Harvard: The world meets

Harvard: The world meets

: It’s a new day at the Harvard session. I’m sitting here with Omar and Mohammed from Iraq and Hoder from Iran; Jeff Ooi from Maylasia is over there; there are folks from Latvia, Kenya, the Phillippines, China, and India to meet. It’s an exciting moment in this world.

Rebecca MacKinnon talks about the gulfs that exist in the world and how media is doing nothing to close them. Ethan Zuckerman talks about the importance of “bridge-blogging” and wonders whether we are becoming a movement. “We are all this together.” Amen, neighbor.

The bridges I got to cross with the people just in this room has been incredibly exciting for me.

: Omar is now speaking about what drove him to start the blog: “Mainstream media… and by that, I mean Arabic media.” See, the U.S. is not the only place where “mainstream media” has become a bad word.

What he likes about blogs is that it is from people to people, not from institutions. “There are no barriers, no filters.” He says comments are “the core of blogs.” For those of you in the U.S. who are scared of comments, listen to this blogger.

He tells the story of one of my favorite posts of Omar’s, about a cousin who hated Americans; they wrote his story; and the cousin read the comments from around the world, all of them encouraging. “Maybe I don’t hate them, but I don’t like them,” the cousin said. A few weeks later, the cousin’s father got a car and the cousin had to admit that would not have happened two years ago. He put up a picture of the young man in the car and the comments made him cry. And Omar almost starts himself as he says:

“If I visited America a year and a half ago, before I started this blog, I feel a stranger.” but he does not now. “I am surrounded by friends.”

Mohammed now says: “It’s from person to person, from heart to heart. I did not have any trouble understanding people thousands of miles away from me in spite of language and distance…. We share many things. Media try to show only the differences between groups and countries but really human beings have many, many things to share…. Here in blogging, I learn from my readers…. I think through blogging we can spread love more than we can spread hate. I started blogging because I saw through the media that they just want to spread hate… I have a different story and many Iraqi people agree with me.

Asked why they called their blog Iraq The Model, they said, “Iraq will be a model for the Middle East region and the world….”

: Now much discussion ensues on such issues as blogging in native languages and in English and other languages via writing or translation.

: Matt at Blackfive talks about military bloggers.

: Jeff Ooi talks about blogging in Maylasia. A good idea: To create a critical mass, they bring together pings and posts via RSS at PetalingStreet.