Step of hope ..............
After the past year’s social media revolution, Iraqi’s were eager to join in the discussion through blogs, Facebook and twitter.
Last week, in Sulaymaniyah, this culminated in the first conference for Iraqi bloggers. The idea was simple: gather 60 bloggers from all over Iraq to discuss the most important topics such as how to develop blogging nationwide, workshops on IT, internet security and thenew Iraq Computer Crimes law, the merging of blogs with Facebook and twitter, and creating mobile advocacy campaigns. The result was extraordinary, as my fellow bloggers impressed me with their excitement and conviction that we truly were blogging for the future.”
The idea for the conference first emerged from the social turmoil of late 2010 and early 2011 that resulted in demonstrations throughout Iraq. While one image was being presented in the media, technology allowed citizen journalists and civil society activists to also share their views and agendas. We created communities through Facebook and blogs to update each other and share our opinions.
At this same time, IMS (International Media Support) reached out to the Iraqi blogging community to offer technical advice on how to expand and develop an online movement of citizen journalists in Iraq. In May 2011, they held a meeting in Sulaymaniyah to discuss needs, and we had further training on social media in July 2011. I was lucky to be a participant in these events and to share my ideas for reaching out to fellow Iraqis.
As an IT specialist with Mercy Corps, this conference was a dream come true. I met new people from all over Iraq that shared the same interests and hopes for a better future through technology. Many of these have turned out to be great friends! The internet is a new frontier in Iraq, and it is helpful to have the shared knowledge and experience as we navigate the changing political environment. For right now, we are all pitching in and sharing what we know while filling gaps along the way – small steps, but important steps. We hope to continue our progress through the bloggers network (Iraq Network for Social Media), and further conferences and trainings.
Language editing: Brenna Carmody.