Here in the Unit­ed States, we don’t always hear about efforts abroad to uti­lize social media and devel­op new ways of orga­niz­ing online, because we don’t give our neigh­bors in the world com­mu­ni­ty much attention.

But we ought to, because pro­gres­sives in oth­er coun­tries are try­ing to make use of the Inter­net to bring about change, too.

Some efforts begin spon­ta­neous­ly and devel­op into more mature com­mu­ni­ca­tions chan­nels out of frus­tra­tion with cuts in essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices, as in Por­tu­gal, and some are planned out for the long term, such as Sun­ny Hun­dal’s Lib­er­al Con­spir­a­cy and its ally UK Uncut,  which aims to decon­struct the Con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­men­t’s nar­ra­tive about the economy.

Mr. Hun­dal, who played a crit­i­cal part in orga­niz­ing  the first Net­roots UK this year, empha­sized dur­ing the pan­el the need for orga­ni­za­tions and projects that do train­ing (such as Well­stone Action, based here in Min­neso­ta), which give activists the tools that they need to let their voic­es be heard.

John Aravo­sis, one of the mod­er­a­tors of the pan­el, high­light­ed a sto­ry men­tioned by pan­elist Johann Ulvenlov, illus­trat­ing the impor­tance of rep­e­ti­tion in mak­ing nar­ra­tives effec­tive. The sto­ry goes that a rel­a­tive­ly low-pro­file blog­ger in Swe­den decid­ed to write about her moth­er being kicked off of Swedish health­care because of actions tak­en by the con­ser­v­a­tive government.

The expe­ri­ence she chron­i­cled was ampli­fied by the net­roots com­mu­ni­ty, and soon caught the atten­tion of the nation­al media, which cov­ered both the sto­ry and the cre­ative meth­ods used to dis­trib­ute it, such as a viral video which imag­ined a con­ver­sa­tion between this blog­ger and the con­ser­v­a­tive prime min­is­ter.

Paula DeSil­va, a pan­elist from Por­tu­gal, spoke about the use of the Inter­net as just anoth­er way to uti­lize word-of-mouth, with the focus on reach­ing the peo­ple. Her per­spec­tive pro­vid­ed valu­able insight on the rela­tion­al aspect of grass­roots orga­niz­ing, and the dif­fi­cul­ty (at least in Por­tu­gal) of trans­lat­ing grass­roots inter­est on the inter­net into lob­by­ing efforts aimed at the offi­cials who make the decisions.

The con­ver­sa­tion then drift­ed towards exam­in­ing how to orga­nize a con­fer­ence, which seemed to be very impor­tant top­ic to the inter­na­tion­al blog­gers who are here on a State Depart­ment pro­gram (many from coun­tries with­out an orga­nized net­roots com­mu­ni­ty), and then came back to the need for inter­na­tion­al sup­port for blog­gers abroad, empha­sized by a com­ment by a blog­ger from Kyr­gyzs­tan, who explained the dif­fi­cul­ty of lan­guage bar­ri­ers and how, in coun­tries who gen­er­al­ly use region­al lan­guages, you either write in your native lan­guage and get no inter­na­tion­al sup­port, or write in Eng­lish and go com­plete­ly over the head of cit­i­zens actu­al­ly liv­ing in the coun­try concerned.

This ques­tion was­n’t entire­ly resolved, with most of the pan­elists gen­er­al­ly say­ing to mere­ly dou­ble-post, one post in Eng­lish and one post in the local lan­guage. Of course, only mul­ti­lin­gual authors can do this.

The pan­el end­ed with intrigu­ing con­ver­sa­tion around the repres­sion of civ­il and polit­i­cal rights in Bahrain.

It seems that there are many more inter­na­tion­al blog­gers at the con­ven­tion this year. There is an inter­na­tion­al blog­ger meet-and-greet lat­er on dur­ing the con­ven­tion, and we’ll try to com­pile a blogroll from the par­tic­i­pants so you can see for your­self what pro­gres­sives abroad are writ­ing and doing.

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