LOUIS ABELMAN

What We’re Doing: Bootstrapping Alive in Libya

with 5 comments

[Cross-posted at Small World News]

Since March 11, Small World News has been in Benghazi, Libya, with a generous grant from Access getting Alive.in/Libya off the ground. We’ve been training a team of citizen video journalists recruited among local youth. In a short week, we led participants through the basics of video production and overcame the technological limitations (very low bandwidth) imposed by Libya’s current crisis to open a citizen-sourced channel of communication to the international community that we hope will only widen in the days to come.

A primary motivation for our journey here was an intense curiosity about the nature of the young people who are remaking the face of the Middle East under a banner of the universal values of freedom, dignity, and self-determination. What we were hearing seemed too good to be true. And yet, from the experience that we have had here so far, it seems to be a reality.

In our travels to countries afflicted by violent conflict we have always been able to meet good friends who defy the strange and noxious preconceptions we seem to carry about the people who live in the “dangerous” places of the world. Libya has been no exception. Our partners are doctors, engineers, teachers, retail workers and computer technicians whose lives have changed radically in a few short weeks. The uprising has been an unprecedented social transformation.

The civic spirit unleashed by the February 17th revolution has been humbling to witness. The spontaneity of the uprising coupled with subsequent self-organizing efforts has restored to many a sense of ownership of their own country. It has released a long frustrated desire among ordinary citizens to correct the impressions that they fear are widely held about them, which derive from their long association with the rule of Muammar Qadaffi. What many express is the desire to now show what they consider to be their true face to the world. They play the bass, appreciate modern Italian design, and watch the latest films over hacked Chinese satellite streams; they don’t live in desert tents, ride camels, or belong to Al Qaeda.

Our aim was to facilitate this desire for self-expression by organizing a production team; training in the use of inexpensive, lightweight, and versatile media tools; developing an effective method for uploading content given local conditions; and building a platform on the web and its social media arms for publishing internationally.

Despite the Benghazi-based opposition authorities representing a radically more open system and promising further reforms, it’s been a tricky situation to negotiate given widespread suspicions about secret regime agents and saboteurs. The most powerful motivation to overcome what’s been a difficult situation has been the kindness, enthusiasm, and potential of the friends we’ve made. No matter what happens next, that alone makes this worthwhile.

Written by louis

March 17th, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Posted in Blog

5 Responses to 'What We’re Doing: Bootstrapping Alive in Libya'

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  1. Your cause is an admirable one….and your effort has been successful in many ways….
    Just hope the UN does something in the next couple of hours..

    Lenny Abelman

    17 Mar 11 at 16:57

  2. Ok, I can’t help it, I’m intensely proud of you for being present there and creating a connection to the people of Libya that we might not otherwise have here. Now be safe on your travels home.

    jacques

    17 Mar 11 at 19:04

  3. You are doing good work out there man. I’ve been listening to mainstream news for too long to get my updates, the interviews you’ve done make the sentiments of the people much more clear.

    Neil

    23 Mar 11 at 05:41

  4. Good luck with your terrific effort. I am keeping up with you through your dad.

    Peg Cannon

    24 Mar 11 at 02:42

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    12 Oct 14 at 20:00

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