‘I have nothing to say, but I say it regularly’ was the amusing end note used by Evgeny Morozov for the workshop on blogs and podcasting. As a former student of ECLA, who now works with bloggers and journalists from Central Asia and the rest of ex-USSR, Evgeny returned during the ECLA Week with a series of interesting points.
The word ‘blog’ is nowadays among the most looked up words on the Internet. Blogs have evolved from being just online public diaries to sources of information, news, discussion arenas or even a way to make money. Blog themes can vary from politics to cooking or technology – however, half of the 57 million blogs that exist today are used to comment on current events and news. As can be expected, this raises a number of serious issues in regard to mainstream media.
Because bloggers have a much wider information base than mainstream commentators, and are not concerned with copyright laws and write for free, journalists are somewhat uneasy about blogging. However, the blogosphere is not yet a cause for concern because, unlike other media, it does not usually verify facts. In fact, most bloggers use mainstream media as their primary source of information. Evgeny explained that “Bloggers are playing the role of a watchdog for mainstream media” – for example by taking a stand in cases of plagiarism.
Generally speaking, blogs are a means of publicly expressing thoughts, views or facts. Unfortunately, not all bloggers enjoy the privilege of free speech, as more than 30 persons have been jailed for the political content of their blogs. In Asia, blog censorship is a sad reality.
RSS (Real Simple Syndication) was yet another subject brought into discussion during the workshop. This technology allows for customizing online news in real time, making it easier to receive news of interest without having to browse each site, which is a time consuming process. It makes it possible to have news downloaded directly to the desktop or to be automatically updated with all new articles on the subjects of the user’s choice. The practical part of the workshop also offered instructions on how to start a blog and how to use RSS.
By Clara Sigheti (AY 2007, Romania)