Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Englisi sohbat mikoni?

When I began thinking about moving from my old home to a new one, I considered using it to practice my Persian, which I took up about a year ago. That plan fell by the wayside, in part because my formal studies ended with my graduation. Running across this site however has once again piqued my interest in attempting to create my own multi-language blog.

My discovery of this blog also reminded me of importance language plays in the networking and social dynamics of the internet. I often forget the inherent anglophone (or at least Latin script) bias present in cyberspace. Knowing the Latin script is practically a requisite for using the internet. While for much of the world this isn't so much of a problem (thanks to colonization), it is still quite prohibitive to many populations, both in regions where other scripts are primary and of course to the vast numbers of illiterate people. These points are obvious, but also vital to any study of the socio-political implications of the internet. I think they should also play a more direct role in the campaigns of cyber-activists who promote the internet as means of promoting democracy.

Back to multi-language blogs, I think this is provides a wonderful opportunity for world citizens to establish dialogue. Perhaps blogs should be required in language courses? As far as the use of English as the langua franca of the internet, there are both negative and positive aspects to this. I guess it is natural for people to find a medium of communication through which they can achieve greater exposure. On the other hand, all the questions of Ameri/Eurocentrism come into play. For the internet to be truly populist, it seems a constant tug of war is necessary. Then again, perhaps this is where the importance of bridgeblogs come into play.

I'll try to be more coherent in the future.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

WSJ Op-Eds: US Policy and Blogging

Today's Wall Street Journal had two op-eds that particularly caught my eye. The first dealt with the question of the suggestion put forth by the Iraq panel that the US begin negotiations with Iran and Syria. The opinion, written by Stanford's Abraham Sofaer, positioned itself as the "Reagan strategy" to hostile countries. I found the general sentiment a sound one. I especially agree with the idea of limited and segmented negotiations with the two countries on less controversial issues. As Sofaer put it, "The distrust between the U.S. and Irani suggests that negotiations between them should commence on limited issues, in a noncontroversial forum." His suggestion of the U.S./Iran tribunal at the Hague was an interesting one. I feel that Bush's policy of complete rejection and pre-condition is futile. Negotiation will not work without diplomacy, which is what I feel the American public at large is finally realizing.

The second editorial discussed the phenomenon of blogging, and specifically its impact on public political discussion. Written by Joseph Rago, an editor at the WSJ, it takes a highly negative position (incidentally, the article begins by referring to Iran, noting that blogs are so popular that "Even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has one."). This position, which is actually discussed extensively by Alireza Doodstar in his article "The Vulgar Spirit of Blogging," (pdf) argues that blogging has debased debate about important issues. Rago believes that the internet, and specifically blogging, has created an atmosphere where the very style of writing has become so sloppy and informal as to be undignified. Says Rago, "The way we write affects both style and substance... The closest analogue [to blogging] might be the (poorly kept) diary or common place book, or the note scrawled to oneself on the back of an envelope- though these things are not meant for public consumption." While I can't argue with many of Rago's points, I think that he in turn misses an important point when it comes to substance. His is the response one would expect from a elite writer, positioned high above "the fray." Perhaps Rago doesn't understand power that the informality of blogging contains, the freedom or accessibility that it implies. Of course, if he is being published in the WSJ, I guess there is no incentive for him to see this.

On the other hand, I do want to point out an important point he makes that has been a point discussed on Sounds Iranian. This deals with participants on the internet talking past each other rather than to each other. As Rago puts it (rather well), "The Internet is very good at connecting and isolating people who are in agreement, not so good at engaging those who aren't." Very apt words that I think bloggers need to deal with.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Collaborative Blog

I am excited to be a part of a new collaborative blog, named Sounds Iranian, that deals with the Iranian blogosphere. I have been traveling the past few weeks and have not had muh time to take a parge part in the discussion. I do look forward to spending more time on it soon, and investigating the work of the other involved bloggers.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

New Blogs

My continued romp through a rediscovered blogosphere placed me in the links section of Shiva the Spy. There I found a number of interesting Iranian blogs, including this one by an environmental activist from Iran. I'll be sure to go through that one sometime soon.