Uff, its over: “OPEN KNOWLEDGE, FREE CULTURE” conference successfully completed…
The conference “Open Knowledge, free culture” that I organized at my Department of Media and Communication at the Royal University of Phnom Penh is over, and I am quite happy with it. (Then again, people who organize something are quite frequently very happy with their endeavours, aren´t they?)
I will not write a longish report on it, but rather I want to provide some material on the subject matter, and, of course, put some pictures for the participants on the net asap. The program of the conference is here. All of the presenters, who had a Powerpoint presenttion, were kind enough to give it to me, and while these slide shows by no means are a complete impression of their talks (Remember, Powerpoint DOES make you dumb), they give at least a clue of what the conference was about.
In hindsight, maybe I should have made blogs the main subjects of the conference, as the discussion returned to them quite frequently. Norbert Klein from the Open Institute repeatedly called blogs “nothing short of a revolution in Cambodia”, a country where there is increased pressure on the free press, while journalist and blogger Bun ThaRum pointed out the special function that blogs serve in a culture that does not encourage controversy and the open exchange of opinions.
He has recently published an article in the Phnom Penh Post on the situation of press freedom in Cambodia that is a worthwhile and scary read, and you can see more of his writings on media and Cambodia here.
Norbert Klein´s frequently hilarious account of how he first introduced email to Cambodia and then joined the fight for a correct Unicode verion of the Khmer skript is described in this powerpoint presentation here.
In a far reaching presentation, Roberto Verzola, member of the CopySouth group and a long-time media activist from the Philippines, drawing on his controversial essay “Undermining abundance: counter-productive uses of technology and law in nature, agriculture, and the information sector”, outlined some very fundamental assumptions about the common nature of processes of accumulation and reproduction in nature and in computer sciences. Powerpoint here.
If you want to read more of his writings, his book “Towards a Political Economy of Information” from 2004 is now available on the net and gives a very interesting and insightful perspective on copyright and intellectual property from the point f view of a developing country. His discussion of copyright holders as “rentiers” really has a very Filipino flavour to it, as most of the rich in the Philippines made their initial fortunes by being rentiers of large haciendas.
The Indonesian participants, bother members of a research project on the culture of piracy in Southeast Asia, focused on music. While Dr. Lilawati Kurnia from the Universitas Indonesia discussed the case of Dangudut music in Indonesia (Powerpoint here),
Yuka Narendra from the University of Mercu Buana in Jakarta dug up the fascinating case of the Yess label, that brought prog rock to Indonesia in the 1970s and 1980s on pirated cassette tapes and even paid taxes for it! Powerpoint here.
Dr. Maria Mangahas from the University of the Philippines, who belongs to the same research group, looked at the specifically Filipino phenomenon of the “scandals”, videos or audio recordings of embarrassing or lewd behaviour, that is consumed by a voyeuristic audience on pirated disks or via the internet, occassionally even ending up as ringtone for cell phones. Powerpoint here.
The discussion that followed the panels spoke to the relevance that the subject of free exchange of information (in particular media piracy!) has to the audience, and included some tough questions to the speakers.
Ar kun, terima kasih, salamant, dankeschön und thank you to Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst ( DAAD) for the financial support, to my department for the help with the organization, to the Institute of Foreign Languages for the space, and to all the speakers and attendees for coming.