Brunei's First Social Media Conference: We are not Robots!

[Emmagoodegg wrote in her column (published on 23 October 2011 on Brunei Times) and her blog the following article on the recent Social Media Conference which I helped moderate one of the sessions. My apologies to emmagoodegg and to my favourite artist cuboiart for uploading their article here and to candidsyndrome for borrowing his photographs.]


Brunei held its first ever social media conference on Friday this week. The seed was planted last October at the Borneo Colours event in Sabah specifically for Borneo online geeks where several Brunei online folks attended. Thereafter some of us from Brunei's online universe wanted to jump on the bandwagon of having our own social media conference; conferences the world has already seen many times over. What would be our angle we all wondered? It has all been said and done before.

Unless you've been living underneath an unconnected rock, we all know that social media is not a new thing. It is a widely accepted fact based on numbers and figures that social media is no longer a fad but is here to stay. At the Asia Inc Forum's THiNKBiG Forum held the previous day, we heard from YB Pehin Abdullah, Minister of Communication, that as of June 2011 there are 214,120 Facebook uses in Brunei. That's half of our population folks. I'm sure if a survey were done on Twitter users in Brunei, you would see the numbers increasing to match that of Facebook. Anne Burgraff, one of the speakers at the conference told us that social media has overtaken pornography as the Number One activity on the Internet. The forum held annually had a session highlighted innovation and social media in Brunei for the first time.

Brunei, in line with His Majesty's vision of innovation and creativity for the country, was ripe and ready to have a get together and discuss social media issues. Social media is not a new thing, but for the country to acknowledge that it plays a large part in our society is. The need for that acknowledgement became the primary angle for Brunei's first social media conference. Another angle came through a few weeks before the event.

Haji Rozan Yunos, or Mr. Brunei Resources (Mr. BR) as many online fondly know him, has been a big part of Brunei's blogosphere for many years. Mr. BR has consistently soldiered on to "help foster a better informed Brunei Society" as his blog postings are notably known for. Whilst a few years earlier, Mr. BR has embarked into the social media sphere like many of us did, he did not delve in further and we all wanted to know why. A few months ago another notable figure in the form of Dato Timothy Ong came onto twitterverse. What made him do so we all wondered? And why did he, when many of those in his age group feared social media? Could Mr. BR and Dato be convinced to join the bandwagon?

Nothing quite like having the aforementioned 2 prominent figures help answer these burning questions, and when they both agreed to speak and moderate, gave credence to Brunei's first social media conference. You can find a recording of their enlightening and stimulating session, 140 Characters or Less: Why Join The Twitter Conversation? at

Aside from learning why Haji Rozan was reluctant to come on Twitter and why Dato Tim did, we also discovered that of the many avenues for social interaction on the Internet, there are horses for courses. People will connect on different types of platforms, be it blogs, twitter, Facebook for different purposes and to reach different audiences. What was also interesting was the topic raised by the local technoprenuers, who are finding news ways for people to connect and interact.

Together with the social media angles, I personally felt that one more important aspect of events like these is to get off your backside and get involved in your community. As residents, we must take responsibility for our society and encourage the spirit of togetherness. And that is to me the beauty of social media, the general good that can be done by cultivating social networks, large and small, through IT.

The final word however, is that in spite of all of this IT, it is important to actually make human contact, to sit in a room, in a group and hear one another speak face to face. To paraphrase one prominent speaker, it is what makes us human; we are after all not robots.



Comments from BRUNEIresources:

When I agreed to moderate one of the sessions, I was not told that I would be moderating on the twitter issues. My personal twitter account which I switched on a couple of years back had been on the blink until I recently switched mine on again sometime in the middle of the year and that was to promote my newest book 'Our Brunei Heritage'. Anyway, it was an interesting session and Dato Timothy Ong @timothy_ongTM was his eloquent self  and gave very good advices to the young audience. Me... I was just a moderator, but Emmagoodegg - you will be pleased to know that @bruneiresources is now well and truly functioning again in the twitterverse.


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