LASICS .::. Open Conference Systems, IAMCR 2010: Communication and Citizenship

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A portrait of the Cuban bloggers based on The First Survey of the Cuban Blogosphere

Dagmar Monett Díaz, Beatriz Calvo Peña

Last modified: 2010-06-10


Since blogging about Cuba is bringing more and more new voices to the fore of international community, genuine insights on the Cuban blogosphere characterization are very useful to understand how the Cuban bloggers are, how they blog and why. However, concrete statistics on the Cuban blogosphere are nonexistent. In this work we present the most revealing aspects of the first survey of the Cuban blogosphere. On June 2009, we conducted a survey with a sample of circa 1000 Cuban blogs. It included those written by bloggers living both inside the country and abroad. The questionnaire was divided in six parts, which comprised the following topics for a total of about 200 questions: (i) Internet connection and electronic devices; (ii) Blogs and blogging in general; (iii) How the blogs were built and which technologies were used; (iv) Cuba; (v) Identity construction through blogging; and (vi) Some other demographic data for general statistics. The questionnaire had a response rate of more than 84% and could be filled out online, through a Web site that was specially developed for that reason. An offline version was also provided, mainly for those bloggers without any domestic Internet connection or access at all. Our research project is twofold: 1) We provide details about the methodology we followed to design the questionnaire as well as the strategy we used to encourage bloggers to fill it out. We also expose the most interesting findings of our research after collecting the data. The answers received reveal that the Cuban blogosphere has specific aspects of its own that need to be addressed in detail, such as the following: . Notwithstanding the digital divide created by the difficult access to the Internet in Cuba, 25% of the Cuban blogs come from the island, 30% are written in the United States and the rest were created in Spain and other countries. . For the bloggers who reside in Cuba, sharing knowledge and experiences through blogs, communicating with others and finding information to stay up to date are more important than speaking freely, documenting personal experiences and providing uncensored information. However, for Cuban bloggers living abroad, the opposite holds. For them, freedom of expression, documenting personal experiences, and providing uncensored information is a priority. 2) The data obtained with this survey provide us with a powerful tool to understand the state of the Cuban blogosphere and allow us to raise questions related to the creation of community and identity, as well as the avoidance of censorship and the use of blogging as a space for cyberactivism. For this purpose we base our work on other researchers who have studied the question of virtual community (Rheingold, Ellis, Oldrige & Vasconcelos, Wellman & Gulia), on those who have analyzed how identity is built through blogging (Cammaerts, Russell, MacDougall), and on the works done by Marie Ellen Slouis and Claire Voeux about the repression of this digital revolution by the Cuban Revolution.

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