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Phuket Live Wire: How Twitter is changing the way news breaks

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Phuket Live Wire: How Twitter is changing the way news breaks | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: News of Osama bin Laden’s death came to international attention when, around 11:40pm Washington time on May 1, US President Barack Obama announced that American forces had entered bin Laden’s compound and killed him.

But if you’d been following Twitter starting more than two hours earlier – from about 10:30am in Phuket – you would’ve already known the whole story.

CNN had a major defining moment when, 20 years ago, they were the only major news outlet with reporters on the ground inside Iraq when the Allied bombing attack began. Suddenly, CNN transformed from an also-ran news network to the head of the class.

A very similar event just happened to Twitter. Obama verified the news story at 11:35pm, but Keith Urbahn – the chief of staff for Donald Rumsfeld, who was Defense Secretary under Bush – broke the news at 10:25pm. His message: “So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.”

While speculation was rife with all of the major news agencies that Obama would announce something much bigger than another shootout in Libya, and rumors were flying among reporters and writers and producers – aided and abetted by leaks from inside the White House itself – nobody in the major networks would get on the air and report a story that was about to unfold with the President at the center.

Instead, the Twitter universe lit up with the story, and had it nailed before the President stepped up to the microphone.

Those who followed the “red shirt” protests in Bangkok learned early on about the advantages of Twitter. Many people have remarked – and I’ll certainly add to the refrain – that international network news coverage of the events during those days was patently absurd: overwrought, inaccurate, sensationalistic, and sadly lacking in facts.

The news broadcasts would’ve had you believe that Bangkok was immolated, riots on every street corner, and the country on the verge of civil war.

But those following the events on Twitter – stories told by people who were there, observing, reporting, posting snapshots on Twitter – had a much different impression.

Granted, the facts being reported didn’t come from professional reporters. They came from people who found themselves caught in the middle of traffic, or witnesses to an explosion, or people attending a rally, or watching a shopping complex burn. There’s no way to verify the accuracy of the reports: someone could have posted a message that little green men had just emerged from UFOs on Sukhumvit Soi 8, and there would be no way to validate the observation. But that’s the nature of the medium.

Don’t get me wrong. 98% of the stuff on Twitter is pure junk: teenage angst, rants and raves, useless garbage. But that other 2% can be pure gold. And it’s easier than you think to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The idea behind Twitter is pretty simple. You “follow” other people. Other people can “follow” you. Anybody can post a short message, up to 140 characters, on Twitter. If you “follow” someone who posts a message, you’ll see it when you log on to Twitter. (If you keep Twitter running on your PC, or on your phone, as I do, the message appears in your Twitter window.) If you post a message, the people who “follow” you can see it.

That’s all there is to it. Twitter is a very simple one-to-many form of communication, kind of like SMSing all of the people who have agreed, in advance, that they want to receive your SMSs.

If you “follow” someone and you get tired of what they’re “tweeting”, you can “unfollow” them, no sweat, and you’ll never see their tweets again. You’re never forced to follow anybody. You can follow and unfollow at will.

I follow several news sources and a bunch of people in the computer industry. Twitter’s turned into my major source of breaking news, in Thailand, in the computer industry, and in the world.

There’s no magical tracking mechanism, no Big Tweet Phu Yai Baan in the Sky who keeps track of you – nothing like the iPhone tracking stuff. It’s all anonymous, and very easy. Many people use Twitter on their phones, but you can also use it with a web browser, or on an iPad or Android tablet.

If you’ve never used Twitter, head over to www.twitter.com and sign up. You’ll be overwhelmed at first; don’t worry, everybody is. The trick lies in finding the right people to follow.

If you want to follow me, click in the appropriate box and sign up to follow @PhuketPC. Leons Kovisars also tweets computer topics with a local slant @leonsk9.

The best source of Thailand-wide news that I’ve found is @georgebkk, the ThaiVisa.com guru. You’ll be following people in no time.

I’ve been considering organizing a Twitter seminar. I’d particularly like to talk about my favorite Twitter appliance, Tweetdeck. Let me know if you’d be interested in attending – Woody@KhunWoody.com.

Facebook 101 Seminar

Able Wanamakok’s third Facebook 101 seminar runs May 14, 21 and 28. Facebook 101, you may recall, takes attendees through the basics, from setting up a business (or organization or charity) page, designing it, drawing attention to it, and then using the page to reach out to Facebook users. Johan Lofgren helps with the more technical parts. You don’t need any experience with Facebook to attend the free seminars.

If you’re interested in attending, sign up by going to www.facebook.com/SandwichShoppe and on the left click the link marked Facebook Seminar. The seminars are sponsored by Khun Woody’s Sandwich Shoppes, the Phuket Gazette, Able’s AW PR and Marketing, and Johan Lofgren’s onsite.in.th.

Able’s planning a series of seminars in Thai, starting June 4. Email her, able@awpr-phuket.com, for details.

FREE Computer Clinics

The next Computer Clinic – and the last one for May – will be on Sunday, May 15, from 10am to midday at the Sandwich Shoppe Chalong, one kilometer north of Chalong Circle on Chao Fa East, in the Fisherman’s Way Business Center.

As always, the clinics are free, and open to anyone interested in (or bothered by) computers in Phuket. There’s a lengthy question and answer period, and lots of help from kindred souls: if you have a question about computers in Phuket – or PCs in general – drop by and we’ll get you some world-class answers. The clinics are sponsored by the Phuket Gazette and Khun Woody’s Sandwich Shoppes.

Live Wire is IT guru and Phuket Gazette columnist Woody Leonhard’s weekly snapshot of all things internet in Phuket. Woody’s written more than 40 computer books including, most recently, Windows 7 All-In-One For Dummies. Follow Woody on Twitter: @PhuketPC.

To see what Woody’s up to in the international press, and to keep on top of the latest patches and problems with Windows and Office, drop by— Woody Leonhard

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

International Schools

Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the Chalong police leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Tourism

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend

The Thaiger

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Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Phuket has received a much-needed 300 million baht boost over the 4 day long weekend with around 54,000 tourists flocking to the island from last Thursday through to yesterday.

Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, reports that the average expenditure per visitor was about 5,500 baht, which was higher than the average spend for a Thai tourist to Phuket 2 years ago. She also noted that random checks on hotels showed that occupancy rates climbed to about 35%, with most guests staying 2 nights. But most of Phuket’s hotels remain closed.

Nanthasiri also says that many of the tourists concentrated themselves in the Phuket Old Town area, especially around Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Dibuk Road in order to enjoy at the Sino-Portuguese shophouse architecture and historical locations. In fact much of Phuket Town, including its many markets and alley eateries, were doing roaring business, The Thaiger can vouch for the heavy traffic, on the roads and footpaths, over the past 4 days.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In fact, despite the welcome surge of visitors, it was still a long, long way from its previous tourist levels with much of the west coast, which has largely catered for the international tourist traffic, was still very quiet in places like Patong, Kata and Karon.

Phuket wasnt the only destination that has profited off of the long weekend as Chiang Mai saw droves of Thai tourists visiting its Royal Park Rajapruek as well as the northern city’s other nearby national parks and tourist areas. Visitors came from all over to see the blossoming of flowers in a beautiful display at the park as well as enjoying the air-purifying flowers as they relaxed. Tourists were able to rent a bicycle for 60 baht if they wanted to exercise while taking in the scenery and could also pay a visit to the orchid greenhouse, which hosts a variety of orchids in bloom. TripAdvisor recommends to set aside 2 hours to visit the park.

Next holiday weekend, on November 27 and 28, Pattaya is expected to get a tourism boost as its annual fireworks festivalis set to bring in travellers who have taken advantage of package deals offered by some beachside hotels. Such packages were offered for advance bookings, where holidaymakers could view the firework shows on the rooftops of their hotels. The firework displays are said to be long with breaks of entertainment-packed shows, featuring live music and student bands amongst others.

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Thailand

Covid tourism standstill gives Thailand’s southern sea gypsies a break

The Thaiger

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Covid tourism standstill gives Thailand’s southern sea gypsies a break | The Thaiger

Phuket’s sea gypsy communities are getting a much needed break after the Covid tourism standstill have their traditions a break from the tourism onslaught. 42 year old Sanan Changham says now there is an abundance of fish and shellfish to eat. Tourist boats have been docked at the quay, making fishing easier for the Chao Lay, or “people of the sea.“

“We don’t dive as deep as before, so it’s less dangerous.“

More than 9 million visitors came to Phuket in 2019, impacting the sea gypsies and their way of life, mostly located at the southern end of the island. The booming tourism brought a decline in fish stocks, decreasing fishing grounds and loud construction of hotels. And the traffic. Such hotels signal an even bigger threat to the 1,200 Chao Lay in Rawai, as property developers have tried to evict them from their ancestral strip of land that faces the sea.

Ngim Damrongkaset, a Rawai community representative, says he hopes the area where developers have taken a stake is abandoned.

“They want to drive us out of our homes, but also to deny us access to the sea.”

For the Chao Lay people, the fight to keep their land has been unequal as most are illiterate and were unaware of the fact that they could register their land, but the government is trying to help them. One way for authorities to buy the land and entrust it to them.

Narumon Arunotai, an anthropologist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, says the government must seize the opportunity provided by the pandemic to rethink their vision on Chao Lay.

“Covid is an opportunity to change mentalities. Mass tourism in Phuket has been a catastrophe for the sea gypsies.“

The land in Rawai was originally claimed by Indonesian ancestors of Sanan, before the island became flooded with international travellers. But since tourism has become more profitable, authorities have cracked down on the sea gypsies unless they are sailing in protected marine reserves.

“Before, we risked being arrested by a patrol or having our boats confiscated.“

For the animist Chao Lay the beach is a vital space where they keep their colourful wooden boats and where they pray and give thanks to their ancestors. But not only their unique cultural heritage has helped them navigate the waters.

The Chao Lay people are experts at detecting any abnormalities in the water, as such they were able to escape before the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami hit, while saving loads of tourists. Furthermore, Children of the Moken have 50% better visual acuity in the water than their European counterparts, according to a 2003 study.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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