BlogHers, Gender Blogging, and Linux Chix in Cambodia!

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Here a round up of some the fabulous women Bloghers in Cambodia and Linux Chix that I met.

Dee Dee is one of two women on the five-person Clogger Team responsible for organizing the Cambodian Bloggers Summit.   (Viirak interviewed her during the video blogging workshop)  She presented in the morning of the first day about why blogging has been useful to her.  I observed her sharing her knowledge with other women at the conference.


Dee Dee with the BlogHer bag!

David Saski from Global Voices summarized her presentation:

Dee Dee's 10 minute introduction to why she blogs and what she got out of it put
a big smile on my face. It had nothing to do with saving the world or
strengthening Cambodia’s democracy - it was just about showing the
beauty of her country, sharing her experiences in school, and learning
from her peers and fellow students. DeeDee is also part of the team
that brings Personal Information Technology Workshops to university campuses around the country, sharing tips about how to take advantage of the web.

Some points that DeeDee made that perfectly illustrate the usefulness of blogs in educational context:

  • Blogging helped her English improve
  • Helped with her IT assignments
  • Her friends helped her improve her writing
  • Wasn't that difficult to set up and learn how to do, just ten minutes
  • Learn more about the comments.

The other woman on the Clogger Team is Keo Kalyan.  She could not attend the Cambodian Bloggers Summit because she is in the US on a fellowship studying for an advanced degree.   Viirak had set up the live connection using Ustream.TV and everyone was impressed to see the possibilities of connecting with someone they knew from Cambodia who was in the US. 

In this photo, Pagna is on the left.     She was the facilitator for the event and did an excellent job keeping everyone on track and picking up key themes.    Her post summing up the conference:

Honestly, I appreciate everyone commitment to BLOGGING; I understand that BLOG raise the awareness of many new things from different people worldwide. In the past, literature is the window telling how and what it is about one society but maybe literature is quite an ancient window now.
Yet, quite contrast to another view of mine, Cambodia is not in a very need of BLOG or modern Technology while more than half of the nation’s population is living in and under poverty and whereas the country’s economy still depends heavily on foreign loan and aid to survive.
SO…?
- How can BLOG (technology) help to make the situation better?

On the right, is Sopheap who I interviewed for BlogHer.  I am enjoying reading her blog.   She facilitated the session on "Gender Blogging" on Friday afternoon.  (That's when I was dehydrated and suffering from the effects of previous night's dinner and had trouble concentrating and saying anything coherent).  Sopheap did an excellent facilitating the group.   Some key points:

  • Sopheak presented some research that what women blog about is family and more internal thoughts and that men blog about politics.  She notes that women can blog about politics.
  • It is difficult for some women to write blogs because it requires going into an Internet cafe and women do not always feel welcome.
  • There were some questions about whether at some point gender relationships in Cambodia (which can be difficult) will translate to the online experience.

These two young women were in the small group role play exercise.  The woman in the pink came up with the initial idea for our skit.  The woman wearing the green t-shirt played the role of my daughter.  I wrote down their names, but ended up loosing the piece of paper.  Can someone please leave their names in the comments?

The day before the conference, I spent some time at the Open Institute, the NGO that hosts the KhmerOS (Open Source Software) project.   The executive director,  Chim Manavy, was on the Cyber Cambodian panel and spoke about Cambodia's need for a telecommunications policy and action plan.   I got to spend some time with incredible women who run technology related programs at Open Institute.  They were:

Hok Kakada who I interviewed for Global Voices two years ago!  It was great to meet her face-to-face and spend some time learning about her work.  She is an Open Source Engineer and Coordinator of the Development team - a rocking Linux Chix.  She a lot of leadership potential.

Heng Chantheng, a master trainer and Linux Training Coordinator.   She gave a presentation at the conference on the Khmer OS unicode and current strategy for a national educational technology plan incorporating the use of Khmer OS in schools.  She did a fantastic job of presenting, despite technical problems with the projector.   The verbal part of the presentation was in Khmer, but I could follow along with the powerpoint which was in English.  (I must track that down)

Kong Sidaroth coordinates the Open Institute's Women and E-learning project (two separate projects).   They are currently doing research on issues impacting women and ICT in Cambodia.    From what I learned during the gender and blogging discussion, the issues are familiar but also vastly different than in US.  They will be launching a women's web portal soon.


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