Tharum Bun

The intersection of technology and media

8 great animation movies you should watch

on May 30, 2015, no comments

Over the past several years I’ve watched some cool animation films. I’ve selected some of them to share with you here! Of course, you’re welcome to suggest some other movies I should watch.

Big Hero 6 (2014)
The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.

Toy Story 3 (2010)
The toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it’s up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren’t abandoned and to return home.

Finding Nemo (2003)
After his son is captured in the Great Barrier Reef and taken to Sydney, a timid clownfish sets out on a journey to bring him home.

The LEGO® Story
Probably one of the most inspiring story for those who aspire to build a long-lasting businesses (not just startups).

The Lorax (2012)
For those who love trees and green environment
A 12-year-old boy searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.

The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Intrepid reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor.

Up (2009)
To avoid being taken away to a nursing home, an old widower tries to fly his home to Paradise Falls, South America, along with a boy scout who accidentally lifted off with him.

Ponyo (2008)
“Gake no ue no Ponyo” (original title)
An adventure about a five-year-old boy and his relationship with Ponyo, a goldfish princess who longs to become a human after falling in love with him.

In Cambodia, what does ‘sharing economy’ mean?

on May 24, 2015, no comments

The Phnom Penh Post’s Weekend edition has an interesting piece on Airbnb: Hoteliers worried by rise in peer-to-peer rentals.

Journalist Lara Dunston quoted prominent author Elizabeth Becker, Airbnb’s spokesperson, and a few other well-established businesses.

This is a thought-provoking story for Cambodian citizens. The question is: will this disruption really help better Cambodia’s communities by creating more opportunities among the locals? Both Airbnb and Uber have been unstoppable the way they expand globally. I’d really like to see how the local media will cover this topic with reactions from more sources, including the government.

A quick Google search suggests that you can ‘rent from people in Cambodia from $10/night.’

Related story: An Uber problem for taxi patrons in Thailand

‘On Writing Well’

on May 22, 2015, no comments

William Zinsser, Author of ‘On Writing Well,’ Dies at 92

It became a book that editors and teachers encouraged writers to reread annually in the manner of another classic on the craft of writing, “The Elements of Style,” by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White.

His advice was straightforward: Write clearly. Guard the message with your life. Avoid jargon and big words. Use active verbs. Make the reader think you enjoyed writing the piece.

Star bloggers the top five: The Phnom Penh Post

on May 21, 2015, no comments

This article, by Claire Knox, was first printed in The Phnom Penh Post on Wed, 7 November 2012

More than 200 bloggers and social-media aficionados from Cambodia and its ASEAN neighbours descended on Siem Reap last weekend for the Blogfest Asia 2012 regional festival. Although speakers identified an overall lack of internet usage in the Kingdom (because of high costs and poor coverage in provincial areas), they said social media use was proliferating among Cambodia’s younger generation, particularly in the biggest cities, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang. As a result, they said, the government should utilise social media and the internet in the public school system.

Claire Knox profiles five of the Kingdom’s best budding Khmer bloggers.

THARUM.COM/BLOG
With a penchant for striking photography, self-declared “techno-geek” Bun Tharum was one of the country’s pioneer bloggers, publishing his first post in 2004. Tharum’s informative, clean and frequent posts revolve around technology, the web and social media itself. The 30-year-old is a technology reporter and contributor for Voice of America Khmer. With a slick layout, he features biographies and interviews with other bloggers and social media enthusiasts, “top tweets”, top YouTube videos uploaded about Cambodian events (the King’s death coverage was particularly thorough) and photo-essays of his travels.

“I think my job is about my views; it’s my own space, an outlet for things I cannot express as a journalist,” Tharum says. He believes that with the landscape of Cambodia changing at such a rapid pace, now is the ideal time for the younger generation to blog. “I feel I should keep documenting important events in Cambodia, not as a journalist, but as an ordinary person… I believe blogs will be reconstructed as more legitimate historical documents,” Tharum says.

KHMERBIRD.COM
A Cambodia “what’s on” and one of the most popular blogs among locals, averaging 300 hits a day and with 345,000 unique visits since he started it, according to author Phin Santel. The 35-year-old has been blogging on pop culture since 2008, “when there weren’t many bloggers at all”.

He spends four hours a week writing on his site, which he envisages as an important space for discussion in the future. “My vision for my blog is to make it a place where people can share information about Cambodia. I’ve designed it as a free platform for everyone who wants to promote Cambodia.

My vision for my blog is to make it more accessible and provide valuable information about Cambodia,” he says. His pertinent posts on how to live in Phnom Penh (such as “How to relieve stress in a traffic jam”) are particularly appreciated. Other posts take a similarly practical vein: “Where to buy Cambodian street food to save you a lot of money.”

With video links to documentary and film screenings at local cinemas and on television, guides to purchasing cheap flights, restaurant reviews, book reviews and local sports highlights, Khmerbird is a thorough, colourful and light-hearted synopsis of Phnom Penh.

DUCKORINO.BLOGSPOT.COM
University student, author and cartoonist Sovathary Bon, 23, describes herself as “just an ordinary Cambodian girl”, yet her uncluttered, sleek looking blog, Cambodian Daughter, which focuses on her photography, art, poetry and cute-as-pie cartoons inspired by tales of her mother’s childhood, belies the modest bio. Many personal blogs run the risk of coming off as narcissistic or self-indulgent, but Sovanthary’s self-effacing musings on everyday events in her life – Khmer festivals, her favourite images and artwork, poetry and her friendships – provide an insight into what it means to be a young, female Phnom Penh-er.

The blogosphere is certainly tuning in to her – at the time of going to press, Cambodian Daughter had accumulated more than 46,000 hits. She was one of eight Cambodian bloggers invited by the US embassy to visit the USNS Mercy when it visited Sihanoukville port in August, documenting the day in photos. Duckorino has a sister blog, camtoonista.blogspot.com, which focuses purely on Sovathary’s comic strips and the adventures of sweet cartoon protagonist Ginger. A charming reflection on life as a 20-something in the Kingdom.

BLUELADYBLOG.COM
A journalist and one of Blogfest’s organisers, Kounila Keo was a speaker at Cambodia’s first TEDX event in 2011, discussing the influence of blogging on Cambodia’s Gen Y. She has since flown all over the world to educate students on social media at workshops and conferences. The prolific blogger has also created training courses for wannabe bloggers, university students and artists. “Seeing the lack of online participation from . . . Cambodians, I believe I can play a small part in bridging the gap,” she said.

In 2009, Keo was selected to study Web 2.0 and online journalism at the Deutsch Welle Akademie in Germany, and was chosen as one of 10 bloggers and journalists to represent the Asia-Pacific region at the UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris last year. The blog’s greatest asset is its detailed previews and coverage of large events, workshops, festivals and conferences directed at youth around Southeast Asia.

The 24-year-old blends this, as well as lighter travel stories, with commentary on social issues, the government and human rights, historical pieces on the Khmer Rouge and more personal stories that ponder death, happiness and relationships.

SOPHEAPFOCUS.COM
Although she doesn’t blog as relentlessly as some of the others listed, articulate political commentator and Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) program director Sopheap Chak provides comprehensive analysis and political commentary on human rights and social issues in Cambodia. Sopheap, 27, who is studying for a master’s in Peace Studies, joined CCHR in 2006. It was a controversial time for the organisation when activists, including then-president Kem Sokha, were arrested for defamation, which she says spurred her interest in freedom of expression and fighting corruption.

Sopheap’s style is more academic than personal, yet it’s laced with her opinions and issues she is passionate about. Recent posts include an essay on the youth labour market in Cambodia and an opinion piece on women’s rights in this country. She also blogs about health services, migration, the environment and land rights, and says it is crucial to form an identity online to engage audiences. “I think every blogger has to define their own purpose first – my primary opinions are on human rights in Cambodia, and I can be very open on my blog.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Claire Knox at claire.knox@phnompenhpost.com

The technology helping Cambodia’s disconnected and hardest to reach

on February 22, 2015, no comments

Author’s note: this blog post was first published in ICTWorks.org.

In a nation of about 15 million people, Cambodia has over 19 million mobile phone subscribers. In addition, there are only about 3.8 million Internet users. A 2014 report published by the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) says that “Mobile phone access is near universal for young people… Almost all youth (96%) in Cambodia have access to mobile phone.” The nation’s largest population, young people, prefer to communicate via phone calls rather than text messaging. “They used their mobile phones mostly for making and receiving calls (98%), listening to the radio (43%), and sending and receiving messages (32%),” adds the UNDP report.

Mobile technologies are the key to help improve people’s quality of life. Unfortunately, programs delivering critical information via mobile texts to citizens were unavailable in the local language, Khmer. Many used and new phones that the Cambodians used did not have the ability to type or show words in the Khmer script language, making needed information unreadable and unable to send via texts.

Since 2011, InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia, a Phnom Penh-based innovation lab of InSTEDD (Innovative Support to Emergencies Diseases and Disasters), has helped a dozen of humanitarian and health organizations to leverage InSTEDD’s Verboice, an automated voice platform for hotlines, alerts, reminders, surveys, voice reports, or quizzes. These organizations’ target groups are very diverse: new mothers, garment factory workers, youth groups, and diabetic patients.

Verboice is an adaptable open-source platform that makes it easy for anyone, speaking any language, to create and run their own customized automated voice response systems for mobile phones. Highly customizable and scalable, Verboice allows users to adapt to suit their requirements. Verboice is basically a non-developer’s platform to create mobile applications for non-smartphone users.

In Cambodia, Verboice’s impact has been incredibly powerful as dozens of organizations are using the technology to provide critical information to thousands of citizens. For example:

  • The International Labour Organisation (ILO) runs an interactive information hotline for factory workers
  • Marie Stopes International Cambodia (MSIC) uses automated messages as part of its post-abortion counselling approach
  • People In Need (PIN) uses automated messages to provide new parents with health advice as well as runs an early warning system, enabling Cambodian authorities to quickly inform citizens of upcoming disasters
  • BBC Media Action provides the audience with an additional medium so that they can engage with the program’s content

What Are Cambodia’s NGOs Doing?

  • The economic implications for patients traveling to a health center for follow-up and the sensitivities associated with contraception and abortion tend to discourage clients from seeking health advice. But this innovative intervention, relied on a pre-recorded voice message, sends out to MSIC’s patients every two weeks over the course of the four months following their abortion. “They might forget about their appointment because they’re busy with work, or there might be personal reasons. This kind of technology helps women access this information remotely,” said Dr Sann Channa, head gynaecological surgeon at Phnom Penh Municipal Referral Centre. Find out more here.
  • The International Labor Organization’s Better Factory Cambodia (BFC) uses Verboice to quiz factory workers, so that they can learn about labor rights with mobile phones. This project has received more than 50,000 calls since it began in September 2013. In addition to quizzing, BFC is able to crowdsource information from workers by switching to rating questions, which can be easily designed on the user-friendly interface of Verboice’s platform. Read more here.
  • Given the rapid and widespread uptake of mobile phones in Cambodia, including those in rural areas, People In Need (PIN) looks to Verboice as a way to conduct a targeted messaging campaign. In the 10 months since the start of this pilot, over 1,500 people registered for the newborn support service, and approximately 210 women continue to register every month (roughly 80 percent of all women giving birth at the participating health centers).
  • The iLab Southeast Asia is a locally run innovation lab focused on the sustainable design and development of technologies for social good. To learn more about how the iLab SEA’s project partners harness this open source platform Verboice, you can check out these new case studies.

Dr. Chris Smith, who leads MSIC’s Mobile Technology for Improved Family Planning (MOTIF) initiative, once said “In a world where technology is quickly evolving, it is easy to forget that many people, particularly those most in-need living in rural areas, use simple phones with just their voice.”

Additional Links

Tharum Bun is a Communications and Digital Media Manager at InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia. He’s passionate about the intersection of technology and the humanities. His writings have appeared in The Huffington Post, Asian Correspondent, Tech In Asia, The UN’s Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), and Global Voices Online, The Phnom Penh Post. Find him on Twitter: @tharum

Interesting insights into people’s DNA

on January 30, 2015, no comments

For those who have had their DNA sequenced: what is the most interesting thing people have learned?

23 and You
Does that commercial DNA test you just bought violate somebody else’s privacy?

23 and me: The complete James Bond
I watched them all so you don’t have to.

Who Should Have Access to Your DNA?
A year after the FDA shut down 23andMe’s genetic testing service, personal genomics is coming back. But this time, you should own your own data.

More on Quora: http://www.quora.com/DNA