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Greetings from Asia Source

I’m in India for the next few weeks – until February 18th – attending a series of meetings, and then on vacation. As you may have noticed, my blogging is likely to be pretty sparse during this period. For the first week, my time is going to be incredibly scarce; after that, I don’t expect to be staying anywhere that I’ll have regular connectivity.

This week starts at Asia Source, a conference held by Mahiti and Tactical Technology Collaborative, sponsored by Open Society Institute’s Information Program (where I serve on the oversight board, which explains my presence at the conference…) It’s a pretty amazing and inspiring gathering. There are 90 attendees from around Asia, all folks who work on technology in the NGO sector. The conference is designed to introduce these tech pros to FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) and help them bring FLOSS into their organizations. There’s a bit of a missionary feel to it, but less so than at many Open Source gatherings I’ve been to.

What’s most amazing is the variety of the people who are participating here and the differences in their situations and experiences. When I arrived Wednesday, I spent a short time with Malaysian super-blogger Jeff Ooi, a man who seems to live a good part of his life online. Immediately after, I had lunch with a set of Cambodian activists, who estimate that there are fewer than 10 software development firms in the country… and then dinner with Burmese activists, who report that citizens of Myanmar have significantly more Internet access than they used to, but still far less than in almost any other nation.

But the most exciting parts of the conference, for me, have been the chance to hang out and have fun with a group of people from around the world. After our Indian hosts did their best to teach us the basics of pick-up cricket, the Americans and Euros in the crowd did our best to teach 3 on 3 halfcourt basketball… to discover in the process that the Mongolians got some serious game.

I got the chance to do a brief workshop on blogging today, showing off some of the Global Voices blogs and trying to get people excited about the idea of bridgeblogging within their organizations. If one out of ten of the people in the room with me this afternoon starts a blog, the blogosphere will be a richer and more interesting place.