[Beth Kanter, photo by Kino-Eye]
Beth Kanter is the least business-oriented of anyone I've interviewed for the SAP Global Survey. She is a non-profit professional whose heart is embedded in Cambodia where she raises money for causes that help children. I turned to her for some look into what is happening in this South Asian country. Here are her answers.
1. When and why did you get into social media? What tools do you use?
I've been online since the late '80s, starting with Bulletin Boards, forums, and eventually, the Web. I use the tools to have conversations about using technology for social change. I launched my first blog in 2002 primarily to keep track of information and force myself to write every day. Conversations with my readers helped to deepen my learning and insights. It's why I still blog almost daily.
I think people should play with the tools. I eat my own dog food. I blog about what I learn
from playing with technology and how it can be applied to nonprofits. Some tools I use: Typepad, Wordpress (hosted), Blogger, Technorati, Bloglines, Feedburner, Googlereader, del.icio.us, Wikipedia, Wikispaces, Google Analytics, Flickr. blip.tv, Youtube, Slideshare, Camtasia, Quicktime, Powerpoint, Photoshop, Movie Maker, Skype, Facebook, Snagit, Google Aps, and too many others to list.
2. When and how did you get involved in non-profits? Please give me a few examples of how non profit have successfully used social media.
After graduating with a music degree (flute performance) in 1979, I worked for
several orchestras on the management side before working as a fund raising, marketing, and organizational development consultant.
Soon after, I acquired my first computer (an IBM 286), I became obsessed with how nonprofits could use technology to reach their missions. Eventually, I refocused my consulting and training work in that direction. I worked with the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Arts Wire project, a WELL-like online forum for artists. My role was to teach them how to use the Unix-based discussion boards and email.
From there, I taught nonprofits whatever new Internet technology came along, from those early web pages to today's blogs and wikis. I am in a constant state of learning . I teach myself and immediately have to turn around to teach others.
Lately, I've been teaching workshops for nonprofits both as an introduction to Web 2.0 and Social Media as well as how to mix social media tools with traditional fund raising and communications strategies. One of my favorite examples of nonprofits, is the NpTech Tagging Community. There are other examples on my wiki.
3. Tell me about your personal involvement with Cambodia. How did you get involved and why? How much of your time have you spent there? What projects are you currently working on?
We adopted two beautiful Cambodian children from Cambodia. I blogged about our trip in Feb. 2000 using a series of web pages I hand-coded and uploaded from Cambodia. We feel in love with Cambodia but we were overwhelmed by its poverty. Dr. Hendrie, who assisted us with the adoption, started a nonprofit called the Sharing Foundation, which supports Cambodian children.
I think it is important to give back, so I do many different volunteer projects for the Sharing Foundation. Most recently I've launched fundraising campaigns on my blog. The first, raised $750 to send a young woman, Leng Sopharath, to college.
My second campaign raised almost $50,000, which was matched by Yahoo for the Sharing Foundation's education programs, which I recently spoke about at BlogHer.
I started my Cambodia4Kids Blog because I wanted to learn about Khmer culture and language for teaching my children. That blog was a cafe where I got to have conversations with Cambodians. My kids and I had some language lessons over Skype. In the early days of Global Voices, I covered the country - organizing the blogrolls and writing some articles.
A team of Cambodian bloggers are helping young people join the global conversation and share their perspectives through different forms of grassroots citizen's media. This team has been working on a voluntary basis to conduct 14 workshops called "Personal Information Technology Workshop" at 14 different universities with more than 1700 students participating. I'm collecting donated new tech t-shirts to take over there.
4. Tell me about Cambodia and technology. Who has computers? What about cell phones. Who has internet access and how do they get it? How expensive is it?
The percentage of Cambodian people who have computers in their homes is extremely low, something like 2%. Most people access the Internet from Internet cafes, which are more common in the larger cities like Phnom Penh. Battamburg and Siem Reap. When I was in Cambodia in 2000, you could not find broadband, even in the Western hotels.
In early 2003, the Asia Foundation partnered with USAID and Microsoft and established a network of Community Information Centers in 22 provinces and municipalities across Cambodia. The Internet-enabled Information Centers across the country provided greater access to news and information for provincial citizens. And that led to the first-ever blogging training in the rural areas.
Mobile phones are very popular and many young people have "smart phones." Some may have more than one phone. There is even a mobile phone magazine in Cambodia. Some bloggers, like Borin , use their cell phone to access the Internet.
5. What social media tools are people using in Cambodia?
They are using blogs, flickr, video, tagging, RSS and social networking sites, although perhaps not in the same numbers as in the US. There are several Cambodian groups on FaceBook, including a group called "I'm going to Cambodia in ___."
6. What language or languages do Cambodians speak? How does this impact their social media and internet communications?
Cambodian speak Khmer and some Cambodians speak English. This is yet another challenge for people in Cambodia to join the Social Web -- a language barrier. Over the past few years, there has been an effort to develop a Khmer font or Khmer Unicode that can customize and localize Open Source software. You can read more about it here.
7. What advice would you have for international companies who wish to communicate with Cambodians through social media?
Listen. Be interested in their culture, language, and engage in a conversation. Don't just try to sell. Start by visiting the Cambodia Blogger Summit Web site and follow the links to the bloggers.