The Jordan blogging community, a small but active group, seems to be well positioned to act as a bridge between the Arab world and the rest of the world. Many Jordanian bloggers write in English and the country is open both to the west and to the Arab world. Amman is becoming a meeting place, both in a physical and digital sense.
I just came back from a meeting that was both physical and digital. The familiar, young faces of some of the Jordan Planet blogger group were there, as was Ethan Zuckerman, who’s presence in Amman provided a good mental push for those of us who believe that blogging, open source and geekery can actually change the world. Ethan’s definitely a big believer in that. Hearing about his experiences with technology, change and development in Africa and other places was very enlightening.
Earlier today I was listening to his presentation at Pop!Tech conference last year. If you want to get a primer on how broken mainstream media is and at just how challenging it is to overcome the so-called digital divide, the presentation is a good place to start. (By the way, IT Conversations, the site that is hosting the audio of the presentation is a really cool site too if you’re into listening to cool presentations at cool conferences).
Also present was ‘non-blogger’ Raida Al-Zu3bi, whose ‘ticket’ to the meeting was ‘earned’ by the fact that she’s someone who works in the development field (as in ‘gender studies’ not ‘coding’ but who’s also an open source and technology enthusiast.
Ethan talked about his current experience with GlobalVoices and we threw around ideas on how to get more Jordanians blogging, especially from outside Amman (or shall I say affluent western Amman). Photoblogging from mobile phones was one ideas that I felt was interesting. Camera phones are just spreading like crazy in Jordan. Introducing people to blogging through their mobile phones sound like a cool idea to me.
I noted that there are several active discussion forums in the Arab world. Posters to these forums could be encouraged to start blogging too, with the aim of getting more voices from the region online.
For more perspectives on the meeting (and a list of participants) see Ethan’s post on GlobalVoices. Also check out the photos on Jad Thoughts.