Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"In the virtual world of the Internet, size and distance ought not to matter--people in small, far-flung, obscure corners of the world can, in theory, create a presence as big as anyone else's. But in practice, the slow acceptance and partial understanding in much of the Caribbean of what the Internet can be used for means that, online, Caribbean culture and ideas don't have a presence proportionate to our vitality and originality; and on the World Wide Web, 'Caribbean' continues to be defined by outsiders--a simple Google search turns up ample evidence.

"But blogging, by its very nature--its immediacy, its flexibility, its ease of access even to those with limited technical knowledge--offers the possibility for ordinary Caribbean people to tell their own stories and debate their own definitions. From Derek Walcott to Lloyd Best, our thinkers have long argued the imperative for Caribbean people to understand themselves on their own terms, in their own language, in their own context. The blogosphere is an opportunity for us both to engage in a boundaryless regional conversation and to talk back to the world, asserting our identity and independence.

"Is this conversation happening yet, or are we still clearing our throats? How are our bloggers answering the hard questions about Caribbean identity, about what 'Caribbean' can, could, and should mean?"

--This is the "abstract" I wrote a few months back for an event called "Global Voices, Caribbean Accents: A Roundtable on Blogging in the Caribbean", which is part of the programme of the Caribbean Studies Association's annual conference, currently ongoing in Port of Spain. The theme of this year's conference is "The Caribbean in the Age of Modernity", and Alice Backer, the Francophonia editor for Global Voices, had the bright idea that a panel on blogging would fit in very neatly. Alice drafted Georgia and me for the roundtable, but unfortunately at almost the last minute she had to drop out. Luckily, Attillah Springer was willing to leap unto the breach.

So tomorrow morning at 11.15 in the first-floor seminar room at the National Library in Port of Spain--a couple of blocks from the CSA conference headquarters at the Crowne Plaza Hotel--Georgia, Attillah, and I will have a decidedly unscholarly, free-form public dialogue about the current and potential roles of blogging and other forms of participative web media in the Caribbean. A special-edition Caribbean Free Radio podcast--incorporating interviews with various CSA members which we recorded this morning--will debut, we'll talk about our personal experiences with blogging and about the Caribbean blogs we think most interesting, and if the library's wi-fi and audio-visual equipment are as spiffy as we've been told, we'll stage a fully multi-media event, including live access of webpages on a big screen and who knows what other marvels. (It would be super if a member of the audience came equipped with laptop and decided to liveblog the proceedings.)

We'll post detailed reports afterwards, including selections from our notes and links to all the blogs and other sites we refer to during the roundtable. There was talk of a Skypecast, but we may have quite enough on our hands already....


Lyrically speaking said...

This is wonderful to read, I do hope more Carribean authors would benefit from blogging, I joined not too long ago and enjoying every moment of it

Anonymous said...

I hate that I missed this ... how did it go?

Anonymous said...

Where's the review?