Blog is a truncation of the word weblog: a series of entries (or ‘posts’) on a website. Bloggers are the authors of these posts and blogging is the act of writing them.
Microblogging has also become hugely popular, with sites such as Twitter and its Chinese counterpart Weibo boasting millions of users that compose, favourite and share posts limited to 140 characters in length.
Few Cambodian bloggers have been more pioneering and have received more international acclaim than Kounila Keo, who has posted over 360 entries on her site blueladyblog.com since 2007.
The 27-year-old is currently based out of Singapore, where she is completing a Master’s degree in Public Policy at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, part of the National University of Singapore.
Some of Kounila’s blogs have made the news, and primarily focus on Cambodian and ASEAN events, Khmer Rouge history, travel, women’s rights and youth empowerment.
She has worked as a reporter for various foreign news publications including Agence France Presse (AFP), Los Angeles Times, IRIN UN News Agency, the Independent UK, CSMonitor and Global Voices Online, as well as the Phnom Penh Post.
Kounila has also given speeches and training on social media to Cambodian university students and was one of the speakers at TEDxPhnomPenh in 2011.
Here are excerpts of a short interview with Kounila by email:
Do you have a smartphone or tablet and what do you primarily use it for?
I use my smartphone (iPhone) to do pretty much everything, such as managing my social media pages, checking/writing emails, taking pictures, and calls, while I use my Android phone to download and test new apps. I still blog using my laptop.
What apps would you recommend for smartphone or tablet users and why?
There are a few of my favourite apps that I’d really recommend for smartphone users.
2Do: It helps me manage my tasks. It lets me focus on my life, my tasks and my priorities. I grabbed this app when it was free.
Wikipedia: I’m curious, and I like reading things quickly on Wikipedia. I also edit Wikipedia, but prefer editing on a laptop.
Evernote: sometimes when an idea pops up, I can’t find my book or pen, so I just write it all into Evernote.
What are your favourite websites to access via a smartphone?
Of course, the google search website, google news (to help read latest breaking news or feature stories) and my blog (blueladyblog.com).
Do you think smartphone technology helps get people into reading and writing blogs or other articles?
I’ve noticed that smartphone technology helps people read and write more. However, it is not necessary for blogs, although I really hope that with such technology, people should grab it and make the best use of it.
Some people prefer writing shorter text for their social media channels while others like composing long emails on their phone. The only thing I have an issue with is when people don’t put their phone down for a chat with people who want to start a conversation with them. =)
How many followers do you have on various websites (blog, facebook, twitter)?
I have around 7,000 followers on both my Facebook profile and the Facebook page of my blog. As for twitter, I have nearly 6,500 followers. All of these have grown organically as I’m not a fan of using Facebook ads to increase followers. I believe that the way to increase following is true engagement through good content and constant sharing and feedback.
You’ve traveled extensively due to your blogging exploits. Which country you’ve visited do you think has adopted smartphone technology the most?
Singapore and Indonesia. Singapore has started embarking on building a smart nation with many people tech savvy and informed of latest technology. I think Indonesia is also big on this. Everybody’s busy texting and communicating with their friends on their phone. Things are made easier by using smartphone technology from banking to travelling or just paying bills.
What do you think will be the future of blogging and microblogging in Cambodia?
I’m optimistic that Cambodia’s users will be more connected and more informed about the current updates on the country and the world. The current state of Cambodia’s social media users shows that more people have come to these microblogging platforms to write and express more.
I just hope that the (long-form) blogging will be promoted in schools or elsewhere so that people can write more and make longer, informative, meaningful posts to share with others. And we have seen how easy it is now to blog from a mobile. Technology is there and what is needed next is passion.