Blog & Teknologi Manusia (3)

Tuesday July 19, 2005
From bombs to blogs
BY JOHANAN SEN
BLOGGING is, for the most part, a voyeur’s homage to monotony. From weekly grocery lists to “moblogged” VGA images, most bloggers do their level best to document life with little thought paid to how their content might engage visitors.

Monotony breaks, however, when the life being documented becomes newsworthy.
Respected news organisations have begun paying attention to bloggers. I was surprised at how The Guardian, The Independent and the BBC’s online facilities have all referenced (at one point or another) bloggers, particularly after the recent blasts in central London.
Being in the city, at the time, the only way I could get news out that I was safe was through my blog.
Phone networks (landline and mobile) were busy and I was confined to my apartment for hours, all modes of transportation either gridlocked or down.
I waited for friends to call, text or e-mail, not hearing from a few until eight or nine hours after the bombs had gone off. Many, like me, kept in touch through blog posts and instant messengers. It was a way to keep sane. By keeping your mind on documenting the chaos, you give shape to it and avoid panic.
Many of those near Edgeware Road and King’s Cross station snapped pictures and short video clips on cellphones or PDAs (personal digital assistants) equipped with cameras.
The BBC News, ITV News and Sky News networks all used images and videos taken by private individuals, some first posted on personal blogs.
The few hours of fear, curiosity and worry passed rather quickly as London moved on. Emergency teams worked efficiently and Londoners made room on their streets and their schedules for things to be cleaned up.
We went back to worrying about alternative routes and what we’d all do for dinner, that “stoicism and resilience” born from an inability to do anything else. With nations placed in more immediate danger, the same technology is also playing a huge part.
War blogsA growing number of bloggers are reporting from front lines and war zones. It is an international community with its own patois.
One where “the liberated” is code for the oppressed and “election” code for caution.
In the pages of blogs like Baghdad Burning (riverbendblog.blogspot.com), the recent war in Iraq is better documented than in the archives of some respected mainstream news sources.
Omitted by these bloggers, are the press releases and official statements that appear in the newspapers.
In its place is a passionate dialogue about Iraq’s experiences during the past few years with a new vocabulary shaped from the United States’ need to spread its freedom and the Iraqi people’s desire to have theirs.
Another project, called United We Blog! … for a Democratic Nepal (www.blog.com.np), is run by professional Nepalese journalists who feel stifled by their censorship laws.
In 2001 – after the Crown Prince of Nepal killed his parents and siblings before committing suicide – the newly proclaimed King Gyanendra dissolved the government, declaring martial law.
Much of what has gone on in Nepal since then has been under wraps, until two journalists – by the name of Dinesh Wagle and Ujjwal Acharya – launched United We Blog.
You’ll find references to Wagle and Acharya’s posts on articles in many mainstream news sources. It is seen by many as the only independent and propaganda-free source of reporting from Nepal.
How the two have held out this long with as much media attention as they’ve received, is beyond me.
Even so, their views are now playing a huge part in how Nepal is perceived by the international community.
True, what we read on the blog is most certainly tainted by the opinions of those who contribute, but it is a project that does not seek to brew distrust or anger. Rather it is simply one that parts fact from fiction – something Wagle and Acharya feel they cannot do through conventional means.
Minority representationWe may approach sources like United We Blog with caution and prejudice – knowing that these pens are neither licensed nor well backed – but without them the minority view would not be heard and for that they have the respect of netizens.
Journalistic articles and personal memoirs used to be the only published sources one could accept as primary data.
But we have now found a medium with that has more current and raw content than any of its predecessors. It is a medium that is less censored and one that I favour regardless of how it may threaten my chosen profession.
Not all bloggers are amateurs. Some – like Noam Chomsky (blog.zmag.org/ttt) – are well-known personalities and have chosen this method of circulation for its instant, unmediated reach.
But the amateurs, despite incorrect grammar and dodgy semantics, offer candid points of view without compromise.
They are loved for their candour and they are a force that is much harder to silence. So don’t think you’ve gotten your daily bread after the morning paper.

Log on and find yourself a blog.

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