Friday, April 23, 2004

41 Iraq blogs. That is really very few. Fewer still are the Iraq bloggers inside Iraq, from what I can see there are about 15 or 16 blogging regularly from inside Iraq. According to the CIA world factbook the population of Iraq, as estimated at July 2003, was 24,683,313. Even allowing for war you wouldn't think there have been so many casualties that only 15 out of 24,683,313 are left alive to blog (yes I know, there are more things in heaven and earth then blogging, but 41 blogs from the land of the worlds most famous blogger, that is not many).

Why so few? Could it be that now Iraq is liberated there is no need to blog? Perhaps Iraq is far less liberated then some would like to think, blogging still too risky. But presumptions like this do not really help, or make sense when compared with evidence available from the rest of the world. The US, landmark of liberty, has thousands of bloggers. Iran, with the dubious distinction of having arrested a journalist for blogging, has hundreds of bloggers, in both Farsi and english, many of them women. So why are there so few Iraq bloggers, and why are so many of them young men? Is it internet access? Is it fear? Living in a war zone difficulties? Spare time and cash? Is it lack of information? Do people in Iraq know that it is possible to keep a diary that thousands around the world can read (and probably would if they knew it was from Iraq)? Do people in Iraq know that it is possible to keep a diary in Arabic or Persian, online, to share hopes, dreams and criticisms with each other this way? Are Iraqis modest? Do they not want a thousand leering eyes peering into their hearts?

Why? Why the silence?

Many internet cafes have opened in Baghdad and Basra in the last year. Does business thrive for them? Does it thrive on the business of overseas journalists and soldiers? Do ordinary Iraqis use these places? To Email? To blog? Meet a friend? What would happen, if a blog-cafe opened in Baghdad? Would people be afraid to use it?

The pentagon is holding writers workshops to encourage troops to record their wartime experiences. How can the people living in occupied locales be encouraged to write about their experiences?


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