4 Reasons Caribbean Scholars Could Benefit from Blogging

The panel "Global Voices, Caribbean Accents" takes place today in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad at this year's 31st Annual Caribbean Studies Association Conference. The theme of this year's conference is: The Caribbean in the Age of Modernity, The Role of the Academy in Responding to the Challenges of the Region. When I originally thought up the panel, I didn't realize that the conference would coincide with a good friend's wedding and in the end, I am not in Trinidad today. But Georgia Popplewell and Nicholas Laughlin, bloggers extraordinaire who live in Trinidad have picked up the ball and run with it. They have asked me to participate through my blog and here is my contribution which they will showcase at the panel today:

    1. Great Way to "Upload" Ideas (To quote Patricia Mohammed)
  • At last year's Caribbean Studies Association Conference (CSA), we discussed a lot the challenges that Caribbean Scholars face in publishing theory that might cross the Caribbean Ocean. Patricia Mohammed called this challenges in "Uploading".
  • Though publishing to a blog is not the same as publishing a book, some in the region and throughout the world are taking advantage of this new means of publishing. Here are some examples.
  • From Haiti, the son of Marcel Salnave Jr. has started a blog, Parlons Peu, to publish his father's journalistic works from the 1930s. A book by the same name exists and has been published in print in Haiti since the 90s but it is safe to say that more people have read the works online than have bought the book which was published only in Haiti. Historians or other researchers on Haiti can now have access to the works through a simple Google search.
  • Caribbean writers such as Nicholas Laughlin who is on the panel today already publish their fiction online. Nicholas recently wrote an article surveying other Caribbean authors who do so.
  • Last year, after meeting Dr. Matthew Smith at CSA, I interviewed him for my blog. Matthew is a Jamaica-based historian who specializes in Haiti and studies an often neglected period of Haitian History, the post-1950s. The interview generated a lot of interest and Matthew has since "starred" in a couple of documentaries on this under-researched period. Since he is with you at CSA this year, you can press him directly for additional information on the interview. I recall him emailing me that a grandson of Daniel Fignole -- an important, highly controversial yet mysterious and under-researched post-1950s figure in Haitian History -- got in touch with him, wanting to talk about his grandpa.
  • Dr. Marc Lamont Hill's Barbershop Notebooks blog is good example of a blog kept by a young "public intellectual" who is also an academic here in the US.

    2. Great Way to Show Us as We Are
  • Haiti often gets short-shrift in the mainstream media. Reporters looking for shocking images or a scoop know they can find them in Haiti and indeed come and indulge. Unfortunately, that kind of kamikaze reporting does nothing to showcase all the other facets of Haiti and does not do as much to help it as one might think.
  • This year I started a Kevin Sites Watch (see posts 1, 2, 3)through my blog when Yahoo reporter Kevin Sites made Haiti one of his HotZones for a week. Post 3 of the watch about Kevin's one-sided photo journal of Haiti was one of the most referenced posts on kiskeyAcity, and some reporters and other media professionals referenced it on their blogs. In the post, I offered an alternative photo journal by another photoblogger as well as some recommendations for journalists covering Haiti. (To those of you who know Haiti, can you guess what the recommendations were?)
  • Unlike websites most blogs have RSS or Atom feeds that can syndicate each post to subscribers. Individuals subscribe to blogs through blog readers such as Bloglines. In a way, you can become your own personal news and ideas feed through your blog. That ability can and has gone a long way in creating alternatives to overly simplistic mainstream media. Ways to make sure your content gets to the people who want it such as tagging through technorati are also available for free. (See examples of tags at the bottom of this post.)
    3. Blogging is Free and Easy (Provided You Have Internet Access)
  • Basic blogging software is available for free on the internet and if you can email, you can blog.
  • I will not elaborate further because I know that Georgia (Popplewell) is presenting on the technicalities of blogging today.
    4. Aggregators such as Global Voices Exist to Amplify Your Voice.
  • Global Voices has regional and language editors whose job it is to let the world know what people from around the world are saying on their blogs and in several different languages. Take advantage of this and other aggregators and make your voice heard in the Global Information Highway.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you, Alice, for mentioning my site in your post. You're doing a great job for the country. But tell me how can you be all that present?

Alice B. said...

Thanks Marcel. Do you care to clarify your question about my being "present"?

Anonymous said...

Sorry about my english. Being every where. Je voulais parler de votre rôle politique, culturel, etc... En quelque sorte, votre présence sur le web ne fait plus aucun doute, alors comment faites-vous pour être aussi présente?