We often read stories from overseas about how the internet is helping like minded people congregate, share stories and forge connections.
Be it online dating, flash mobs or digital conferences, the world wide web has made it so easy to send an email, post a blog or chat online with friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. And now a new class of Indonesian digerati are emerging.
Wikipedia defines the term digerati as the elite of the computer industry and online communities. These are the people who embrace the latest technologies both online and off in an effort to improve their lives.
Some may call them geeks or nerds, but their influence can't be ignored. More likely than not they are the ones people go to for information about the latest mobile phones, laptop computers, online services, IT trends and other tech related question.
And they are banding together. Take FreSh! as an example. "Freedom of Sharing" is a discussion group that meets up once a month to share knowledge, network and just hang out. Originating online, this group is a rag tag crew of creative professionals, software developers, writers, business people and students who share a common passion: sharing their uncommon knowledge with others.
Lead by Catur Pw and Kukuh Tw, FreSh! now has a Facebook page that gives details of its gatherings. Previous topics have included freelancing, mobile creativity, techproneurship and journalism. You can find slide of these presentations and further information at www.freshyourmind.com
Pecha Kucha is another emerging digerati group. Similar to FreSh!, anyone can present anything they want to talk about, as long as they use the Pecha Kucha format: speak for a maximum of 6 minutes and 40 seconds, using up to 20 slides, which they can show for no more than 20 seconds each. This networking event seeks to gather creative minds from a variety of fields and give them a forum to share their experiences.
The first gathering, on March 10, saw architects showcasing their projects aimed at saving Indonesian home design, photographers displaying their amazing nature photos, a designer talking about Bandung's Helarfest and a developer building a sustainable eco village on Pulau Macan.
Although fast-paced, the variety of topics enriches the audience by knowledge beyond their regular professional and social circles. At 6:40 minutes, Pecha Kucha challenges speakers to deliver quick yet insightful presentations towards changing the world.
Jakarta is the latest city to follow this global phenomenon that was first begun by architects in Tokyo. Now, PK nights are held all around the world, from Auckland to Tasmania (the long way around). You can find Pecha Kucha Jakarta's page on Facebook.
Another global social networking event to recently land in Indonesia is Mobile Monday, one of the world's fastest growing network forums for mobile industry professionals. With over 70 chapters in 35 countries, more than 200,000 members worldwide participate in the monthly gatherings (usually held on Mondays) to find out what their industry peers are up.
As Indonesia is the ideal country for wireless infrastructure (with thousands of islands it's cheaper than laying cable everywhere), mobile networks have a promising future. Mobile Monday is the ideal place to share ideas, practices and trends from global markets. Their website can be found at: www.id-mobilemonday.com
So what does this new generation of digerati mean for Indonesia? It means somewhere among this group is the country's own Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, Richard Branson or Kevin Rose.
And already many companies are engaging these communities to share their latest news, obtain valuable feedback and get the word out. Companies such as Ericsson Networks, Nokia, Opera, Yahoo! and others are participating in these forums to get a chance to talk with some of Indonesia's best and brightest.
One of the most anticipated upcoming events is the March 28 Indonesian Facebook Developer Garage, co-hosted by FreSh!, which targets programmers, designers, marketers and others to help engage Indonesians via the Facebook platform. Why Facebook? There are currently 831,000 Indonesians on Facebook; and its growing. 2008 alone saw a 645% jump, outpacing our Southeast Asian counterparts.
And with the boom of smart phones that allow you to access the internet, the Indonesian digerati is only going to get bigger, more organized and competitive with the rest of the world. Want to join?