Finding the gold in blogs

If you place the word "blog" in front of a mirror, it may read something like "gold". It may sound cheesy, but that seems to be the status of blogs right now--both literally and figuratively.

If you place the word "blog" in front of a mirror, it may read something like "gold". It may sound cheesy, but that seems to be the status of blogs right now--both literally and figuratively.

I got that impression last Saturday, Apr. 26, when I attended the "iBlog4: the 4th Philippine Blogging Summit". The conference was held at the College of Law of the University of the Philippines, and organized by the UP Internet and Law Society Program.

I'm not sure if the Philippines is the only country in Asia, or even in the world, that has been organizing this type of gathering. What's certain, however, is that the local blogging community has gotten so big that the conference is now being held for four years running.

The affair featured some really interesting talks, including one by a young blogger who claimed that he was earning about US$1,000 (that's about 42,000 pesos, a lot of money here) per month on blogging. His disclosure prompted his mother, who was in the audience, to walk up to the microphone and jokingly scolded her son for not telling her about the huge money he was getting.

A rotund, sandal-wearing guy who was into video blogging, or vlogging, also gave an interesting presentation by showing the different cameras he was using for his hobby (or was it work?). He got the audience chuckling by pulling out cameras--more than 10, I think--from his bag and every pocket of his cargo pants.

If the morning sessions were amusing, the afternoon sessions carried a rather serious tone because of the presentations of bloggers/journalists who were advocating various reforms in the country, particularly in the electoral process.

Luz Rimban, a journalist who is also teaching online journalism at a local university here, underlined the crucial role that bloggers play in transforming the country's archaic and chaotic elections as "citizen journalists".

Rimban said bloggers can take the place of traditional media companies in remote and underserved parts of the country. The combination of blogging and SMS (short messaging service), she said, could serve as a potent tool in putting power in the hands of the citizenry.

The guy who delivered the best punchline of the day was Manuel Quezon III, a blogger/newspaper columnist who's also known as the grandson of Manuel L. Quezon, a revered former Philippine president.

Quezon said bloggers can use their position to become "involved in political exercises", to be "a power of one", and to be "a pain in the ass" of traditional politicians "who all gonna die" by 2016--the year when bloggers are expected to become a political force.

Although growing in clout, he said blogging wouldn't have enough influence in 2010 when the country will choose Gloria Arroyo's successor. "But, because it's human nature to get involved in various issues, blogging would continue to grow in strength," he said.

Also during his talk, Quezon mentioned a blogging tool called Twitter which he said he was fond of using because he didn't have a laptop. I had never heard of Twitter before, but it stuck on my mind as I left the venue later that day.

When I got home and stumbled on a news Web site, a story about Twitter caught my eye. It narrated how an American reporter was able to alert his friends and family-–through a one-word blog post using his phone-–after he was apprehended in Egypt. His Twitter blog allowed him to post the word "arrested" with his mobile phone, and used the same blog to post "freed" after an uproar pushed his captors to let him go.

A bright new future, indeed, for blogging--one word or otherwise.