A couple of months ago, I started doing a few blog posts a week at a new news website site called Asian Correspondent. In short, the site is an amalgam of standard news reports from countries across most of the Asian region – including Australia – along with posts from a wide range of bloggers from across those countries. The site is still developing in both content and layout, but the main aspect of it which appealed to me was the prospect of improving understanding and communication at a community blogosphere level of across the many countries in our region.
It is continually astounds and often concerns me just how little attention is paid to major political developments and issues in the many countries to the north and west of Australia. Some of this of course is due to language barriers, but more of it is due to the cultural and other unfamiliarity, which is due to many more things than just language – particularly given the reasonably widespread use of English in many Asian countries today.
There have been improving connections between Australia and various countries in the south-east Asia region at various institutional levels, some of it driven by economics and market opportunities, and some of it linked to Australia’s multiculturalism. But at the general community level, there is still very limited cross-connecting.
Writing at a place like Asian Correspondent also encourages me to look around at some of the other contributers – a couple of who had come to my attention previously, but most of who are new to me. It doesn’t take long to realise that the quality and depth of differing bloggers varies enormously, although many people would have interests and tastes different to mine. But it is always worthwhile finding a new person or two who can open up an extra window into a new area.
I try to scan some of the major media (English language) sites from our region reasonably frequently, which in itself shows a lot of material that (understandably) doesn’t make into our general news here. But finding quality bloggers from the region has two added benefits. Firstly, the comment threads which usually apply with good blogs can enable useful two conversation and clarification.
Secondly, while there are exceptions, much of the mass media in the region is politically censored or otherwise constrained, either directly or indirectly, which makes the role of the plain speaking blogger potentially much more important.
Building more links and awareness through such channels can be very valuable in the longer term, and also provide a good window into how Australia and Australians are seen by people from elsewhere in our region.
I’ll try to write a couple of posts here in the near future highlighting one or two stories and issues from elsewhere in our region that I’ve found interesting.