyde Park where great scuffles broke out between the League and the police. Eventually the Prime Minister allowed the meetings to continue unchallenged and since 1872, people have been allowed to speak at Speaker's Corner on any subject they want to.

At the north east end of Hyde Park is Speakers Corner, the cradle of free speech. Visit on a Sunday and watch speakers delivering their views with passion and gusto! The park also hosts many events in the summer months - check the listings for details. Nearby Attractions are the Science Museum and Oxford Street."

"Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park is one of the greatest places in the Universe", says
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Select from 31 varieties - £7.95 each

Did you know, after more than 500 years as a showcase for some of the world's most famous roses, The Royal Parks now have their very own rose and you can buy it?

To celebrate the natural beauty of the Parks, an apricot-coloured flower, named "Royal Parks", was launched at London's Chelsea Flower Show in 2004.

Buy a Royal Park rose

Photo: The rose "Royal Parks." See Give a Royal Parks Rose.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 9/28/2005
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