Interview with Abang Edwin – Understanding the internet world.
On this next post we will be discussing about the basic understanding of internet with Abang Edwin is one of Indonesia’s expert on Digital Community as well as a Social Media Practitioner. Dabbled on the internet since 1994 and successfully built an internet-based radio for Indonesian listeners in New York City, USA, Voice Of Jakarta (VOJ).In 2007, Bangwin joined Yahoo! Southeast Asia as a Community Manager until he decided to build his own online consulting named Bangwin Consulting.
Bangwin discovered a gap on the understanding of how to manage social media or taking advantage through the internet from people or brands each time he met. It was the main reason why Bangwin Consulting was established. Bangwin has always push forward the concept of Digital Community on all of his sharing or opportunities.
Hoping this interview would give a more clear understanding on what does it takes to manage digital. The interview will be in Bahasa Indonesia however I have made the English translation on this post together with some additional supporting material. Hope you enjoy.
OK, before we discuss about the world of internet, can we talk about what leads your interest to the internet, some history or background up until now.
Abang Edwin :
It started from when internet arrived in Indonesia. Around 1994 or 1995. It was when I almost finished college. At that time, it was the first time we got internet connection through internet monthly subscription. It was still windows 31, the earliest version and at that time when I begin to connect with the internet I was so excited because I get to see so many things. At that time, browsers were not like nowadays like chrome but those time we used mosaic, Netscape, even internet explorer was not yet available. Internet explorer arrived provided by mosaic. It was bought my Microsoft then it changed name.
So happy, we can try to make website. At that time, websites are only text based. The image is only on top and all texts. Not interesting at all.
Yahoo was already available but at that time, Yahoo was a search engine. So if we want to search for anything, we go to yahoo. Google was not available at that time. There are no social media or any terms on that. Those time it was only like magazines but online. They were named portals.
And then I started to try “chat” at that time the platform was mIRC. It was a hit at that time. You don’t need a browser, and mIRC was already available since DOS age. Black screen and all text. At that time, it was name IRC or internet relay chat. And when it became a bit modern it changes the name into mIRC.
At that time, first time I connected we had to choose a room, and it had so many rooms. And they would mention you. “Hey, ASL please”
Apparently it was how we introduce ourselves on the internet world at that time. We had to say our ASL, age sex location.
Up until now, mIRC still are used because it is so efficient as a platform.
The Scouts organization internationally still uses mIRC because its reliable and easy access, makes it accessible platform consistent in all countries.
Yes, we use that on those days. And as we enter we met with all different people all around the world. From Poland, East Europe, Korea, at then I realised this technology is so cool because we are able to connected to any parts of the world as long as we are connected to the internet. So no limits. In terms of communication.
And then I realised there are some relevancies with a book I read before. It was a Bill Gates book and there was a quote about connecting the world. Title book, Overdrive.
On that book it was stated how Microsoft was not only to develop software with Bill Gates envision that the world with all human beings will be connected. As easy as that. In the olden days it was unimaginable but when we try internet then we realised what lies on the future possibility ahead. It really felt what is the future.
And then when did you start experimenting. Could you share any example from your own experiences ?
After dabbling on the internet, after chat on mIRC, and then I start learning about mailing list. The concept is the same, connecting with others but thru email. So we it is exactly like if we can imagine nowadays we use “WhatsApp group” but we use email. So we send one message and share through email then message will be distributed and all will be connected to each other. Now that concept is actually can be describe as Online Community. At that time, other than forum the foremost number one concept on Online Community. Because platform forum is specifically design for online sharing. There’s thread. But email is easier and everybody has it. So after mailing list I tried to build online community through mailing lists. So it starts from there.
So it was more than 15 years ago, to be exact 24 years ago that Abang Edwin started to experimenting on the internet. What I can imagine those time learning something new, it has some process of learnings on its own for some people. Funny misconceptions that might happen at that times ?
Yes, when I was working for Panasonic right after college. I am a designer product so I was working at a factory. And I had to deal with many managers on the factory. And the knowledge about internet is still little. Because I love the internet, I helped the company to adapt internet technology to be utilise for daily work. Now with 3000 factory workers, you can imagine all facilities are completed on the factory. From TV factory, audio factory, internet has been provided for efficiency. You can imagine, it will be easier to coordinate meetings rather than walk hundreds of meters just to discuss where should we do the meetings. Now at that early times internet usage was using modem. And at that time, the understanding was if you use the internet, you are using your phone credit. Well if a company as large as Panasonic subscribe monthly internet usage, fiber optic, quite expensive USD 3000 per month. At that time, we had huge bandwidth, could use 24 hours.
But what we found out was nobody was using. We started using email for invitation meetings but nobody replied or even read. As we went around, and surveyed checked and we found out that they refused to use the internet. Why, because they fear it would be very expensive, they fear the phone billing of the (department) would explode and they could not take the responsibility.
So we finally gathered all managers to a meeting and explain about the subscriptions monthly fee that had been invested by the management for all to use. If not, it would be a waste. And then, they realised and eventually use it.
I can imagine having something new like internet there has been some socialisation, and you were also a part of it ?
Yes, I also support socialising the whole factory on how to benefit the internet at that time.
Now after all the misconceptions, at that time, you must’ve also realized and foresee all the possibilities that could happen from the internet. Are there any predictions that you see happening or through any books you read at that time that actually happened?
Oh a lot. Yes. Like business. At the old times, business was making a corporation, and you advertised through newspaper, now we know about Disruption Business where a company / we can gain Digital Economy with relying applications to do the business. At that time, we understand as the modem connected and then I became connected to people on mIRC and this means we can do business.
And through the internet it allows changes to happens like what’s happening now. For instance, ojek online all depends on the internet. Internet becomes something that is inevitable, everything relies on that.
There was a time on hand phone survey that for some people in the rural area, they say they don’t use the internet, but just facebook. And as time goes by, they don’t realize that the internet is all embedded in our gadget. It’s like a given value. All our hand phone numbers have internet connection.
Business media or portals at that time. And then there was search engine, Yahoo, infoseek, lycos. And we chat on mIRC on of the channels for example dog lovers, and I could offer a dog, now that is already e-commerce right ?
Next question, is a question that I have longed to asked and share to all our friends (listeners/readers). About the understanding on basic internet communication, community management and digital community. You have always brought that up on any of your sharing or opportunities as a speaker. Can you share the importance on those concept ?
Very important. Why I always bring community management on any of my sharing because social media management or internet is based on communication. Communication is a starting point that a community is formed. So if we do not discuss about community (how to manage the community online) it will be a jump. It means we are just putting ads (advertisement).
So for example, if we meet a person, we just informed, that’s it, one-way communication. Once the other person talks back to us, that is already two-way communication but not yet a community. Once there are three, four and more person come together and talk about that ad and discuss about their interest on that product or let say hobby or whatever now that is a community.
Now why it becomes important, because rather than we talk to 1 person, if we talk to 1000 people that has the same opinion as us it would be more powerful. Faster, easier.
So when it comes to those who wants to sell or share and idea it becomes more enjoyable. That is why it is important to talk about online community.
Again an example, everything is all about community management. If one person has a twitter account or Instagram, with 800 followers, that is for sure the person needs to be a community manager on its own. Unless we don’t want take benefits from that but if we see we have 1000 followers and we want to take advantage we have to take our responsibility as a community manager to nurture our followers, so that they are happy to follow us. If not, they will easily unfollow.
So on the internet, when we talk about community, we talk about people. Just like hang out in the real world, there always some tendencies to judge or appraise a person. Now, our value on the internet is based on our reputation on the internet. And reputation is build based on trust. So we have to build our reputation on the internet community. Now that trust will become the currency on each person. Each person has its own value. For example, if Abang is speaking I trust him. Now that means our reputation is high. Referring to the book Wuffie Factor that explains it all. Value of each person online. Now reputation online is different from the reputation on the real world.
Let me be the example, I am well known to be a product designer in the real world, but when I come to the online world I am know to be an online community practitioner. So each place we can build our reputation. Now the beauty of being online or on the internet, we have the ability to build that. Build on what we want people to know us for, how popular we want to be. That can happened.
Now as we see on how we take advantage for business from the internet nowadays, there’s e-commerce, fin-tech, service tech, entertainment, media, there are so many, even now, do not realised the benefits or concept on online community influences on the internet on whatever form or model. Why is that, people do not realised til now ?
If I can give some examples, Bukalapak just uses influences community management starting 3 years ago. Other e-commerce just started last year. Why is that people seems to me jump over that ?
There are so many reasons but the for certain reasons, online community is not something easy to be learn. That’s first. And secondly, people is used to see the end results. Whereas community is built for a long period of time, so it we cannot see the immediate result.
Is there are book references to learn online community that you can share ?
Community Building on the web, Amy Jo Kim. This book til now is still relevant.
Maybe we can learn community management on our own if we some have experience being a part of a community, we know how to manage community, and we could apply that learning on social media, right.
But this is how I view it. I may be wrong. From what I see, people often become too focus on the technology, how to manage the technology but forgot that those who are using those technologies are human beings. Not just the internet or social media but whatever brand or product sometimes a company tends to forgot, at the end of the day we have to give value for those people who buys those products. People do not want technical stuff. Could that be one of the problem maybe? Because they often think or see too technical of things?
You’ve got to start with customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to sell it. -Steve Jobs-
Many people sometimes do not realize that when we manage a community we manage the people. What’s in their heads, the understanding, habit and character that forms how they speak or communicate among others. So it’s about communication. That is why on any of my trainings it all starts from conversation. Because conversation is the initial state of building a community. From a questions and gain more conversation then sharing on each interests.
The last question is about the future. What technology can you see for the future.
Technology becomes a part and no longer an options of our daily lives. There are no stopping in the future. Social media might change forms and names but connection between human beings and communication becomes the base of any form of evolution. That is used to support that. It will only change form.
From IRC, mailing list, it was all tools for human beings to communicate. And now we are starting to use a tool to communicate using this smart phone, on the future we might use our own way of tool, telepathically who knows.
That is why when it comes to business it does not become relevant if we say we only want to do business in Indonesia. If the potential buyers come from overseas don’t you want to do business? However, there are still friends with that mindset, I really cannot understand. If we can have connected globally, might as well we try.
Thank you so much for the interview Bangwin !
Next, let’s continue, Interview with Fikri, Head Community Bukalapak.
To learn more about Customer Journey, read also, playing catch up on disruptive era.
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