The press freedom group Rapporteurs sans Frontieres (Reporters without Borders) has recently come out with a “Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents” that’s a great resources for bloggers, whether you are a citizen journalist in Iran or a non-techie wanting to set up your own online diary.
The handbook begins with the basics — what is a blog, how do you set one up, what hosting services are out there, and a glossary of basic weblog terms. Then it moves on to the ethics of blogging, how to get your blog onto various search engines, and what makes an attractive weblog. I found the section on blog ethics particularly interesting, since bloggers in many countries can be alternative media sources to the official government sources.
Beyond setting up your blog, the handbook gives lots of handy advice on how to stay out of jail if you are a dissident blogger in a repressive regime. They explain the various tactics employed by bloggers and other internet activists to get the word out to the Internet, from online aliases to proxy servers, anonymizers and encrypted email. With the recent three-year-prison term handed down to Iranian blogger Ahmad Reza Shiri the risks are quite real if you get caught.
The handbook also profiles several activist bloggers around the world, including Markus Beckedahl, a very cool open source evangelist in Berlin who I know through the WSIS process.
All-in-all, RSF’s handbook for bloggers is quite a useful resource for the beginner blogger, particularly one interested in covering political issues. It’s written in a casual and non-techie style and at 87-pages can be easily read in one sitting. Good stuff.