1.02.2007

Formosa Foundation 2006 Winter Newsletter

福爾摩莎基金會最新一期 Newsletter 已經出刊,有興趣的朋友可至福爾摩莎基金會網站下載閱讀,或直接按此連結下載:[Winter 2006] [PDF]。

ps. 這一期裡面有幾個禮拜前我應邀撰寫的一篇關於網路媒體與提倡台灣民主的文章,絞盡腦汁擠出了這樣的一篇陋文,順便幫媒抗和我自己做了點 shameless self-promotion,請大家不吝指教。
New Media and Taiwan Advocacy: Promoting Taiwan in Cyberspace

In 2004, Dan Gillmor published a book titled We, the Mediadescribing how Internet technology has changed journalism and people’s lives. In the introduction he uses the analogy of how journalism has evolved from “journalism as lecture” to “journalism as a conversation or seminar.” The ability to report, comment, and analyze news events is no longer a privilege of the “Big Media” but of anyone who is educated and equipped enough to take part in the cyber conversation.

Technology has evolved so fast that now you do not have to know any HTML or scripting language to be able to create a personal blog, whether it be about your personal life, cooking, or political commentaries. Digital cameras and recording devices are now so easy to use that even my father, who had trouble figuring out how to open the door of a microwave oven years ago, brings along a small digital camera on his trip to Japan.

All of these developments have made “citizen journalists” more than just an idea.

Political blogs emerged and became immensely popular during the 2004 presidential campaign, both in US and Taiwan. I became actively involved with a political forum (Taiwan Socialforce Forum, www.socialforce.tw) in 2003 and that was when I got my first dose of “cyber-social movements.” Voicing personal opinions (or simply ranting) is no longer limited to those who have a microphone in their hands. Through the forum and my own blogging experience, I have seen language/rhetoric used by forum participants picked up by politicians or political pundits, sometimes even verbatim.

In light of the poor coverage of international news by local Taiwanese media, especially international news articles or in depth reports that are fair and positive about Taiwan, I helped create the Taiwan Socialforce Forum start in 2003, an international news translation team. The work of the translation team is to search for news articles from international news sources and in-depth pieces such as conference or research papers by scholars and researchers from prominent research institutes or think tanks. We then translate and summarize these articles, post them online along with other background information and our own personal analysis and comments. The International News Board on the Forum has drawn traffic to the site and volunteers. Some readers have told us that we are the best international news source in Taiwan since there is no real international news coverage on local news channels and papers.

It is also through the Forum, where I posted information about the Formosa Foundation Ambassador Program. I was able to help people in Taiwan (and Taiwanese students around the world) learn about the Foundation and the excellent programs they have to offer. These are just a few examples among my experiences that illustrate the power of the new media.

There is also the improvement of video-streaming technology such as Google Video and Youtube. People of similar political viewpoints can exchange information and ideas not just through words, but through videos, too. Internet users in Taiwan used to email interesting clips of “wmv” files, including taped TV news clips. Now they go to sites like Youtube to do just the same thing.

Just this December 2006, during the campaign of the mayoral election in Taipei and Kaohsiung, Taiwan, people demonstrated their ability as citizen journalists by bringing along their recording devices to the campaign headquarters and political rallies. Some have also made their own campaign CF by editing photos, images, video clips and songs they have collected to express their support for a certain candidate. This is especially significant in Taiwan since a good number of news channels and papers in Taiwan are one-sided and do not provide a fair coverage to both sides of the campaign.

Earlier this year, I joined forces with the TECO-SF Press Division as the program writer and curator for the 2006 Taiwan Film Festival. Aside from emailing and calling up journalists and newspapers to help with the promotion of the film festival, we also set up a blog for the film festival (2006tff.blogspot.com) where we received many hits and inquiries prior to and during the film festival. The film festival is over but information about these Taiwanese films will be there online for interested individuals who came across the blog by Internet search engines or referred links.

The beauty of Internet technology is that it allows you to connect from anywhere in the world where there’s an Internet connection. I could be physically in Antarctica publishing posts onto my blog while watching online-streamed TV news from Taiwan. It also allows me to stay in touch with my friends and family via instant messaging and Internet phone service. You connect in the sense that you are connected to the information wherever you are. You also connect in the sense that you can stay connected to your relationships from anywhere in the world.

Technology grants us faster and speedier ways to get messages out with emails, blogs and forums. Through this new media in cyberspace we form online community and fight together for a good cause. There are infinite possibilities of what you can do with the new technology. I believe the new developments in Internet media can bring new light to the Formosa Foundation’s efforts to make Taiwan more visible in the American media and to educate the general public about the issues and importance of the Taiwan-USChina relationship. Cyberspace is the best new platform to help educate and inform the general public and grassroots political organizations in the United States about Taiwan.

Claire Hong, freelance editor and writer, currently lives in Northern California. She has worked in Taiwan and in the U.S. as an English-as-second language curriculum writer, translator, and is actively involved in events promoting Taiwanese culture in America. She is a contributor to the Taiwan Socialforce Forum (www.socialforce.tw). Her personal blogs can be found at www.socialforce.tw/people/claireCLAIRE or cleverclaire.blogspot.com.

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