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Bloggers allied - Part III

For the previous related posts please look here (Part I) and here (Part II).

This third and final section will look at the blog 'alliances' in Malaysia, and go back to the initial question of whether All-Blogs is unique in any way.

In the English-speaking Malaysian blogosphere there are the following blogger groups:

Muslim Bloggers Alliance: clearly a religiously oriented group, it was initiated by Mahaguru58 in July 2007 and is an online extension of offline interests. It's difficult to know much about its intentions or goals, as the discussion group is closed to non-members and there is no centralised blog/homepage, but it does seem to be somewhat exclusive: although the Pro-tem Secretary, Menj, states that it is open "all Muslims who are bloggers", he also goes on to specify: "Liberal Islam heretics are not welcomed." No doubt, though, by visiting member blogs one can see where their interests lie.

It seems to have a formalised structure, given that 'Pro-tem' officers are named, but the actual aims and objectives are not immediately available, given that the discussion groups that the url leads to is closed...

In terms of the categories discussed in the previous posts, I would describe it as religious, with an offline focus (this is debateable), founded by a group and restricted to a geo-political base (Malaysia).

PABS: there is no 'home link' as such for this grouping, but it was announced on 24th July 2007 by SoPo blogger Ktmoc here, and by other noted SoPo blogger Susan Loone here. As noted by Mamak, it seemed to be formed in reaction to the perceived politicisation of All-Blogs.

The meaning of the acronym is not clear: shar101 says it is 'People's All-Blogs Society', whereas SK says it means 'People's Alliance of Blogs'. I can't find a reference on the two founding members' blogs.

It is apparently still active, as an August 4th post by Ktemoc entitled " PABS calls on Government to embrace bloggers" implies. In this post we also see a statement that gives us insight into the reasons for its formation as an alternative to All-Blogs:

"As for the Allblogs*, apart from their high profile visit to the de facto leader of an opposition party, its protem chairperson alluding to support for the PPPA and some of its protem committeee members' preference for registration of only identity-revealed bloggers as members of its association, I wonder what else can it do to protect bloggers and promote blogging, as its committee had envisioned."
In terms of the categories discussed in the previous posts, I would describe it as blogosphere centred, with an online focus, concerned with 'blogs as blogs', and restricted to a geo-political base (Malaysia). In spite of naming a pro-tem president and vice president (though who is which is unclear), and there is no clear statement of objectives or explanation of a formalised structure. It is unclear how much support this group, spontaneously founded by two bloggers, can muster in the Malaysian Blogosphere.

AllMalaysian Bloggers Project: this is different from the others surveyed so far in that it was not founded by bloggers, but by "the dedicated team behind both The Star Online and websites", (incidentally, the bottom of the page copyrights the material to 'Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd.', suggesting that is part of the same group - meaning it is basically an initiative of Star Publications).

Founded sometime in May (on or before May 21st), it started with a competition for which the prizes have just been announced

It states its aims as follows:
"we hope to gather as many, if not all Malaysian blogs under one umbrella site, from which (potential) readers can find the various blogs by theme. Also, we aim to bring the blogging community together by organising various projects both online and in the real world, where you don't need to have an avatar to represent you. ;-)" (What is it?)

further down, they remind you that you can get "free publicity" from joining the group which also has "the resources to get a project off the ground - everything from contests to parties to charity events.", furthermore,
" By signing up, you're making this the place to be as a blogger, effectually telling our readers (in fact, any blog readers) that if they're looking for a Malaysian blog, they'll find it here."

To join, you have to register with 'MyStar' (a Star Online service), and submit a thumbnail and a short description of your blog. On their homepage they have some tips for bloggers, links to blog hosting services, and some details of competitions and the like.

In terms of the categories discussed in the previous posts, I would describe it as blogosphere centred, with an online focus, concerned with 'blogs as blogs', and restricted to a geo-political base (Malaysia) - just like PABS really. It operates as a portal though, and an important difference is that it is founded by a commercial entity.

MPH Breakfast Club for LitBloggers: well this one doesn't have an online 'home', but could also tentatively be categorised as an 'alliance' of a 'Single Interest' type, though this is debateable. The basic information seems to be here, and the host of this blog also seems to be the initiator of this group. Clearly it will be an informal grouping, and doesn't seem to have any formal structure, membership qualifications and so on. The sponsorship by MPH gives it a somewhat commercial edge, though this is limited.

To categorise it: offline focus; not necessarily restricted to a geo-political base - though in practice it is probably limited to Klang Valley in terms of offline meets; single founder; and with original content.

National Alliance of Bloggers: more known by its acronym, All-Blogs [#get logo] I have left this group to last, but I would argue that it is definitely the most significant in terms of support gathered, and coverage in the national and international MSM.

It was initiated by a group coalescing around Jeff Ooi and rockybru in April 2007, following on from a defamation suit filed against them in February 2007 by persons connected to The New Straits Times (I'm not sure exactly who initiated it, legally speaking). This had been the catalyst for a rallying of bloggers and also received much coverage in the local and international media.

Bloggers United: this initial statement of support on January 13 by Kickdefella, seems to be the first move towards creating a collective movement of some kind amongst Malaysian bloggers. It was also an informal movement, expressed mostly through displaying the banner provided by Kickdefella, though it culminated with a blogmeet, B.U.M. 2007 (I blogged about this before here and here). By the time of B.U.M. 2007, All-Blogs had already been formed, and it was clearly stated more than once that they were not formally connected; however, one can see a genealogical connection.

Walk With Us had its first post on the 17th January 2007: in explaining the reason for the blogs, founded by "by a group of Malaysians, scattered locally and globally", they explain that "we are not here in support of just Jeff Ooi and Rocky alone. We are here for the sake of fellow Malaysian bloggers who are now gripped in mounting fear [of being targeted by] NSTP and its political masters" (About). This is succinctly expressed in the subtitle of the blog which says "Malaysia's two foremost bloggers have been sued by the NST. YOU could be next!". It seems to be mostly focusing on the details of the court case. The phrase 'Walk with us!' was something of a rallying cry for bloggers wishing to express their support for Jeff Ooi and rockybru.

All-Blogs is now formalised with a constitution and procedure for membership, etc. (available via email). They wish to register with the Registrar of Societies but apparently that may take a while. The constitution lists the aims and objectives; these revolve around providing a forum for bloggers to exchange information and improve standards, and representing bloggers to the wider Malaysian society (including the government). They also have a physical address - the 'Blog House' in Bukit Damansara: this is the only time I have come across this.

Interestingly, they allow for 'Associate Membership' for bloggers who wish to remain anonymous, as well as for people who don't have blogs but only leave comments. It is not clear what criteria are used to determine if someone can join as full member.

Here are some other good posts on All-Blogs by Malaysians researching blogs:
All-Blogs + Somemore.... (Cherwith)
Research on Malaysian Bloggers (Jun-E)

To categorise: blogosphere centred, mixed online/offline focus, concerned with 'blogs as blogs', founded by a group, restricted to a geo-political base (Malaysia). It has no online 'home', but unsually has an offline bricks and mortar 'home'. It also seeks to represent all Malaysian blogs (though perhaps in practice it's fairer to say that it will represent its members), a mammoth task and one which is contested.

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I've been looking into all of this for a while now, and need to move on a bit. Here are some general points and conclusions:

Back to the initial question: is All-Blogs unique? Well, I think the answer is yes. Its basic characteristics are: it has a formal structure (constitution, leadership, etc.); it seeks to have a legal status; it aspires to represent all bloggers, as bloggers - i.e. not as online journalists, writers, e-commerce people, etc.; it allows anonymous membership, and also even people who don't have a blog - commentor 'nomads'; and it has an offline physical base.

Another interesting point to note with regards to the Malaysian blogosphere is that, viewed chronologically, there seems to be a knock-on effect of the initial court case against Jeff Ooi and rockybru, the loose 'Bloggers United' and 'Walk With Us' expressions of collective support, then the formation of All-Blogs followed closely by PABS, the AllMalaysian Blog Project, and finally the Muslim Bloggers Alliance.

General points on all the 'alliances' surveyed:

• Most focus on blogs/bloggers as a means to an end - i.e. to bloggers as representatives of various political/social offline activities. All-Blogs does not do this, though in practice seems to attract so-called SoPo bloggers.

• In America, the alliances mostly seem to be 'conservative' (i.e. usually Republican) blogs. This trend was noted in terms of blogs in general in Johnson & Kay who stated in 2004 that "Most [American] bloggers and their readers are conservative, viewing the media as liberal"; this overlaps with the relationship between the MSM and blogs in Malaysia, where blogs are seen by many as a necessary alternative to a biased MSM.

• Most of the 'alliances' are purely online affairs - i.e. no offline 'concretisation' such as a constitution, legal incorporation, or meeting place. They are also typically informal 'coalitions' rather than organised groupings.

• They are often initiated by an individual, who may or may not be aiming to gain personal social capital out of it.

• Lastly: I have done me best to represent all blogs/organisations/alliances fairly. I would welcome any feedback and comments, and apologise to anyone I have missed out or who feels misrepresented. This is all rough, preliminary research, and thus is subject to further investigation and amendment.


Works Cited.
Johnson, Thomas J., and Barbara K. Kaye. "Wag the Blog: How Reliance on Traditional Media and the Internet Influence Credibility Perceptions of Weblogs among Blog Users." Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 81.3 (Autumn 2004): 20.


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cher on :

Well said Julian..In regards to PABS yeah there is not much information out there but I tried to asked Susan Loone, she referred me to KTEMOC(still haven't emailed him yet)PABS at the moment seems to be there but not there.All-Blogs is coming up slowly I guess but I'm still waiting to see what happens and if All-Blogs can truly grow to its potential.:-)

julian on :

Hello Cher, sorry for the delay in responding, and thanks for the extra info.
Ya it seems to me that All-Blogs definitely has the most potential. But we'll see...

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