Bloggers, journalists, entrepreneurs, and activists participated yesterday in the Second Blogger Meeting in Caguas, Puerto Rico. Speakers talked about blogs as a business tool, the role of women in the blogosphere, blogging for social activism, moblogging, the Caribbean blogosphere, and open source software.
On behalf of Global Voices, I interviewed the organizer, José Hernández Falcón, a Puerto Rican journalist who started talking about blogs and the Internet back in 1995. He describes himself as “a journalist in love with social technology.” He blogs about technology in Chatmanía 2.0 [ES] which is based in the mainstream newspaper Primera Hora.
How was the Blogger Meeting in Puerto Rico conceived?
The idea was conceived four years ago, while I was the director of the former portal zonai (that belonged to the mainstream newspaper El Nuevo Día). This portal sustained one of the strongest online communities in Puerto Rico. I wanted to take advantage of that strength to organize a meeting with the participants, which had never been done. The idea evolved with the blog explosion, and, finally, in 2009, the dream came true. I took advantage of the contacts I had made in the journalistic world and the Caguas Municipality (a large city close to the capital, San Juan) – where I now work – to find funding to organize a meeting with the most important bloggers of Puerto Rico.
How was the first meeting in 2009?
The first meeting was conceived as a reunion for a few people. I did not expect more than 70 people. But 150 people attended the meeting, and it was covered by the media (press, Internet, radio).
What are your expectations for the second meeting?
I want the local blogosphere to be taken into account as an important massive and social media space. I want the business world, governments, and individuals to learn more about social media tools and how to use them to transmit their messages and connect with people. We hope that a proper education will help us reduce the digital divide in the Island. This year, I hope at least 170 people attend the meeting.
How would you describe the Puerto Rican blogosphere?
The blogosphere in Puerto Rico is growing. There are more than 1400 blogs registered in the directory Puerto Blogs. This number does include blogs in newspapers, or community platforms (such as the forums), and, of course, there are blogs that are not registered. Maybe this number could be doubled if we could count all of these blogs and platforms. In terms of quality, there is room for improvement. There are many blogs on technology, education, and everyday life. There should be more blogs on other topics, such as political and social issues, religion, and entertainment. I think the blogosphere as a space for expression could be much stronger, and that bloggers could write about many other issues in serious and concrete ways.
Please mention some of your favorite blogs from Puerto Rico.
I like Mario Alegre’s blog Sin subtítulos [ES] in Primera Hora (a mainstream newspaper in Puerto Rico), which is well done, even if you do not like movies. I also like Novéltica [ES] because it has good analyses on the local Internet culture; Prisma Digital, which explains technology in easy terms, and Qiibo, a blog that creatively links technology, film, and social issues.
There are loads of Puerto Rico bloggers around now, all spreading the world about PR and all the greta things that go on there. I don’t live in PR, but I visit very often indeed.