risingvoices.jpgRising Voices is a new citizen media outreach project of Global Voices, which aims to spread the benefits of citizen media to regions, languages, and communities that are currently underrepresented on the conversational web. It serves as the third arm of Global Voices’ triad of amplifying independent voices worldwide, advocating for their right to free speech, and providing universal access to citizen media tools as is described in our founding manifesto.

For nearly three years now Global Voices has served as the web’s leading network of bridge-bloggers from around the world who serve as cultural ambassadors of their countries’ blogging communities. A team of editors covering nine regions and nine languages joins forces every day with a network of over a hundred volunteer authors to highlight the global blogosphere’s best content. Via comments, trackbacks, and online friendships, a distributed 24/7 global discussion has taken shape.

cyber_cafe-14.jpgHowever, the participants tend to be overwhelmingly urban, middlle-class, and highly educated. While the multilingual, multicultural, and multi-thematic conversations across borders are exciting, they are not entirely representative of the world’s population. Rising Voices hopes to provide the resources and networking to help make the world wide web more representative of the world population. So far, the project (which began in June) has already met some promising successes. We’ve distributed microgrants of up to $5,000 to five different outreach projects based in Bolivia, Colombia, India, Bangladesh, and Sierra Leone.

For the most recent updates from each of the five projects, head over to the Rising Voices weblog. Later this month we’ll announce our second round of microgrant funding, which will bring five more exciting projects on board. In future posts I’ll look at some of the successes and challenges encountered by each of the outreach projects. I’ll also document the progress of our citizen media outreach guide to make the process of web 2.0 participation less daunting for newcomers to the Internet from the developing world.