Next Saturday, October 24th, the third annual Indonesian blogfest will be held at the magnificent new SMESCO Indonesia Exhibition Hall on Jl.Gatot Subroto. Unspun describes it as having a "spherical durian roof", but actually it's a geodesic dome, Ong, an incredibly strong structure which can probably withstand the severest earthquake.
Pesta Blogger has some heavyweight sponsors, including the USA Embassy which, in its press release invites people to "become fans of the U.S. Embassy atFacebook."
And that does seem to be the perpetual theme of the blogfests - socialise. Nowt wrong with that, yet I do wonder if the stated theme of this year's do, one I wholeheartedly endorse, will be achieved.
The theme of Pesta Blogger 2009 is “One Spirit, One Nation.” Imam Borotseno, Chairman of Pesta Blogger explained (the) choice of theme, saying “blogs and other social media have a great power to overcome physical, religious and cultural distances to bring us together as one nation with one spirit.”
The social media I take to include the many internet platforms, such as forums and group networks with a specific, rather than generic, focus ~ eg. What's Rattlin' and Wild Asia , social networks which emphasise sociality ~ eg. Friends Reunited, and personal lifestyle commentaries (viz. Twitter) ~ I've just had a crap and am therefore texting crap.
Whether Pesta Blogger will actually be able to encourage the social and political changes needed in Indonesia because we have "physical, religious and cultural" differences is a matter of conjecture. The notion of having competitions and prizes for the XL-Sponsored Top Blog and a jury judging the best photo is pandering to a competive 'winning' mentality, which runs counter to the One Spirit, One Nation theme.
Most writing, including fiction, is semi-autobiographical, in that obsessions and fantasies come from within. However, my definition of blogging does not include the social networks, yet I have discovered few fellow bloggers who consistently and objectively attempt to articulate the need for harmonious relationships, and thereby challenge the powers-that-be who act undemocratically.
Such writing takes time and involves thought and endless revision in order to provide coherence. It needs a 'flow', an introduction to the 'meat' of the topic and a conclusion, so that readers can follow the train of thought. Hopefully such writing engenders responses, whether as questions, debate, offering further reading or, and these are welcome, compliments.
My hope is that Pesta Blogger will encourage bloggers to provide long-term visions for the future of Indonesia and not just instant responses, although at times of 'crisis' these can be of value. Such is/was Indonesia Help, initially established by Enda Nasution in the wake of the tsunami, and to which I have added links to aid agencies which initially responded to the recent Padang Earthquake. We should aim to serve the community at large, and to do that we need policies and actions from those we challenge.
Whilst Indonesia ranks bottom of a survey of worldwide internet provision, there is scant hope that we bloggers can make much of a difference. These is surely something wrong when Telkom, which launched a new logo yesterday, also announced that their new strategy, in order to boost earnings during an expected downturn in the telecommunications business, will focus on non-core businesses such as entertainment, IT software development and - oh - internet services.
So, there we have it - the internet has been, and is, considered to be a non-essential. I will, no doubt, continue to make do with my dial up connection until a fibre optic connection is provided to Jakartass Towers or the neighbour demolishes the high wall erected a few months ago which blocks my access to wi-fi signals.
I will not be going to Pesta Blogger, not because I feel excluded as was the case in Pesta Blogger 2007, but because I'm already booked. (I will also not be accepting my invitation to the Responsible Tourism Awards ceremony in Kuala Lumpur that day.)
However, I am meeting Our Man in Jakarta on Thursday and will seek his views on the Pesta Blogger theme. I hope it will be a productive meeting leading to increased awareness of how bloggers can contribute to society at large.