Life

Enda Nasution: The 'father'
of Indonesian bloggers

If weblogs were invented 80 years ago, the youth of the future Indonesia would have proclaimed their pledge of unity (and, well, perhaps also their rants about their troubled love lives) on their blog pages.

This is what 33-year-old Enda Nasution -- dubbed the "father of Indonesian bloggers" -- believes, adding that blogging is powerful and is now changing the course of history.

"I think it's revolutionary. That's why I want to introduce it to many people," he told The Jakarta Post at his Taman Rasuna Apartment residence, where he lives with his wife and three-year-old daughter.

Blogging is more than just a lifestyle, he said. It is not, as many cynics think, merely a substitution to the obsolete diary in which the young and reckless document their angst and tales of first loves.

It is true, however, that Indonesian bloggers are mostly young people.

"I just made a small survey a few weeks ago and found that 70 percent of the country's bloggers are aged between 15 and 35," Enda said.

Coincidentally, National Blogger's Day is held every Oct. 27, a day before the country's Youth Pledge Day.

It is just a matter of time before young bloggers bring about significant changes in society, Enda said.

Since the first national bloggers' meeting, which Enda organized last year, bloggers expressed their concerns for society and decided to set the theme "Blogging for Society" for this year's blogger meeting, which will be held in November.

On Oct. 15, a number of Indonesian bloggers participated in a global blog action day, when bloggers across the world posted articles to raise people's awareness about poverty and provide solutions to the problem.

Interconnectivity, Enda said, has become bloggers' greatest strength, as it could turn a simple idea from a small village into a big nationwide, even global, mass movement.

After graduating from the Bandung Institute of Technology's civil engineering department in 1999, Enda started blogging in 2001. Like most bloggers, the soft-spoken employee of an electronics company began blogging after reading other people's blogs.

"There were only few bloggers at the time," he recalled.

He said he loved writing long before he knew about the Internet -- he got his first computer when he was a 10-year-old and was introduced to the Internet about a decade later when he studied at university.

During the turbulent years before the fall of Soeharto, Enda was an activist who felt that becoming a civil engineer was not his destiny.

"I was among the students occupying the House of Representatives' building on the day former president Soeharto announced his resignation," he said.

Blogging, he said, was the perfect medium he had been looking for to develop his writing skills and express his activism.

"The Internet is where my strength is, as it is actually a world of text," he said. "A blogger is actually an online activist," he added.

At first, he said, his blogposts were mostly reflective. He often wrote about his life experiences and was surprised to get many responses from people who shared the same kinds of experiences he had had.

"The topic was not really important. What mattered was the connection made with other people. We often complain that technology has dehumanized human beings. But with the coming of the Internet, and especially blogs, technology has enabled us to return to our humanity," he said.

Through his blog, Enda explains what a blog and blogger are, and offers advice on how to become a blogger. He touches on the advantages of blogging and the blogging trend, and being called the "father of Indonesian bloggers".

"I don't really understand why people call me that," he said, laughing. "This is, of course, not a formal title and I was never elected to hold it. I think this is because of the press. Some people had already called me that from my blog and they (the journalists) probably just picked it up," said the owner of enda.goblogmedia.com.

Enda, along with Budi Putra and Ong Hock Chuan, is now one of the country's most popular bloggers that "a typical Indonesian blogger" should know, says the owner of http:/journal.marisaduma.net.

She does not forget to add, perhaps jokingly, that the three are generally considered as "reputably charming ... Even if you're a guy".

As an advertising copywriter, Enda won the Indonesian Ad Award twice for two commercials -- Dancow and Sampoerna A Mild -- and was nominated as finalist for the Clio Advertising Award. The awards saw him listed as The Hottest Creative Person in Asia from Campaign Brief Magazine Asia in 2003.

Blog campaigning is not without its challenges, he said. Not all people dare to publish what's on their minds, he added, and some people even think that bloggers are "liars".

When the new law on electronic information and transaction was enacted earlier this year, many bloggers worried they could be charged and prosecuted because of their writings.

Enda was among the bloggers who raised the concern that the law could curb freedom of expression in the blogosphere.

And when the Communications and Informatics Ministry's website was vandalized, Enda was accused of being responsible for it. "It was a baseless accusation from an online news portal," he said.

He said he had met with the information minister and was assured that freedom of expression in the blogosphere would not be curbed, though they were told it did not mean that bloggers were immune from legal charges.

"Let's say that anything that can get you charged in the real world can do the same thing in the virtual world," he said.

With the number of Indonesian bloggers estimated to reach 250,000 this year, new blogger communities were growing in many regions and now joining hands to face challenges ahead.

"A blogger is nothing if he's alone," Enda said.

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