I am very excited about the launch of Interlocals.net, a new multilingual platform for citizen dialogue. It is based in Hong Kong, the brain child of my good friends Oiwan Lam, Roland Soong, and other founding partners in Taiwan and Seoul. As Oiwan's introductory post explains, Interlocals was inspired by another good friend of mine, Joi Ito, whose home is in Chiba, Japan but who is truly a citizen of the world.
Back in April 2005, Joi wrote a very thoughtful post reacting to widespread anti-Japanese protests taking place in China at the time. His post generated a lively thread of 171 comments. Joi was critical of Japanese historical revisionism but he was also concerned that "the extremes in China are fueling the nationalists in Japan and not helping the cause for the more moderate voices. I believe hate will never help communications." Joi called for "a reasonable bridge building effort between activists and experts on both sides." Interlocals seeks to create a platform for that kind of bridge building effort.
Oiwan gives some other examples as well, like the demonstrations surrounding the WTO meeting held in Hong Kong in December 2005:
In December 2005, Hong Kong hosted the World Trade Organization ministerial conference, and several thousand protestors went there from various regions. Although we shared the same space during those weeks, how much understanding do the protestors from different regions have about each other?
Within regional politics and the established framework of international relationships, international news reporting continues to produce globalized stories on political economy, while ignoring local politics. We cannot see the marginalized social movements and the thoughts and practice of the people themselves.
A very cool feature of the Interlocals platform is that people can volunteer to translate any given piece of text. Oiwan's introduction has already been translated into Chinese (traditional) and Korean. If you'd like to help translate it into more languages so that your community can participate, get in touch with interlocals.net AT gmail.com.