Asian New Media conference

I have just returned from the stimulating Asian New Media conference, held in Kuala Lumpur, organized by Malaysiakini and Seacem

Updated material on the participants will be available on this post-conference page. Flickr pictures made by Andrew Lih, are here. Jeremiah Foo has made a beautiful photo essay of the event. The powerpoint presentations are also available, including my own.

My previous related entry on media strategies is here. Four special issues of P2P News are dedicated to new media developments, and were specially prepared for the conference. An editorial on the role of P2P in Asia is available from this blog.
Just a few impressions: the Asian New Media community is a true community of peers, a gathering of equals facing very similar conditions and helping each other through mutual learning and support. It was a true peer to peer learning event with a very warm atmosphere. Second impression: they are a very courageous lot as most are facing real repression and threats to their lives, property and integraty. The main theme of the conference was the sustainability of their ‘business models’ (though the term may not be appropriate as most of them are nonprofits based on the dedication of their journalists and workers). New Media are faced with a number of challenges: they are squeezed between the power of the mass media, often controlled or cozy with the powers that be, and the free resources built up by the blogging community, which undermines any for-pay strategy, though some can count on a substantial group of paid members. Finally, there is the underlying problem of the digital divide, of operating a medium which is accessible only to the educated middle classes and a minority of activists.

Concerning this aspect, Yasmin Masidi informs us of the following development, as a way to increase internet access to the developing world:

I’ve come across mentions of this in a few blogs: “Wireless Networking for the Developing World” is, according to the website, a practical guide to planning, building and maintaining wireless networks in rural parts of the developing world — though I think it’s also useful for urban communities with few resources (e.g. longhouse settlements). The book is available for downloading under the Creative Commons share-alike license.

Here’s a brief write-up on it at the WorldChanging blog: One of the issues raised during the forum on the sustainability of online media was the problem of low rates of Internet access, preventing alternative news sources from reaching the majority of its desired audience.”

Amongst the blog reports on the conference is that from James Gomez, the courageous Singaporean free speech activist, who concludes that blogs, wikis, and RSS feeds hold a certain promise for the NGO community, as a way to reach more people and reduce cost. He has his own blog, focusing on regional and Singaporean developments at JamesGomezNews. After the conference, a good place to monitor Asian new media development will be this blog. IPS had a quite comprehensive write-up as well.

Asia Media Forum monitors media developments in the region on a continuous basis, as does this site from UCLA.
Here are some resources I invite you to discover, especially if you are interested in qualitative reporting on a region with a lack of free press outlets:

– the above, and the very active Malaysian blogger Jeff Ooi

Nepali Times,

Regarding Media Culture Actions and Media Activism in S.Korea, a pdf document, and, with Burma News,

Our Planet TV, a Japanese project. See the movie introducing their work.

The China blogger, but not Chinese, Fons Tuinstra

In the Phillipines, Nina Somera, of the Foundation for Media Alternatives, has written a communications primer which you can get by email.There is a broader framework on communication rights which she strongly recommends. This one was written by Sean O’ Siochru, the coordinator of the Communication Rights in the Information Society Campaign. The FMA is very strong on open source advocacy to support nonprofits. If you have any need s in that area, contact them.

In terms of peer to peer, I have been particularly impressed by the presentations of the Wikipedia pioneer Andrew Lih, who teaches on Hong Kong and is extremely knowledgeable about developments regarding peer governance.

Michel Bauwens, Chiang Mai

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