The Free Dorje Campaign: A Timeline

15 05 2013

Free Dorje Gurung

Dorje Gurung , a chemistry teacher from Nepal who had been teaching at an international school in Qatar, was jailed on 1 May, 2013 on charges of insulting Islam.

When news of this broke on Thursday, 9 May, Dorje’s friends and contacts quickly came to his support.

What ensued was four days of frantic, energised, round-the-clock campaigning.

Then, on Monday, 13 May, Dorje was released from jail.

How was international pressure built up so quickly and effectively? How did the campaign evolve? What was done, at what time and to what effect?

Piecing together bits and pieces all over the social media trail — Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Change.Org and news reports —  this timeline attempts to tell the story of the international Free Dorje campaign.

Read the timeline HERE

You can also click on each of the photo below, then enlarge and scroll along.

The International Free Dorje Campaign

Note: There was a lot of equally important ‘behind the scenes’ action that is not documented here. Many people worked tirelessly, tapping into Dorje’s different networks, working around the clock to follow news from Doha and Nepal, contacting international organisations and media outlets, pulling together updates and ideas from people on different platforms, sifting through ideas, pursuing credible sources and venues of appeal, and constantly communicating with each other to avoid the duplication of efforts. 



C is for Chaos

24 05 2012

TEDxMongKok: chaos.

Chaos Strikes TEDxMongKok!

But not to worry – something good came out of it: ideas worth spreading.

C is for Chaos, but it’s also for choice, consumption, creativity, control, challenge, change, community, crowd-sourcing, and construction. In a world of confusion and mayhem (and might I add, a world that is supposed to end this year), TEDxMongKok today posed the very crucial question: how can we thrive if the new world order is chaos? Together, speakers, participants, organisers and volunteers all searched for the elusive answer.

Let’s start with the first C: choice.

What role will choices play in a world defined by chaos?
Dr Sheena Iyengar enlightened us all with a most fascinating talk about choices.  Here’s what stood out for me from her presentation:

  • Something to think about: How many decisions do we make a day – small decisions, large decisions, quick decisions, slow decisions?
  • Leadership and choices:Leaders today have to make decisions all the time, day in day out – but are they making the right choices? In today’s complex world, it’s no longer about economies of scale, but rather economies of networks. To manage complexity, we need good leaders who can make good choices.
  • Today’s three leadership problems: 1) What should be done? 2) What information is needed? 3) Who can help me, who can I help?
  • Information overload: the information overload we are experiencing is the equivalent of 174 newspapers a day. Yep. The question is,  how can we best use human social and institutional capital to make the best decisions?
  • Networks: How did Mark Zuckerberg go from a socially awkward guy to a multibillionaire? He understood networks. Leaders today are the DNA of their networks – so the importance of making good choices is all the greater.

As I make my choices from now on, I’ll consciously be asking myself – how have I arrived at making this choice? Have I used enough information to make my choice? Am I leveraging networks in making this choice?

China: what’s her place in a world of chaos?
Zhang Lijia 
then posed the question, what’s China’s place in the world today? The most memorable snippet from her deeply personal presentation was her reminder that much of the fear over China’s relentless rise is understandable, and yet much of it is also due to ignorance. To understand China, one must think out of the box. So let’s educate ourselves about China, approach it with an open mind, and acknowledge that China – whether we like it or not – is here to stay in today’s chaotic world. Whether she can make the world less chaotic or worsen the chaos remains to be seen…

A monk, a hippie and a baby. Chaotic combo? Not if you’re at TEDxMongKok!

Chaos of Consumption
Consumption. We all need it. We need to consume to survive. And yet this word has gathered so much negativity that it has evolved to carry connotations of gluttony, greed, selfish indulgence. Chandran Nair very perceptively presented us with a paradox: Asian countries have been urged to consume to boost the world economy, and yet are slammed for skyrocketing emissions. What does this say about the consumption-driven growth model?

  • The consumption model is outdated. It shaped the 19th and 20th centuries, but the 21st century is desperately calling for a new model.
  • 4 major trends of the 21st century: 1) the human population peaking 2) CO2 levels reaching unprecedented heights 3) technology everywhere 4) the old economic model crumbling….together these four trends mean that we can no longer rely on consumption.
  • Resource management as the center of all policy making. Asia needs a new model – not the consumption model, but one that is real, that manages limited resources, and that strengthens the state – because only governments can effectively do sustainability.

The 8th Mass Medium
We started with print, recordings, cinema, radio, TV, internet and mobile as the 7 mass mediums. What’s the eighth going to be? Tomi Ahonen  proposes that is is augmented reality. He raised a very interesting point about the advance of mobile technology: back in the 60s NASA used computer power to launch shuttles…today we use the iPhone to launch Angry Birds! Mobile has exploded (in a good way) – now it’s time for augmented reality to trot along. Some questions that I asked myself during the presentation:

  • How will augmented reality redefine the world?
  • Will augmented reality really redefine the world?
  • If so, will augmented interfere with our intellectual sovereignty?

It’s all a bit abstract for the moment, but I’ll make sure to keep an eye on the development of augmented reality.

Brr…don’t we love that wonderful word. Work. In fact, we spend an average of 81,000 hours at work in our lifetime. So we’d better work on something we love then, hadn’t we? Jared King gave us a shocking statistic: only 20% of us are actively engaged in work. There is an absolute epidemic of boredom at work – and this is a problem. Time and resources are being wasted. More importantly, talent is being wasted.

“The most wasted resource on earth is talent” – Jared King

What we need, therefore, is a way to revolutionise the concept of work, to re-engineer the world of work, to change the way we work in order to effect good, positive results. The secret to great work, says Jared, is to find that sweetspot between chaos and control.

Dancers flood the stage, disrupting Professor Kay Ottik’s (get it?) ‘presentation’. It’s all part of the chaos!


I couldn’t stay for the entire conference, but here’s the conclusion I’ve drawn from today’s stimulating presentations:




The Search for Music

18 02 2012

XXX Gallery - venue of 'PitchYrCulture', a Social Media Week HK event.

It’s a Friday night and I’m walking down a quiet street in Sheung Wan. Most of the shops are closed now. I’m looking for the XXX Gallery, supposedly on 212 Wing Lok Street, but I don’t see anything half resembling a gallery. I’m pretty convinced that I’m lost.

I spot a metal door, tucked discreetly away on the side of the pavement. XXX, the door cries in bold black letters  emblazoned across a slick white background. Here? I look around and, luckily, see the big ‘Social Media Week HK’ standup sign. So this is it. I push open the door. I walk down the stairs. I push open another door, into some kind of basement. A funky ambience greets me. Aha. I’ve finally found the place.

The PitchYrCulture Crowd. Funky, energetic and lovable.

This is PitchYrCulture, an event presenting various speakers who will tell their personal stories under the theme of ‘Social Media and the Search for Music’ and then share a song for our collective indulgence. As I sit there listening to the speakers, live-tweeting, and enjoying the music, I begin to grasp the importance and significance of music to our world.

Music isn’t just a series of notes, a nice tune thrown together with a catchy beat. Each and every piece of music, as the speakers will show, has its own story: not only the musician’s story, but the listener’s story of how they came to discover and fall in love with the song.

Music isn’t linear either. With the exponential growth of Internet technology and social media, it often appears as if the world of music is moving relentlessly in one single direction: forwards and into the future. We download the newest singles, watch the latest music videos, share the freshest albums. But to assume that social media is only pushing us forwards would be a gross misconception. As the speakers told their stories, it occurred to me that as much as it pushes us forward, social media also allows us to reach back into time and savour again the obscure, lost corners of the historic music world. Each piece of music has its story, be it old or new, futuristic or nostalgic.

Such is the complexity, vivacity and profundity of music.

As the event drew to an end, I feel a giddy, happy sensation. For far too long I’ve been frustrated by not knowing where to look for good music. My overly ‘mainstream’ music collection has been a source of endless iritation (and I must admit, a self-conscious embarrassment). I was tired of only listening to songs on the top charts, or songs with the same chords over and over again. But where was I supposed to start looking?

Tonight, I think I’ve found the perfect solution: PitchYrCulture!

Smartphone Photography: A Darkroom In Your Pocket

17 02 2012

As a well known photography adage goes, the best camera is the one that’s with you. And with skyrocketing  smartphone usage, many of us have come to realise the accessibility, sociability and endless possibilities of smartphone photography.

Here are some tips I picked up from five of Hong Kong’s best smartphone-photographers at last night’s “Getting Social With Smartphone Photography” panel.





1. Every little moment can be awesomised.

by @mochachocolatarita

We might not notice it, but no matter where we are, fascinating stories and captivating moments abound.

Even if something appears to be tediously mediocre, what photographers have to remember is that every little moment can be awesomised. There’s always a story, no matter how dull it seems. (Thanks to panelist Rita Suttarno for this timeless tip).


2. The iPhone puts a darkroom in your pocket.

by @twheat

And that’s why you should take a lot of photos and let your photographic passions run wild. Tyson Wheatley, a CNN editor by profession but really an iPhoneography/Instagram-crazy photographer, has taken so many photos on his iPhone over the past year that he now sees the world “through filters”. For him, iPhoneography has brought the city of Hong Kong alive and allowed him to discover the hidden beauties of this bustling city. Quite simply, he says, “It’s changed my life”. So, go take a lot of photos, get close to your subject,  experiment with apps – and most importantly, take advantage of your own pocket sized darkroom!




3. iPhone photography is NOT fake.

There are some who may think that iPhone photography is not ‘real photography’ (whatever that means), but Lester Lim certainly disagrees. What is ‘real photography’ anyway – aren’t all photos, to strip them to the bare minimum, a manipulation of light?

I was interested to see what Tyson, coming from a journalistic background as a CNN editor, thought of the impact of smartphone photography on citizen journalism. Would the heavy use of filters and editing distort the transparency and democratic nature of citizen journalism? “I suppose yes. But editing of images is not new, and the key for news organisations is to be transparent in the vetting process”.

4. Have patience to capture the moment.

Jason Tse wants you to tell a story within the confines of that little photographic frame. Photography, to him, is capturing

by @jasonbonvivant

something that you want to express, and often, patience is the prime ingredient. He willingly puts life on hold just to get the perfect photo, frequently missing tram stops to capture, create and express!

5. Capture the details.

Vilja Sormunen(the only non-iPhone photographer on the panel), reminds us to look out for details, and use your smartphone

camera as an extension of your memory. With so much information flowing in and out every single second, this tip will surely come in useful for years to come.

Hong Kong Gets Social!

14 02 2012

Yes, Social Media Week HK is here.

This is perhaps one of the most exciting conferences I’ve seen in Hong Kong: a week long event, running simultaneously together with 12 other cities around the world, bringing together innovative minds, fresh ideas and a collective passion for all things social…all with the intention of Empowering Change Through Collaboration.

Hong Kong Gets Social

Hong Kong has so much potential to become an international social media hub. Us Hongkies aren’t typically known as a social center – but in this day and age, it’s not enough to simply be an international financial center. If Hong Kong wants to stay ahead of the game, to attract the most brilliant minds from around the world, social media is a prime focus point.

Here’s a cool statistic that may take you by surprise: over 52% of the HK population are on Facebook. That places it 13th highest in the world in terms of Facebook penetration rate.This is big stuff. And it just goes on to show how much untapped potential is out there in Hong Kong.

My First Dabble At Journalism

To add to my excitement, I’ve signed up to be an Official Contributing Blogger for Social Media Week HK. This would be my first hands-on experience at ‘officially’ covering an event, and I’m thrilled to be able to get some hands-on  journalistic experience.

Social media, writing, journalism, photography, music…all thrown together in a week of exciting events. Can it get any better than this?

Black, White and Read all Over

14 08 2011

Newspapers are the thing in HK. Every you go, there’s guaranteed to be someone reading the news – the old school, classic, ink-on-paper kind of news.

Why is it that Hong Kong’s newspaper industry is still going strong despite the onslaught of technology? More on this on a later post…for now, here  are some photos from a recent morning ramble around Causeway Bay. (As usual, click on the photos to view them on Flickr)

TEDxWanChai: an intern behind the scenes

6 08 2011

TEDxWanChai: Rehearsing the day before.

Today’s inaugural TEDxWanChai on the theme of charitable impact was nothing short of a big success…but that’s not what I’m going to write about. (You can find out all about the event through tweets tagged #TEDxWanChai.) This is my take on TEDxWanChai from behind the scenes as an intern.

I’ve learnt so much throughout the two weeks leading up to today’s event. Perhaps I could put it into a nutshell:

  1. People. With an event this big, you need people to help.
  2. Social network. You need a social network to find people to help you.
  3. People, people, people – it’s all about people.

But it’s not enough to just have people. The team needs to gel, cooperate and really just fit together like pieces in an intricate jigsaw puzzle – which is where the macro/micromanagement bit comes in.

There were a load of teams all working together, yet at the same time focusing on entirely different aspects of the event: registration and security. Food and beverage. Audio visual. Social media. Stage management. Event management. Production. Organisation. All these separate teams working in micro units to create a successful TEDx event on a macro scale – even the process of TEDxWanChai in the making is awe-inspiring, let alone the event itself!

Some of the TEDxWanChai crew

Experiencing the process of planning, organising and finally executing a TEDx also taught me to think along some important lines:

  • Think ‘brand’. TEDxWanChai is special because it is TEDx and not just any other conference – so we need to constantly show this. Hence, on goes the TEDxWanChai logo on everything you can possibly imagine! (including wooden clothes pegs. Yes.)
  • Think ‘extra’. Just as small things make a difference in the social enterprise context, the same applies to event management. We had bamboo steamers dotted around the venue to emphasise the local culture surrounding the event, and also made an ‘X-marks-the-spot’ bamboo structure for people to hang their ideas onto. Ideas worth spreading…ideas worth hanging – get it?

Ideas Worth Hanging.

  • Think ‘connection’. Twitter and Facebook – the usual biggies to help us spread the word about our event and also connect with fellow TEDx-ers from around the world.
  • Think ‘contingency’. What if there’s a technical error? A black out? Obviously you can’t just have the audience sitting there twiddling their thumbs, so we had games up our sleeves to keep everyone occupied…just in case! This would never have occurred to me until a black out actually occurred, and then I would have been left feeling extremely sheepish.

TEDx-ican Wave! photo by @hypercasey

  • Think ‘out of the box’. This is an age old cliché, I know, but the event has just reminded me of its importance once again. The thing is, our venue was a bit of a blackhole: no reliable WiFi, and no coverage for all but one phone network! How were we supposed to live-tweet and connect with the world without access to the Internet? Luckily, @JayOatway came to the rescue. We had people on the CSL network create hotspots to share with 4 others, and distributed network passwords out to those who wanted to tweet. Not the most straightforward situation, but it sure was an ingenious way around a frustrating problem.
  • Finally, think ‘luck’ – so much is beyond control and so much depends on it!

Photo by Casey Lau

What an experience. I’m sure I have unconsciously absorbed a whole lot more of information than what I’ve briefly summarised here – in fact, I’m looking forward to the debrief to see if I can pick up anything that I’ve missed out!

TEDx’s are extraordinary as they are, but to actually be at the core of the action, witnessing the making of something amazing? That’s……movement.