Sunday, March 17, 2013

Catalonia, tweet by tweet, by Òscar Palau

Originally published in El Punt Avui on March 17, 2013 by Òscar Palau
American writer and publisher Liz Castro will be the first curator to
host the @CatalanVoices account. Photo: J. Ramos

The Catalan government is promoting, through its Diplocat office, the Twitter account @CatalanVoices, in which they will invite a different Catalanophile each week to promote and discuss the situation in Catalonia, in English. It's an initiative that already has been successful in Sweden and Scotland.

The world gets smaller every day thanks to new technologies and Catalonia wants to take advantage of these opportunities and trends in order to help spread the word about the sovereignty process. The Council on Public Diplomacy of Catalonia (Diplocat), which depends on the Secretary of Foreign Affaris, has just opened a new Twitter account, @CatalanVoices, which hopes to add one more grain of sand to the pile, if you will, a new tool to the network in order to explain the reality of the situation in Catalonia and at the same time to promote its assets.

Starting Monday, a Catalan, who may reside in any part of the world, or even a foreigner who lives or has lived in Catalonia—called a curator in Twitter techno-slang—will be invited to tweet during the week on their personal experiences, with the only condition being that the tweets have something to do with Catalonia. From things that happened in the past, current events, or opinions about the political process, to places they've visited, dishes they've tasted, and activities that they recommend. The only requisite is to speak about Catalonia, its culture, history, food, sports, and also to communicate some of its internal debates to the world.

The person who will open the salvo is Liz Castro, an American publisher and promoter of the book, “What's up with Catalonia?” which deals with the reasons behind the push for sovereignty. Diplocat has already chosen five additional people of certain renown to host the account in the coming weeks, but afterwards plans to open the account to all those Catalanophiles who wish to collaborate altruistically to spread the word about Catalonia. Anyone who can express themselves correctly in English can sign up to be a curator through the form on the website—in which they have to explain in a few paragraphs their reasons for wanting to participate. The website was set up to support the Twitter account, and will carry profiles of each of the curators. Diplocat will try to select the curators who they find most interesting, and will attempt to have curators from a diverse range of places and professions. To that end, they have also invited people to nominate curators who they think would be good candidates.

The idea, which doesn't cost anything, is not new; there are several other Twitter accounts dedicated to tweeting about Catalonia in English. This one, apart from being promoted by the government, is distinguished by the fact that it is based on trends that have already been quite successful in many countries, from Australia to Pakistan. For example, the @Sweden account, begun last year by local institutions to promote tourism already has more than 66,000 followers. In Scotland, a collective of artists in favor of independence opened the @ScotVoices account just a few months ago and already have 3000 followers. And just this week, @we_are_spain also started up, it seems as a private initiative.

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