This is the second of a three-part post about what I learned about social media, NGOs, and Social Change in Cambodia during my “homecoming trip.” Part 1 was about NGOs in Cambodia, focusing on the work of the Sharing Foundation. This post is about the social media community in Cambodia.
I started blogging in 2003 about nonprofits and social media and started second blog about Cambodia, “Cambodia for Kids” after the arrival of my daughter, Sara and discovering that there was a vibrant community of bloggers in Cambodia. I started contributing to Global Voices where I did blogging roundups from Cambodia. In 2007, I raised money to help sponsor the first Cambodian Bloggers conference and raised a lot of the money via Twitter as Shel Israel noted in his book, Twitterville. I also used Twitter to get 300 t-shirts donated to bring over for the conference.
So, I was very excited to see old friends again at a Cambodian Bloggers Meet Up during my visit organized by long-time Cambodian Blogger and comic artist, John Weeks. John was the first “ex-pat” blogger I met online when I first started blogging about Cambodia in 2004 and got meet him “IRL” in 2007 at the blogger’s summit. More recently, John has been involved with the “Open Development Cambodia” an online hub compiling freely available data in a ‘one-stop shop’ to help consolidate access to up-to-date information about Cambodia, using an ‘open data’ approach.
The meet up was held at La Plaza a new tapas bar opened by Javier Sola from the Open Institute who is a person of many talents. In 2007, Javier was kind enough to give me a tour of their office and introduce me to the awesome women on his staff working on Khmer localization of linux and gender blogging. Here’s a video and blog post I wrote for Blogher back then.
Being an open source and open data geek, the menu was accompanied with some open data about what was ordered most during the previous month!
It was terrific to see Tharum who was one of the first Cambodia bloggers.
I first encountered Tharum when he commented on my Cambodia4Kids blog in 2004, and we got to meet face-to-face in London in 2005 when he participated in the Global Voices Summit that year. He continues to write his blog and is a new media specialist at Voice of America.
Another blogger, Chak Sopheap, who now works as a program officer at the NGO, The Human Rights Center. In 2007 at the bloggers summit, she facilitated a session about gender and blogging. She remembered fondly, the netsquared t-shirt that she had selected from the donated t-shirts. This time I brought her my copy of Howard Rheingold’s “NetSmart”
That’s me and Viirak who is now working with the UN in Phnom Penh. We got to geek out with Instagram and pinterest. In 2007, we co-lead a training on video blogging using some toy video cameras that I brought to Cambodia (it was before FLIP cameras were available). Later, Viirak and his colleagues used the cameras to document their tech training in rural areas of Cambodia.
I also got to reconnect with these Cambodia bloggers – Norbert Klein, Lux Mean, Ramana Sorn, and Kounila Keo. I also reconnected with Louise Coventry who I met in Australia in 2008 at the Connecting Up Conference.
All in all, it was a exciting evening. I hope not to let a whole five years go by until connecting with my Cambodian social media colleagues again!