The Bolivia Blog Well

The latest installment of the weekly Bolivian blog summary is now posted at Global Voices Online, including the first image/drawing ever to appear. The roundup is very Evo-heavy, which might make sense because of the freshness of the unique electoral victory and curious anticipation of his administration. However, it seems that the recent entry continues a pattern of the content being politics or current events heavy. Surely, there are other topics that could and should be covered, but so far I haven’t been able to find that opening.

During the Global Voices Summit, which took place last December, a session titled “What Makes a Successful Blogosphere?” piqued my interest. Successful is a relative concept, but for me, Barrio Flores has been a minor success only for the fact that my antennae are now better tuned in to what goes on in Bolivia, and I can attribute it all to the upkeep of my blog. I don’t really worry too much about number of visitors or frequency of comments (although I recognize that I do a poor job of replying to comments). But now that I signed up to tackle the weekly challenge of a blog summary, I must keep tabs on the entire ever-growing Bolivian blogosphere.

Session comment:

Indonesian Blogger: A similar thing in other blogospheres; people write about their personal life, which is ok, but looking at gv (Global Voices), I think we have different directions b/t the personal and what we put on gv.

My current tally of Bolivian blog feeds on Bloglines has reached 89. My task is to see what is written, draw connections between blogs talking about the same topic and general entries that give an insight to how a country operates. However, it seems that there is a pattern of many of the same, active blogs reappearing on virtually blog round-up. To me, that’s a tribute to them in that they write interesting things and helps me remember that different experiences translate to different opinions. Yet, I notice that many well-written and active blogs never make the cut to the Bolivian blog summary. I went back to the “Guide to Writing for Global Voices” to make sure that I wasn’t overlooking someone or missing the boat altogether.

It may appear that some of the aforementioned personal blogs are purposely getting overlooked by this blogger, but I still have trouble finding a way to bring them into the fold and give them the recognition they deserve. Some of these literary blogs are very heartfelt, but if it wasn’t for the piece of information indicating that the author is in or from Bolivia, then it could have very well been written by a Colombian or Mexican. It seems to me that Global Voices thrives on country-specific information. However, I am encouraged that there is discussion on adding other broad categories like Food and Music to be incorporated to the mix.

From the irc channel during the session:

[should we try to be focusing on making people have political and social blogs, and less personal blogs? At first there was agreement in the channel that personal is less interesting; another said that in the africa context, we want to get the word out about politics… since it gets more int’l coverage , so someone asked, if I’m from africa (which I am), I have to write about politics or I’m not interesting or important. Final comment: do we have some sense that we could control the # of blogs or issues they could address?]

In the end, I am not applying value to any of the Bolivian blogs in one way or the other. To me, there seems to be a natural fit for some blogs and the overall purpose of the site. Yet, I am hoping to do the entire blogosphere justice. I am looking for suggestions, recommendations, criticisms or any other piece of advice about the weekly round-ups. I would like to expand the coverage a bit, so that more individuals are included, but I am struggling to find ways to do that. I have been writing according to my understanding of the overall Global Voices project, with the hopes that others have taken an interest in Bolivia and have followed one of the links to learn more about this country in the headlines.

Comments welcome (and maybe this time, I’ll actually reply to them).

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3 thoughts on “The Bolivia Blog Well

  1. Just one tip. Maybe you know of this place already.

    Another place where they keep track of Bolivian blogs. The name is Bolivia – Blogalaxia. It is from the Perublogs site. They say they have 131 Bolivian blogs.

  2. My opinions are on the skeptical side with regards to the Global Voices guidelines. I think GV is not yet in the process of waking up to what blogging realistically is (or is turning into) particularly abroad or for the diasporas. In my view, their guidelines are stuck with the fascination of the early blogger phenomenon, particularly in the United States. Were bloggers like DailyKos, Wonkette or LGF have mass appeal or quickly gained notoriety by breaking political stories before the mass media. They seem to expect a replication of US features in international blogs, this is fine as an academic exercise (and GV started as an academic project in Harvard didn’t it?) But reality may prove quite different.

    My split of GV’s guidelines is that they are either fascinated/fixated with the “blogger phenomenon”(A) or fascinated with “bloggers as a class of people” (B)

    See what I mean, GV recommends its editors post about:

    1) “Bridge-blog” posts discussing what a certain blogosphere has been talking about lately (A)
    2) Profiles of various country and/or regional blogospheres (A)
    3) Profiles of particularly interesting bloggers in different countries (B)
    4) News about what’s happening in various blogospheres around the world (A)
    5) Discussion and demonstration of particularly interesting tools that bloggers are using to do innovative things in different places (A)
    6) Posts about: “here is an issue in xxx country that the mainstream media isn’t talking about, but here’s what the bloggers are saying.” (B)
    7) Posts about how a certain blogosphere is responding to a certain issue. (A)
    8) Posts showing how a certain part of the world’s blogosphere is reacting to a particular traumatic news event. (A)
    9) Posts capturing a news story coming from blogs somewhere which appears to be quite important but which has not yet hit the Mainstream Media’s radar screen, but which needs to get more attention. (Exception to the rule)
    10) Posts translating something interesting coming off a non-English blogosphere which the mainstream media isn’t covering and which the English-speaking blogosphere doesn’t seem to be aware of, but should be. (A)

    This doesn’t leave much to be said about the content (except perhaps #9), relevance or timeliness, and that leaves you -as an editor- hanging. How long can these fascinations last? That is, before blogs become as popular as geocities homepages once were? (And suffer a similar end).

    GV’s guidelines seem to function under the premise that bloggers will forever rejoice over how post-modern they are, how what they are doing is better that what the main stream has to offer and how the “blogosphere” will forever thrive as a closed club. The line between blogs and social-networking emporiums (such as MSM Spaces or MySpace) and commercial websites is blurring rapidly, and if we get stuck with these fascinations the great connectivity potential of blogs will end sooner than later.

    Eduardo, this is part of a post I’m writing for my own site, A question though: what’s your scheedule for writing/updating the column? do you keep tabs all week or just write it all in one day?

  3. Miguel: Thanks for that site, I had not known about it.

    Jonathan: In terms of your question: I am grateful for Bloglines, as it allows me to “mark” posts as I go along during the week. Then on Wednesday, I go back to all of the posts that were marked and see if there some sort of reoccurring theme. It’s definitely an inexact science, but somehow it has come together.

    To respond to your point: Having 10 different recommended guidelines makes it pretty broad in terms of what “should” go in the weblog summaries. I would think the categories marked as (A) could be seen as content entries, as they are less about the blogger and more about the subject being written about.

    I think that GV explores the relationship between blogs and journalism. Many blogs link to articles in the media and write their own analysis. But I personally find blogs that write about experiences and gives insight into a particular country that wouldn’t necessarily be found in newspaper articles. There was one blogger from the DR who wrote about helping her mother’s political campaign and being threatened by some thugs with some pretty big guns. That, to me, paints a fairly good picture of what goes on in the DR.

    The great thing about the project is that there are so many people involved, each with an idea of what they think is important and what is interesting.

    Part of the interesting part of this task to keep up with the Bolivian blogs, is that I enjoy seeing the list of blogs grow on the Blogs Bolivia site. This time six months ago, I could have named the Bolivian blogs, but it’s great to see new ones pop up all the time.

    I think that blogs have surpassed the popularity of Geocities pages. I know which blogs catch my own personal interest, as you can see some of my favorite blogs on the right hand column of the main page. My only concern was that I didn’t want the blog summaries to be a reflection of my own personal tastes.

    In addition, I think it’s okay to be fascinated with “bloggers”, because I find it very interesting to find out why people decided to blog and other issues associated with their blogs.

    I don’t think any of what I just wrote responded to your comment, sorry.

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