Background and Ethos
The Burma Online initiative grew from the need expressed by various individuals and organisations along the Thai-Burma border that they would like to have their own websites, but they did not have the money, status or skills to make this happen.
There were a considerable number of groups actively involved in a range of Burma-related causes doing strong and important work, but lacking the outlets for wide-spread awareness, advocacy or fundraising. Reports, publications and newsletters were produced, but high printing and distribution costs meant their readership was limited. The obvious response to this is to put the information online, as a PDF report could be accessed by millions for nothing more than the cost of a host to make it available. However, as many individuals were illegal migrants and their organisations are unregistered, obtaining a web host and domain – which involved official registration and (usually) the use of a credit card – was practically impossible. Registering individual sites also worked out as being too expensive for grassroots organisations to afford.
So, Burma Online was established as a way to address this. The initiative offered the chance for anyone with a Burma connection to have their own sub domain (for example, yourname.burmaonline.net) without the need for formal registration. This was offered at a much lower cost than through other outlets, and included initial training, web design and ongoing support.
All those involved were volunteers, keeping costs low and the initiative sustainable.