Monday, March 19, 2007

The Importance of Being Blogger

Adil Najam, Awab Alvi, Hakim, and Ramla (i.e. myself) - four Pakistani bloggers - four different blogs - three different time zones... all invited together - by Muntazir Solangi of Voice of America's Radio App ki Duniya to discuss -

1. What IS a blog?

2. It is a tool to express frustration - only? What is a blog NOT?

3. Can blogs truly be banned?

4. Do blogs report original stories - or merely repeat primary sources?

5. How have the four blogs covered the Chief Justice story?

6. What is the impact of blogs?

Here is an audio recording (MP3/ 10MB/ 59:59 min/ Urdu), hosted courtesy Adil Najam of Pakistaniat, with his review.

The bloggers agreed that in general - blogs start with a wish to "say something" - to express one's self and opinions - to have a share of voice.

Over time, blogs evolve into spaces, usually interactive.

Adil's group blog Pakistaniat, which became my favorite "Pakistani" space in blogosphere after PakPositive went on a prolonged pause, started when "friends started putting together storied about Pakistan on the blog."

Pakistaniat has rapidly filled a gap on the Internet for a contemporary Pakistani voice - and a space where many can interact from across the world on all things Pakistani.

On a lighter note, Adil has admitted being "inspired" by his fellow bloggers. Hmmm. I think I'll hire Hakim as my lawyer for whatever is left of my rights. :)

Awab's blog Teeth Maestro, which started as a semi-personal diary (of a sun-lighting dentist), soon evolved to become an expression of his thoughts as an avid patriot (hear him warming up). Awab also blogs on the popular Karachi Metblog. I have enjoyed his posts for being opinionated and well-researched. Several of his posts have been liberally lifted by mainstream media - an activity which is now being strictly monitored by Karachi Metbloggers.

Hakim is a recent blogger - and I wouldn't have guessed unless he declared - MicroPakistan comes across as being written by a group of old-hand lawyers. Hakim, a Pakistani student in UK, started blogging as a way of focusing on the small things that need to be put under the microscope.

The four bloggers were united in one way: the recent coverage of the Chief Justice story (here, here, here and here ). We discussed our political views with particular focus on the Citizen's White Band/ Ribbon Protest (here and here).

From various angles - social, technical, political - we agreed that the citizen's voice is important in the 21 century. It's impossible to suppress it because citizens now have the opinion and the technology. And that it will serve governments - Pakistani or other - to accept this fact.

Over all, this discussion achieved the purpose of validating blogging and bloggers in Pakistan - thereby empowering citizenship.

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