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Colombia: Contest brings forth multimedia citizen journalists

Showing hidden Colombia through online tools could get you inside the Googleplex, if your work wins the “Best told place in Colombia” contest. Most of the links in this article will send you to websites in Spanish, unless otherwise noted. Semana publications in Colombia has opened a contest along with Google for anyone, regardless of nationality, to write, show and create content telling the world about a very special place in Colombia most people wouldn´t normally be aware of, using at least two of Google's tools such as Picasa, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Earth, SketchUp, Page Creator and or Panoramio, and documenting their research and progress through a blogger blog. For awarding prizes, several aspects will be taken into account by the judges: quality of the content, creativity of the author or authors, the story´s relevance, development of the work done and adequate usage of the included tools, the use of different web resources and the interest and comments from users.

The full instructions and information on the contest are available (in Spanish), at Colombia En El Mapa website. One of the nice touches are that although the prize is a visit to the Googleplex in California, where the winner will get to meet the developers of the tools used, they have taken into account the immense difficulty that is for a Colombian,and many other, citizen to get a US visa. So if the winner doesn´t have a valid US visa, they will fly them instead to the Google offices in Argentina, a country for which Colombian citizens don´t need a visa to enter.

Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay picture by *L*u*z*a*

Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay photo by *L*u*z*a*

Although the website mentions that inscriptions are open from March 31st to May 6th, you can already view and vote for the participating blogs, roughly 70 at this point. One example I really enjoyed was Chocoando. Its author, José Alejandro González Vargas, known as barcelombia in YouTube, has taken the task at heart, and is showcasing the life in the coastal province of Chocó. On his blog Nativos, half documentary, half travel journal, he retells the stories and shows the videos where he interviews people, talks to locals and records his experience visiting the people and places of Chocó. The Chocó Department has suffered not only historical abandonment by the government, but also armed violence, floods, droughts, and starvation of its native indigenous and afro communities. As the wikipedia entry states[en]: “Despite having an incredibly diverse geography, unique ecosystems and unexploited resources, Chocó is one of the Departments in Colombia with the worst human conditions for living.”

He takes it on his hands to record the other aspects of Chocó, the scenery, the places, stories and people.

The following video shows us the beautiful landscapes and the faces of the people, who in spite of all hardships, never loose their smiles. It is titled Uribe, Castaño, Marulanda, Bush, and is a request for those who are holding Colombia's future in their hands to take care of the people who live here. Also, don´t hesitate to stop by barcelombia's YouTube channel and see this and other videos shot throughout Colombia.

Another participating blog is Victor Solano's who wrote one telling the story of Rising Voices‘[en] project, Hiperbarrio at La Loma de San Javier, in Medellín, Colombia. His entry is called La Loma toca el cielo which means La Loma touches the sky.

You can view all the competing entries and vote for them by following this link.

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