Meet Cambodia’s anonymous blog author ‘Details are Sketchy’

“The good thing about a blog is that it can be anonymous and you still can be contacted,” says Gary Kawaguchi, a digital media trainer at Royal University of Phnom Penh, Department of Media and Communications. 

Here’s an email interview with Details are Sketchy (DAS) the blogger, who started blogging anonymously in June 2006. The prominent blogger prolifically weighs in on issues ranging from arts to politics to the World Bank’s controversial issues.

Tharum Bun: How long have you been in Cambodia?

DAS: More than 10 years. I arrived in early 1998.

Q: Why did you start blogging?

DAS: When I started writing, there wasn’t much thought-provoking blogging about Cambodia. I wanted to try and provoke some informed debate. And also, I wanted to learn more about this ‘blog’ thingy that all the cool kids were talking about.

Q: Why do you choose to blog about Cambodia?

DAS: Cambodia is where I live. And, again, I wanted to try and raise the quality of the online conversation.

Q: In your blog, you seem to prefer talking about the opinions of local bloggers more than expats or tourists. Why is this?

DAS: My guide has always been to write about things that exists online — basically, i just riff off other people’s idea. The Cambodia Daily was the lone exception. For a while I would read the Cambodia Daily for material, and comment about the news in that paper. But then my schedule changed, and I wouldn’t get the paper until after lunch, so I had to look elsewhere. All along, I wanted to try and create a place for debate and informed comment on Cambodia. So in commenting on posts by other bloggers, I was hoping to lure them into the conversation. I wanted to pump the Cambodian bloggers, and hopefully help contribute to the growth of Cambodian blogs in general. I commented on and linked to bloggers like ThaRum, Lux Mean, Kalyan (Keo), Dee Dee (the other Kalyann), Mongkol, Vireak, Kounila Keo (KK) and others in the hopes that people reading me would read them too, and that maybe those readers of other blogs might come and read me. I am not too sure how well that worked out, though. Few Cambodians ever commented regularly on my site. In the end, I think I probably made them more nervous then curious.

Q: What do you think about blogging scene here in this country?

DAS: The blogging scene here is still small, but like the country itself, it’s extremely vibrant. I think it was a Global Voices post that said Cambodia had a comparable number of English-language bloggers as did its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, even though those countries have populations much, much larger. That’s amazing. And I think it speaks to the determination of the younger generation.

Q: How is it like being an anonymous blogger?

DAS: Well, it means I don’t have to worry about someone hitting me on the head with a coconut. But also, I think — or at least I hope — the ideas that were put forth on the blog were evaluated on their merits, good or bad. It was not possible to attack the author.

Q: Some of your blog readers say that your blog lacks accuracy, and it’s largely guesswork and gossip. How do you respond to this?

DAS: Please respond in comments. They are open to everyone, and they do not require any identifying information. I am certainly not perfect. I do get things wrong. When I know about it, I always make corrections. At the same time, it’s a blog. Not a newspaper. Most of the material there is opinion. Feel free disagree. That is the whole idea.

Q: The Cambodia Daily publisher intends to file a lawsuit against you. What do you think?

DAS: Really? ROFLMAO [Rolling on Floor Laughing My Ass Off].

Q: Which country are you from?

DAS: The United States.