So I conducted a blogging workshop a couple weeks ago and the feedback was better than I’d expected. There was one comment though that stuck in my mind and I spent some time thinking about it. A participant remarked that s/he wished that there were facilitators of other races, specifically Malays and Indians so that the audience could have more perspective from their points of view.
Perhaps the participant was not privy as to how the workshop ended up with a few speakers. I understand that, because these things are usually internal communication and mostly have nothing to do with the outcome of any events. For explanation’s sake, I was supposed to be the sole person to conduct the workshop. As mentioned in my earlier post, I approached a few of my friends whom I thought would have something worthwhile to contribute especially in areas where I am not very familiar with. For example, Cheng Leong is a practising lawyer and has given many talks on blogging and law. He is also an active blogger. That was why I thought he’d be a good person to elaborate on the legal parts of blogging in Malaysia.
No doubt I could have asked Nizam Bashir, a practising lawyer in Melaka who spoke on defamation laws at a previous conference that I attended. Unfortunately I do not have a personal relationship with Nizam; it is mostly a “I know who he is and I think he sort of knows who I am” thing. He is also based in Melaka and to me, it may be a bit of a trouble to ask him if he could come up to KL on a Sunday to talk for an hour, when he has a family with young children to spend time with.
Perhaps those are just excuses. Again to me, it boils down to the personal relationship bit. In my defence, the ‘all Chinese’ part never occurred to me as I was only concentrating on each speakers’ field of expertise when it comes to blogs and blogging, and how their experience could add on to the participants’ understanding and knowledge. I truly didn’t think that it would be any deal at all because I’d like to think that I’m generally above the ‘what race you are’, but ‘what you know and did and how you can spread it to others’.
Maybe that’s just me. Maybe in my limited life experiences, I missed something along the way. That’s why I’m blogging this, and I’d like to know your opinion. Let’s put aside possible immediate reactions that may imply the participant was being slightly racist, or limited/ single-minded/ narrow in his or her thinking. With that, I ask you this: is it important to have speakers of different races at a ‘how to blog’ or ‘writing blogs’ workshop because of his or her differing perspectives and POV? And how?
I’ll start off with explaining the outline that I designed for the workshop. A few hours dedicated to the history of blogs, what are blogs, how blogs and blogging exploded worldwide then to Malaysia, how to start your own blog, explanation of templates and designs, do’s and don’ts of blogging (e.g. auto-play music, mouse trailer etc), what are web feeds and how to use it to track other blogs etc and so on. Rudimentary stuff – then again do remember that this was targeted for adult beginners. David Lian talked about blogs and media from a communications person POV, because he works in an international PR company and IMHO, one of the first to understand blogs, blogging and bloggers (as a PR person). Timothy Tiah talked about blogs and advertising, and I approached him because he is the co-founder of the first and largest blog advertising network in the country. Cheng Leong spoke on defamation laws, as well as intellectual property laws which I think is slightly more important because a lot of people are ignorant of what constitutes copyright etc. Peter Tan shared his experience of blogging as an advocacy tool; as someone who has been reading local blogs since 2003, I followed his stories on how he corresponded with MAS, Air Asia etc. Yvonne Foong uses her blog to raise awareness of her life with Neurofibromatosis and to raise monies for her surgeries. I thought that would be a great addition as an example how blogs are beyond the personal stuff of what I ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Like I said, it was my workshop to conduct, and these are my point of views. It wouldn’t have mattered to me if David Lian Abdullah or Timothy A/L Tiah was the speaker, as long as they can convey and share their experiences on the subject. Again I admit that I may have missed something. What do you think?