Students of Pannasastra University of Cambodia, Rana Sowath, Ek Sreypechrachna, Sok Someaknea, Ang Vanny, and Morm Linda, facilitated by Professor Ron Klein, interviewed me for their research project in mid-August. The ‘Mass of Communication’ report was written for Fundamentals of Communication course. It gives an overview of the roles of traditional media and the new media.
A section of the report:
The Blogging Revolution
“Weblogs Are To Words What Napster Was To Music” – Andrew Sullivan
In 1994, the phenomenon now called Blogging had begun. Blogging allows people to post their questions or give answers, share ideas and produce arguments, and giving comments about certain things. (Sullivan, The Blogging Revolution, the Internet)
Blogs are widely used because blogs are personal and pleasing to people. Blogging has been used everywhere around the world. And Cambodia is also one of the nations that use blogging. Bun Tharum, although not 100 percent sure, is believed to be the first man to create a blogging website on the Internet in Cambodia. On his web page, you can post information, personal questions, and get a response from others very easily.
Mr. Bun Tharum’s Interview
Having logged on to Mr. Tharum’s website, we are very interested in the Blogging issue. Therefore, we have conducted an interview with him via e-mail and received some answers which we believe are very crucial to our report. To acknowledge this significant achievement and his vital help, we would like to thank Mr. Tharum very much for spending some of his time trying to answer all our questions. Below is our interview with him.
1. When did you start using the Internet?
In early 1999.
2. Do you know a lot about the Internet?
I think there are so many things to learn about the Internet, and more to come to discover.
3. When and why did blogging become popular around the world?
The first weblog was created in 1997. And weblogs took off in recent years, probably in 2003. It may be it is easy to create, update, and maintain than a static website. So, even novice can become a blog owner in just a few minutes. People have different views and different personalities, and blog is designed to suit them all. It is for everyone.
4. Can you define blogging in a simple way?
It is a personal publishing tool and a two-way communication tool. You can imagine when you go to café, to listen to other people talking; raving and ranting, and you can have your opinions.
5. Why did you want to have a blogging website in Cambodia?
In a way, it is not expensive to reach out to people around the world. Several years ago I visited Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I asked a foreign traveler about Cambodia. He talked about landmines and rebels. And I realized that blog is a means to make my home country known to the outside world. I have collected many Cambodia websites, categorized them, and continuously added more.
6. What are some main benefits of blogging?: Especially for Cambodian citizens?
In every walk of life, people live to express themselves. People love reading newspapers, listening to radio, and watching TV. They are all informed. But they cannot find a good way to react or comment. Blogging allows people to interact with others from diverse cultures
in different countries. It is an open world where people can learn views and thoughts of others on any topics they like. And in my point of view, apart from making our nation known internationally, we can even learn much more from individuals and communities all over the
7. How many people have become bloggers in Cambodia since its existence?
It is very tough to tell about the number of Cambodian bloggers. I assume there are some hundreds.
8. What do people usually discuss about on the blogging website?
A blog can be about anything people want it to be. In the United States and in some countries in Europe, it is another source of media to find out how their citizens discuss voting. In China, it is probably the only tool being used to react to the government. Since it is citizen’s voice, in some countries, interestingly journalists read the blog to find angles to write articles. Cambodian people, as have been written in tourist guide book, a country of friendly people, can write a blog to inform foreign tourists about their beautiful country.
9. Is politics usually the main discussion? : Or are there some other main issues as well, such as economics, education, etc.?
Not at all, as I previously said. There are so many topics. But I am not quite sure that politics and technology have been listed as top ten. Most people have their own interests, so they write and discuss what they love to. A blog is somewhat making people with similar interest meet each other on the net and share their experience. I like reading blogs about technology.
10. If people have any questions and post it on the blogging web page, do they get satisfying results?
It took about half year or so to expose my blog. Once visitors are familiar with the context of my weblog, they provide plenty of helpful opinions. Not all the time I have to expect good comments as I have been prepared to be open to learning different opinions.
11. How do you think Blogging will revolutionize the world, particularly in Cambodia?
It is not very easy to foresee the future. Technologies, for years, have been designed to empower life of all ages. It is just a matter that we deploy them in an appropriate way. I like a quote of Alfonso Gumucio Dagron that says: “When we talk about technology, we are
only referring to instruments, not to social economic or cultural development. A knife is just a knife: it can be used to hurt someone or to carve beautiful wood sculpture. Content and utilization are what makes the difference.”
12. Are you in contact with other bloggers in Cambodia?
Why not? I communicate with some Cambodia bloggers, both Cambodian people in the country and abroad, and foreigners who write about Cambodia.
13. What is your ultimate goal for the future?
I hope to work in media, specifically in information and communications. And part of my career is to be a writer.
14. Have you got more daily ”hits” since the Cambodia Daily article?
Time after time Internet users google my name.
15. Do you believe that political websites could foster dialogue to improve human rights and democracy in Cambodia?
It is just a communication tool. Human beings invent, create, but sometimes do not use it. In developed countries, it is very popular, and being used to empower their critical thinking and better communications.