I am at the Chelsea College of Arts. In the midst of the lunch hour buzz, I cannot help but notice the student demographic of the college – do artists look a particular way? Perhaps this is erroneous to suggest but there is an acute sense of taste expressed in what seemed like an accidental understanding of a dress code. Maybe this is the artistic elan leaking through: most of them carry some kind of object in one form or another – paintings, frames, parts of an installation – I can only get glimpses of this fleeting art as they pass by. The atmosphere is one of creative productivity but they pass me by in very brief glimpses.
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“The objective of the blog is to highlight entertainment news be it in local television or music and performing arts happening in and around the country of Brunei Darussalam, and occasionally posting music news from around the globe.” – BruneiBuzz
“It is a portal which will provide free in-depth information and entertainment to the wired Bruneian and the general public. There will be varying of essential and useful content ranging from Islam to Tourism to Health and Sports and many more. The website’s main function is to be the creative platform for Brunei” – 1stopbrunei
“Join me on this projek, a projek to discover and rediscover this country they call the Abode of Peace, the Heart of Borneo, this place they call the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures…through the stories of the People.” – ProjekBrunei
“The main aim of that website is to create entertainment, but now that there’s entertainment, people still don’t know about it and so then I created this website to increase awareness on all food and entertainment in Brunei.” – Brunei Entertainment
What follows is an analysis of online culture in Brunei. It is written with the intent of reflecting on our current online practices and opening up a discussion about its direction.
What I have written also serves as an incomplete history of online culture in Brunei. It focuses on written blogs, leaving out many aspects such as web rings, mIRC and forums in order to understand platform websites. As I researched this essay I left out many things I wished to have kept in, there is plenty more that can be written about this subject.
These thoughts on online culture in Brunei emerged after the trip to Seattle on the invitation of Royal Brunei. It made me question the relation Open Brunei has with blogging and the role it could play within this space.
Introduction (back to Top)
1stopbrunei, The Amo Times, ASZBrunei, Brunei Buzz, Brunei fm, Brunei Foodies, BruneiShines, LoveFoodHateWaste (Brunei), Muzikaliti, Songket Alliance, Support Bruneian Artists, Open Brunei, ProjekBrunei, Ranoadidas, are described as: a place to highlight, a way to discover, a place to share, to raise awareness, a social blog, a portal, a platform.
These websites curate content. Online content may include poetry, drawings, comics, images, sounds, videos and so on. While some have write-ups with contextualizing information, others share content as it is. Websites such as LoveFoodHateWaste (Brunei) and Songket Alliance, also have original content for their website. But most of these websites fall to the latter, sharing content as it is, adding no more than three sentences or less of relevant information.
Platform websites have huge followings across social media. At the moment 1stopbrunei on Facebook has over 1,000 likes, BruneiTweet has close to 18,000 followers on Twitter and Brunei Foodies nearing 4,200 followers on Instagram. With 42,070 in total, Ranoadidas has around the same social media reach across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as The Brunei Times with 37,350. However, Brunei fm on Facebook eclipses them all with them with 140,000 likes. As large as their social media reach, all have websites. (more…)
This keynote address was covered on 7th Nov 2013 by both Borneo Bulletin and The Brunei Times, the only two English newspapers in Brunei. Bruneian residents, including those of mixed-race descent, reacted with anger to the angle appropriated by Borneo Bulletin. The original articles can be found here: Borneo Bulletin (backup copy), Brunei Times (backup copy). We found that the transcript of the keynote text actually addresses the complex topic of ‘identity’ in a more thought-provoking way. We decided to post it as an additional source to read and reflect on.
Every generation faces the issue of identity. In the past, racial lines, enforced by facial features and language, largely defined the question of identity. As such nations were often named by their racial character: the Chinese in China and the Mongols in Mongolia, the Scots in Scotland, the English in England and closer to home the Bugis, Thais and of course, Brunei. During the pre-British period Brunei was the name of a people who originated from the mouth of the Brunei River; today in the vicinity of Kampong Ayer. However, the Bruneis areas of power encompassed regions that were traditionally inhabited by peoples of different races – if we were to define race on linguistic lines. So we find among within the Bruneis’ areas of power the Belaits, the Tutongs, the Kedayans, the Dusuns, the Muruts and several others. What is important to note is that these peoples together with the Bruneis have lived side by side for many centuries. Each only identified by their linguistic differences and geographical origins.
It was March 2013, and Wajihah came across a tourist at Brunei International Airport, who was struggling to find out how to get to “Brunei national park” (which she found out was Ulu Temburong National Park).
She accompanied the tourist to Bandar Seri Begawan, in search of accommodation in the capital, and information about travelling to Temburong. It became clear, to the dismay of the ladies, that basic tourist-friendly information and services were still lacking in Brunei. View our video interview with Wajihah here.
Stirred by this story – not the first of its kind – in April, Wajihah and a group of friends decided to find out more about what a tourists typically face in Brunei, by donning “tourist outfits” for a day.
Remember History classes in primary and secondary school? Because I sure can’t. Brunei’s history has always circulated around Sultans and the strange wars they went through in order to reclaim their position as a monarch. Cock fights? Are you kidding me? Our history, if I may be frank, was like a badly written Saturday Night Live sketch.