To those of us who were at the Global Voices Online Citizen Media Summit or who have had a look at the photographs posted online from the gathering, you may have seen a guy in a hat seeming to be unnoticed. Well, that was Daniel Duende Carvalho, our Lingua Portuguese Editor, and he did not go unnoticed – no matter how hard he tried. Indeed he was a very talkative participant. But I'd like, before start an interview with him, bring to the readers what Jose Murilo has to say about him:
The amazing thing about Daniel and I is that we keep reconnecting everywhere. Ever since I can remember of my history, we were always getting together around games, gadgets, books, friends, jobs (not girls, thank God), and parents. No surprise at all in the fact that we are together again in Global Voices — connecting and creating in an ever-expanding network that now has many voices and relatives — just like a really big family.
Well, said that let's see what Daniel has to tell us.
How and when did you learn about blogs and start blogging?
Well. To be honest, it was in the (Brazilian) spring of 2002. I was bored one night in my somewhat far off home and then began reading some of my friends blogs. It sounded like something interesting to do, and then I created the Alriada Express [Pt] (whose archives date to that day in April '02). My blogging was mostly about nonsense and personal remarks at first. That kind of blogging was very common among my group of friends at the time. Some days later, I showed my blog to some people that are great bloggers today, but that had no blogs at the time, and heard things like “this is a complete waste of time”. I “wasted my time” for years, and then I think I began to get the sense of it. I don't consider myself a great blogger today — in fact it comes as as surprise to me to be featured in this respectable series of interviews! — but I think I know a thing or two, and sometimes know how to spread it through my good ol’ Alriada Express. In the beginning of 2007 I created O Caderno do Cluracão (The Cluricaun's Notebook, in Portuguese), my blog about literature, photography, my outlook on arts and culture and, above all, my writings. In the last few (or not so few) months it's been hard to find the time to blog, but if you ask me, my newer blog is about writing I miss the most. Currently almost all my “blogging time” is dedicated to Global Voices, and I believe this is fair. It's better to provide workforce to a wonderful project like Global Voices Online (and Global Voices Lingua) than to flaunt my ego ranting almost alone in my almost abandoned blogs.
How did you get involved with GV?
In the (again, Brazilian) winter of 2007 I've heard about the Global Voices Lingua project, and the possibility to create a Portuguese site translating the great content published at Global Voices Online. I already knew Global Voices Online for about one year then, and visited it at least once or twice a month to check the news, spending one hour or two reading about what's being said around the world. I was living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, then, and I was working with the Brazilian cultural site Overmundo [Pt]. But I was craving to come back to my hometown, Brasilia, Brazil's capital, and in the end that's what I did. When I came home to Brasilia, I was looking for a job but otherwise had plenty of free time. That's when I began translating for the newborn Global Voices em Português site, with a (not so) little help from a friend. In the beginning of July I've heard that the choice for the site coordinator was being made, and some days later was officially informed that I was chosen for the task. In the last one year and one month I've been translating, coordinating GV Lingua Português and, when possible, writing roundups and articles for Global Voices Online.
Let's talk a bit about Lingua
Lingua is a great project, that gives back all the content compiled to Global Voices Online (in English) to the linguistic groups from where all those wonderful, shocking and important words came from. It's more than fair exchange. It's the answer for a great demand for high quality citizen journalism content in languages other than English. More than that, Lingua is a very important experiment on volunteer translating and localization. Each day we are learning how to deal with extensive, very lively, volunteer communities and how to manage to translate not just the words, but the meanings, of what those global voices are saying. It's very exciting, and in my humble opinion something that is very demanded by the contemporary internet citizens: the group experiences geared to making things work and producing content.
However, Lingua sites are not visited as they should. How can we improve this?
Lingua sites visitor numbers are growing steadily, if not fast. I believe it's a matter of time before the global linguistic blogospheres discover them. The Lingua teams around the globe are doing a great job 24 hours a day, and such great work usually gets recognized in time. But of course there are things that can be done to improve that. Most of them are already being tried and done by some or all the teams. I believe the most important of them is to create an horizontal and collaboration-oriented relationship with the blogospheres that speak their languages. Once the bloggers discover that Global Voices not only quotes them and provides them with things to be quoted, but it's like a bigger brother that can help advance important issues and conversations, they become more than happy to help in any way they can. Bridge blogging, the work done wonderfully by Global Voices, is part of the worldwide conversation system that is the reason all of us write in our blogs: to be read, listened, and make part of the global conversation concerning issues local and global alike. Lingua is finding its place, and it's being found day after day by bloggers all around.
When was it that your interest in translation started?
That's a great question. Since I learned how to speak more than one language, and I was thought how to speak and write in Portuguese and English almost at the same early age, I was fascinated with the differences and similarities between the meanings and concepts in the diverse languages. When I was still very young I loved to translate song lyrics and English prose fragments to my friends. Years later, I came in contact with many collaborative translation projects on the web. The most important of them were Wikipedia. I collaborated with Wikipedia for almost a year, and learned a lot from that time. When the Lingua project appeared in my life, it was like remembering the past Wikipedian days with a plus: a better integrated and more dynamic work, with a great team. And a great team makes all the difference when you're trying to translate and make sense of things you don't always grasp completely — a situation every translator knows very well.
Why did you stop collaborating with Wikipedia?
Well. I was very disappointed with the way many moderators acted in the Portuguese and English (language) Wikipedia. I gave my time, many hours of it each week, to write and care for more than 20 articles. But they had a hard time speaking nicely, and even a harder time discussing matters in a reasonable way. And they ended up “losing” me, for I wouldn't lose my time collaborating in a project where moderators make me feel like they're doing a favor to me to let me collaborate. Wikipedia is a wonderful project, and I always link to it when some clarification is needed in specific subjects, but I'm sad to point that behind those wonderful pages we have a lot of people being frustrated in their efforts to collaborate everyday by moderators that are, to say the least, very poorly chosen and trained. Wikipedia definitely lacks something that overflows at Global Voices Online and other projects around the world: respect for people, kindness and humaneness.
Speaking of peopple, what about the Portuguese lingua team?
There are no words to thank and recognize all the WONDERFUL work that's being realized everyday by the Lingua Teams. Portuguese Lingua Team, the one I know best and interact with everyday, is always surprising and making me very proud to wear the badge of “coordinator”. But I'll tell you a secret: most of the time they're so brilliant, that they need very little coordination at all. Some days the team works so well that I feel like I'm just one more translator among them, and they're usually great translators, and that makes me even feel belittled in my less-than-brilliant translating skills. Ok, I used a lot of words just to say LINGUA TEAMS ARE AMAZING! :D The same goes to the huge team behind these wonderful global voices we translate everyday. They're just as amazing, and it's an honor to have the chance to bring their words to the Portuguese language.
You mentioned that in your blog, you write about cultural themes, and that you even worked on a site devoted to such issues. Can you merge that hobby with your Global Voices labour?
I like to post roundups on the Brazilian literary blogosphere whenever I can, but that's not as often as I would like to. The Brazilian Portuguese speaking literary blogosphere — with blogs on literature and blogs where original short stories and poetry are posted — is huge, and a lot of great artists are using their blogs mainly (or solely) to publish their literary works right now. Surprisingly, few citizen journalism bloggers seem to care about literary blogs, or even take them as a serious artistic expression in the country. On the last Campus Party held in São Paulo, Brazil, there wasn't even a mention of literary bloggers on the event schedule, and few if any of these bloggers were around to be seen or to speak for their class. In fact, they don't see themselves as a “class”. Rather, most of them seem to think themselves as regular writers and critics that use the internet as their media of choice. Some internet stars in Brazil seem to shun such nonchalance. But I digress… I believe the short answer for your question is: trying to give voice to this part of the blogosphere that doesn't care about YouTube, Citizen Journalism or Twitter, but that definitely has something to say, and does so beautifully in prose and verse. The question is: will anyone care for them?
Tell us something about the place you live Is it like all of us – non Brasilians – think life in Brazil is like? I mean lots of sun, samba and parties?
Life in Brazil can be like that to some people, mostly in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador or other seaside cities. But that's hardly the reality for the vast majority of people in Brazil – rich or poor. In fact, Brazil is so big that we can hardly say we have something like a “Brazilian lifestyle.” In my case, I live very far from the sea, in the capital city of Brasília, DF. I'm not very fond of sun, mostly because of my general geek upbringing (lots of books, being born in front of a computer, etc…), and although I deeply respect our samba and sertanejo (traditional country music) traditions, that's hardly what I've been listening in the last 30 years. To put it short, life in Brasília usually is mostly work and booze. We don't have much else to do here than that, we don't party a lot nor have a true cultural life. And the new law that threatens with prison anyone who is caught driving after drinking even a single sip of beer is driving us even more to the work side. :) But I must make it clear that Brasilia is one of the most unusual places in Brazil. In most other cities we have a lot of parties for all tastes, and wonderful cultural life. But don't just assume that all Brazilians like sun, samba and parties. There's a lot of us that prefer moonlighting, rock music and internet cafes, although it sounds as definitely not very “Brazilian” to the outside observers.
So, if a lot of Brazilians are so driven to computers and the Internet, what do you believe is the place of blogs and blogging in the Brazilian life?
This is not an easy question. First of all, even with our rising internet access standards in the last five or six years, mostly due to improvements in Brazilian economy and e-inclusion and outreach projects being held in the country (the best ones are from the Government), we still have a huge part of the population that don't even know what a computer (or even daily meals) really are — what to say about internet? Even among our digitally connected population, most people hardly steer very far from Orkut (Google's social network is an amazing hit here since 2004!) or the big content sites, like Terra Magazine or UOL. If they ever read blogs, these are the ones sponsored or linked by these sites, or some few other blogs that managed to fall into the popular taste. Most of these blogs don't talk about much else than visual jokes and charges, celebrity gossip and such things. The very rare other blogs that get a lot of traffic tend to repeat the mainstream media in almost every aspect. But the real small part of the Brazilian netizens that blog and read a lot of blogs is still significant, when you think about the huge scale everything takes when we're speaking about Brazil. So, we can say blogs and blogging have a great importance to this “small group of hundreds of thousands”, and that's the lot where our great bloggers come from. And they're actively blogging about many things, they're fighting against absurd laws like Eduardo Azeredo's Cyber crime Bill, and they're actively discussing our country and our world. The problem is that it's hard for them to really aggregate, or have a true voice, in a place where everything is so huge and full of noise like the Brazilian internet. It's hard to talk and be heard in the middle of our big-media sponsored internet samba. But if you're really paying attention, there's a lot of interesting things going on in our blogosphere and even inside Orkut's huge communities base (basically owned by the Portuguese speaking Brazilian users). Browsing Jose Murilo's or Paula Goes articles can give you a taste of our really active bloggers. They're many, but still far from being representative of the Brazilian online lifestyle, if we can ever say we have one.
And what do these “few hundreds of thousands” blog about?
Ouch! That's an even harder question, my friend. It's like asking what are the Peruvian bloggers, or the Mozambican bloggers, or the Swedish, or the Iranian bloggers blogging about. Lots of things, although some subjects become real hot sometimes and lots of them blog about it for some days. But still, these words would apply to any of the above mentioned blogospheres. I can't say (i.e. I don't know, hehehe) if we have any special particularities about the subject choice or conversation dynamics in our blogosphere, other than the ones that might come from the particularities of its size — at the same time so relatively small and absolutely large. We're starting to have more and more bloggers that come from more economically and socially challenged backgrounds now, and we used to have mostly white-upper-middle-class bloggers before, and that's a change for sure. Some subjects that didn't really matter in the past to most of our old-school-monetization-oriented-white-southern bloggers are now being more and more discussed by these new people on the blog-block, and that's a wonderful note. But it's still early to ascertain exactly what does it mean. To end my obvious answer, here come's my favourite obvious remark: “Brazilian internet is always changing, but we still don't know what will happen”. Sorry for the obvious answer, anyway. I believe the best answer that we can give is being given everyday by Paula Goes and José Murilo in their articles. Stay tuned to them, for I suspect they are some of the best to speak about Brazilian blogosphere.
Photo by Luis Carlos.