Barcamp Phnom Penh Attracts Regional IT Enthusiasts

Early in October, tech enthusiasts from Cambodia and abroad met at the Paññasastra University of Cambodia, Phnom Penh for the annual Barcamp.
People registering at Phnom Penh Barcamp. This was the second year the Barcamp was being held in Phnom Penh. In 2007, the Cambodian bloggers organized a Cambodian Blogger Summit.

In a Barcamp, there is no list of speakers, no VIP speakers. Everyone who attends a barcamp can talk.
Barcamp attendee thinking of a session.

All you have to do is post your topic on the schedule board and collect enough people who want to participate in your session.

Presenters, preparing for their session after pasting their topic on the board.

In South East Asia, like other parts of the world, Barcamps are becoming popular. People are attracted to an event where there is no hierarchy, and everyone is welcome to share knowledge.

Participants deciding what sessions to attend.

A Cambodian presenter running a packed session.

Sajal from Thailand talking about tweaking new sites for more visibility on Google.

Khmer language session

Record numbers of international attendees at Phnom Penh barcamp.

Cambodian bloggers and technology workers have been active in making friends with people in the region via the internet. The Cambodian youth is also comfortable with English and usually write in English, so they are able to reach out to more people outside the country.

Cambodia also has many non government agencies exploring the use of IT in development and healthcare. The Barcamps in Cambodia gives us an opportunity to look into their work.

Pagna, the master of ceremonies at Barcamp Phnom Penh, smiles at us between announcements.

An unique aspect of Cambodian tech events is the number of women participants. They are not just participating but also helping organize and present sessions.

Thomas, German podcaster and blogger, talking about MindMapping. The sessions were not just about technology. People spoke about volunteering, social media, education and games.

Thai-Japanese attendee 31o5 talks about a system where one can log their dreams and analyze them.

Vietnamese participant Hung talking about social networks in Vietnam

How is Cambodia able to attract so many people from neighboring countries? Other than the networking and outreach ability of the Cambodian youth, a notable factor is the growth of budget airlines that makes travel affordable. Cambodia also has plenty of affordable accommodation. In a Barcamp everyone pays for their travel and stay, so having economical options will encourage people to join in.

Some of the organizers taking a break. As you can see in this image, they are mostly young Cambodian tech enthusiasts. The youth in Cambodia are driving the IT revolution and they are very active in using Facebook, Twitter and blog tools.

Pagna (Cambodian) talking with SK (Thai) on why Cambodian youth are more comfortable with English compared to the Thai. In Thailand, they have had computing resources available in their languages for many years. Most Cambodians start their computing experience with English language tools and systems.

Thailand and Cambodia has had some friction relating to an issue over the ownership of a temple. It was nice to see the people from both the countries sitting together and discussing issues and learning from each other.

Thai attendees also talked about a regional IT camp, the Mekong ICT camp and sourced out ideas.

Tamas, Hungarian-Thai participant talking about grassroots IT evangelism.

Barcamp Phnom Penh is over but hope to see you next year.

See also: Tharum Bun's account of Barcamp Phnom Penh 2009

Global Voices Online is one of the event media partners.


  • I also joined this event. It really gave opportunities to all Cambodian youths to gain new technology and share knowledge and experience each others. I also gained more knowledge from it.

    Firstly, thanks to all Cambodian organizers who spent their valuable time to held this event. Hopefully, it will be organized again next year.

  • Thanks Khmerian for your kind words. Indeed the organizers put up a great show and the Cambodian participants were also very active. We had a great time making new friends and learning from them.

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