Notes from the Field

Partnership with YouTube Opens Up New Vistas

January 14, 2009

In recent years, the power of networked communication, and the increasingly sophisticated modes of transit along these networks, has changed the nature of open dialogue among Asia’s citizens.  It’s providing some of the most remote and isolated places in the region with a global voice. In Afghanistan, locally-produced blogs have become a place where journalists and activists can publish evidence of corruption and speak openly about issues of governance overlooked, because of political pressure, by radio and television. In 2008, the central bank of Bangladesh circulated guidelines to formalize mobile phone banking ” a practice of transferring money via mobile phone data networks ” because the volume of those transfers had become so great that they could no longer be ignored. In Malaysia, young people post homemade videos on the web covering topics ranging from political activism to skateboarding. I keep in touch with friends in Indonesia through Facebook.

The Asia Foundation understands that the Internet’s New Media revolution is transforming the way Asian citizens interact with the world. This dynamism is already upending old relationships and forging new ones. To take advantage of these changes, The Asia Foundation recently entered into a partnership with YouTube to create an Asia Foundation channel on their site. Here we will be posting all of our videos and some other less polished, less highly-produced pieces for people around the world to view, access, and discuss. The focus will be on development issues in Asia, and we hope to share with new audiences stories of the inspiring work of our partners.

From police on the streets of Dhaka working to better engage with Bangladeshi citizens; to hill tribe women in Northern Thailand advocating for women’s rights; to Balinese village chiefs concerned about problems of local corruption; to Mongolians working to protect precious water resources–these stories of Foundation partners will take on new life and reach a wider audience through our YouTube partnership. We will reach more people, share more stories, and hopefully help foster a broader dialogue on issues of great relevance to the lives of Asia’s citizens.

We live in a new age of interactive, networked communication, and it is inherently social and community oriented.  It will point the way to new, unexpected solutions to long-standing problems, and it will illuminate common concerns and shared values we did not anticipate or even dare guess at.  The Asia Foundation is proud to be a part of this transformative moment, a time when a global community finally began to know one another better.

John Karr is The Asia Foundation’s Director for Digital Media. He can be reached at jkarr@asiafound.org.

View all posts by John Karr

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