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Panama: ‘Songo', a Cultural ‘Cyber-Promoter’

‘Songo’ is the pseudonym used by the Panamanian Edilberto González Trejos to navigate through the blogosphere and the world of social networks. His work as cultural promoter is known by all those who are involved in one way or another with blogs and social networks. Even though his love for words and culture came much earlier, he found the Internet to be a powerful catalyst, as he tells us on his blog Internatural [es]:

Entré al mundo cibernético a trompicones, sin formación tecnológica alguna, desde el año 1998, cuando abrí mi primera cuenta de correo y entre las primeras cosas a las que me dedico en  el ciber-mundo – además de “chatear” – es entrar a los Grupos de Poesía.

I entered the world of cyber space stumbling, without any technological formation, since 1998, when I opened my first email account and among the primary things that I dedicate myself to in the cyber-world -aside from “chatting”- is joining Poetry Groups.

In this interview Edilberto tells us about his love for culture, his multiple blogs, how he sees the Panamanian blogosphere and his long term objectives.

Global Voices: Who is Songo and where did the interest and love for culture come from?

Edilberto González: Songo es el apodo de Edilberto González Trejos, un apodo que viene desde la niñez. Amor por la vida, la belleza, diría que ese amor viene desde que tengo uso de conciencia y que, de manera afortunada, fue atizado por tutores y mentores adecuados.

Edilberto González: Songo is the nickname of Edilberto González Trejos, a nickname that comes from my childhood. Love for life, beauty, I would say that love comes ever since I have use of my conscience and that, in a fortunate way, was stirred up by the right tutors and mentors.

GV: When did you discover that technology and culture went hand in hand? What led you to start your first blog?

Edilberto González Trejos. Photograph used with permission.

EG: En 1996 escuché en una tertulia algo que nunca olvidé, de parte de uno de mis mentores. Él dijo “quien no se acople al internet en 3 años estará desfasado”. Lo asumí y mucho antes de publicar o “irrumpir” en la escena local culturosa-literaria, empecé a difundir mis pasiones (poesía, música) a través del internet. Primero en inglés (1998), luego en español (2001).

Antes de los blogs, fueron los foros, casi salas de chat, luego los grupos de MSN y Yahoo! Finalmente los blogs. Mi primer blog lo inicié en formato Yahoo! 360° (ya desaparecido) en abril de 2005. Luego, en agosto de ese año inicié “internatural”, blog que aun mantengo. Inicié el blog después de varias conversaciones con Carlos Wynter y finalmente me decidí a dar el paso como el próximo y lógico en esto de la difusión cultural. Al respecto te remito a 2 notas que he elaborado a través de los años: Promoción cultural en la red (de julio de 2006) y Sobre los Blogs o Bitácoras Virtuales (de agosto de 2007).

EG: In 1996 I heard in a literary gathering something that I never forgot, from one of my mentors. He said, “he who does not adapt himself to the internet in 3 years will be outdated”. I took it on and much before publishing or “bursting in” to the local cultural-literary scene, I started to disseminate my passions (poetry, music) through the internet. First in English (1998), later in Spanish (2001).

Before the blogs, there were forums, almost chat rooms, then the groups on MSN and Yahoo! Finally the blogs. I started my first blog in the Yahoo! 360° format (now disappeared) in April 2005. Later, in August of that year I started “internatural”, the blog that I still maintain. I started the blog after several conversations with Carlos Wynter and finally I decided to take it as the next logical step in cultural dissemination. Regarding this I am sending you two notes that I have written throughout the years: Promoción cultural en la red (de julio de 2006)  (“Cultural promotion on the web,” July 2006) [es] and Sobre los Blogs o Bitácoras Virtuales (de agosto de 2007) (“About blogs or virtual weblogs,” August 2007) [es].

GV: How many blogs do you have currently and what are they about?

EG: Tengo 7 blogs activos, a saber:

internatural: literatura

Recomendaciones musicales del Songo: música.

Café de las Especias: pensamiento y cultura

The Melting Pot: en inglés

Utopistmo: política

De El Limón a San Francisco: a manera de curriculum vitae

El Diario de Ricky García (1988): ficción

Y tengo 2 blogs no activos:

Todo el año con Emmet Fox: espiritualidad

Leer es una Fiesta: fue un taller de poesía con niños

EG: I have 7 active blogs:

internatural [es]: literature

Recomendaciones musicales del Songo (“Musical recommendations from the Songo”) [es]: music

Café de las Especias (“The Spice Cafe”) [es]: ideas and culture

The Melting Pot: in English

Utopistmo [es]: politics

De El Limón a San Francisco (“From El Limon to San Francisco”) [es]: in the style of a curriculum vitae

El Diario de Ricky García (1988) (“Ricky Garcia's Diary, 1988″) [es]: fiction

And I have 2 blogs that are not active:

Todo el año con Emmet Fox (“All year with Emmet Fox”) [es]: spirituality

Leer es una Fiesta (“Reading is a Party”) [es]: it was a poetry workshop with children

GV: How do you see the Panamanian blogosphere?

EG: La veo bien, evolucionando de manera positiva, adaptándose a los cambios y retos de la web 2.0. No obstante, creo que podemos hacer mucho más aún y que en general, el grueso de los comunicadores, creadores, pensadores, emprendedores, activistas, no hemos descubierto el potencial pleno de los Blogs y Redes Sociales.

EG: I think it's doing well, evolving in a positive way, adapting itself to the changes and challenges of the web 2.0. Nevertheless, I think we can do much more and that in general, the majority of communicators, creators, thinkers, entrepreneurs, activists, have not discovered the full potential of Blogs and Social Networks.

GV: What advice would you give to a novice blogger?

EG: Que se enfoque en contenido y qué desea transmitir, que sea constante. Lo demás viene por añadidura.

EG: Focus on content and what they would like to transmit, be consistent. Everything else comes along the way.

GV: A jump from blogs to books?

EG: Tengo 2 libros publicados, ambos de poesía: “Balanceo” (2003) y “dioses de bolsillo” (2011). Asimismo, tengo varios cuadernos en proyecto, al igual que en los blogs, lo importante es lo que deseo transmitir, debo velar por el contenido y nunca me apuro en publicar.

EG: I have 2 books published, both poetry: “Balanceo” (2003) and “dioses de bolsillo” (“pocket gods”) (2011). Likewise, I have several notebooks in the works, just like in the blogs, what is important is what I would like to transmit, I should take care of the content and I never rush to publish.

GV: How do you see your blogs in five years? What are your goals?

EG: No sé qué pasará de aquí a cinco años. Todo evoluciona y como lo accesorio corre la suerte de lo principal, los blogs corren la suerte del contenido y lo que deseo trasmitir. Ya tengo 2 blogs inactivos, igualmente he creado “en la marcha” 2 blogs más. Pueden pasar muchas cosas, crear nuevos blogs, irme a nuevas plataformas. Es lo lindo de abrazar lo desconocido con una sonrisa. Como dicen los angloparlantes, “Bring it on!”

EG: I don't know what will happen in five years. Everything evolves and as that which is incidental depends on the luck of what is primary, blogs depend on the luck of the content and what I would like to transmit. I already have 2 inactive blogs, likewise I have started 2 more blogs along the way. Many things could happen, create new blogs, go to new platforms. It's the beauty of embracing the unknown with a smile. As anglophones say, “Bring it on!”

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