Exactly one year ago I wrote a post Serbia.hope about the image of Serbia in the world and an initiative of a group of bloggers, twitter peeps and other enthusiasts to do something to change how Serbia looks like to foreigners.
This group met on a Tweetup in Belgrade and several people volunteered to start working on the project, some offered logistical help, hosting etc. The idea was to create a platform where people that visited Serbia would write about their experiences and invite others to come and see for themselves. Sure, this should be done by a National Tourist Organization, but they wouldn’t even start thinking about it if there wasn’t a big budget behind it.
Now, one year later, this great group of people came up with the best looking website of this kind I’ve seen in ages.
EnterSerbia is a nonprofit, ad-free, user-submitted article, photo and video database for all your Serbia-related stories. Stories written mostly by visitors who found the country to be not all that bad. In fact, most of them found it to be surprisingly good.
If you are a regular at my blog, then there is a good chance that this platform is for you – either to enjoy nice stories from Serbia or to share your own story from Serbia or from your experience with Serbs.
I’m inviting you to click here and start sharing.
The other initiative I wanted to present here is also made possible by a group of web enthusiasts from Serbia. If you missed news from CEE these days – there was a quite a strong earthquake in Serbia recently with an epicenter near city of Kraljevo in Central Serbia.
Local and National Governments started the standard procedures for these types of crisis and the TV news were pretty much the same – everything will be all right, we are doing all we can etc etc.
But, unlike earlier, people are not easy to fool in times of twitter and other real time communication channels. In a matter of minutes after the earthquake we knew where the epicenter is and in matter of hours we had so much information shared via twitter that watching TV felt like watching last month news.
Right away, some people went to Kraljevo to volunteer and sent info that there is no serious organization whatsoever in the city and something needs to be done.
Again, a couple of great enthusiasts thought that waiting for the government to do something is like “Waiting for Godot” and in just a couple of days they built www.jazakraljevo.rs (Me for Kraljevo). The website is built on Ushahidi platform which “allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualize it on a map or timeline”.
The website is already recognized as unofficial Crisis HQ as it offers an easy way to submit data about each and every house/building affected and offers a clear image of what needs to be done to the wider public. All information submitted is, of course, been checked and confirmed by an official crisis HQ in Kraljevo.
This crisis has brought up another great online initiative and I really hope it works out. Website Saglasni.rs (Eng. Agreed) is made upon an idea that all cities in Serbia give 50% of their New Years Eve celebrations budget to Kraljevo. As simple as that.
In times of great crisis, we have to show solidarity and rebuild the country as soon as possible. I honestly don’t know anyone that doesn’t agree with this initiative. Let’s just hope that Mayors and Local Governments will think the same.
If you are from Serbia and agree with this idea, please send this website to your Mayor and ask him/her kindly to act upon it. As soon as the first one is “Saglasan”, am sure many will follow.
To cut the story short – we, the internet community in Serbia, are becoming increasingly visible and, dare I say, influential within the wider public.
And it is not because we are many, it is because we matured and started using all these communication channels and tools laying around in a very effective way. Just look how these initiatives are brought together… I mean, anyone can build a blog or website about “Beautiful Serbia” and put on it several hundreds of pictures found via Google and expect miracles. Or anyone can write a blogpost or whine on news websites about the importance of solidarity and how the Government is not doing enough.
But, to put together these initiatives that are very down to earth and offer concrete actions and results – now that’s new and refreshing for Serbia. Sure, we always had these great people having great initiatives, but those have never been put in practice in such an efficient and easy to use way. These are all simple ideas, packed in a nice outfit and presented in a way easy to understand and with clear action steps.
Awesome, simply awesome.
It makes me happy that even with a huge brain drain, Serbia still has these great people.
It makes me happy that they are not suffering from apathy, like most people in our country do.
It makes me not just happy, but privileged to know them personally and learn from them.