After 90 regular posts for Global Voices Online, we have all become familiar with Salam Adil‘s pleads: If you read no other post this week, read this. A blogger since May 2005, Salam joined GVO at the beginning of 2006 with a mission. Despite living in London, UK, Salam says GVO has given him a chance to reconnect a generation of Iraqis he has grown apart from.
Here's our quick interview with Salam:
* How long have you been blogging for GVO and why?
Longer than I care to remember … sorry, I could not resist… since January 2006
As to why … it's simple. We are doing our part to change the world. What we are doing is politics in the real sense. Politics is not about parties and making speeches and getting votes. It is all about changing the way people view and act towards the world around them so that the wars and the horrors of this world become things of the past.
*What have you given GVO and what has it given back to you?
Ninety posts and over 400 hours of my life (not that I am counting). GVO has given me a global network of friends and a chance to make a difference. It has also given me a source to get an impression of the world any time I need. Also, having lived outside of my home country, GVO has given me a chance to reconnect with a generation of Iraqis that have I have grown apart from and a generation that has grown up apart from the world.
* Please sum up your experience covering the Iraqi blogosphere at such a difficult time. How different is what you are reading on blogs from what is being reported on mainstream media?
It has been a true pleasure covering the Iraqi blogs. One cannot do justice to the wealth of experiences talked about in the Iraqi blogs and the hardest part is always choosing what to leave out. My best experience is being part of the community of Iraqi bloggers and the wider blogging community. No matter how much we disagree I am always sure to get a friendly response and a blogger ready to go out of his way to help when I need. When Ali Shafiya of the video blog Alive in Baghdad died, even A-list bloggers like Robert Scoble wrote posts to express their condolences and many people, from all over the world, contributed to help his family with the funeral. It is very hard when I have to report deaths as I have grown to know the bloggers as well as my best friends but I feel we are all strengthened by sharing these experiences.
I will not say that blogs are better or worse than the mainstream media but they are an essential alternative channel. Many times the mainstream media, by sheer virtue of being a foreign organisation, completely misses what is important. Blogs can fill in these gaps or provide insight into what is happening that you just cannot find anywhere else. In my next post I will be writing about a conversation between one blogger and people claiming to be part of the Iraqi resistance. Chance conversations like this just do not happen in the media.
* Are Iraqi citizen journalists being heard? How is that happening?
Yes. Well, the obvious answer is that Global Voices Online is a great part of why they are being heard. And bit by bit the media is realising that bloggers have something relevant to say. Already BBC television news has invited me to describe blogger reactions to current events. The BBC news web site already has an occasional column rounding up the writings of Iraqi bloggers and I think that without GVO, none of this would have happened.
* What are your hopes for the Iraqi blogosphere?
To grow and grow. I want to get more people writing who would would not normally consider writing a blog.
* What are your hopes for GVO?
Already GVO has greatly exceeded my hopes – so I can only hope that it continues to exceed my hopes.