Tonyo Cruz, among other things the main proponent for a national bloggers’ organization in the Philippines, and this author were invited to participate in the 1st Malaysian-ASEAN Regional Bloggers Conference in Malaysia, which had its opening activities at the Sime Darby Convention Center in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. To date, of all the blogger-centric events I’ve attended and organized, this is promising to be one of the most meaningful in terms of having an impact on the blogosphere.
Organized by Blog House Malaysia and participated in by bloggers from all over Southeast Asia, this congregation of bloggers is of the purpose to establish a social media network in the region. Blog House Malaysia, while a newly formed organization, is comprised of veteran bloggers and journalists, most of whom have been blogging since 2006.
After deliberating on the Kuala Lumpur Consensus among bloggers yesterday, it became clear to me that the raison d’être of the said network is premised on developments in social media practices and trends in Southeast Asia. The aforementioned consensus, while the draft was composed by Blog House, was critiqued and modified by the participating bloggers. The document, although already agreed upon by the body in principle, is still going to be fine-tuned, so I won’t publish it here yet. The gist of it, however, speaks of the desire to unite the bloggers of Southeast Asia into a cohesive network, which is then envisioned to promote ethics in blogging practices, espouse freedom of expression and mutual respect, advance opportunities for synergy among Southeast Asian nations through blogging, among other things.
The first day was focused on the inputs from members of Blog House and invited bloggers from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The first order of business, of course, was a set of presentations on the state of the various blogospheres of the represented countries. It was very eye-opening indeed to learn of marked differences between the Philippine setting and that of Vietnam’s, for example, but also refreshing to see distinct similarities across all Southeast Asian spheres.
A few ASEAN countries are not being represented, unfortunately. According to Blog House secretary Tony Yew, there were efforts to invite bloggers from Laos and Myanmar, but no positive response was received. That is rather unfortunate, but it is in the interest of everyone involved to try to include Laotian and Burmese bloggers in the group’s future engagements.
The main event, today, will see a number of the participating bloggers share their experiences, knowledge and best practices to the blogging populace — bloggers and blog readers — of Kuala Lumpur. There will be discussions on community-building, challenges in online speech, future projects, the business side of social media, and others. I shall attempt to report on today’s activities as best as I can.
To follow live tweets, please monitor the #aseanbloggers hashtag, which, I am fairly confident, will be in currency long after this unique conference in Malaysia’s capital.