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Myanmar’s Digital Revolution: Notes from the Myanmar Information Symposium

September 28, 2016


Jessica L. Beyer, Sara Curran

Over two days in January 2016, the Myanmar Book Aid Preservation Foundation and the Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation hosted a symposium in Yangon focused on Myanmar’s information environment as it transitions to democracy. The symposium was titled, From Scarcity to Overload: Finding “Good Enough” Public Information in Myanmar’s Transition. The symposium brought together stakeholders from the government, civil society, international organizations, and the private sector.

The Symposium was co-sponsored by the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and the Information School’s Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) with support from USAID, Microsoft, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Asia Foundation.

Melody Clark, from the UW’s Technology & Social Change Group, wrote a report based on the event. She identified seven key takeaways from the symposium:

  1. There are a diverse set of stakeholders working to solve information and data scarcity in Myanmar.
  2. The digitization of records and services faces significant logistical and mindset challenges.
  3. The digital and information revolution in Myanmar requires reforming, creating, and implementing laws and regulations that are appropriate for the new information context.
  4. Freedom of speech and information should be embraced, but not abused.
  5. Civic engagement and democratic citizenship is emerging even if e-government and e-governance has a long way to go.
  6. Public libraries have and will play a large role in Myanmar’s transition to an information society.
  7. Programs and services work best and most effectively when provided in both Burmese and non-Burmese indigenous languages.

The entire report can be found here.

TASCHA’s Erin McAweeney also created an infographic based on the symposium. Click on the thumbnail below to see it full-sized.


Over the past three years, the UW’s Technology & Social Change Group in the Information School and the Jackson School have been collaborating on a USAID, Microsoft, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Tableau Foundation funded project in Myanmar. The project titled Information Strategies for Societies in Transition–Myanmar, was developed to address the challenges Myanmar faces as it seeks to “catch-up” in the world’s most economically competitive region. The larger project has four major components: (1) building organizational capacity in civil society, political parties, the media, government ministries, and think tanks to design and implement effective and transparent information solutions; (2) developing and implementing mobile information literacy curricula; (3) growing the capacity of libraries to serve as trustworthy information hubs; and (4) piloting new platforms that tackle digital and information challenges in Myanmar.

This event and publication were made possible in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.