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Cambodia: Blogger evangelists urge youngsters to share knowledge and experience

Categories: Cambodia, Freedom of Speech, Technology, Youth

Since its inception in last year, blogging training aka Personal Information Technology Workshop [1] has introduced basic use of IT skills to more than 2000 students from 10 Cambodia's universities.
personal information technology workshop
A personal information technology workshop in session. Image from Kalyan Keo [2]‘s blog.

After a few months of preparation, the workshop of Personal Information Technology has come to the stage. The first one was held at International University [3] (IU) on Aug 21 with some 50 participants and the second was at Pannasastra University of Cambodia [4] (PUC) with more than 400 students…

In August 2006, Mean Lux [5], the blogger advocate who introduced the term Clog and Clogger for Cambodia blog and Cambodia blogger, launched a workshop named Personal Information Technology [1] to provide training that include several sessions such as: how to use email, browse the Web, and more importantly how to create and maintain blog. Up till now, more than 2000 university students participated in the organized workshops.

In the largest and most vibrant Cambodian city, Phnom Penh a large percent of people speak English and have access to computer and the Net at Internet café. The workshop organizers and their sponsor are optimistic that they can play an active role in conducting the workshops for participants from as many higher education institutions as possible. The blogging workshop has been made possible with technical assistance from one of the Internet Service Providers, CityLink [6]. Besides providing the cost of producing training materials, the ISP also make the Internet connection available at every practice session.

Mean Lux, his four other blogger evangelists (Kalyan [7], Virak [8], Chantra [9] and younger Kalyan [10]) are able to run the workshop with the recognition and appreciation of university lecturers who reserve conference hall for over one hundred attendees as well as some computer desktops that connect to the CityLink’s internet link. At Build Bright University [11] in Siem Reap, about 200 student attendees [12] took the course.

Clogger, a term coined in 2004 that derives from “Cambodia blogger,” is now widely known to 2370 university students in Cambodia. Months before blog became popular in the country that year, an early Cambodian blogger began a series of training in some provinces, offering IT enthusiasts an introduction to use personal publishing tool to post opinions and ideas.

Presenter Kalyan [13] gave her personal impression after a workshop in Cambodia's largest university that attracted 400 student:

Yesterday our workshop on Personal Information Technology was held at PUC, and beyond our expectation there were about more than 400 participants including the Deans and the lecturers. I was very nervous…

Automated publishing services like Blogger and WordPress are free for users from a commercial point of view. Personal presence on the Web is no longer for elites, academics and geeks. New voices of these Internet story tellers, thoughts and opinions are common and has become central point for conversations spurred by opinionated readers that begins dialogs. The interaction may not be real- time, but still, the two-way communication is another effective way of critical idea exchanges on a particular issue. With all these, suddenly, there are many more voices reporting information. While this explosion is bound to cause some confusion, it also means many more ideas, viewpoints, and opinions are available to the public. The result can only be a better-informed world, one where no centralized entity can control what others can learn.

Clog refers to a heavy shoe traditionally made of wood when talking about attire. This term also means something that works against somebody as an obstacle or hindrance. Metaphorically, what Camobdia blog aka Clog is about is hardly understood.

When the Internet arrived in Cambodia in 1996-97, several years after China and about two decades after the Internet was invented, a few Cambodians, working alongside the expatriates from international aid agencies, for the first time, experienced electronic mail, then a new revolutionary way of communication. And about a decade later it is heartening to see more Cambodians embrace these new high-tech services, one of which is blogging.