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A conference I am organizing in Phnom Penh…

December 21, 2009

…don´t miss it, when you happen to be in the city:


A Conference on the Sharing of Knowledge

The conference is sponsored by Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD).


The rise of “free software” in the last couple of years is one of the most significant paradigm shifts of the “information society” in the early 21st century. Instead of guarding their intellectual property rights, the developers of open source software freely share and distribute their creations, and have even developed business models out of it.

They are part of a larger “culture of sharing” that extends beyond the realm of computer software. Taking advantage of the capability to digital media to share information internationally and for negligible costs, this kind of “free culture” has given developing countries like Cambodia access to tremendous sources of information and “free culture”.

This conference will discuss the cultural and political implication of the “Open-Source”-model from the point of view of a developing country. It will question the effectiveness of the international regime of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Copyright, that often interferes with the free proliferation of knowledge and look at alternatives to the current status quo in terms of IPR.

The event brings together scholars and experts from Cambodia, Indonesia, Germany and the Philippines to look at a number of cultural practices that are based on the free sharing of information in such different fields as music, computer software, and different online media.


Location: Royal University of Phnom Penh, Institute of Foreign Languages, Meeting Hall, IFL campus, Russian Blvd, Toul Kork Phnom Penh Cambodia

Date: January 8th, 2010, 8:00 AM – 12:00 NN

Admission is free

7:30 – 8:00 AM


8:00 – 8:15 AM

Welcoming Remarks from Hannelore Bossmann, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, Ho-Chi-Minh-City

Dr. Tilman Baumgärtel (DAAD), lecturer, Department of Media and Communication, Royal University Phnom Penh

8:15 – 10:00 AM


Moderator: Dr. Tilman Baumgärtel (DAAD), Department of Media and Communication, Royal University Phnom Penh

Roberto Verzola, University of the Philippines

Under-mining Abundance in the Information Sector (Keynote)

Norbert Klein, The Open Institute, Phnom Penh

Open Source and Open Knowledge

Tharum Bun, blogger, contributor to Global Voices Online, Asian Correspondent and the Phnom Penh Post

Blogging in Cambodia

10:00 AM – 10:20 AM

Coffee Break

10:20 AM – 12:00 NN


Moderator: Tieng Sopheak Vichea, Acting Head, Department of Media and Communication, Royal University Phnom Penh

Maria Mangahas, PhD., Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of the Philippines

The case of ‘Hello Garci’ and other digitized ‘scandals!’: ICT and video anarchy in the Philippine context

Yuka Narendra, Independent Researcher and Musician, Jakarta

Tales from the Phonographic Oceans: The Story of “Yess Records”, 1977-1988, Bandung, Indonesia

Dr. Lilawati Kurnia, Faculty of Humanities, Universitas Indonesia

Can We Own Music? Technology and Inequalities in Case of Dangdut Music in Indonesia


Under-mining Abundance in the Information Sector (Keynote)

Roberto Verzola, University of the Philippines

Roberto Verzola will present a framework for analysis that encompasses his extensive experience in information technology, agriculture, and environment advocacies. He will suggest that the emergence of the information economy has raised awareness

about the phenomenon of abundance in information and information services. He will further claim that abundance may also be observed in agriculture, natural resources and the environment. He will discuss several situations where abundance is actually

being undermined to create artificial scarcity. Finally, he will propose a new approach to economic studies that take both abundance and scarcity into account.

Open Source and Open Knowledge

Norbert Klein, The Open Institute, Phnom Penh

In my presentation I will talk about the start of my involvement in Open Source and Open Knowledge in my attempts to open the door for a Cambodian colleague to get access to an international scholarship that required access to e-mail. At that time, e-mail was not yet available in Cambodia – so I created the first Internet Service Provider in Cambodia in 1994.  Though there was then e-mail, but not yet in Khmer. It was then that I discovered Unicode, an open standard in computer research and in the computer industry that was to allow computers to represent and manipulate text expressed in more and more of the world’s writing systems consistently. I will describe the codification of the Khmer script in Unicode, and the subsequent development of Khmer software and the introduction to Open Source software in Cambodia, and will eventually argue in favor of keeping standards and protocols in computer communication open.

Blogging in Cambodia

Tharum Bun, blogger, contributor to Global Voices Online, Asian Correspondent and the Phnom Penh Post

Abstract to follow

The case of ‘Hello Garci’ and other digitized ‘scandals!’: ICT and video anarchy in the Philippine context

Maria Mangahas, PhD., Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of the Philippines

The phenomenon of ‘scandals’ as digital objects that are ‘made’, copied, shared, bought and sold, and ‘pirated’ has become quite prominent in the Philippine context in the last 5 years. Digitized ‘scandals’ are being made out of various forms of candid recordings, and scandalous materials are being creatively remixed and turned into spoofs.  This is happening within the context of thousands of conversations, communication exchanges, blogs and broadcasts among networks of Filipinos, now made possible by diverse ICTechnologies, and whose circulation (both locally and globally) is near impossible to regulate and control. This paper focuses on ‘scandals’ as a unique genre of digital product that has gained presence in everyday life among Filipinos. It will discuss especially those ‘scandals’ which may feature persons in positions of authority or high social status apparently engaged in improper or inappropriate behavior. The ‘Hello Garci’ case involved the highest official in the land, and allowed people to explore further the potential of ICT in creative political action, with continuity to the evolving political tradition of ‘people power’.  We can view the ‘scandal’ phenomenon participated in by Filipinos as both commentary and action, playing no small part in the reproduction of the national imaginary.

Tales from the Phonographic Oceans: The Story of “Yess Records”, 1977-1988, Bandung, Indonesia

Yuka Narendra, Faculty of Communication, University of Mercu Buana, Jakarta

Cassette is the most common medium used in Indonesian music industry since the seventies until now. The growth of the production of cassette in Indonesia was started since the local record companies initiated the reproduction (and duplication) of non-Indonesian vinyl albums to cassettes and released them in the music market in the early seventies. Each one of those record companies then confined themselves in specific genres. One of those companies was “Yess,” which was founded by three young vinyl-collectors in Bandung, West Java. After a few years of operation, Yess took its mark as an unpopular and non-commercial subgenres in rock, such as progressive rock, experimental rock and new age. Through such non-mainstream musical knowledge and cassette consumption, the consumers of Yess collectively imagined a particular condition of Indonesian modernity. This imagination of modernity was a paradox to what was being narrated by global capitalism and the state at that time. Therefore, as a pirate of foreign vinyl records, we need to reconsider on Yess’ position and reconfigure the meaning of music piracy in a more multidimensional manner. It could not be valued and regarded normatively as immoral pirates who stole other’s intellectual property rights. Conversely, Yess played a significant role in constructing Indonesian youth’s intellectuality and furthermore, produced a great deal of “Indonesian newborn intellectuals.”

Can We Own Music?

Technology and Inequalities in Case of Dangdut Music in Indonesia

Dr. Lilawati Kurnia

Faculty of Humanities, Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta

Science and technology are instrumental to the creation and maintenance of inequality within and between societies . Science and technology do not merely cause or alleviate inequality but are more profoundly implicated in social relations to distribution and access. The term distribution is used in its dynamic meaning which refers to the process of producing and re-producing inequalities . Inequality is the unequal distribution of something people value, such as income, health, entertainment and power. The average person would regard going into a store and pocketing a tangible piece of physical property is as something essentially different from copy piracy. The human mind finds the concept of intellectual property much more abstract, slippery, and nebulous than the concept of physical property. When most consumers buy a book or CD recording, their  perception is of having purchased a physical item more than the concept of its intellectual content. Of course, a CD, the cost of the physical medium represents a small fraction of the purchase price, but the perception is still that property is something one can see and touch and keep, even for people who intellectually know better. With the example of the Dang-Dut  (pronounced dunk-doot) I will show that the music itself is a construction of many cultural elements and has been used and reused by so many people with different cultural backgound for ages. It is the technology that has made music to be „owned“ by some and in that so created inequalities in the society of the world.

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