spiritual self-exploration through health, fitness, and nutrition

Posts tagged ‘blogging’

Blog Facelift

Decided my blog needed a little cosmetic surgery. New title, new image. Hope this doesn’t cause much confusion.

Getting a little ahead of myself before the new year, perhaps?

Yeah, I like it.

Iraq 2.0

With the rise of Web 2.0, it is easier than ever to share and explore personal accounts of the Iraq war.

This week, I browsed through some military blogs (aka “miliblogs”) and came across a wide array of content. My favorite three were Acute Politics, The Gun Line, and When Last We Left Our Intrepid Heroine.” When Last We…,” written by a livejournal user named “soldiergrrrl,” was of particular interest to me because it was one of the few blogs that I came across that was written by a woman. Although all the blogs were similar in topic (e.g., life in the front line of war), it was refreshing to read from a woman’s perspective.

YouTube is also a great resource for those looking to see action in the front lines. While browsing through enemy combatant footage, I was reminded of when the Iraq War first started about six years ago. People were fixated on their television sets to watch live footage of the fighting, taken by professional reporters. Now, the soldiers…the civilians…the enemies – they are now the “reporters” conveying the information.

However, I can’t help but think how much of what’s posted online is censored (videos, specifically – but I suppose this would also apply to miliblogging). While there is some graphic footage out there, are the more extreme videos blocked by government or video sites? Photos of dead soldiers and videos of memorial services are off limits.

The Constitutional Rights Foundation has a site that lists policies of press freedom versus military censorship:

  • Policy #1: Press Pools. The Pentagon accredited all American journalists and required them to observe the battlefield press rules (e.g., No reporters could visit any U.S. military unit or travel outside of Dhahran or Riyadh except in a press pool.)
  • Policy #2: Proposed Rules by News Media (e.g., The Pentagon should accredit independent journalists, who must observe ‘a clear set of military security guidelines that protect U.S. forces and their operations.’ Violators of these guidelines should be expelled from the combat zone.)”

In closing, the following are videos of resistance towards the military censorship put forth by the Bush Administration:

Exploring Global Bloggers – Saudi Arabia

I recently visited Global Voices Online, a very interesting collaborative site that organizes and highlights blogs from around the world. Since I already explored Iranian bloggers in my very first blog post, I decided to hop across the Persian Gulf and explore Saudi Arabia’s blogging world. I was curious as to how similar the two countries were in terms of freedoms and restrictions.

One of the major recurring themes that I came across was the repression against women. Saudi Arabia Women Rights is a blog that raises awareness of the lack of rights.  I was actually pleased to see that some men were outraged by the government’s rulings. One of my favorite blogs was saudijeans.org, written by 24-year old Ahmed Al-Omran who resides and studies in Riyadh. He focuses on the country’s social and political issues, and also stands against repression towards women.

In a country where so many restrictions are set, blogging is a gateway to expression for many in the middle east. It is, in a way, a small revolution. As expressed in UK Financial Times:

The movement appears to have caught more conservative members of the establishment off guard, by introducing new tactics to the political scene as well as a new spirit of activism among young Kuwaitis.


Fouad Al-Farhan

However, bloggers in the region need to be cautions of what they post. A perfect example of someone who may have gone too far was Fouad al-Farhan, who in December 2007 was the first Saudi Arabian blogger to be arrested because of his criticism of corruption and call for political reform. Farhan also ran into trouble with the authorities in 2006 when he tried to start a group to protect bloggers’ rights. The executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information even stated:

“When the Saudi authorities arrest a young man writing maturely and is against terrorism and calls for reformation, it is a serious indicator for how far are the fanatic and those opposing freedom of expression and reformation are taking over in Saudi Arabia.”

A contributor of Global Voices Online outlined al-Farhan’s situation perfectly.

This may be a revolution, indeed.

Bloggers Affecting the Travel Industry

In my class del.icio.us feed, I came across a story entitled Pushy bloggers to travel industry: Be nice. I found this article (written by Christopher Elliott) to be particularly interesting because it really shows how far the travel industry has come in terms of customer service, thanks to Web 2.0.

Let’s rewind back 10-15 years. Suppose you had a terrible experience on a flight with one of the airline staff members. Immediate action would usually consist of requesting to speak with a manager. Some may have gone a step further by writing a letter (or an email, if they had access) to the manager. You may have received some sort of apology, or, if you were lucky, a refund or coupon. However, this was a slow process. Web 2.0 has completely turned things around.

In his article, Elliott gives examples of how this plays out in today’s world. One is about a bad experience that someone had at a Las Vegas hotel; the manager extended an apology and offered a free 2-night stay. Another lady posted a blog about faulty child seats from Advantage Rent-a-Car that caught the attention of ABC news; this led to California changing their child safety-seat laws.

Twitter is making it even faster and easier to express poor service, and allows members to interact with one another on issues. As Rachel King puts it:

Companies have figured out Twitter provides the opportunity to listen to what customers are saying about their brands, and to respond. Still, it’s not easy for a corporation to strike the right tone on Twitter. Some brands on Twitter seem too formal and stilted while others seem interested in using it only as a one-way PR channel. And then there’s the delicate issue of corporations following unsuspecting customers and responding to their complaints about brands. Even though the intentions are good, it might be a bit startling for customers to find out the folks from the brand are eavesdropping on their tweets.

King shines light on both the pros and cons of tweeting about customer service, but I believe that more good  comes from this “conversation” between brands and consumers.

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