Bloggers have come from across the globe to take part in Israel's first "Blogference," being held on Sunday and Monday at the Sammy Ofer School of Communications at the Interdisciplinary College in Herzliya.
Attendees will share information on Blogs, or Web logs posted on the Internet.
"Blogging enables ordinary people to take part in the journalistic community. The technology has turned the process of writing and distributing information into something accessible, simple and affordable. The public has taken on the role of news editor, and today bloggers function as the guard dog of journalism," said Dr. Amit Lavie-Dinur of the Offer School.
Blogference covers both the academic and practical aspects of blogging, addressing the latest research and showcasing new blogging elements.
"The aim of the conference is to raise awareness of the blogging phenomenon and create a buzz around something which is relatively unknown," said Dr. Noam Lemelshtrich-Latar, the school's dean. "In my opinion, blogging is one of the most important factors in the information revolution. It allows large groups of people to take part in the political and cultural debate and influence all aspects of life."
"The plan was to bring together experts from Israel and around the world in order to enrich and develop the new trends," said conference producer Guy Eitingon.
Some 500 people from all walks of life are participating. "We wanted the conference to be small enough so as to be beneficial for those attending and large enough to create a buzz around it and the issues it addresses," Eitingon said.
The first day of the meeting focused on academic exploration of the blogosphere, the psychology of blogging, the role of blogging in politics, and the impact of blogging on journalism, and the second is to concentrate on the practical and technical side of blogging, with a series of hand-on workshops.
"The conference is aimed to satisfy everybody, from the person who writes a personal blog about his girlfriend dumping him to heads of corporations who want to start a company blog to help disperse information and raise employee moral," said Eitingon.
David Saranga, in charge of media and public affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York, spoke about isrealli.org, which was created last year and bills itself as "the State of Israel's official blog."
"One of the things that bothers those of us who work in the field of Israeli advocacy and public relations is the mainstream media's failure to address issues beyond the conflict. New media allows us to reach a new audience in a new way. Our blog reaches a younger audience, who are active on-line, and presents them with a different vision of the country, Israel beyond the headlines, said Saranga.
Another speaker, Micah Sifry, is an American who has written several books on the influence of the Internet on politics, particularly on political campaigns. Sifry said blogging had the potential to change the way politics works. He said that by making the political structure more transparent, accountable and participatory, the Internet could make politics more democratic.
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