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Get To Know Azreena Azizan, Founder Of The #TechTarik Movement

Hello Azreena. Can you share a little bit about yourself, #TechTarik and your role in this movement?

Hi. Thank you for having me.

Where do I even begin. I am just another citizen who can get easily excited over technology and will spend hours or even days talking about it. I will continue reading, researching and exploring approach and pushing for that particular technology’s story to be understood by marginalized society. Thus, I created the TechTarik page for Malaysian to embrace technology in their own personal understanding.

TechTarik means to provide an avenue of awareness and ideas to grassroots which are then used to improve the lives of communities at the bottom of the pyramid. The storytelling will be designed to suit the local context of the targeted communities, and create value for them.

We foresee technology adoption and adaptation will be a casual discourse, like consuming our local favourite drink teh tarik, anytime, anywhere.

What is this all about actually?

Before I answer that, let me ask you several questions. When was the last time you read anything about ‘technology’ in your own local language with local context? When was the last time you go to a local get-together discussing about adopting and embracing technology in your own native tongue? Any local journalist you know that bothers to write technology news, or article discussing how we can adopt technology advancement to help day-to-day business?

TechTarik exists to answer those questions. To help the society outside Klang Valley to embrace technology and its use to ensure the longevity of whatever business they are in.

It is about addressing the present lack of integration between technology initiatives and the grassroots societies which can be a form of neo-colonialism; in addition, the hype of creating new advanced technology community detracts from the support available for existing grassroots facilities and industrial clusters. Due to the lack of cross-sector collaboration, contributions from the marginalized society to the advanced technology discussion remain limited and underappreciated. In more simple words, we have a serious technology-gap.

We heard about artificial technologies, automation in farming, but does that match the information received by the non-English speaking communities? Technological and digital adoption can’t be imposed on rural businesses — they must be engaged to select ideas that suit their economic activities.

Being one of the thought-leaders in tech, how do you see the industry in Malaysia in general versus what’s happening in the Asia Pacific?

Technological innovation in Malaysia is generally viewed as a panacea for the problems in national development. The result is, big fat technology companies from well-off nations then tended to ‘push’ technologies according to their own agendas — this attracts elite academicians and policymakers, who ironically celebrate the concept of smart cities and 4th Industrial Revolution while ignoring the informal engagements that is direly needed for our societies to adopt which eventually, as we heavily advocate, will strengthen the economic activities and be the strong demands for the technology supply.

One challenge for the policymakers and elite academicians with oversight of business and technology awareness activities exploring the potential adoption of technologies in remote, low-income communities is that most models, expertise, and research related to technology-use comes from high-income and mature contexts and environments (typically urban, or at least satellite-cities).

In Kuala Lumpur, conferences are dominated by words like ‘transformation’. This is, if you will, a largely ‘developed’ country sort of discourse, where new technologies and approaches are layered upon older approaches and technologies in systems that largely ‘work’, at least from a global perspective. While successful entrepreneur from Kuala Langat who earns average RM5mil had never been invited to such conferences due to the language barrier. Rural entrepreneurs of many other, much ‘less developed’ industry would happily switch places if the technology conferences and talk be more inclusive.

In what way do you see #TechTarik can disrupt the tech industry norm?

Like so many things in life, it all depends on your perspective. One country’s industry crisis situation may be (for better or for worse) another country’s aspiration. While talk in some places may be about how new technologies can help transform the industry, in other places it is about how such tools can help business function at a basic level. TechTarik address this.

The internet has helped to bring people together from all over the world, but it has not helped outside Klang Valley or local communities nearly as well. TechTarik is piloting solutions for community technology information platforms and media pluralism to have meaningful content.

We aim to bring together engineers, social scientists, artists, celebrities, designers, and communities to redesign message to introduce technology from scratch. Technology is for everyone, by everyone. It needs to have citizen-centric, industry-driven, social innovation for good.

When was the last time you knew a celebrity influencer talk about technology? Can you imagine if we could educate just a handful of celebrities to advocate on technology and its application? Immense acceptance.

We know you haven’t shared this much with the world out there. When do you plan to do so and what would be the best platform for it?

I have very limited resources. But more to that is I have bigger fish to fry. In the light of the new government, I hope I could meet the right leader who could see the digital and technology gap that Malaysia is experiencing. I am juggling between corporate job, and tireless effort to convince the policy-makers that we need to discuss corporate innovation, driven by private sectors more seriously. We do not want to miss out on the race to attract Industry 4.0 investors.

At this phase, TechTarik is active on Facebook as a Page. We are welcoming any contributions to make the movement broadcast louder, but I have to be honest with myself with the amount of work to be done, perceptions to be repaired and mindset to be galvanized.

Why the platform?

Because it’s free! And also because I am not targeting elites on LinkedIn, and I do not own any giant media company. Facebook Page is easy to get around with, awesome UI, UX and I can switch between accounts easily. Oh! Also, you can create button ‘Donate now. Feel free to donate to the cause if you think it is relevant for your future generation.

Let’s talk about content a little bit. Which one will create a better impact for #TechTarik, article, infographic or video?

Video. Definitely. I observed the increase of viewers each time I posted a video comparing to long sarcastic writings. But it is sooo d*mn hard to find a video introducing technology in the local language. The most similar I can repost was from Indonesia.

Why is that?

This is because there is a gap in literacy to understand technology through reading. We love soap dramas. We love visualization. If you know any content developer who feels this sort of pain and wanted to try something new for a change, please get them to contact me anytime.

Anything you wish to share with the readers?

Technology is only a tool. No technology can fix an inapt industry and business policy or compensate for ugly return in investment. In fact, providing schools with hardware and software does not automatically reform teaching and improve learning. Much depends on educational practices and how creative ICTs are used to enhance them.

To increase technology adoption in communities at the national level, it is about the content, never the container.

The best way to contact you?

Follow us as TechTarik Facebook Page and message us there or reach out to our committee at media@techtarik.global

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