Silicon Valley’s storm strikes Far East

From Cambodia to Vietnam to Burma, BarCamp is known as a user-generated conference on technologies, usually run and contributed by local and international people.

In 2008 the first BarCamp took place in Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, where Internet penetration and tech users’ base is high. A couple of hundred people showed up at one of the best well-equipped halls at Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center (CJCC).

Last year, BarCamp Phnom Penh ’09 at Pannasastra University of Cambodia was even grander, with more participants from the region, and the number participants reached almost one thousand, including some fellows from Burma.

In Cambodia, the user-contributed conference offers something unique in the spirit of sharing and learning in an open environment. The new generation of Cambodians are not shy away from talking in the shared community. A journalist at a fine print newspaper wrote in 2008, a day after the first BarCamp, that: “The event was certainly informal. The mostly youthful crowd wandered in and out of the convention hall, dipping into discussion groups in the garden about the best programming language or crowding excitedly around some fine new piece of technology. Debates raged freely but didn’t degenerate into arguments, and English was the preferred tongue. Participants included bloggers – or “cloggers”, as the many Khmer web scribes refer to themselves.”

Where geeks gather in the Cambodian capital. Taken by Tharum Bun

Just several months after Phnom Penh’s first BarCamp, the tech conference was held in Vietnam’s capital city, Saigon (Hồ Chí Minh City). While it’s just another one in Southeast Asia, it helps bridge people from the neighboring countries to come over as if only geeks can find an undeclared unity. In late 2009, the Saigon tech enthusiasts run it again, which has become an annual geek gathering for people from Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.

BarCamp made its way to Saigon. Taken by Tharum Bun

Last week, BarCamp arrived in Burma’s former capital city, Yangon. Strikingly, almost 3000 attendees crowded the venue, which was held for two days. Global Voices Online author ‘tan’ has the report: “It has been said that this is the largest amount of attendees among barcamps convening around the world. One of the attendee commented that even though this was the first barcamp to be held in Myanmar, many professionals and enthusiasts has attended, making it a very successful event.”

BarCamp in Thailand is more mature. In 2009, the third conference was organized. Take a look at this.