Arab Voices brought to you by Twitter

In my attempt to find current news on graffiti, I stumbled upon something even more worthy of mentioning. “The website Small World News is translating and transcribing phone messages from Egypt (among other places like Libya, Syria, Gaza, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc) into Twitter posts that can be read anywhere in the world.” The messages that are being translated come straight from the citizens of these countries and are translated by foreign citizens around the world in whatever language they are most comfortable translating in. This not only provides inside perspectives to reach a wider international audience, but shows how average citizens are helping to create and circulate news with guidance from small organizations and collaborative efforts as in the case with Small World News and Speak2Tweet.

Mentioned on the websites as citizen media, this movement of more intimate citizen involvement reminds me of the concept of public journalism discussed in a previous class I took. In Public Journalism the journalist and reader shed their constructed traditional roles to become more actively involved in how they create and consume news. If anybody is interested in translating, that person would only need to find the information to sign up. Something I find curious about this project is how they dealt with the 140 character limit that Twitter has for each post you make. In the instructions that are posted, they say the translators don’t have to worry about that issues and it will get taken care of on their side. If you look on the website, all posts are within the character range but are full of hash-tag words and links redirecting you, for example, to the Small World News website where the full article, video, or audio is presented. Almost similar to what we discussed in class about how graffiti is paid attention to as a means to find news in the area; these audio and video stories are being noticed and providing well needed context for journalists and citizens alike. Through the internet, this project allows for more well-rounded and effective freedom of press that news stations and journalist struggle with when presenting their news especially when they have to take in account those who will be viewing it and whether or not it will be censored in some way.


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4 Responses to Arab Voices brought to you by Twitter

  1. What about inappropriate comments/translations? What if someone translates something wrong or does it to make hateful remarks? Are these not posted or taken down? Just curious.

    But I think this is great! It’s a great opportunity for everyone to be more involved and even learn a thing or two. Great post.

  2. Anat Waldman says:

    Thanks for bringing this up, I think this is such an interesting idea, and definitely something I’m going to be looking more into/hopefully use myself!

    I’m very curious as to how the project has spread, and who uses it. Where does this information go? Is it being picked up by any sort of mainstream audience anywhere? I think it would be really interesting to look at potential interactions between this type of project and traditional large media, such as major news networks. It seems like the information posted to these sights could really benefit the traditional news channels by providing new, and probably very interesting, perspectives, and these projects could gain new exposure through collaboration projects. I wonder if anything like this has been attempted? I wasn’t able to find anything about it when I looked through the links you posted.

  3. Small World News is a great place to find a variety of local and international stories on the conflicts in the Middle East, but when reading your post I also had some of the same concerns as Kendra. Introducing Twitter to their website gives Small World News a means to reach a larger audience providing back links to their website, but this also leaves room for interpretations and translations to be misused. Does this happen? and could it potentially tarnish Small World News’s credibility?

    I really liked this post, and I definitely will use Small World News for updates on the Middle East.

  4. Sam C. Sager says:

    Thank you for bringing this up, what an amazing use of twitter. It was very interesting reading the post and comments as I had many of the same initial reactions. I was very curios as to how the translations are monitored and regulated. This class has constantly pushed and reminded us to consider all aspects of media. Specifically, who it is produced by, how it circulates, and who it is intended for. The case of these translated phone messages seem to offer a particularly relevant example of these considerations. To me, it seems there is almost two completely separate forms of media involved. First, there is the initial phone messages created by individuals in Egypt with an initial target audience and meaning. Then when these recordings are translated by individuals in other countries they inevitable add an aspect of interpretation and are tailored for a completely new audience. It is even likely that this process adds new meaning to the media or at least presents in an such a way that doesn’t fully capture the context of the initial recording.

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