Monday, October 1, 2007

Lone Remaining Burmese Blogger Uses Lightweight Messaging Service to Broadcast to the World

The story of the monk-led protests in Myanmar, or Burma, and subsequent police crack-down is a widely reported one - but the story is not over yet. Bloggers have been particularly important as the events unfold, posting news accounts and photos to the internet from a country that very few outside reporters have access to. At least one blogger remains active in the country, posting to a lightweight messaging service with an embeddable widget for output; those entries appear live here on the right.

This morning the UK Times Online runs a story about bloggers now hunted by the Burmese government after the bulk of the action in the street has quieted. Computers in the country are all government licensed, ISPs are closely monitored and internet access has become increasingly intermittent as the protests proceeded.

Some Bloggers Remain Active

Despite the extensive repression, protests in Burma continue and a handful of bloggers remain active in reporting events to the world online. The US-based Committee to Protect Bloggers is tracking the situation closely and reports that a blogger posting under the name Niknayman appears to be the only one still posting from inside the country. Another, under the name Ko-Htike, is posting from London whenever information is able to escape from Burma.

Niknayman and associates are using a lightweight messaging service called CBox to post very short updates from inside the country. CBox doesn't look like much, but I think of it like Twitter - two small services making a big impact. Here's Niknayman's Burmese Cbox and here's Niknayman's English cbox.

CBox does not publish an RSS feed - but I've scraped one for Niknayman's posts using the service Feed43. You can subscribe to this feed for updates: It's a little bit funky but it's better than nothing.

It's very interesting to me that hundreds of people are reading these messages but the channel is kept clear of disrespectful and distracting posts by readers.

Niknayman is very brave to continue documenting the actions of demonstrators around the country. Monks should not be beaten and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi should not have spent the past 17 years under house arrest for pro-democracy activities. It's a testimony to the power of the new internet that these kinds of historic events can now be chronicled by bloggers acting at the margins of society.

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