Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bloggers Kapihan 1: More than just coffee chat

"Everything is political and it has a lot to do with sex," - MLQ3

"Hindi totoong raket ang blogging. Enterpreneurship ito...something you build," - Abe Olandres

"Link-up. We should use blogging in order to represent the interests of our generation," -Bikoy Villanueva

These are some memorable quotes from the discussions during first Bloggers' Kapihan last Saturday at PSHS.

During the past months, I have been thinking of an analogy that could best explain the internet and the blogosphere. A description that, on one hand, would help people overcome the simplistic and self-centered "personal diary" or "angas repository" thinking, on the other, would not tolerate the extreme "alternate reality" and "blogging-will-change-everything" beliefs.

What captured that thought was a simple image of a place where people could get regular updates and views from other people about their common interests, share their thoughts and stories, engage in fiery political and theoretical discussions, perhaps even plan courses of action and activities. A place of chismis and kwentuhan, where the intrigeros, madaldal and the ma-epal people are sikat: coffee shops or kapihan.

The blogosphere is basically a supersized, borderless kapihan. An international coffee-table discussion group where people discuss fashion trends, politics, showbiz, gadgets, business, their personal lives, etc. Some are such good story-tellers that they get sponsors. During times of social crisis, this kapihan could also be the center for discussions and calls for action.

The irony is that now, we wanted to turn the virtual into life and organize a real kapihan. Which is tempting me into thinking that this meeting is, ultimately, all about the free, real (not virtual) coffee and donuts. Hehe.

Bloggers' Kapihan last Saturday in Pisay had a bunch of young people as audience. The crew and the speakers talked to mostly 14-16 year olds who are starting out as young bloggers.

The speakers were some of the best bloggers in town, and they really knew what they were talking about. But they didn't really get all geeky, technical, grand and theoretical in their presentations. The discussions were simple and personal, the gathering could have easily been mistaken for a storytelling session. The discussions ran like they were blogs.

Bikoy took-off by discussing how he started blogging as a personal journal whom he thought nobody would get to read. He ended encouraging the young people to "link-up," to blog not just for themselves but to appreciate blogging as a means for expression of collective interests.

Yuga showed the students that blogging was serious business, literally and/or otherwise. He discussed how people can earn big time using blogs. But what's more important was showing how this was possible: by using blogging as a means for effective communication and influence. Earning through blogs isn't a raket, it's really about talking to people and getting them the information they need. This thought opens up blogging not only as a tool for making money, but as a tool for education and providing relevant information.

While MLQ3 stressed that everything is really about politics, his discussion had more to do with sex. Engaging with the minds of the 14 year olds discussing how Internet is made for porn, and how you could either be a voyeur or an exhibitionist, he sets the stage to inspire young people to get into blogging, take it all out there, recognize the power of engaging in discussions, and not leave the opportunity of messing with people's lives in the hands of a few powerful and popular people.

After the discussions, a student asked the speakers: "if I wanted to start a blog critical of something, say the government, what advice can you give me? are there limits to what I can write?"

I was glad that there were people now asking these important questions. I hope to see new generation of bloggers who would want to blog not only out of desire to be popular or not just to have personal virtual spaces, but to realize the power of the blogosphere to change people, thinking, and society.

Good speakers, a bunch of great stories, young and idealistic audience; plus the free coffee, iced tea and donuts --- the BloggersKapihan was a success. The discussions went way Beyond the Basics, because it has introduced the youngsters to what blogging really means aside from changing your blog header and creating your profile. It welcomed them to the kapihan which is the blogosphere.

Congrats to the BK crew: Shari, Ederic, Bikoy, Sir Martz, Sarah, Mong, Jhay. Let's all look forward to Bloggers Kapihan 2.


Link to Jhay's round-up of entries on the BK. I'm posting photos and maybe even videos of the event in a day or two.



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