Face to face

A funny truth: the more interaction we have virtually, the more important it becomes to see people face to face.

While Global Voices is a completely virtual organization, with no offices, no headquarters, no location other than that of our members, we spend a lot of time trying to see each other face to face. Georgia Popplewell and Amira Al-Hussaini are at the BlogHer conference this week, and many of the rest of us are jealous, both because it should be a great conference and because we’re missing a chance to see our friends.

When you interact with someone online, it can smoothe your offline interactions. You’ve got a common context, something to talk about. You know things about each other that could takes weeks or years to come up in ordinary conversation.

African bloggers, brought together by aggregators like Afrigator, BlogAfrica and the beautifully redesigned Kenya Unlimited, have been looking for events that bring them together face to face. The first iteration of the Digital Citizen Indaba in Grahamstown, South Africa received some criticism that the gathering didn’t represent the diversity of the African blogosphere and was heavy on South African bloggers, non-African bloggers and, to be frank, white dudes. The DCI is happening again this year and bloggers are invited to apply for scholarships – I hope that many African bloggers will. TED Global in Arusha helped demonstrate how valuable it can be for African and Afrophile bloggers to spend time face to face – DCI is another opportunity for bloggers to get together on someone else’s dime.

The Cambodian bloggers – or “Cloggers”, as they’re evidently known – are getting into the game and planning the first Cambodian Blogging Summit in late August in Phnom Penh. The conference is the outgrowth of a series of 14 workshops taught by Cambodian bloggers which have introduced 1700 students to blogging. The summit it a chance for Cambodian bloggers to work together, and to meet other bloggers in the region face to face, sharing insights, strategies and starting projects. Beth Kanter, who works closely with the Cambodian blogosphere, will be attending and offering some trainings at the summit. She’s trying to raise $4,000 to bring three “videoblogging kits” to the summit, which could be given to up and coming videobloggers at the event. If you’re inclined to support this worthy cause – either fiscally, or by offering her advice, training materials, sources of cheap video equipment – please check out her wiki space on the project.

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3 Responses to Face to face

  1. ThaRum says:

    Ethan, thanks you very much indeed for the mention. Preetam Rai is going to talk at the summit, too.

  2. Beth Kanter says:

    Ethan:

    Can’t wait to meet Preetam face-to-face and see ThaRum again … It is so important to meet face-to-face.

    Thank you so much for your wisdom and support. I really very much appreciate it. I am just back from BlogHer where I got hang out with Georgia and Amira — and met some incredible Global BlogHers on Georgia’s panel.

    I asked the Cloggers Team who is organizing the conference what I should pack in my suitcase. I was asked for “tech t-shirts” — so while I was at BlogHer, I was lucky that a few of the companies exhibiting there gave me some t-shirts to take over! I’m hoping I can bring a t-shirt for all participants – won’t that be an interesting photo! A hundred cambodian bloggers each wearing a different tech t-shirt …

    More than share my knowledge, this is an opportunity to learn an incredible amount about how the “cloggers” are outreaching to young people in their country and supporting and encouraging them. I am sure the story of the Clogger team and their work will be valuable and of interest to my nonprofit tech clients.

    I’m very excited about the possibility of more video from Cambodia. Jay Dedman and Ryanne Hodson are there now — (they carried over some video blogging kits for the Sharing foundation that were donated by a kind soul from the video blogging community, Doug).
    Here’s one of the videos that Jay and Ryanne made:
    http://ryanedit.blogspot.com/2007/07/cambodian-light-orphanage.html

    I’ve also gotten some feedback from the Clogger Team that many of the young people have smart phones and that we should also look at how to use those as well.

    Again, thank you so much for your support!

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