Before I attempt my own thoughts and reflections about this year’s Global Voices Summit in Budapest, let me first start by translating a beautiful article by the dauntingly prolific Rosa Jiménez Cano, a great journalist, but even a better blogger.

Listen to the world to better it

Web 2.0 is recognized as a tool of cultural cohesion

The sorrows of the previous day are over. The second day of the Global Voices World Summit this Saturday was dedicated to the good they have built as the net brings together and improves the lives of those who need it the most.

Collins Dennis Oduor represents Repacted in Kenya. With an excellent sense of humor, he showed the great work being done in digital literacy in his country. Where freedom of expression is a luxury, street theater can turn out to be of much help to develop social and technological skills in a society lacking even the most basic goods. He took advantage of the audience’s attention to ask for volunteers for his project. As we would see, the need for people to get involved was a constant throughout the day.

Hiperbarrio is an online community from Colombia, in Medellín. They live in La Loma and Santo Domingo, two of the city’s slums. Before the project, La Loma was the center of a series of violent events. Little by little, by being able to speak and tell stories online, in has turned into a more free and peaceful community. Carolina Catalina Restrepo got to work: “One of the best parts of the projects has been being able to tell the story of our own community. One example is the story of Suso. His parents donated the land for the church, school, and library, however, his house didn’t even have a proper roof. When the neighbors found out about this from our project, everyone came together to build him a new house.” She emphasized, “they’re no longer dangerous neighborhoods, people can enter like anyone else and see them.”

Mialy Andriamananjara shared information about the internet in Madagascar where frequent electric and internet outages have meant that “surfing the web” is understood only as chatting and emails. They can’t aspire to much more until the infrastructure improves. People in Madagascar saw blogs and something frivolous and adolescent. Instead, they were active in discussion forums. Thanks to Foko, blogs have matured and now what they write is read abroad. Multimedia content is scarce, but not enthusiasm: “Since communicating isn’t easy, when it is time for a training workshop, we get together and work day and night.” The results are evident: they were able to get funding to improve their connection and they have opened more than 150 blogs in 10 months. The fact that there are so many bloggers will also improve local journalism and how it conveys what happens in Madagascar, they say. They write in English in search of amplification beyond their borders, but also in the native language.

Cristina Quisbert has described her experience in Bolivian Voices, a network of bloggers and citizen journalists based in El Alto, a city nearby La Paz, but at a much higher altitude. In her opinion, the project was more than necessary: “indigenous people [in Bolivia] represent some 63% of the population, but they have never been given attention.”

Rosa’s article goes on to describe some of the other discussions had during the second day of the Summit. If you want to read more, I highly recommend Deborah Dilley’s comprehensive summary.