I find myself back in Asia again fascinated by how social media is being used here, not only for social purposes but for business transactions and communication. I am here working on a project creating awareness about the AADMER treaty signed by the 10 ASEAN countries about how they will help each other during times of humanitarian disasters. What I find interesting is that various discussion groups for ASEAN are being held on facebook. Years ago, during the Asian Tsunami, I spent a year and a half in Banda Aceh helping communities rebuild. I spent a lot of time on yahoo messenger with colleagues sorting out challenges and making decisions through that medium which was a wonderful way to reduce my inbox. Since then, I have moved on to using skype significantly more, but I notice YM still is very strong in Asia. But I have been surprised to see it and facebook used in such an official capacity in ASEAN. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. My surprise comes from the countries that are a part of ASEAN. I sit in Vietnam where facebook is partially blocked (many people have routed around the firewall to access it, but I think it is technically blocked). So it seems we have ASEAN using facebook for discussion groups, while some of its member countries have it blocked, yet these same countries still use it. Fascinating.
I talk with other other folk here who conduct business deals and trades through YM – that’s where the chatter happens, not between strangers, but between known people. I was surprised by this, yet on reflection why should I be? In one sense, YM is just another communication device, similar to the phone, and yet written. I wonder if the legal structures here in Asia have developed to allow YM history to be considered in a court of law.
Asia – it’s good to be back.