The following article deals with the topic “Optimizing Information Use through the Internet and Social Media,” which will be discussed at the Global Economic Symposium in Rio this October. The author intends to enrich the discussion at the symposium with his personal stories and ideas.
I’ve been writing for Global Voices Online for almost three years, and I can’t stop being surprised, and even amazed, by the amount of information we produce every day.
And I’m not talking about the simple “information” newspapers are used to throwing at us, but rather extensive research within the local and national (and sometimes international) blogosphere, including fresh and sometimes exclusive information. Sometimes you really want to know something that is happening in . . . Kenya — you just found out about the country and want to know a little bit more. What is the best way to really get to know the country and what people think about their lives, local politics and other stuff?
Well, to me, the best way is stumbling upon their blogs, or, alternatively, through some “place blogs,” which are not just aggregated but also explained and put in context. People from the country or the region actually know where and how to research the best information.
Our community is not just made up of activists and journalists. Many of our collaborators are simply people who want to write about their countries and be a part of an international community with people engaged in different sectors and environments.
It’s not much different from blogging “alone.” I mean, the basics are the same: an idea, a theme, some research, an opinion, and the ability to put all of these into a simple text. The main difference is that we give our opinion through others, through blogs we use as research sources, which we many times trust, have read for a long time and know provide good enough information for a global audience.
The joy of being able to show the world the culture of your country — the music, the sporting events and, of course, the politics (including sometimes what embarrasses you) — is rewarding and a bit different from just blogging alone.
Obviously, Global Voices is not the only website or community to do such a thing; it’s maybe one of the most popular or even best organized, but any group with some will and knowledge can spread their message to the world, the message of their friends and fellow bloggers.
The whole idea is to organize, spread the word, and not remain apart from what’s happening, apart from a world that is constantly changing and in which we not only can but should be involved.
You don’t have to blog; you can spread the word within the many social networks we have today — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, G+ . . . it doesn’t matter. The idea is to create awareness, to make some noise. And with all those social media tools, you don’t have to be a part of any group to spread your message.
The interesting thing about the Internet is that all you need is to have an idea and find a way — preferably a new and catchy way — to spread your idea and to make people get interested and involved. It’s not rare to see someone with a vlog or blog who becomes an overnight celebrity. If you can create a network around it, it’s better, but you can also work solo.
Collaboration is the main “thing” of today. Even if you blog solo, there’s always the need for what we call “linkage,” which means the need for people linking to you and from you, in order to create a network of social relations that will spread your word as far as other people’s words.
Therefore, you’re never really alone.