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It's a Small (Social Media) World, After All

Kyoto resident and Kyoto Journal associate editor Lucinda Cowing experienced a moment of social media serendipity recently.

Cowing wrote on her Facebook page (which is private, but quoted with permission below):

Woaaa, talk about “it's a small world” moment. I had a suspicion the girl opposite me was taking a sneaky phone picture on the Eiden the other weekend. Sure enough, that photo appeared on Instagram, and now, a friend of mine living in Beijing sees it and says he's sitting opposite the Taiwanese girl who took it.

Next stop

A photo posted by tammytu (@tammytu) on

Cowing's friend in Beijing then posted a photo on Facebook of Instagram user tammytu, who snapped the photo during a recent sightseeing trip to Kyoto.

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Photo: Will Wilcox

The two women are now friends, according to Cowing.

Amaal Said’s Portraits of Belonging: An Interview

Zachary Rosen interviews photographer/poet Amaal Said. Amaal was born in Denmark to Somali parents and is currently based in London:

AIAC: Your photographs are remarkable in how they challenge and evolve notions of beauty in mainstream Western media by featuring intimate portraits of melanin-rich young people – with piercings, in headscarves and with natural hair. What experiences inform and shape the content of your photographs?

Amaal Said: I try my hardest to keep close to beauty. I grew up in a neighbourhood referred to as a ghetto in Odense, Denmark. I went back two years ago and all I can remember is how many shades of green I saw. I wish I had captured more of it. My own memories of Odense are at odds with what I read about it and hear from family. It’s always been a beautiful place to me, which doesn’t mean that a lot of sadness and tragedy didn’t happen there, it just means that both elements can exist at the same time.

I’ve spent most of my life in London and I’ve had the pleasure of being in communities with other artists who are doing really important work in the world. I never felt alone in that case. Negative opinions of the countries we came from and the communities we lived in existed. I was in classrooms with other children who claimed that people that looked like me were dirty immigrants who stole jobs and cheated the system. I feel like I spent a lot of time at secondary school fighting people’s opinions. And I’m not in those particular classrooms anymore, but I’m still trying to combat those negative portrayals.

I never saw the documenting I did as particularly hard work. I asked to take people’s pictures because I found them beautiful, because I recognised myself in them. I realise now how important the work is and how necessary it is to push against the images that do not represent us in our best light.

Discover Yemen through its Literature: Six Contemporary Authors Worth Reading

On Arabic Literature in English, M. Lynx Qualey presents six contemporary Yemeni authors worth discovering.

She points out:

As you might expect from a troubled nation with relatively little modern literary output, there aren’t many translations of Yemeni work available in English. However, there are some, as several Yemeni authors have received regional and international acclaim.

These authors are: Mohammad Abdul-Wali, Zaid Mutee Dammaj, Ali al-Muqri, Wajdi al-Ahdal, Nadia Alkowkabani and Shawqi Shafiq.

Qualey was inspired to write about those Yemeni writers by an article published in Yemen Times on March 23, 2015, entitled “Political Crisis and Yemen's Literary Insurgence”. The article mentions other renowned authors such as Marwan Ghafory, Mohammed Algharbi Amran , Habib Sorori, Safa’a Al-Habal, Ahmed Al-Sakkaf or Samir AbdulfattahRamzia Al-Iryani.

It speaks about how the political crisis affected the publishing sector and how, on the other hand, “what the country is going through gives writers a will to write. They try to reflect on what is happening around them within their works.” The article continues: “Ongoing political turmoil may not bode well for Yemen, but if 2014 is any indication, the outlook for its national literary scene is a promising one.”

Film Documents Alleged Human Rights Crimes by Peru's Military in the 80s

Recovering Latin American historical memory and raising awareness of the atrocities committed in the past are crucial steps to take in order to ensure they are never repeated and that, instead, we continue to work towards strengthening our democracies. To that end, film can play a crucial role in compiling testimonies that constitute our collective memory, in this case the history of Peru.

Spanish filmmaker Luis Cintora unveiled his new documentary at the Latin American Film Festival and the Melbourne International Film Festival. It recounts the alleged crimes committed by the Peruvian army in their fight against the militant group Shining Path from 1983-84 in the Ayacucho region. The documentary “Wecome to Los Cabitos” features testimony from survivors, relatives of missing persons, academics and soldiers, who provide moving testimony about the alleged crimes against humanity perpetrated on the former military base.

Documentary filmmaker reveals that young people in #Ayacucho are unaware of the era of terror.

It is not the first time that the Spanish filmmaker has focused on this dark period in Peru's history. In 2012 he made “The footprints of the Shining Path“, which explores the shadow cast by this violent organization on the country's collective memory, one which not surprisingly elicits conflicting emotions.

Filomena Sanchez disappeared in Huanta in 1988; they found her body among the cadavers uncovered in the Los Cabitos barracks.

One more from the PROTERRORISTS, based on the CVR [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] report.

Google Art Project Now Features Ukrainian Street Art

Street art by Ukrainian collective Dobrye Ludi. Image from respublicafest.com.

Street art by Ukrainian collective Dobrye Ludi. Image from respublicafest.com.

Ukrainian graffiti and street art, previously visible mostly to Ukrainians and tourists walking the streets of Ukrainian cities, is now available to Internet users across the globe. Google Art Project, an extensive online collection of works of art of different genres and periods, curated by the Google Cultural Institute, now features a collection of Ukrainian street art.

Art by M-97.

Art by M-97.

Street art first appeared on Google Art Project in June 2014, and today the website features over 10 000 high resolution works of street art from 86 artistic collectives in 34 countries. The newly added Ukrainian works come from participants of “Respublica,” an international street art festival, and add to an extensive collection of captured images in an attempt to archive graffiti and murals before they disappear.

Стріт-арт перетворює вулиці міст у відкриті галереї. На жаль, ця форма мистецтва є дуже ефемерною – вона може існувати сьогодні, а вже завтра зникне назавжди. За допомогою Google Art Project ми намагаємось зберегти вуличні шедеври та зробити їх доступними для всіх.

Street art turns the city streets into open galleries. Unfortunately, this art form is rather ephemeral—it can exist today, and be gone forever tomorrow. With Google Art Project, we try to preserve the street masterpieces and make them accessible to everyone.

Art by Kislow.

Art by Kislow.

Can Electronic Games Accelerate Ghana's Development?

Join Accra Technology salon that will take place on May 26th, 2015. The theme of the salon is Games for Ghana’s Development:

Electronic games are a two trillion dollar global industry. Game development in Ghana is growing rapidly, fueled by the popularity of mobile phones and climbing Internet usage rates. African game developers are increasing their share of this demand by developing culturally relevant games that speak directly to local markets.

What is the potential of the game industry to further Ghana’s development?

While games are often considered frivolous entertainment, evidence shows that games can effectively improve cognition, problem solving, and spatial skills development, with a particular benefit for science, engineering, and mathematics education. “Serious” games can also help communities explore different development scenarios to solve critical problems in society.

Please RSVP now to join the next Technology Salon Accra where we will explore questions like:

What kinds of games would excite Ghanaians and improve society?
Who would play them? What would they learn?
How can we incentivize “good” games and improve others?
Where should we look to see the future of gaming in Ghana?

The European Union Won't Give e-Books Reduced VAT

Imagen compartida por Blog de sinerrata editores    usada con permiso

The European Union Flag. Shared image by Blog Sinerrata Editores, used with permission.

On March 5, 2015, the European Union Court of Justice ruled that the reduced value-added tax (VAT) established for printed books should not apply to digital books, considering everything distributed or delivered electronically or via Internet as a service. Amalia Lopez questions the resolution on the Blog Sinerrata Editores:

Lo que más me ha llamado la atención es que refuerzan la decisión utilizando el argumento del soporte, […] que igual tuvo sentido en algún momento del pasado pero hoy en día me resulta completamente absurdo. Es verdad, el libro electrónico es un archivo no un objeto pero, ¿es un libro menos libro porque lo guardo en mi ordenador o mi lector electrónico en vez de en la estantería? ¿Cuándo leo un libro digital la experiencia cultural es menor que cuando es un libro de papel? Es decir, lo que este tribunal ha sentenciado (o esa es mi interpretación) es que lo que hace de un libro un producto cultural y por tanto merecedor de un impuesto reducido (y un menor coste para los consumidores) es el papel en el que está impreso.

What struck me was that they used the format as an argument to reinforce their decision, […] which maybe could have made sense at some point in the past, but nowadays, I find it completely absurd. It is true, an e-book is a file and not an object, but does it make a book less of a book if I keep it on my computer or my e-reader rather than on the book shelf? When I read a digital book, is the cultural experience lesser than when a read the book on paper? That is to say, what this court has ruled (or, at least, that's my interpretation) is that what makes a book a cultural product, thus deserving reduced tax (and a lower cost to its consumers), is the paper on which is printed.

The sentence includes books downloaded or viewed online and encompasses electronic formats for computers, smartphones, e-readers or any reading devices.

You can read more on the subject on Amalia Lopez's post for Sinerrata Editors, and follow them on Twitter: @Sinerrata.

This post was part of the 43th #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on March 2, 2015.

A Trinidadian Falls in Love with Jamaica

Trindadian diaspora fashion blogger, Afrobella, grew up “steeped in reggae music and [with] a love for Jamaican culture” – so why did it take her so long to actually visit the island? She's not sure she can answer that question, considering that her first impression was that “Jamaica is an intoxicatingly beautiful place with unique culture and cuisine”:

Jamaican culture is appreciated around the world, but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to go there, be there, and experience the lifestyle.

That said, she has posted her Top 5 reasons to visit Jamaica. Of course her list includes things like the warm weather and ambiance of the popular vacation spot, Montego Bay – but it also waxes poetic about the country's reggae music, food and drink and – no surprise for a fashion blogger – the shopping.

Can Artists Earn a Living in the Age of Social Media?

Not only can artists live off their work, but the Internet can actually be a lifeline for them in today's increasingly competitive marketplace. The blog RamGon looks into opportunities for painters in social media and, more importantly, into how the medium can help artists to publicize and market their work. 

Social Media y Pintura, fotografía extraída del blog RamGon, utilizada con autorización

Social Media and Painting, image from RamGon, used with permission.

In an interview with RamGon, the artist known as Goloviarte — Gregorio Lopez Vicente —  explains the risks and benefits that social media offers today's artists:

Para la publicación en esos canales, a grandes rasgos, ¿qué estrategia de publicación de contenidos sigues? ¿qué herramientas y criterios usas para llevar a cabo determinadas acciones?

Roughly speaking, in order to publish in these channels, what content publishing strategy to you follow? What tools and criteria do you use to complete specific tasks?

El único criterio que sigo es ser visto, por tanto, participo en todas aquellas redes sociales en momentos en los que veo que la gente esta participando más, como puede ser un evento, o un post con muchos comentarios en facebook, etc. Los hashtags en Twitter son muy importantes para tener visibilidad, y en cuanto a herramientas no uso ninguna, lo hago todo controlando manualmente todo desde el navegador.

The only criterion I follow is to be seen, so I take part in all those social networks in which I see people getting more involved, like when there is a particular event or a post that has lots of comments on Facebook, etc. Hashtags on Twitter are very important for visibility, but as for tools I don't use any—I do everything manually from the browser.

Here are a few examples of how Goloviarte takes advantage of social networking to market his work:

How about a mural for your hotel? or office? Talk to me

Mi paintings are available to all my followers

You can follow the artist at RamGon and Goloviarte on Twitter.

This post was part of the 46th #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on March 9, 2015.

Real Goats. Real Stories. Bangladesh Delivers.

Screenshot from The Goats of Bangladesh Facebook page.

Screenshot from “The Goats of Bangladesh” Facebook page.

Read the full interview here at Scroll.in.

Bangladesh has now a satirical Facebook page much like Pigeons of New York, which is itself a parody site of the famous Humans of New York project. Goats of Bangladesh is only about six months old, but it boasts of almost 10,000 followers. Sahil Bhalla of Scroll.in interviewed one of the page's administrators, who preferred to remain anonymous.

[What is] the idea behind the page?

We were bored one day during Eid and decided to take pictures of goats with a DSLR camera. After seeing the outcome of the pictures, one of us decided we would open a parody page called “Goats of Bangladesh” where we would mimic the style of posts made by Humans of New York in a mocking way.

Screenshot from the Goats of Bangladesh Facebook Page

Screenshot from the “Goats of Bangladesh” Facebook Page

Read the full interview here at Scroll.in.

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