Last Saturday (October 24, 2009) I attended the Pestablogger 2009 conference held in the SMESCO building in Jakarta. Around 1200 bloggers from all across Indonesia participated in this third annual Indonesian bloggers gathering.
This year's theme was "One Spirit One Nation", which reflects the nation's unity and diversity. Iman Brotoseno, the chairman of the event tells:
"Blog and other social media are able to break through physical, religious and cultural boundaries to keep us united as one nation with one spirit."
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It was interesting to see groups of Bloggers coming from different far away regions (Yogyakarta, Banjarmasin, Makassar, Bandung etc.) and mingling here with other groups. Three bloggers on two motor cycles drove 12 hours in the night to reach Jakarta. Most of the bloggers were young, in their twenties and there were a number of female bloggers representing different ethnic groups showing the diversity.
The events included discussions between blogger communities and breakout sessions which are titled like "Bridging The Gap", "Online Activism", "Blog ethics" "Photo/video Blogging", "citizen journalism" and "Blogpreneur" etc. However I found it difficult to follow the events as these were mainly conducted in Bahasa Indonesia with occasional comments from some international participants.
In the "Bridging the gap" session Mr. Brown from Singapore mentioned about the imnprotance of blogging in international languages. He said the Indonesian bloggers are a strong community of their own. But if they are not being read by international audiences, the conversation will stop there. There will be no cultural exchange. He cited Singapore's example where there are many individual communities, like the Chinese Malay, Tamil and each have their own language. But they have their Lingua Franca - English which unites them all and connects to the international community.
One interesting thing was the event attracted a lot of corporate sponsors like Telekomsel, Microsoft, Acer, Nokia etc. and the US Embassy, whose appearance was welcomed with question marks. For example the US embassy were encouraging participation in a lottery for Flip videos for free if the participants would take a picture with a lifesized Obama photo replica and post the picture in their profile picture in Facebook and register their details with the embassy. I humbly obliged.
Preeetam Rai, from the Global Voices community mentioned that at first the meet was really grassroot. But now it has been captured by corporates and PR companies to promote their products and agenda.
Nonetheless I had great great time there and met the people from GV Indonesia community namely Enda Nasution and Marisa Duma. I think Indonesia can be proud to be able to successfully organize a blogger meet of this scale. I wish we had one like this in Bangladesh too.