It’s been a pretty hectic week. God, Satan or Power Rangers forbid it repeats itself…at least give me a few years break. I’ve been handling my daughter’s swollen gums and high temperature while rewatching Twin Peaks and I can’t tell what left me more traumatized.
Nevertheless, I had a job to do. I’ve spit in the horrid face of a deadline and for that, I do apologize, but here it is, a quick summary of what I’ve been ranting about over the last few weeks at OneWorldPlatform.net.
When you live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that you’re living in the Middle Ages. Some of the things people do, think and say out loud are not only wrong but it’s painful to be on the receiving end of that kind of information. It’s hard to live in a country where the majority of people try really hard to defy common sense and logic. Trapped in the world of the mental dead, people forget they have numerous civil and human rights. And in the twenty-first century, a fundamental part of those rights are our Internet rights. They exist and function on different scales—Internet rights work both ways. They guarantee you freedoms and push you to respect the freedom of others. Most of our citizens consider the Finnish fight for a right to fast internet access to be silly. Yet most of us cannot really perceive that it’s not a matter of quick access to Pirate Bay or faster gaming. There are billions of people around the world and we all deserve the same kind of treatment when we join the World Wide Web. Internet rights resemble human rights. You don’t believe me? Go ahead and read “Ten Internet Rights and Principles” and you’ll see they closely resemble human rights of the first and second generation.
It’s easy to take your Facebook wall or Twitter retweets for granted, but never forget that I, you and everyone else deserve the easy, open standard infrastructure that will guarantee us easy access, safety, privacy and comfortable, hassle free communication with other users.
For citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina with Internet access, Net Neutrality is another one of those “it happens to someone else” problems. I’ve tried to explain what Net Neutrality really represents and how acts of aggression against Net Neutrality violate the basic Internet rights of human beings. No matter how you look at it, no matter how small or huge you consider this problem to be, it boils down to this: if you detach yourself from Net Neutrality, you’re signing a deal with the devil called Control, also known as Monopoly, also known as Highest Bidder Wins. In a world with no Net Neutrality, ISPs will be able to throttle content and information based on the contents of the information owner’s wallet; if you can’t or don’t want to pay, you’re on a fast train to Slomo Land. Without Net Neutrality we’ll start living in a world that closely resembles the one from the Idiocracy movies—you’ll be able to promote any act or product of human stupidity as long as you’re able to pay. There are numerous examples of outrageous attacks on Net Neutrality all over the world today and if we decide to ignore these crucial moments, we’re next.
I started blogging back in 2004, on Blogger.ba, a Bosnian blog service. Back then, it was a perfect solution for all the domestic bloggers—it had a solid community, it was fast and it was the first major platform. As time passed by, we grew up and started demanding more: custom domains, easy theme designing and fast publishing, mobile access. Blogger.ba ex-owner Intersoft really wasn’t up to it and Blogger.ba started falling apart; many of us left a few years ago when we were force-fed GoogleAds without any kind of consultations with the community. It was announced that Blogger.ba is no longer a financially viable project and it will shut down in March 2015. Five days prior to the shutdown date, however, the service was sold to Pepper Communications, a PR firm based in Serbia. Its owner, Dragana Djermanovic, promised a revolution that she still hasn’t delivered, but it’s appears they’re working on it.
There are several reasons why Blogger.ba needs to survive, despite the existence of well-known platforms such as WordPress, Tumblr and Blogspot. First of all, Blogger.ba is localized and it’s a great starting point for young bloggers. Think of Blogspot as a vast ocean. If you dive into it as a young blogger, it’s easy to get lost and never form any relationships with your readers and fellow bloggers. Blogger.ba, on the other hand, is a small and familiar pond you used to visit during your childhood and you know every single corner of it. It’s easier to build an audience and establish connections. But, as always, with power comes responsibility. So far, Blogger.ba has been loosely administered by one person (instead of a team) and it became a snake nest where it’s easy to stumble upon fascist, right-wing propaganda and other forms of hate speech. Blogger.ba will certainly need a strong hand to lead the way and mark a clear line between freedom of speech and freedom to spread hatred.
My final topic was about May 3, World Press Freedom Day. Although Bosnia and Herzegovina has a very good placement (golden mean) on the World Press Freedom Index, the rights and responsibilities of journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina are absolutely murky. A journalist in Bosnia and Herzegovina is usually at the service of the boss rather than the truth because the system has placed him/her in this position. Further mistrust towards journalists comes from the shoddy way that information is turned into cheap merchandise. The solution is additional care by journalists in regard to the material being published and more respect for all the responsibilities that come with the profession.
On the other hand, the final filter should be the audience: they should call journalist out about mistakes instead of simply nodding their head and contributing to the spread of amateurism. Bosnia and Herzegovina is particularly interesting because here opposing powers find a way to cooperate when someone else is working against them. An example of this is the raid on the editorial offices of the Klix portal. Although I do not agree with much of what Klix does and I think many on their staff are just human copy-paste machines, it’s traumatizing to see that police from both entities can cooperate without any trouble when they are out to save the skins of those in power. And the recent Law on Public Peace and Order that gives the government of Republika Srpska the right to punish authors of online comments is nothing more than an expression of the mania of crazed heads of state who do seem to understand that the power of new media is increasing from day to day. It seems that our leaders are politically primitive but technologically sophisticated beasts.