Monday, 13 June 2011

The local, regional and global internet and social proest

The group Periodismo Humano (Human Journalism) is using Facebook to promote human rights actives in the Spanish speaking world. In a global world Facebook groups like this can unify activities and events that share a common language. For example the group is organizing protests in Spain, Mexico and South America. A recent major event us route of consolation in Mexico, where they travel to areas impacted by the drug war trying to strength civil society and improve social life for ordinary Mexicans.

Periodismo Humano demonstrates how new media is making movements more global. Spanish was perhaps the first global media. The language is spoken all over the Americas and in some parts of Africa. Spain is also a integral part of the EU, a place many Europeans would have links to.

The Plaza Del Sol was created as the center of time and measurements for a Spanish Empire. It should not come as surprising that many protesters are using it as a central point of a new kind of movement without central leaders. From Madrid a movement could spread through the Spanish speaking world, which includes the US, just as out of Tahrir Jasmine spread to the entire Arab world.

We tend to look at this things as three expanding sphere around an event:

1. The local. Those directly involved in a protest. In the case of Egypt the entire nation became three expanding rings.
2. The regional. Regional might be an area or nations near each other like the Middle East or the EU, or it might be a global constellation of nations that share bonds of language and culture. The larger Islamic world or the Spanish speaking world. Spain is interesting as it is a key part of both the EU and the Spanish speaking world.
3. The fully global. Translated in to "twitter English" or "twenglish" lessons learned form events in Spain, Madison or Tahrir are shared on a global scale.

These three sphere have their limitations as well as straights.

The local is the most engaged sphere were the heavy work is done. The local uses the Internet to organize and communicate for direct action in an agile way that tries to get around censorship. The local is covered mostly with Social Networking tools like Twitter and Facebook. The social network is key in this media.

The regional is the main academic sphere where ideas are shared and expanded via bloggers and youTube videos. The regional takes advantage of the Internets ability to self publish in order to share and gather ideas between different locations. For example the Arab uprisings are communicating with each other via YouTubes, were all people share the Arabic language.

The global is faced with the difficulty of language. English serves as a kind of international standard, but a large part of the local and regional do not speak English and the main activity is not happening in English speaking nations. The US has seen Union protests and the UK has the uncut movement and both have the feminist slutwalks, but these are relatively small compared to the camping movement in Spain or the Arab Awakening. But they are all join in a sphere of motivation. They all share images. At this level youTube videos without extensive text (scenes of protest or state brutality) or images on sharing sites like TwitPic become most significant. Images go beyond limits of language and culture to build a global motivational layer.

Pieces of information are constantly moving up and down the layers. Lessons learned at a protest in Bahrain may rises up to Arab sites, where they may be translated in to Spanish. These lesson may become parts of Spanish speaking blogs where they may help protesters in specific sites. These may produce feedback. The process is constantly moving information around as it forms a global identity that we see emerging out of this.

Do not thing that the language barriers between local events makes the global sphere superficial or even non-existent. What images can do is ground a sense of identity. Identity formation is a key part of this event. From Spanish young people taking on the role of indolent and unemployed to women reclaiming the term slut this years protest see identity being reformed and reworked on all three levels.

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