As we wind down this busy year and take stock of the last twelve months, we're able to confirm something we've suspected all along: 2010 has been a tremendous year for Global Voices! Our organization—which celebrates its sixth anniversary on December 11—has taken some surprising and creative turns these past 12 months: we've acquired some very interesting new media partnerships, sharpened our research skills, and made some key changes to the way we approach multilingual content. And when they haven't been creating content for the site, our indefatigable community members have been hard at work in their own regions, making their mark on the world by spearheading innovative and meaningful citizen media projects.
In 2010, several groups of “GVers” launched projects combining volunteerism with information access. Members of our Brazil team set up Eleitor 2010 to track incidents affecting their general election in October 2010. Awab Alvi, Sana Saleem, Salman Latif and others from our Pakistani team ventured out into the flood-affected areas of their country to assist with the relief efforts, and also set up Pakreport.org to map and track relief needs and responses. Onnik Krikorian launched the special coverage section Caucasus Conflict Voices and creating the environment, established several training sessions and lectures on the use of digital media to advance peace in the region. Alexey Sidorenko and Gregory Asmolov of our RuNet Echo project created russian-fires.ru to map and coordinate citizen relief for Russia’s devastating summer forest fires – and won a prestigious award for their efforts.
GV’s Technology for Transparency Network, a new research project we launched this year, has been documenting citizen-led projects that use information technology to monitor transparency and accountability. New media partnerships with The Economist, Italian daily La Stampa, Russian radio station Echo Moskvy, and a pilot project with BBC Online in May introduced our work to new audiences. In 2010 we also completed a structural revision of our website to permit publication of original material in many languages, rather than only in English.
In 2010 Global Voices’ founders Rebecca MacKinnon and Ethan Zuckerman offered further proof of why they're among the world's leading authorities on the global Internet. Ethan gave a TED talk that perfectly expressed the effects of networked global media and the growing influence of citizen media. After numerous public appearances and columns in the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Rebecca began work this year on her book Consent of the Networked, a “concerned citizen's guide to the future of freedom in the Internet age”.
Despite the successes in our community and elsewhere, citizen media remains under threat around the world, and 2010 saw its share of attacks on online freedom of expression. Azerbaijani bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade may have been freed and Egyptian Kareem Amer finally released from after spending 1,470 days in prison, but among those persecuted this year for expressing their views online were our friend and GV contributor Ali Abdulemam of Bahrain, and our Iranian former colleague Hossein Derakhshan, both of whom remain in prison.
The plight of Kareem, Emin, Adnan, Hossein, and others, as seen in our Threatened Voices project, is a reminder that free expression continues to be hazardous in many parts of the world. The response to Wikileaks shows that online speech freedoms is now a matter for serious debate in every country in the world.
So this month, as 2010 draws to a close, we’re launching a special appeal for support in continuing and building upon the work we've done this year. Our editors, authors and translators spend hundreds of hours a month combing citizen media from their countries and regions, selecting and contextualizing the most compelling voices, stories and ideas, helping make the picture of the world we live in more complete.
If you believe that what we do enriches the world, please make a donation. Or simply guide your friends and families to our site and help us out by sharing and commenting on our content. And most of all, please join us in making 2011 as memorable and exciting as 2010!
- Ivan Sigal and Georgia Popplewell