Blog Flux LinkLog: Outgoing Link Logging and Click Tracking for Em duas línguas

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Into the blogosphere"

I was interested to come across Into the blogosphere - a blog that mixes the genre of blog and journal today. They say:

"we are producing this peer-reviewed edited collection about blogging in the spirit of blogging but with a focus on scholarly work that has been through the peer review process".

One of the postings (?) articles (?) articles from Frank Schaap about blogs in the Dutch Blogosphere. This is the beginning of it (the italics are mine):

"I must confess that much of the vibrant Dutch weblog community remained hidden from me for quite a while, even though I am Dutch, have my own weblog, and frequently use the Internet. I was aware of some of the more high profile Dutch weblogs, but as an early adopter and Internet researcher, my attention was mostly trained on the English-speaking part of the Internet. Few native English weblogs link to non-English weblogs in their blogroll and those English language weblogs that do link to non-English weblogs are usually written by non-native English speakers.1 Conversely, Dutch weblogs almost exclusively link to other Dutch weblogs in their blogroll, which only occasionally includes English language weblogs. In their entries, Dutch weblogs do link to English language web sites and copy or translate their news but the links of affiliation remain overwhelmingly with other Dutch weblogs. The Internet may be transnational but many communities remain bound by barriers of language.

"During the past three to four years, the Dutch weblog community has developed a distinct style of online presence. A number of terms and neologisms, that go beyond the technical terminology associated with weblogging, have developed and are now in use in the community, occasionally even seeping into mainstream media reporting on the Internet. Several sites track new posts to Dutch weblogs, there is a monthly e-zine, About:blank, "by bloggers for bloggers," that hosts the annual Dutch Bloggies award shows, and there are at least two Dutch-developed weblog systems available. The Dutch weblog community draws on international developments on the web and in the blogosphere, but articulates them according to the specifics of the Dutch context, showing the process of "glocalization" at work (Robertson, 1995)."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Socially acceptable views

Yesterday Blog de Esquerda II closed and there were a series of good posts from the group who have been writing over a number of years. There is one by Jorge Palinhos about blogs that got me thinking. He said that while he agreed that blogs are a space for self-expression and civic action, he hesitated about agreeing that blogs are a space for freedom of expression. The reason for his hesitation is:

"because public explosure implies being accountable, giving a face to what you write and having to think about who you are writing for. And this implies restricting freedom in exchange for social acceptance."

(My translation of "Porque a exposição pública implica ter de prestar contas, dar a cara pelo que se escreve e ter de pensar para quem se escreve. E isso implica restringir a liberdade, em troca de aceitação social.")

My question is: what about those communities where social acceptance comes from freely expressing your ideas and from listening to other people freely expressing their views? What about those communities where diverse views are seen as a first (socially acceptable) step in looking at situations in different ways and which might lead to creative or transformative dialogue?

The idea that you have to restrict your freedom of expression in exchange for social acceptance comes with the notion that an opinion or something written is un-negotiable; at its most democratic it's a truth to be debated. It comes from the idea that there are facts and counter-facts, affiliations or challenges by the person who expresses a view.

I want to be socially accepted in the first community where I can freely express myself with a view to negotiating meaning and engaging in a progressive dialogue that might transcend my or any individual's view. It's what I call learning.

But Jorge is right - the problem is that we mostly find ourselves in communities where we need to say the right things and make the right affiliations in exchange for being socially accepted.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Learning when to keep things clean

My son, who is 17 years old and adopted, told me over dinner tonight that the most important thing he learned in his relationship with me is that "nothing stays under the covers" and "all the dishes are clean". Interestingly, the language he used that was similar to that of my 23 year old daughter who told me two years ago that whatever happened in her life, she could be herself and that everything between us was "clean".

I think I know what they mean.

The idea that nothing is out of bounds, that everything is just there to be done and said comes from my White African history in Kenya, I'm sure. Those of my generation who didn't suffer or die from a road, drug or alchohol related accident - and who stepped out of a parochial ex-patriot or ex-settler environment - share a characteristic of doing and saying as if there were no social limits. I think it is related to an unspoken assumption that nothing that can be done or talked about is out of bounds for doing or talking about.

However, I live in a culture where so much is left unspoken and out of bounds. And I haven't yet learned the art of calculating what and when to say to whom in which way and for what purpose. At its best people accept and like me for being a weirdo foreigner and at its worst I too often open my mouth and put my foot into places where they shouldn't be going.

It is another language that I am still struggling to learn.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Multilingual bible

At the Unbound Bible you can read any part of the Bible in four languages at the same time. For example, in front of me now I can see Mathew 1 in English (New American Standard Bible), Chinese (Union), Breton Gospels and Portuguese (Almeida Actualizada). Being able to read the Bible is not so interesting for me, but the idea of being able to read things online in parallel in different languages is neat!

Thanks to Languagehat for the link.

Friday, November 18, 2005

CIARIS Portugal - in Portuguese

I have almost finished designing the blog for CIARIS Portugal - "Apoiando o combate à pobreza e exclusão social em Portugal".

The idea is for the coordinator to be able to learn to work with Typepad himself. The process of doing this made me more conscious of some of the language issues. Typepad (and I'm talking about the Pro version) is not difficult to use and it does a lot of the visual layout for you. But it doesn't do a version in Portuguese, so the instructions are in English. And to change the names of the categories or the "about" page to "sobre" or "comments" to "comentários" etc. then you have to use the advanced template, you need to know how to use HTML and you need to be able to follow instructions in English.

This makes using Typepad and the system I've set up a higher leap on the learning curve for grassroots activists, many of whom won't read much in English and won't know how to use HTML. So, the more sophisticated things you can do with it are harder to get to. However, I did read somwhere that Typepad (and Blogger) were the most widely used blogs in Portugal.

In Blogger, which has less of the potential advantages to Typepad Pro, you get your interface and a lot of the functions in eight different languages (including Brazilian Portuguese). I also noticed and appreciated that you can use Bloglines, which I use for the blogroll, in different languages too (including Portuguese).

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Online communities - reality check

Yesterday I did a session with around sixty people who have just completed a one-year online course. They are coordinators of community and social action projects, mostly between the ages of 25 and 35. Most were first degree holders, many in the area of sociology or psychology. None of this dynamic group of social activists had heard of Yahoo Discussion Groups and only one had heard of a blog.

If I add this new information to what I already know about my third year business students who also didn't know about Yahoo discussion groups or blogs (until they met me!) I am tempted to conclude that there may not be many young, educated people in Portugal who are involved in asycnhronous online communities.

Does this mean that they accept having lives that are shaped by new technologies and communities using those technologies ... or should I feel confident that they are being pro-active, creative and subversive in places that I don't know about?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Another lesson in learning to wait ...

"We would like your advice about an e-learning course" asked someone from the Concelho Pedaogogica of our neighbouring School of Technology. And I feel happy that after all these years I am finally being consulted - I feel a warm, natural smile.

"You know how we have these short (one-week) courses for people from outside and inside the Insitution?" she says. "Well, we've decided to start one of these courses online and we are hoping you can help us." My heart swells with camaradarie.

"Do you think it's better to start with a face-to-face phase or is it better to begin online?"

She has no idea that she just pushed my enthusiasm button. (And if you want the power point presentation or the text just let me know.) I respond with gusto recounting my experience, my reflections and my suggestions for running a course or a module or a workshop that has a face-to-face component. Start with an online ramp-up, move to a face-to-face event and then have an online follow-on.

With great interest and politeness she waits until I have finished talking. "Thank you" she says. "That's very interesting. Now, do you think we can manage to do all that in five days between a Monday and Friday?"

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

About "correcting" in a Wiki

Monica, whose first language is Portuguese, says in her blog that she would improve someone's language, if she was collaborating with someone whose first language wasn't Portuguese:

"... partindo do princípio que estou a colaborar com alguém, parti do pressuposto que era esperado que se visse algo que pudesse ser melhorado na minha língua nativa, e à semelhança do que esperaria que fizessem com a minha escrita em inglês, deveria intervir."

I find myself puzzled about what the etiquette in this situation should be. In the same Wiki conversation about the preparations for a BlogHer event in Portugal I found myself reformulating (correcting) something written in Portuguese by Nancy White. I thought I was making her words clearer because I thought I could better express what she wanted to say. I didn't feel this because we both share English as a first language - but because we share some other language of another shared community. I also felt like I was better at seeing Nancy's words though the eyes of someone who was Portuguese (a community I feel I have more experience of than Nancy).

Será que pode ser considerado arrogância?

How arrogant was that of me???

Then, for myself, I hoped that no-one who knew the sense of what I was trying to say - in the context of the Wiki and of the event preparations - would leave something of mine uncorrected.

But at the same time there are "mistakes" which are also part of my style. At some point if someone corrected me to the extent that I felt that "me" or my style weren't valued, then I would stop or renogotiate my contributions because there would come a time when the Wiki space and the BlogHer preparations would feel "not me" or "not mine".

This leads me to think that the whole question is less about mistakes and corrections and more about trust and feelings of ownership, belonging and feeling valued. I think there is less of an issue about etiquette and what to do (or not) in these situations and more of an issue around feeling like you have a voice (or not) and feeling valued (or not) for what you have to offer. And what someone has have to offer is not necessarily linguistic expertise.

It is both curious and important that Monica also says "E o que me fez tratar a Bev como se de facto já a conhecesse?" Although we have never met, the fact that she is both in my constellation of international online communities and also in my constellation of Portuguese communities gives me a sense of knowing her that goes far beyond an occasional face-to-face encounter. I don't know why that is.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A lesson about timing

I was teaching a friend to use Typepad for a civic association he is setting up. With my usual enthusiasm I showed him how to post messages and how the categories worked. I showed him bloglines and how he could have a blogroll and how he could import feeds. I talked about how he could use feeds for gettting news items on specifically related topics in the Portuguese press. I marveled at how he could even import other people's feeds and become a reference site in the whole of Portugal.

Finally I paused long enough to listen to what he wanted to ask.

"Thank you. That sounds impressive" he said politely. "And can I use it for publishing a newsletter?"

In two languages and two scripts



Just fabulous. How would it feel to be blogging not only in two languages but two scripts! These are the blogs of Hossein Derakhshan who keeps a blog in English and a Persian blog.

Planning via a Wiki -some process thoughts

The process of pre-planning a possible BlogHer em Portugal conference via a wiki is fascinating. (It's on the Blogopedia set up by Paulo Querido).

The sensation of planning an event on a wiki seems quite different to planning via email or other online space. What's different is that there's no conversation about what you do, you just do it. I've used it for collaborative writing but not collaborative planning with people I don't know and have never spoken to. I wonder if you can effectively plan an entire event with people you don't know only through a Wiki. And how well would you know them after going through that process of working together?

There's also an interesting issue about language especially if you are writing in a second language. Do you, or should you, correct or reformulate someone's language on a wiki? And should you correct it or expect it to be corrected in the planning of an event?