Tuesday, November 29, 2011

MinRex Conference on the rise of Digital Media

A notable conference is taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at Havana's Centro de Convenciones. It is titled, "Alternative media and social networks" [Taller Internacional sobre los Medios Alternativos y Redes Sociales], and is being sponsored by Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Relations (MinRex).

However, as this final paragraph from the Prensa Latina news report indicates, there are many, wildly different understandings of the term "alternative."

"The agenda includes the increasing importance of alternative media and social networks in the media battle Cuba and the so-called Third World countries are carrying out to include it in the international communicative scenario, states the website."

In other words, the conference seeks to discover how Cuba and other developing countries can use digital media and social networks to win the "media battle" against the dreaded "corporate Western mainstream media."

That's all well and good, but of course, the word "alternative" can also describe Cuba's own cyber-activists who seek to critically counter the official, state-run mass media in Cuba, otherwise known as propaganda.

Not all of these cyber-activists and bloggers are "dissidents," but most of them do seek to establish an autonomous space of independent, critical dialogue, debate, and sometimes dissent through the strategic use of these very same "alternative media and social networks."

For example, here's Yoani Sanchez's own take on the event and what she sees as the highjacking of the word "alternative" by the official organizers (as reported by Marti Noticias).

“The first thing that surprised me was the use of the word 'alternative.' Being an alternative is always understood as a way to confront officialdom and the status quo of the mechanisms of state information. Then you have the Cuban government organize an event which calls itself 'social networks and alternative spaces' but refuses to invite or is simply ignorant of the existence of a truly alternative community that uses social networks in Cuba.”

“It is quite curious how they try to appropriate the term 'alternative' and make us think that being an alternative is synonymous with 'party' or 'government.' No, the real alternatives are we who have no Internet connection, no one pays us a salary for tweeting, no one orients us about what we have to do; the real alternatives are we who risk our lives, our credibility, and our freedom by narrating what we narrate.”


Keep reading below or the full Prensa Latina article, "Cuba Looks at Alternative Media, Social Networks" (though you won't learn much from it).

You can read more at the Marti Noticias article cited above which is entitled, "Figuras cubanas del ciberespacio: grandes ausentes en evento de redes sociales."

Finally, Penultimos Dias also has a note on the event that includes a pair of photos, one of which features Cuban agent Raul Capote and Jean Guy Allard, and another that shows bloggers Elaine Diaz, Sandra "negra cubana tenia que ser" Alvarez, and Paquito "el de Cuba."

Cuba Looks at Alternative Media, Social Networks
Havana, Nov 29, 2011 (Prensa Latina)

Delegates from more than a dozen countries on Tuesday debate about alternative media and social networks at an international workshop convened by the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The workshop "Alternative media and social networks, new scenarios of political communication in the digital field," will be held at the Havana's Conference Center, and will conclude on Wednesday.

Among participants are representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Communication in Latin America, according to Cubaminrex website.

The event will share experiences on issues related to the changes occurred in the international media environment and the role of new communication platforms, states the note.

The agenda includes the increasing importance of alternative media and social networks in the media battle Cuba and the so-called Third World countries are carrying out to include it in the international communicative scenario, states the website.

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