Saturday, April 22, 2006

Free Expression in Asian Cyberspace, the Conference

I was privileged to attend quite a remarkable gathering of journalists and bloggers from all around Asia this past week. The Free Expression in Asian Cyberspace conference was a three day affair with eye-opening presentations on the state of many of the represented Asian countries; as well as a distinctly, and deeply, technological flavor from North American resource speakers. Above link goes to the conference website, whose live, contemporaneous production and multimedia content records for posterity both the substance of the prepared presentations and the subsequent interaction with the audience via question and answer. The conference weblogged itself. Kudos to Alecks Pabicko and the the technical staff of Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) for that work, which saves all of us for the further task of pondering upon the larger, grander meaning of the information we have just shared about current events, both political and technological, and what the implications are for what ought to be done now.

I come away from the conference with a vivid impression that some kind of important moment has just occurred in Asian journalism involving many of its most interesting elements. In each of the persons that I met I was struck by the gravitas of their situations and thus the high value of their information as journalists and human beings. Here were virtually every country in Asia, represented by its leading-edge journalists, living truly dangerous and risky lives, telling each other and the rest of the world, the basic truth about their little or big corner of it. The immediately preceeding post on Nepal, perhaps demonstrates the live momentous nature of events of which many of the conferees are a part.

Here too were important bearers of another kind of information -- cyberspace technology, the inner wiring of the World Wide Web of browsers and proxies and nodes and links and software arcana, strategy and tactics for dealing with the lethal cat-and-mouse games of Internet filtering, censorship and outright repression in countries all over the region. This was thus a conference in which one could literally witness the process of technology transfer.

If you're already feeling envious for not having attended this Conference, be consoled! They did such a great job on the conference website above, you can still virtually attend it.

Please check back here all day long, for more Philippine Commentary on specific conference topics...


Anonymous said...

I am consoled, because of you and the others who blogged about the conference.Just like being there myself.


Hi Dean, hi Karl,

The conference sounds really awesome!

Gosh and to think I'm still in stone age blogging - ugh!

Gotta get my blogging bearings right pretty quickly.

Without Borders said...

we are talking about free expression in cyberspace but deep down south in marawi city, the local government had outlawed pornography and homosexuality. read today's PDI, page A18. this is nothing but a talibanization of the country. bloggers and freedom loving people of this country should condemn this blatant violation of our basic human rights and free expression. certainly regulation, probably an ordinance, is unconstitutional.

Rizalist said...

without borders,
Pornography--hetero or homo or othero--is illegal in most jurisdictions. Of course the big problem is deciding, in any given case whether something is pornographic or not. In other words, like terrorism, there is a bind over the definition of pornography.

But I think in most places, they allow "local community standards" to decide whether something is pornographic or not.

Artists, movie makers and yes, pornographers do often play the role of canaries in the mine shaft. As governments and states turn to repressive measures against all mediums of expression, they tend to step on such practitioners of "free speech" -- thus alerting the larger society to the presence of repressive trends.

However, I do believe local communities are empowered to set their own standards in these regards.

All the more reason I suppose to jealously guard our freedom to travel. Or to oppose the local ordinances by reducing them to absurdity, where possible.

Bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

I read about your account of the conferences that you attended and I felt as if I've stepped into another world that a lot of people is not seeing much less understand. And yet it is the future. I am suffering futureshock here.

I consider myself lucky, that being a senior citizen, I am straddling two worlds - the old world where I grew up and the world of cyberspace where I am now struggling to understand and trying to still be relevant in. I hope the youth of today appreciate and knows how to use it well for the good of humankind.