Ain’t no stopping now

Arab Bloggers travel on Sunday October 2 towards Tunis for the Arab Blogger Conference. Goal: freedom of expression and overthrowing dictatorial regimes

The Arab Blogger Conference, AB 11, will start on Monday 3 October and last until the 6th. Bloggers and tweeps that reported continuously on what was ( and is) going on in North African Countries meet on the initiative of the Heinrich Boll Stiftung and Global Voices Online.

Caro Sicking for nonfiXe

They will look each other in the eye, some feeling they’ve known each other already for a long time – through social networks. Bloggers & tweeps will share what they have learned on reporting about dictatorships and their fall. How they can achieve even more freedom, in other countries as well. Just by using a phone as a weapon.

It is no coincidence AB11 takes place in Tunis, capital of the country that sparkled the Arab Spring. It all started with the 26 year old Mohamed Bouazizi who set himself on fire out of mere despair over the abuse he was confronted with over and over. Bouazizi would have been long forgotten and no revolution would have taken place, if not for his young friends who started to tweet and facebook their anger and sorrows on the death of the salesman in vegetables.

Their efforts were retweeted and multiplied by others, and before Ben Ali could even breath his country rose against him and his regime. Hosni Mubarak – Egypt – woke up next dawn confronted with a likewise rebelling crowd.

In Libya, as we all know, things went tougher. Tweeps were silenced for months out of fear of the Ghadaffi’s and lack of access to internet. Syria has a similar sad and violent experience. Some dictators are even worse then others, or then mentally sane people can imagine. The world witnesses what it can’t imagine because of the bloggers that keep on informing on massacres and torturing and abuses.

AB11 supports these brave reporters of whom some already were professional journalists and others have become pro’s very fast out of urgent need. The world is changing, has already been changed, although not everybody noticed it yet.

Let us guard freedom of expression with all our strength together, checking the powerful so they can live up to their status, namely being servant of the people that gave them the power. The only good power is the one accompanied by humility.

If you are interested, you can follow the Arab Blogger Conference on twitter: #AB11

Image: Frank van Empel, nonfiXe, and Sami El Ghousli, leadsinger of Kasba

nonfiXe, 2 October 2011

Browse the world

Social media: In the end it is all about freedom, whether you seek to follow the freedom fighters or Cesar Milan.

Today sharing is power. Twitter is one of the best tools to share knowledge and gain power. The conservative Internetuser is the most passionate opponent: ‘Why should I want to know when the neighbour is having coffee with his mother? Why should I want to tell the rest of the world I am having a shower?’

Caro Sicking for nonfiXe

Mistake! Twitter is not about having a shower or taking ones kids to the Zoo and telling the world about it. Twitter is a powerful and extremely fast railroad for messaging. In Libya Ali Tweel sent messages to the world about Gaddafi’s atrocities. Ali Tweel got support from people who never before knew of his existence; from friends he himself did not know he had. News agencies quoted him as a source. He is one of the brave who got information out of the tight Gaddafi occupied country. When Ali Tweel stopped tweeting alarm bells rang all over the world. There still are enormous gaps in the timelines of Ali Tweels’ followers. He hasn’t sent a message for almost two weeks now. Nobody knows what became of him: has he been caught by Gaddafi’s troops or is it impossible to get a connection? But Ali Tweel is one of the guys who gave words to the Libyan Revolution. People are virtually gathering on the subject of freedom and by doing so they defy all borders.

Now maybe you are not interested in freedom, but you do want to know all about Japans’ misfortune or you like to find out if there are still tickets for your favourite show, how to domesticate your dog, or try new recipes. It is all there, just make a selection of the subjects and people of your interest and browse the world. Forget about your morning paper for actualities or even inside stories, these are real time available on the net.

What about journalism then? Is there still need for a professional press? I think there is. More then ever. The world needs trustworthy professionals to check sources, to dive into information, know history and analyse what is happening. Guides in the message spaghetti bowl are more important then ever before. They too are virtual and thus borderless, they make it their lives’ job to help you find your way and to protect democracy. Democracy? Yes, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to live ones life as one wishes without bullies telling people what to do or think. In the end it is all about freedom, whether you seek to follow the freedom fighters or Cesar Milan.

nonfiXe, March 16, 2011