BLOG-VIEW ON AFRICA 2.0

On: September 24, 2007
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About Rikus Wegman
Rikus is a student New Media on the university of Amsterdam. He has a bachelor degree in Social Science and a broad interest in the social and cultural implications of New Media. Rikus is interested in the development of New Media in Africa. He has a minor in cultural studies with a broad interest in youth culture.

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In this post I’m analyzing two blogs that get into new media in ‘the black continent’. The black continent… that’s how Erik Hersman called Africa in one of his personal most loved posts on his blog, the white African. A romantic name for the once so mysterious continent that everyone knew so little about. Butt, while most of African mysteries have been mapped out by modern day science and media (even the whereabouts of the illusive source of the Nile is known) Africa consists to be the black continent, quite literally that is:
africa by night
africa by night

Africa has a population of approximately 933,448,292 people. That is almost 15% of the world’s total population. Fron those 933,448,292 Africans only 33,545,600
are using the internet. That is only 3.6% of the entire African population. Only 3% of the worlds internet users come from an African country. When we take a longer look at the stats we notice that most of the African internet usage comes from the relatively richer countries in the far north and the far south of Africa(see the stats). This contradicts with the words of Kofi Annan, who said that:

…we must match the powerful new tools with the people who need them most.

(edusite) Because of this contradiction and the impact new media technology (if properly implemented) could have on the third world I chose to write my blog analyse on two blogs that get into new media in Africa.

ANALYZED BLOGS
The first blog I like to analyze is Erik Hersman’s blog called ‘the white African’. He is one off the view people who really understands the problems that new media in Africa faces and he tries to offer or inform on technological solutions. A lot of African people read his posts and because of his African background (he grew up in Kenya and Sudan) he has a good understanding of the African way of living. The second blog I’m analyzing is a blog called Africansocialnetwork. This site is run by a blogger that calls himself African. Although he urges the readers to contact him to debate on several issues or visit his profile his profile and personal information is nowhere to be found. African started posting at 14 november butt like so many weblogs the blog didn’t exist for a long time. His last posting is 14 june 2007. I will analyze these blogs by looking at the goals the bloggers hope to achieve with their blog, the content, the design and the functionality.

GOALS
Starting of with the white African blog. Erik Hersman says that on WhiteAfrican.com, He likes to write about technology and give his thoughts on how it is impacting, and can change, Africa. He wrote a paper on mobile connectivity in Africa, that’s turning into something called Zangu. Overall, his blog is a place where he throw ideas out and hope that they will influence others in some small way.(whiteafrican) The blogger tries to inform people about where Africa stands at the moment in the field of new media. He achieves this by showcasing different projects etc. that are happening in different countries in Africa and writing critical posts on the subject.

When we look at the motives of ‘the African’(africansocialnetwork) they seem a lot more personal. He writes that: “Today I officially became a blogger. Why you may ask? I guess the same reason millions of other blogger are out there, to earn a living, for amusement, to tackle an issue, to be heard.

Yes TO BE HEARD

Why else, if I go to the streets of Africa with a megaphone and shout will I be heard, Yes, but will I be HEARD No. They’ll hear the noise, they throw things at me, some will even listen. But all in all what I speak falls on deaf ears. Thats the power of blogging I will be heard. People will feel what I say , they’ll forward it to their friends. They’ll come back for more (hopefully)”.(africansocialnetwork.blogspot)
The posts are mostly reviews of African web2.0 programs. By reading the Africans posts you get the feeling that he senses that it is important that Africans start to use the opportunities that new media offers them. In his first few postings he starts of really optimistic and hopeful about ‘the new internet era’ butt a few months later in his last post he seems pretty pessimistic when he states that: “…for some reason, African Social Networking isn’t working. Some sites have closed shop some just dont have enough trafiic to worth being talked about. Maybe they will in the future.”

CONTENT
The content presented to us by the white African is quite diverse. Although the blogger sticks to his main subject of new media in Africa he really explores the boundaries of this subject. You can find everything from satellite coverage in Africa to a new multiplayer online real-time strategy game about being a entrepreneur in the third world (villagethegame) on his site. There also is a lot of infomation on mobile networks and new media politics. The blogger covers all of the African countries in all the different fields of new media. Furthermore there are a lot of illustrative images and little movies.

When we look at the content of the African we can see that it’s mostly about new African apps. on the internet. He tries to show his readers all new possibilities and really encourages his readers to make use of all the wonderful new possibilities that are there for the taking. The African sees blogging as an important step in the process of healing Africa: “Blogging is where Africa begins on the web. And I’d like to take this oppurunity to praise the Blogs I have read some time or the other over the last year or so, for taking Africa where the African man never dreamt of venturing.” (africansocialnetwork). He sketches a really positive future for Africa and African businesses and hopes that other people will join him on the net to ‘make it happen”. Besides the posts there are also a lot of movies to be seen on the site. From business in Africa promotion videos to musicvideos.

DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY
The white Africans site has a totally white colour design. The headings or in a light blue and the text is in grey. The site looks really calm and clean. The header has a little logo of an African mask and some personal photos of Hersman in Afrika. The header also contains the name of the site (WHITE AFRICAN) in bold white African style font. There’s also a subtitle that says: “Where Africa and Technology collide”. In the side bar there’s the possibility to get a RSS feed and theirs also the possibility to subscribe to the posts. Furthermore there is a list of Recent comments, Recent entries, affiliations (that mentions only KeniaUnlimited), a list of converences and events and a list with Muti Hot (a feed of an African site) The site is easy to navigate threw thanks to the list of buttons (Home, about, backgrounds, quotes and interesting) and it’s well maintained and tidy.

When we look at the design and functionality of the Africans blog it looks at the standard black blogspot background. Most of the posts are pretty long and it sometimes looks a bit messy because of the huge amount of pictures spread throughout the text. There is no information about the blogger to be found and the only options the reader has are clicking on one of the numerous videos are watching old posts in the archive. The header says: “AFRICA, THE NEXT GENERATION. Afrika2.0. is it real?” When we look at the little amount of time this blog was in the air I doubt it.

One Response to “BLOG-VIEW ON AFRICA 2.0”
  • September 25, 2007 at 6:36 am

    I find the analysis above rather unconvincing, unless you are only looking at sites popular in the Netherlands. The views of the “White African” sounds also rather outdated.

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