Newsweek piece on blogosphere diversity and the Halley/Levy challenge

Steven Levy's column in the upcoming issue of Newsweek starts with a quote from Keith Jenkins, commenting on Rebecca's blog, which expressed his concern that people of color are less well represented in the blogopshere than in mainstream media:

“It has taken ‘mainstream media’ a very long time to get to [the] point of inclusion,” Jenkins wrote. “My fear is that the overwhelmingly white and male American blogosphere… will return us to a day where the dialogue about issues was a predominantly white-only one.”

Levy notes that it's ironic that, in a medium designed to be open, grassroots and participatory, the most widely cited bloggers are white, male Americans:

So why, when millions of blogs are written by all sorts of people, does the top rung look so homogeneous?

Levy cites Global Voices as one of the projects attempting to diversify the blogosphere, and mentions a challenge offered by Halley Suitt at the recent “Weblogs, Journalism and Credibility” conference at Harvard:

…Suitt challenged people to each find 10 bloggers who weren't male, white or English-speaking—and link to them. “Don't you think,” she says, “that out of 8 million blogs, there could be 50 new voices worth hearing?” Definitely. Now let's see if the blogosphere can self-organize itself to find them.

Finding female webloggers is hardly a challenge, especially if one opens the definition of “weblog” to include LiveJournal and Xanga sites. LiveJournal features 2.6m “active” accounts – 1.5m of which have been updated in the past 30 days – and 67.2% of registered users are female.

Finding non-white, non-American blogs can be more challenging – I wrote an essay a year ago called “Making Room for the Third World in the Second Superpower” positing some of the challenges webloggers in the developing world have getting access to the web and making their voices heard. These challenges aside, it's becoming increasingly easy to find great blogs from around the world, thanks to country and regional aggregators, blogrings, and “hub figures” who link to multiple bloggers in their communities.

For instance, Global Voices ally Ory Okolloh keeps close track of the Kenyan blogosphere – her blogroll is a who's who of Kenyan bloggers and a great introduction to fantastic voices like Unganisha and Mental Acrobatics. The Egyptian Blog Ring, Jordan Planet and BahrainBlogs give English-speakers a good starting point for discovering great blogs from the Middle East. And African aggregator BlogAfrica features blogs from the entire African continent.

Inclined to take up Halley and Levy's challenge and discover ten new blogs that aren't written by “the usual suspects?” Blog it on your site and let us know about it in the comments section of this post.


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