Building a collaborative user network for Open Source WordPress in Asia


Ladies and Gentlemen

Esteemed guests, from Singapore and overseas.

Thank you very much for helping us make history. You are the first attendees to Singapore's inaugural WordCamp.

Before I begin, I would like you to spend a moment asking yourselves this question. Why are you here? What are you doing right now? Are you blogging? Updating your Facebook? Sending a tweet? Checking in? What are you doing?

And now my presentation.

We are probably the last in the developed Southeast Asia to host a WordCamp. Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines have held one as early as 2009 and I understand that the communities there have continually organized them on an almost annual basis. My colleagues and I have visited them since 2010. And we are very impressed with the energy, spirit and vigor of the the people we've met in the region who are very passionate about something as geeky as a few thousand lines of code. This creation my friends, have not only touched the lives of software developers, but, it has also, and in great depths, touched the lives of non-developers. It has, in absolute terms, literally changed the world.

The concept of social media that has been buzzing around for the past couple of years in Singapore, is still something that many locals, even people who claim to be practitioners have yet to fully understand. It is not Facebook, or Twitter, or 4Square or any of these amazing inventions that is the basis or epitome of social media.

No. It is actually, blogging. And WordPress is Blogging. It is the most installed blogging platform in the universe. It is the reason why social media even exists.

You see, Facebook cannot survive without people sharing something. It may be a picture of your dinner, or a funny video of your friend playing a fool. And these contents, originate from other places outside of Facebook, many of which come from blogs especially those powered by WordPress.

Just imagine if MrBrown didn't exist. Or if The Online Citizen didn't exist. Or if sites like or Remembering Singapore didn't exist? In fact the NDP 2011 site was actually powered by WordPress.

Facebook would not be as lively if not for content. And true to its word, Content is King.

Here at the Singapore WordPress User Group, we tried for the past couple of years, organized WordPress Users meetups with varying success. Our mission is simple. We want to advocate, the use of WordPress to the masses. Because in reality, it is not the developers that are kings. It is the users. And the users use Wordpress in ways which Automattic themselves did not imagine.

People use WordPress beyond just blogging. They use it as a CMS, to run a website, for their business, churches, mosques, etc. The use it as a storefront for their lingerie business. They use it as a social network for bike gangs. They use it to change regimes, entrench regimes, seek dialogue, stalk celebrities, change the world.

The fact is this. Blogging used to be seen by people older than us, as a teenage past-time to rant and seek attention from the world wide web. Well, the teenager has grown up. My posting on how much I hate my life is on tumblr, not WordPress. Ok. maybe sometimes I FML on Facebook.

So why is blogging so darn important? It is the only way, a message can be transmitted in full, way over 140 characters, and allow people to leave comments, debate, respond to an idea. Blogging is the only way to convey an idea, without losing context, nuance, and feel.

It is the earliest form of social media. The more you write, the more people find your postings credible, then the more people you influence. It is the social network 0.1 and Facebook or Twitter, still needs blogging as its fuel.

Developers today need to understand that their role in the world is more than just thumping on a keyboard and producing nyancats or LOLcats.

They have the power to change the world, by putting amazing software into the hands of people, who can bear influence on citizens.

It is exactly open source software like WordPress that propelled Obama into power, that helped the Workers Party to win Aljunied. That allowed Dr Mahathir to still have a say in Malaysian politics.

And that is why, the wants to build a collaborative network across the Southeast Asian region. so that people in this region, can develop into a society, that finally understands one another. I'm a Singaporean. I happen to be Malay. And it seems that some of my fellow countrymen, have no idea what Islam means, and what a Malay is. Maybe, bloggers like you can counter seditious remarks, with postings of understanding, peace and tolerance. Maybe Singaporeans can finally understand their history better if more blogs like "RememberingSingapore" or "10 years before Merdeka" sprout out.

Just imagine how the rest of Southeast Asia could grow, if we show them how. The interest is huge.



The numbers are growing.



That's what we do at We encourage anyone and everyone to come to our meetups, and learn how to use WordPress in ways they never thought about.

My vision is to create a formal network of WPUG all over Asia. We have started this initiative via Facebook, and created the WordPress User Network Asia, so that Asians can share with each other and learn from one another. Whether it be how to use a plugin to show your most popular posts, or what php code to write in order to get your meta fields, or showcase a creative use of WordPress like Yahya's

It is a place for Developers and Users to engage, to express how they hate each other, or how much they love each other, a place to learn how to make their sites work the way they intended, a place where the next idea could emerge to change the world.

I'm betting my last dollar, that the next big thing, will come from Asia. And maybe, that idea was written as a thought on WordPress, and shared like wildfire on social networks like Facebook.

So, if you're from overseas, and you want be part of this network, just join the Facebook page, or if you're local, sign-up as a member of We will be organizing meetups, and if the demand is good, we will organize programs like "WordPress for newbies", or arrange tie-ups with other groups like the PHP group, Web Standards group, GovCamp, BarCamp. And if you want to help, send me an email, and we can build this network in your country.

So are you just blogging? Or are you really changing the world?

The pen is mightier than the sword. And the keyboard, my dear developers, is way more awesome than an M16.

Thank you.

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