Goanet News Service
2010-04-28 04:35:38 UTC
A simple act of sharing online can go a long way writes FREDERICK NORONHA
Anyone who have even a nodding acquaintance with cyberspace and Goan
content on the Internet would have certainly not missed that one
prominent name there: JoeGoaUk. This one- man industry has spent days,
nights, months and years posting text and reports, photographs,
commentary and video online.
Recently at a meeting organised by the Tiatr Academy of Goa, a debate
suddenly emerged: who exactly is JoeGoaUk?
While many praise his posts, a few (like me too) occasionally disagree
with him, some readers are quite unnerved that JoeGoaUk prefers
anonymity. Nobody knows him. He makes a joke of his Scarlet Pimpernel
Honestly, I could not bother much about this aspect. The fact that an
individual is sharing so much Goa-related content online, is an
unmitigated boon. The fact Goa has been able to collaboratively - that
too, mostly through social initiatives, get out so much of its content
and make it visible to a global audience is something everyone can feel
JoeGoaUk?s mix of text-photos-videos offer an insight into what?s
happening in Goa at the moment. There are photographs of summer fruits,
or age-old Goan traditions, whose names even we are now forgetting.
There are a couple of objections about such posts . First, ?Who is
JoeGoaUk?? The insinuation here is that since he?s anonymous and
unwilling to reveal his identity, he must be up to no good. The other
objection is over motives involved. Tiatrists and Konkani cantarists
sometimes have a problem here. JoeGoaUk is a big fan of theirs, and he
has done a great deal to make their work visible online ? including
listings of the latest Konkani VCDs released. But some see someone video
filming them as a violation of copyright and a disruption of their
The copyright bit is technically true, even though copyright laws can be
bizarre when implemented in their totality. Motives are more important
here. While it might seem as if someone else is making tonnes of money
over their hard work, the fact is that sharing content on the Internet
is a slow, painful, time-consuming and non-money earning task. Yes, it
does give a generous individual a larger-than-life presence, and makes
one popular and sought after in certain quarters. But to imagine that
someone is earning oodles of money from such activity is far from the truth.
At the TAG meet some ten days ago, someone suggested that a photograph
had been clicked at a tiatr competition, and compensation demanded from
a newspaper which had published it, and a few thousand rupees paid for
it. Knowing how things work, one would find this unbelievable.
Newspapers in Goa are mostly small to medium in size, and cannot afford
to pay thousands of rupees for a photograph. More importantly, JoeGoaUk
has been very generous in sharing all the photographs he creates (and
even text he writes)... his only request is that he be credited (by way
of a by-line) for the same. Fair enough.
All this brings us to a wider point: how does a small society make the
best use of its creative talent, the potential of cyberspace, and make
its visibility grow online?
Friends in the tiatr and music world have very real fears indeed. Their
argument is simple: if people are given free access to their tiatr or
songs online, who will pay to attend one (or buy a CD) in the real world?
This sounds logical. Except for a couple of facts. There is a huge
potential-but-untapped interest in the cultural products of Goa, both
overseas among the diaspora, and in Goa itself. Much of this is not
being met because, given the current manner in which drama and music is
distributed, there?s no guarantee that everyone who might be interested
can actually buy a ticket or a CD.
The interest by the German sound recordist from Frankfurt Ms Sigrid
Pfeffer in the Konkani cantar is a case in point. She heard the same
during an off-season holiday to Goa (when local staff play they music
they like, i.e. Konkani). She has since been travelling many thousand
miles, from Germany to Goa, to Kolkata, Canada and elsewhere, getting
permissions, re-recording and popularising the Konkani cantar. There are
a few nay-sayers who will see it as a problem that such an enterprise
has to be done as a commercial enterprise to make it viable and sustainable.
Fact of the matter is that nobody is going to make their millions
working in the Goan cultural industry. Not yet, at least. There is a
remote possibility that, one day, the music and theatre of Goa might get
as widely known as music from tiny Cuba or the remote Balkans, catch
wider global audiences for itself, and start earning decent levels.
But here is the catch: unless we work to make it visible, widen the
market, and make its appeal wider (as of now, not even all expat Goans
are aware of what?s available), nothing of this sort is going to happen.
There are some concerns here. The tiatrists and cantarists have put in
the primary work, and feel they should not lose control of their
product. They would not like a poorly-recorded version to be put out
online. Likewise, it makes no sense if their entire work is available
online even before, say, their tiatr is taken to Gulf shores.
At the end of the day, we cannot insist on our ?right? to film a
performance ? on stage or of music ? without the permission of its
creators. Yet, there needs to be a better understanding of the power of
cyberspace, and why all sides of this sharing ?game? should co-operate
with each other.
The Net gives a tiny society a whole lot of possibilities to make itself
visible, to make its products noticeable, and to deepen an understanding
of its own culture. The bigger danger is that smaller cultures will die
out due to obscurity, not ?piracy?! Let?s try and understand the motives
of people who take a whole lot of trouble to share information about
cultural issues they see as important, to them and to society. They will
understand any reasonable requests put forward to them, to ensure that
creative work is promoted and not damaged by their initiatives.
Footnote: Sometimes, a simple act of sharing online can go a long way.
On one trip to the Dabolim airport, one happened to photograph a board
showing the list of taxi fares between Dabolim and various parts of Goa.
Over the months, so many browsers online ? mostly visitors to Goa ?
found this a useful photo.
It was a pleasant surprise to find a note from the taxi union-linked
Mukesh Uskaikar, below the photo giving details of the current union?s
current phone numbers.
After logging onto cyberspace in August 1997, Goa has no excuse for not
sharing content online today. It is in everyone?s interest in doing so,
even if our priorities sometimes differ. We might not be closer to the
answer of just who JoeGoaUk is; I suspect it?s not as important as is
searching for ways and means of giving the diversity of all of Goa?s
cultural traditions more visibility in an online world. This could help
us fight the information-poverty Goa suffers from. There is more than an
element of truth in the saying, ?if you?re not on Google, you don?t exist.?
First published in the Herald, Goa - April 28, 2010