Tharum Bun

A digital strategist and pioneer of Cambodia's blogosphere

Month: January 2007

Three is Company

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The Fellowship of the Ring (1954); first of three volumes in The Lord of the Rings books by J. R. R. Tolkien.

What a vacation!

Meme: More but not much

Bangladeshi-born Rezwan, now in Germany, puts me on his plate by pretending it’s a game of playing or not. Ignore it, I would be someone arrogant. However, Rezwan, whom I met in Delhi, India, in December last year was demanded to do the same by David Sasaki, a gentleman I met in London in December 2005. All Global Voices Online fellows. Enthan, tagged by Rebecca, could do it well; and so Maurina in Brunei.

I had some interesting discussions with Rezwan, especially about famous economist Muhammad Yunus, who was recently awarded Nobel prize for his anti-poverty efforts. The talk over Indian food breakfast solved me the question I had been looking for an answer.

Why on the plate? It is meme. In public, he demands to know 5 things about me. Probably it’s what the early evolution of the Web two point nil that changes the way we interact with one another. That said about the Internet: “The internet recently passed a milestone: its billionth user ventured online. Yet the idea that we all work and play on a common global internet is merely an illusion. In reality, the web is becoming ever more fragmented, and international borders are increasingly visible online.

Here we go:
1) Back in year 2000 an English book I read, for the first time, was ‘Around the World in Eighty Days,’ a novel written by the French writer Jules Verne. And Londoner Phileas Fogg, the fictional character in the story, is the only iconic hero of mine, even until today. About my favorite author, I admire the fictional works of Charles Dickens. I first didn’t complete reading his second novel Oliver Twist, but watched the movie when I was on the plane from France to England on a trip from my home country Cambodia.

2) I hope some day I can speak English, my second language, as fluent and clear as English people. The native speaker who speaks my favorite accent is Mr. Tony Blair. Also, I prefer to watch and read BBC than CNN. It’s just the way that I find native English speakers more interesting to me, although CNN news correspondents look a lot better than those at the BBC.

3) With other kids, when I was young, I played someone selling duck eggs. All I know is that there is a reason. But I still ask myself: why I like it that way? Don’t ask me for an answer, at least for the time being.

4) Starting this year, I set it out to do more with photography. I want to master my ancient film camera, Nikon F75. To tell you the truth, even my younger brother is more skillful than me when it comes to taking great pictures.

5) Here, I have been continuously invited to public workshops, organized for university students, to talk about blogging, but decided not to join. If I could do something with inspiration, I would love to do it. I choose not to do evangelism. I have never intended to develop myself to major in this new and revolutionary thing. I spent about half a decade to learn French. Today I don’t speak this language, but English. Back in May 2004, I began to jot down on the very first page of my digital journal, which I prefer not to call it webblog or blog. So I apologize for not accepting the invitations to be your guest-speaker. But, if you invite me to meet other folks doing blogging, then I would be interested in talking to them and asking a few questions I have.

Now I am tagging Virak, Vireak, Phatry, Beth, and Mong.

No $100 Laptop to Cambodia?

It’s cheaper than a 2 GB iPod Nano of Apple, one of the most popular music players. No hard drive, but with four USB ports available for external storage such as flash drives, the $100 laptop with Wi-Fi capability of the One Laptop Per Child project will change the way we educate children in the poorest parts of the world.

Samuel J. Klein with $100 laptop
Samuel J. Klein, Director of Content of One Laptop per Child project, presenting the laptop to audiences in Delhi, India.

In the coming months, the Linux-based laptops with 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM will be shipped to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan and Thailand. At least no Cambodia mentioned in the list. Not surprisingly it was mentioned that in one Cambodian village where the One Laptop Per Child project team have been working, there is no electricity, therefore the laptop is, among many other things to bring the brightest light source in the home. What brought the cost of the laptop manufacturing down is how they manage to do it and distribute them in large scale. But the most important factor to make the distribution possible to Cambodia is the interest of the government and international aid agencies.
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In which digital citizens talk

No suit and no tie — very ordinarily informal. About a hundred digital citizens traveled from every corner of the planet to Delhi, India, with only a few things, computer laptops and digital cameras, for Global Voices 2006 Summit.

In T-shirt and jeans, the ladies and gentlemen had some interesting discussions, what they have done to make people in this world to talk and to listen to each others — making the emergence of conversation online. What made this digital citizen’s meeting unique from others is: transparency. In all the account of their discussions, virtual participants can listen to their public podcast, a new tool that web enthusiasts use to publish account of verbal communication on the Web. What they talk is what you can listen. What else? Once they were on their way to conclude a session, the minutes can be found on a collaborative web page, which can be edited by some designated participants. And along with the verbal discussions, most of the attendees also discussed on a number of topics using irc channel.
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The new urban Cambodian woman: Keo Kalyan

22-year-old Keo Kalyan is a hopeful ambassador of Cambodia’s newest generation of leaders. In a country where only one girl attends secondary school for every three boys, Kalyan already holds bachelor degrees in Business Administration and Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Tharum Bun sat down with the young scholar to find out more about her life, goals, and weblogs.

In a country where long-time respected traditions dominate the way of life of many Cambodians, the role of women in the society, education in particular, is still limited compared to men. “Women are supposed to stay at home, and always behave quietly and sweetly,” stated the Women’s Code of Conduct (Chbab Srey in Khmer) – a rhyming poem from 1848 that instructed women how to behave in their married life, within their family, and in the community.

In Cambodia, for every three boys, only one girl attends secondary school. In most parents’ minds, for some reasons, this discrepancy in thinking exists because families consider education of a boy to be more economically rewarding. They think that over-education of a girl can be a handicap to her marriage prospects, and that the liability of a girl getting abducted while commuting to secondary school is great. Many cannot afford to keep their daughters in school, and as cultural gender biases favor the education of boys over girls, many young girls in Cambodia drop out of school after grade 6.

“Nowadays, younger generations have access to a better lifestyle. There are more opportunities for them in areas such as education as more scholarships are being offered. However, I can see only a few of them realise this and are trying hard to grab these opportunities,” said young raduate Keo Kalyan.

However, with the success of more women, in particular many graduates from abroad, a turning point is about to happen. They are not going to change the old tradition, but to shape it for this new millennium.

At age 22, Keo Kalyan is a trend-setter. Born in Kandal, a province that shares border with Phnom Penh, she moved to the Cambodian capital city with her parents, where she was raised and schooled. Kalyan now lives a more fashionable life than those living in rural areas. Like the vast majority of Cambodians, Kalyan is friendly and wears a smile – not something one would expect from citizens of a country recovering from decades of war and conflict.

Keo Kalyan in her classroom
A new generation of Cambodia: Keo Kalyan
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