Supporting Spirit of America and Arabic blogging: Money meets the mouth

Supporting Spirit of America and Arabic blogging: Money meets the mouth

soalogo.gif: Spirit of America — the great charity that lets Americans help Iraqis, people to people — is about to come out with something I think can change the world: Arabic-language blog tools.

At the same time, SoA has issued a challenge to bloggers to raise money. Roger L. Simon jumped the gun and got there early. So I’m determined to catch up.

Here is what you can do:

1. Contribute to the Buzzmachine team. I’ve decided to put the money behind the Arabic blogging tool because I think it’s a worthy project and I pushed for it to be done. I seeded it with the first $500.

2. Join the Buzzmachine team. Just sign up your blog to add into the pool.

3. Start your own fund or team by clicking here.

It’s always important to emphasize that Spirit of America isn’t about left or right, anti- or pro-war. It’s about people. It’s about Americans helping Iraqis realize the dreams of any people for freedom and democracy and free speech.

This is a new breed of charity that identifies need on the ground and that lets you decide where to put your donations. SoA is also helping Iraqi bloggers start the Friends of Democracy. It is funding TV stations in Iraq. It is sending over tools and sewing machines. It is doing great work. And I can tell you how much I trust and respect the people behind this charity because I’ve gotten to know them — Jim Hake, Kerry Dupont, and others — and their good work.

: Now let me talk for a minute about the Arabic blogging tool.

Not long after I first discovered Hoder and the Iranian weblog revolution, I wished for blogging in Iraq and Zeyad emailed me and then started HealingIraq. He introduced blogging to others, and that led to IraqTheModel, among others. They have made a difference, helping us all see Iraq from the perspective of citizens and building bridges with us. But they blog in English.

To bring the full power of citizens’ media to a people, it has to be available in their native language. Zeyad recently emailed me again and said he’s getting ready to blog in Arabic. That will be even more important. The folks at SixApart have generously volunteered to help him with a bilingual blog. I just got email saying that Blogger is going to help him figure it out. The new Spirit of America tool is being built by iUpload (full disclosure: we’re working with them at Advance Internet). The more the merrier.

Hoder helped people in Iran blog in Persian by giving them instruction in using the English-language Blogger. How much better it will be when he and Zeyad and the IraqTheModel brothers can spread the power of this new people’s medium in their native languages.

I firmly believe that once people start publishing and communicating in not just Iraq but Saudi Arabia and Jordan and the rest of the Arab world, we will finally hear the voices of real people and discover that we share many interests and needs. Bridges will be built. Power will be challenged. Old ways will meet new. Understanding will grow. When citizens can speak, good things happen.

It’s not just about Arabic blogs in Iraq, of course. It’s about the world. Spirit of America is starting with Arabic and plans to move to Persian. And Blogger has announced that it will be available in new languages: French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese, and Korean. That, too, will be helpful.

And then we will look to bilingual bloggers to translate the best of citizens’ media from around the world.

See Biz Stone’s blogging tours of the world (part I and II). Blogging is worldwide. And that is a good thing.