Last year I attended a daylong Global Voices conference in Cambridge, Mass., which brought together bloggers from around the world. That event resulted in the creation of the (succinct and powerful) Global Voices Manifesto, and in Global Voices Online, which I read voraciously and with great pleasure.
Today they're holding the second annual Global Voices conference -- this time in London, England. I can't be there in person, but I'm there in spirit. I'm also there virtually; I'm listening to the live webcast via iTunes, and in irc chat I'm toggling back and forth between reading the conference transcript and listening to metaconversation between bloggers around the world, most of whom, like me, aren't physically there but want to be a part of the conversation. (There's information on webcast and chat stuff here.) The conference is also being "liveblogged" -- text and photographs -- here, by a blogger who's not physically present, either, but is listening the same way I am!
At the first GV conference I was struck by Hoder's notion that blogs can act as bridges, windows, and cafes. I wrote last year about my hopes that Velveteen Rabbi can be a "bridge blog" -- not so much via showing a slice of American life to the rest of the world, though I suppose I occasionally do that, but through sharing my take on Jewish life and Jewish ideas with readers who span the religious spectrum. Listening to the Global Voices folks talk about the work they do and the work they hope to do strengthens my hopes that blogging can connect us in unprecedented and powerful ways. I think blogs have tremendous potential to link us both across the physical globe and across the gulfs that separate us religiously.
Here's my favorite part of the Global Voices manifesto:
We seek to build bridges across the gulfs that divide people, so as to understand each other more fully. We seek to work together more effectively, and act more powerfully.
We believe in the power of direct connection. The bond between individuals from different worlds is personal, political and powerful. We believe conversation across boundaries is essential to a future that is free, fair, prosperous and sustainable - for all citizens of this planet.
While we continue to work and speak as individuals, we also seek to identify and promote our shared interests and goals. We pledge to respect, assist, teach, learn from, and listen to one other.
A powerful set of aspirations, and one to which I also subscribe. Let me echo the request I made last year in my post about the first Global Voices con: "if any of my readers who don't usually comment would like to pipe up and introduce yourselves, or if any of my regular commenters want to say more about who you are, I would love that." Take a moment to connect, with me and with the other folks reading this. Let's enjoy the pleasure of one another's company from our many physical places, religious perspectives, and walks of life -- and let's be mindful of our remarkable good fortune in being able to meet one another in this way.