liveblogging from AfrikaCamp in Vienna, Austria


Fellow blogger Mzeecedric and I are today attending AfrikaCamp which just started a few minutes ago.
Please stay tuned for more as I will try to update this post throughout the day (see updates below). Oh and btw, there’s no ustream from the event (no videos). Sorry!

First of all: Africa = continent = many different countries, cultures, etc. (just to be clear on that).

AfrikaCamp is some sort of follow-up to the BarCampAfrica , which recently took place @ Mountain View/Google HQ in the US.

It’s my first ever vísit to Vienna btw and I am already quite surprised how great this city is!

10:00 am:
We arrived at W@lz, the location for the AfrikaCamp.

The whole of Austria is covered in snow.

11:00 am:
Sessions planning started, Cedric and I will be talking about and some blogs we’ve created for dev aid sector / German NGOs.

There’s free WiFi. Yaay!


Free chocolate provided by FairTrade. Nice!

Christoph Chorherr giving an introduction to the different session to some of the ~ 40-50 attendants.

BarCamp-styled sessions.

11:30 am:
Attending the first session by Helge Fahrnberger of about and OpenStreetMap project they are doing on Ouaggadougou.
Helge is one of the organisers of the AfrikaCamp.

Helge Fahrnberger talking about and OpenSourceMap.

12:00 am
Christoph Chorherr talking about two schooling projects in SouthAfrica: “social sustainable architecture” and “Ithuba Skills College“. Interesting quote from a school headmaster in SA: “We provide schooling but no education”.

[pic to follow asap]

They are also using dry toilets as the sanitation system. GREAT!

12:47 am
Yours truly presenting Erik’s slides on AfriagadgetP1010348
Mwalimu JKE :-)

Had to recharge my netbook after 6hrs in use. Lovely little live-blogging device (despite of its tiny keyboard).

01:20 pm
Having lunch with a guy called Kavindra who works in Vienna as a consultant at a Indo-European Developemnt Agency. Nice vegetarian stew followed by free drinks – thanks to the organisers of this fine event!

02:00 pm
Attending a session on by Martin Konzett, Karola Riegler, Florian Sturm and Anders Bolin

Audience clearly dominated by MacBooks. Hmm… ;-)

Martin and Anders showing a preview of their upcoming documentary on mobile phone uses in East Africa. Martin says there’s a 90% penetration of Nokia phones in Africa. Very promising documentary btw which will be released soon. Martin and Florian shot it with a Nikon D90 with different lenses

Says this guy is a famous athlete who’s constantly on the phone.

A pouch / CD sleeve made of a Kanga as alternative cover for the upcoming DVD.

Martin also talks about empowerement and mobile financing. Someone from Togo in the audience mentions that we need to have a better infrastructure in many African countries. Debatte started about technology and how it is used in many places.

03:00 pm
Attending a session by Andrea Zefferer & Andrea Ben Lassoued who are presenting their projects @ and

Clean-IT is a project that focusses on an improvement of working conditions among IT-manufacturers (in China) by setting some social standards on the demand side…

P1010374 focusses on finding sponsors who are willing to support disabled kids.

03:30 pm
coffee break

04:00 pm
Giving a short video interview to Martin Konzett and Anders Bolin, both of ICT4D. Talked about AfriGadget and that we’re are currently looking for a French speaking editor who could cover parts of the francophone Africa on AG. I hate being in front of a camera, my first ever interview/pitch. Camera goes on (fisheye lens) and you’ll have to talk about your agenda for 4 minutes.


But I wasn’t the only one – seen here: Florian Sturm, Anders Bolin and Martin Konzett playing the same game with Andrea Zefferer.

04:30 pm
AfrikaCamp continues, two or three more sessions – but without us. We had to leave a bit earlier for downtown Vienna. Met an old friend of mine with whom I’d been schooling back in the days in Nbo and whom I hadn’t seen in ages.

Soo….AfrikaCamp imho was a great success, met many interesting people who are doing interesting projects, having the right visions on what works in the African context and what doesnt (NGOs tend to be more realistic then the bigger donor orgs). guys are quite ambitioned, doing a good job on a tight budget. Make sure to check out their awesome documentary once it’s released on DVD (see comment below)

Else: Vienna is a GREAT city, will def. be back for more. Even my new netbook proved to be portable enough and was a great live-blogging device.

Kudos to Helge, Christoph and Karola who organised this BarCamp + Africa event!

Cheers from Vienna :-)

Florian of ICT4D also compiled a very interesting summary of the sessions I couldn’t attend. It’s a pitty that you can’t follow all sessions at once as everyone has interesting ideas to present.

A list of all sessions + list of interviews are also available.

new German bridge blog

Wenn Du, lieber Leser, an dieser Stelle fünf deutschsprachige Blogs nennen solltest, die stellvertretend für die deutsche Blogosphäre stehen – welche würdest Du dann nennen?

Wenn Du, lieber Leser, in einem deutschsprachigen Blog interessante Nachrichten aus aller Welt lesen möchtest, die es sonst nicht durch den Filter der Redaktionen schaffen – welche Blogs würdest Du hierfür nennen?

Mein Kollege Christian Kreutz hat sich wohl letztens diese oder ähnliche Fragen gestellt und gemerkt, dass wir hierzulande noch viel zu wenige sog. “Bridge Blogs” haben.

Was ist ein Bridge Blog?

Ethan Zuckermann schrieb dazu passenderweise vor ca. einem Jahr in einem Artikel über GlobalVoices:

“A number of bridge bloggers were explicit about their desire to cross cultural barriers with their writing.”

Genau diese Aussage, die sich auf die ägyptische Blogosphäre bezog, zeigt eigentlich worum es beim BridgeBlogging geht: verschiedene Welten zu überbrücken.

Christians und Frederik Richters Antwort darauf ist DRAUSSEN: ein Blog über die “transnationale soziale Vernetzung” des Mediums Internet mit dem klaren Ziel, die Diskussionen außerhalb der deutschsprachigen Blogosphäre auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar zu machen.


Jetzt ist es natürlich nicht so, dass es Versuche zu Bridge Blogs nicht schon geben würde. Viele Deutsche berichten aus dem Ausland in deutscher Sprache – vom einfachen Reiseblog bis zu Expatsblogs, in dem Expatriats über ihr Leben in der neuen Heimat berichten. Bei Robert Basic gab es sogar mal eine Diskussion über BridgeBlogs im Allgemein und wie man sich mit zB der frankophonen Blogosphäre verbinden könnte – die dann aber leider wieder im Sande verlaufen ist.

Ähnlich verhält es sich ja auch mit diesem Blog hier, in dem sich deutschsprachige und englischsprachige Beiträge abwechseln. Oftmals habe ich in der Vergangenheit versucht, verschiedene Welten so zu vermischen, wie sie sich auch in meinem Leben eine Rolle spielen.

So richtige Zusammenfassungen für deutschsprachige Leser habe ich aber erst bei der deutschen Version von GlobalVoices gesehen.

Eine ganz andere, ebenfalls wichtige Motivation für den Betrieb des DRAUSSEN blogs liegt sicherlich auch darin begründet, dass es nur wenige, qualitativ gute Blogs wie zB von Markus Beckedahl gibt, die eben nicht nur über coole Neuigkeiten aus den USA oder anderen Leitkulturen berichten. Jetzt rein inhaltlich betrachtet.

Bei all der Kritik an der deutschsprachigen Blogosphäre, die ja im Vergleich zu unseren europäischen Nachbarn eher zaghaft daherkommt und sich ihrer eigenen Idendität nicht so bewusst ist oder dafür gar einer Veranstaltung wie der re:publica bedarf, empfinde ich immer großes Unbehagen, ein zu schnelles Urteil zu präsentieren. So muss ich glaube ich auch lernen, nicht nur den eigentlichen Inhalt der Beiträge zu bewerten, sondern auch die dazugehörigen Kommentare. Immerhin lebt ein Blog auch von den Kommentaren. Nicht jeder Leser mit eigener Meinung hat die Zeit und Muse, nebenbei ein Blog zu betreiben. Und genau darum geht es auch in der Blogosphäre – um eine Diskussion anzuregen, die wir in ihrer Vielfalt hierzulande leider oft nur im Heise Forum & Co. lesen.

Insofern freut es mich sehr, dass es immer mehr gute Blogs gibt, die mitunter – und das ist für mich sehr wichtig – zu einem viel größeren Selbstverständnis des Instruments “Blog” beitragen.

panem et circenses

Two interesting, but also kinda controversial articles that appeared on Der Spiegel Online today, the website of the German weekly magazine:

The first one on the ailing German blogosphere (in German) that has been busy trying to constantly polemize itself and the lack of more influential power-bloggers who also participate in politics (compare that with Loic LeMeur & Sarkozy in France). Now while there are quite a few talented German bloggers, the use of blogs is certainly not as widespread as in other European countries.

Politics = range of (controversial) subjects of which some are covered by the mainstream media, some by the blogosphere.

This may of course be due to different reasons, but then – also – there’s a vivid news culture in Germany and somehow free media that covers world affairs. Just compare that with the US media and see why there are much more political bloggers in the USA.

Comparing these worlds, I think, just doesn’t make sense (I could go on for ages on this subject – just look at the German section of GlobalVoices!). On the other hand, I’d prefer much more political activism. Activism as such, however, is often (unfortunately) labeled as left-wing socialism – and if you look at today’s public image of the German party “Die Linke” which was mainly formed by former members of the (~communist) East German party SED and disappointed socialist from Germany’s oldest worker’s party SPD, you’ll instantly realize that many Germans (of course not all, see below) today are fed up with politics and don’t give a damn about who actually rules as long as politics do not switch to an extreme and do not reactive the usual stories on Nazis & Co. I guess it’s similar in other countries. I am sure there’s a reciprocally proportional relation between political activism and living conditions.
I think this also started way back in the 1970s and 80s when green issues started coming up on the agenda and activism centered around this absolutely neutral range of subjects (~ nuclear waste). No war, different kind of demonstrations. And then, also, Germany today lacks a range of charismatic leaders. Or do you really think that Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancelorette, is that sexy? Exactly.

Which of course gets me to the upcoming visit by Jesus Superstar Barack Obama to Germany. Rumour has it that other European nations are quite pissed about the attention his visit generated and that Germany will actually have a bigger timeslot than the British or France. Vanity.
Now, with such a visit on the schedule and an adequate editorial on Der Spiegel, it may be rather obvious that the editorial department placed a link to this story: “Flirthinweise fürs Feindesland“. And while Der Spiegel is definately not THE institution or THE only credible magazin out there, they at one point in the past invented something I really, really like: a section called “einestages – Zeitgeschichten auf SpiegelOnline”, which is like a multi-authored, edited & moderated public blog for readers who may contribute their own stories, images and videos of historical events, especially since the end of the 2nd WorldWar on just about anything.
This story “Flirthinweise fürs Feindesland” actually talks about a booklet issued by the USArmy at the end of WW2 and features a rather shocking short film called “Your Job in Germany”:

Your Job In Germany was a short film made by Frank Capra and Dr. Seuss for the United States War Department in 1945, intended to be shown to U.S. soldiers about to occupy Germany. It urged against fraternization with the German people, who are portrayed as thoroughly untrustworthy. (source)

I was a bit shocked when I saw this short film today and then thought: well…despite of the apparent need for such propaganda back then (bet it’s similar for the Iraq & other “freed” nations) – may the fading interest for common politics in todays Germany also be an indirect / not so obvious result of the political influence the US had on Europe in the past?

In the end, these discussions are not about politics, but about selling newspapers/magazines and editing interesting stories people want to read about. It’s a business. And that’s just one of the many reasons out there why the German blogosphere has in the past failed to create more influential (!) political bloggers. This, however, does not also imply that ppl aren’t interested in politics.

Interestingly, the SPON article also mentioned that the German edition of Wikipedia is the second largest in the world – which instantly reminded me of this article by Ethan Zuckerman where he mentioned the ailing Arabic-language edition of Wikipedia & huge number of bloggers in Egypt.

The remaining question is: is this discussion about political activism (= contributing ideas to society), or about citizen media?



It’s COLORWARS2008 on twitter, so please come and join (the) Afriteam!

“Ati?! Corraarrwaaas?” – “Atiriiri…..” – “..but why should I join this team?” – Well, because a) why not? and b) let’s show them some *pamoja spirit* and what we‘re capable of. 2008 will be just another great opportunity for the Afrisphere.

p.s.: you won’t need an iPhone for twitter, not even a phone, just 2 minutes to register @twitter and join the @afriteam. Very simpooool.


How many African twitterdudes & -dudettes are there on Twitter?

Am asking because of my friends on facebook who feel like being spammed with “JKE is twittering:…” messages on their feed pages. I’ve received at least two “what is this twittering business”-questions so far and then try to explain it.

Funny thing is I only started updating my (bilingual) twitter status on a regular basis when I managed to set it up on my Nokia N95 (via fring, twibble and via ordinary sms). Needless to say that it only really makes sense if you have a smartphone with multitasking functionality to have it running in the background, connected to a network (if you’re using your phone to twitter) or don’t mind receiving status updates via sms all the time (which obviously quickly drains the battery and is just stupid).

As for desktop applications, I’ve started using twhirl and quite like it. Twhirl requires an installation of Adobe Air, but once it’s set up, this litte app is just sweet.

So who’s on twitter of you gals & guys (except for the usual suspects :-)?

EDIT: just when I posted this, the following video went public:

[youtube ddO9idmax0o]