Twestival, or why Twitter is the better alternative

Today is Twestival day and I am also attending the local gathering of Twitter users – which also happens to take place in my favourite pub here in Frankfurt (aptly named “the place to be“).

Twestival is a world-wide, almost simultaneous event (live streaming) and attendees are encouraged to donate some money to Charity Water, an NGO active in Ethiopia.

Somehow in a Prof. George Ayittey-way and having previously gained some experience on NGOs, the water business and having a different perspective (of an African/European intellectual) on it, I do of course feel a bit discomforted with such mass-donation events that a) promote water as a sexy (and innocent) cause and b) provide absolution to some Westeners who “want to do good”. Sorry, but sustainable approaches just don’t work that way. I would rather prefer institutional changes than the drilling of wells for areas on which we do not even have groundwater maps. But maybe that’s just me and my scepticism.

On the other hand, I somehow adore how they are making use of social media tools to mobilize the masses. Maybe this is what it takes to reach the masses. And this is also very cool:

FireShot Pro capture #84 - 'Twestival Tweet Meet Give ' - www charitywater org twestival
Tweet some facts” via Twitter.

I think we should also use this for ecological sanitation projects. Using social media to mobilize the masses. Kudos to CharityWater for this really smart approach!

One of the reaons for the success of Twitter and other micro-blogging services, I think, is also the lack of alternatives.

Yes. Even in 2009, there’s still no decent mobile blogging client except for Twitter & Co.

What I am looking for is an application designed for a smartphone that enables me to quickly post an update to my website, with annotated images, maybe also video content and the ability to edit all of this as well as moderate comments. All of the previously mentioned apps for Symbian S60 phones and plugins for installations just don’t do the job for me. And I don’t know about this on the iPhone. Is it any better? Would be a reason to switch phones.

So, even though Twitter is just a micro-blogging service with a limitation to 140 characters / message, it helps to serve the basic idea behind blogging: connecting people through conversations. And besides, with this character limit it is also compatible with another popular service: SMS.

I really like the idea of combining social media tools with the sector I am active in: sustainable sanitation.? Maybe that’s just the way forward for me.

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.