Cambodia: BarCamp Phnom Penh 2009

More than 800 tech-inclined Cambodians gathered at the second annual BarCamp Phnom Penh on October 3-4, 2009 at Paññasastra University of Cambodia.

Last year's success inspired this small, growing technology community in Cambodia to discuss openly issues important to them. BarCamp Phnom Penh has now become an annual technology conference in this nation's largest capital city, inviting some participants from across the country and the region, many are tech enthusiasts from Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore.

In a blog post on CNNGo, technologist and traveler Preetam Rai, who visited this year's participatory workshop-event, wrote about Cambodian women in technology that:

It should be said that women are very prominent at Cambodian Barcamp events, and seeing such large numbers of women at tech meetings still surprises their male attendees. But the women aren't just showing up — they're running the show.

How BarCamp Phnom Penh '09 is run, organized and contributed is uniquely interesting. It does introduce Cambodians a new way, if not a breakthrough, in which learning, collaboration, sharing and networking can take place here in Cambodia.

Group photo of participants at the end of the weekend-long at Paññasastra University of Cambodia
Photograph taken by:
Tharum Bun

A prolific Vietnamese blogger, Nguyen Anh Hung, who participated Cambodia's BarCamp last year, is traveling to the Cambodian capital with more of his fellow friends for this BarCamp Phnom Penh '09.

“It’s here again. We (the folks in Ho Chi Minh City) will be flocking to the capital of beautiful Cambodia once again to attend the largest technology unconference in the country to date. Last year it was a greatly successful event attended by some 300 people from around South East Asia.”

Not only this annual event plays a role to foster open communication in Cambodian society, but it helps build a strong foundation for Cambodia's future in the area of Information and Communication Technologies.

Going to conferences is about getting inspired. It’s about getting some new ideas swirl around in your head. During that event, we will see skilled speakers with a lot of experiences and confidence on stage giving a talk on a topic that they really want to share, wrote Samnang Chhun, a Phnom Penh-based Software Developer.

Like many other developing countries, debate on free/open source software as an alternative to propriety software will not end any time soon. Despite the two-day conference offered mixed results to every participant, online discussion has not finished yet.

Michael Smith Jr., from Yahoo Inc., wrote in an email:

[it] looks like a good turnout. I would hope that for any future ones Yahoo Inc. can get more involved to sponsor and maybe have a session.

A-two-minute video clip (taken by German new media consultant Thomas Wanhoff) of Cambodia's BarCamp can be viewed here.

BarCamp, an innovative “impromptu” gathering that began in 2005 in Palo Alto, California, helps “open source” enthusiasts share information about technology in an informal setting. The idea quickly spread from California to the rest of the world, arriving in Bangkok in 2007 and now in Phnom Penh.

Global Voices Online is one of the event media partners, along with Cambodia's oldest newspaper, The Phnom Penh Post.

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