Showing posts with label facebook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label facebook. Show all posts

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why the Web Divides Us

The Internet has changed many things. But it has not changed the insular habits of mind that make us replicate in our online social networks the physical networks we already have; in other words, connecting with only those who share our interests, laying waste to the utopia of a truly connected world. Ethan Zuckerman's older TED talk on this topic - here . Author Eli Pariser 2011 TED talk on the dangers of a  "personalized web" above.

Both Zukerman and Pariser arrive at the same point: the need for algorithms that let us discover what we want to know as well as what we need to know. But that conclusion still sounds vague. The question is: can developers come up with curatoral algorithms that can look into a mish mash of  unfamilairity and spot in a culture alien to us, and in a context completly different from what we know, the sameness of things we value and cherish? Such curation is a tall order even for humans.

In the 2012 spring issue of the Wilson Quarterly, Ethan Zuckerman argues :
A central paradox of this connected age is that while it’s easier than ever to share information and perspectives from different parts of the world, we may be encountering a narrower picture of the world than we did in less connected days... Despite these lowered barriers, today’s American television news features less than half as many international stories as were broadcast in the 1970s... Search engines tell us what we want to know, but they can’t tell us what we might need to know. Social media such as Facebook or Twitter might tell you to pay attention to cassette recordings in Iran, but only if your friends include Iranians. Social media are a powerful discovery engine, but what you’re discovering is what your friends know. If you’re lucky enough to have a diverse, knowledgeable set of friends online, they may lead you in unexpected directions. But birds of a feather flock together, both online and offline, and your friends are more likely to help you discover the unexpected in your hometown than in another land.
The most powerful discovery engines online may be curated publications such as The New York Times or The Guardian. Editors of these publications are driven by a mission to provide their audiences with the broad picture of the world they need in order to be effective citizens, consumers, and businesspeople. But professional curators have their inevitable biases and blind spots. Much as we know to search for the news we think will affect our lives, editors deploy reporting resources toward parts of the world with strategic and economic significance. When mysteries unfold in corners of the world we’re used to ignoring, such as Tunisia, curators are often left struggling to catch up. The limits of online information sources are a challenge both for us and for the people building the next generation of online tools. 
If we rigorously examine the media we’re encountering online, looking for topics and places we hear little about, we may be able to change our behavior, adding different and dissenting views to our social networks, seeking out new sources of news. But this task would be vastly easier if the architects of Internet tools took up the cause of helping to broaden worldviews. Facebook already notices that you’ve failed to “friend” a high school classmate and tries to connect you. It could look for strangers in Africa or India who share your interests and broker an introduction. Google tracks every search you undertake so it can more effectively target ads to you. It could also use that information to help you discover compelling content about topics you’ve never explored, adding a serendipity engine to its formidable search function. Why aren’t engineers racing to build the new tools that will help unravel the mysteries of a connected world? They may be waiting for indicators that we want them and are ready to use them.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ghana/ Somalia: Backlash at Some Foreign Media Depictions

A lot of Ghanaians are pissed and debating the Thomas Morton CNN extended piece to the original VICE Guide to Sakawa Boys. Coincidentally, we just covered some of that over here, though we were more interested in the Afrofuturistic aspects to it.

Check out Ghanaian expat and blogger Graham Knight's rebuttal to the CNN piece and some vigorous debate over at his blog.

For the fair depiction of the other 99% of Ghanaian Internet users, who Morton never mentions in his piece, a commenter pointed to the video below. We hereby name this video "The VICE Guide to the Non-Sakawa, Other 99% of Ghanaian Internet Users":

The other bungled piece of representation has since being pulled . Funded by the European Commission and Danish Refugee Council, it is an attempt  to reach out to the next generation of young European humanitarian workers  via having them test out their wits in "The City That Shouldn't Exist", a facebook game about Dadaab, a refugee camp on the Kenyan-Somali border. Reuters has the detailed skinny on the whole media blunder and backlash. Game trailer below...

... + the intro:
Win a trip to "The City That Shouldn't Exist" The European Commission and Danish Refugee Council has created a video trailer inviting young European citizens to play an online game that lets them step into the shoes of an officer in the European Commission's department for humanitarian aid (ECHO). By playing the game, users can a win a trip to Dadaab in Kenya, the largest refugee camp in the world.
For the humanitarian wonks who felt, ethics aside, going by the rules of the new media landscape the game was pragmatic and had good intentions, konwomyn begs to differ:
Sorry but no. If you want to create a game that gives young people a sense of what humanitarian work is about, you do it with dignity, after all human beings are the central subject of this game created by humanitarians. Dadaab is not some extreme game or dangerously exotic place for the young mind's consumption; its an actual place where people live not out of choice, but because a brutal unending conflict has made it so. There is a deeply entrenched perception of Somalia as hell-on-earth and while many humanitarian agencies and refugee have tried to deconstruct that myth, games like give credence to it. Not that there's anything wrong with games about refugee camps, just not this sort of thing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Libya: The Spin Wars - No-Fly Zone, Cont'd

Al Jazeera's Nazanin Sadri reports on Free Libya, a new satellite television channel just launched in in Qatar and which recruited staff by putting ads on facebook.

And earlier in March, the picture below showed up on the facebook page of Al Manara, a popular Libyan expat news service based in the UK. Whoever posted the picture assumed the symbol on these 81 mm illumination shells was the "star of David" and therefore captioned it, "Israeli industry against the Libyan people." The assumption even showed up on Al Jazeera Arabic.

NPR's Andy Carvin retraces on storify the crowd sourced investigation, using twitter and social media's hive mind, it took to find out who made the weapon and what those symbols really stand for.

Still on the information wars being waged by all sides in Libya, Amnesty International posted this video of a detained Syrian journalist being grilled on Libyan television:

This Al Jazeera Listening Post episode from earlier in March looked at war over information, spin, rhetoric and semantics being waged over Libya:

H/T: Boing, allAfrica

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Doubling down on is old claim that as far as formenting a revolution is concerned, twitter and facebook ain't shit are not that revolutionary, author Malcolm Gladwell aligns closer with Evgeny Morozov's take on activism, repressive governments and social media. Morozov recently got the RSAnimate treatment:

However, this Frontline indepth look explains just how much prep, training and wisdom from the Serbian students who brought down Slobodan Milosevic was passed on the Egyptian protesters and to Egypt's spontaneous revolution. It supports Gladwell's argument that social media or no social media, formenting revolutions have always required a ton of other stuff and neither facebook nor twitter are going to change that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Swaziland: Smell the Jasmine, Cont'd

On Friday (18 March 2011), 10,000 people marched on the office of the prime minister to call on the government to resign. More mass protests are planned over the coming weeks and an ‘uprising’ for 12 April is being coordinated by a Facebook group.

Pictures of Friday protest and a truck load of riot police (said to be singing war songs) itching to knock some heads from Swazi Shado blog:

IPS' Mantoe Phakathi reports the Swaziland's government, facing budget cuts, has done itself no favors by introducing austerity measures against the backdrop of King Mswati III and the royal family's monopolization of the Tibiyo Taka Ngwane conglomerate (established with public funds) which funds the family's cultural activities and lavish lifestyle:
Mduduzi Gina, the secretary general of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU), said the march was also a build up to demand a change to the Tinkhundla system of government in which the King appoints the prime minister and cabinet, as well as a total of 30 members of the upper and lower houses of parliament. "Nothing can stop us from ensuring that what happened in Tunisia and Egypt also takes place even here," Gina told the crowd, to enthusiastic applause. (more)
At Free African Media, Manqoba Nxumalo explains why the local media hasn't been much help, calls out foreign media failure to call out the King's human right abuses and explains "Tinkhundla":
This is the Swazi system that allows only individual candidates – not representatives of a political party – to stand for election. Tinkhundla entrenches the power to govern with the king, who appoints 10 of the 55 directly elected members of parliament and 20 of the 30 members of senate. Under this system, the prime minister is appointed by the king, and no political parties are allowed. This system also ensures that all governing powers are held by the king, who exercises them through the prime minister.
Swaziland Commentary adds:
The media gives the world an impression that the problems facing Swaziland have more to do with the king’s lifestyle than with an archaic and rotten political system that stifles any form of dissent and opposition. When King Mswati III jails, tortures and drives his political nemeses into exile, the South African media in particular, and the world media in general, do not find this worth headline news – even though a completely different approach is taken when it involves Zimbabwe.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Africa: "Facebook is the Online Equivalent of Multiple Mobile Phone Calls without Having to Answer all those Phones"

With facebook hitting the 500,000,000 million user mark this year, Alex Trimpe's informatic reminds us that roughly adds up to 1 out of every 13 peeps on the planet use facebook. But that was before a Tunisian by the name of Mohamed Bouazizi lit himself up and gave voice to a revolution that's since inspired, spread and toppled governments in Egypt and now Libya. Comparing "last 3 months gain columns" for North America and Africa in the graph below tells the story:

IT News - Africa/ Statistics released by (image:

Angela Meadon, over at IT News Africa, using numbers from Facebook's statistical analysis portal,, breaks down Africa's more recent numbers:
...As of February Facebook is now 637 million users globally... Of the 8.3 million new users in Africa, Egypt (+1,6 million new users, +43 % change), Nigeria (+1,4 million new users, +83 % change) and South Africa (+750k new users, 25% change) saw the greatest growth in the region during the last six months. Facebook is encouraging this rapid growth with interfaces in Swahili and Afrikaans, with Zulu and Hausa versions in development.
Citing the case of Kenya, the core reason for those gains and the African surge, explains Google's Dennis Gikunda, is quite practical:
"Using the Internet (in Kenya) is no longer about setting up an e-mail account. You either go to a social network or you use your website. Self-expression has become a form of entertainment where the audience is the medium." Facebook has taken off because in many ways it’s the online equivalent of multiple mobile phone calls without having to answer all those phones. It has become the connecting, “soft” glue that has given new momentum to Internet use in Kenya. A recent survey of Pasha Centres (new version telecentres in remote locations) found that 33% of respondents were using Facebook.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Egypt: How it Started - Frontline on the #Jan 25 Revolution

"Revolution in Cairo" - breakdown of the revolution like only PBS Frontline can. The doc's premise is that revolutions, though they now pack that twitter-facebook feel of spontaneity, are transferrable only through long preparations and well trained activists. In short, revolutions do not come out of nowhere.

Due to rights restrictions the Frontline doc is streaming only in the U.S. Go figure. Even as interesting--and probably more accurate-- is Zeinobia, over at Egyptian Chronicles, aggregation of how #Jan 25 went down.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Egypt: Watching Twitter and Facebook O.D on Mubarak Crack

More and more analysis pours forth-- or stories like techcrunch's recent translation of an Arabic newspaper report  of an Egyptian man naming his new born girl "facebook"-- about the larger role social networks played in the Egyptian revolution. While the no-revolution-comes-via-social networks pundits like the Evgeny Morozovs have recalibrated or fine tuned their arguments and the Malcolm Gladwells haven't issued anymore ill timed rants (more here and here), we are still sticking to our social media, Fukuyama and "struggle for recognition" thesis, even as the new media hard data pouring in from Egypt continues to enthrall.

Alexis Madrigal breaks down the graph above from ShareThis, that company that makes those little icons under every post you read, which tracked hour-by-hour sharing via e-mail, Twitter and Facebook on day 18 of the egyptian revolution (February 11):
What's interesting here is that the lines don't look as much like each other as you might think. While the Twitter and Facebook shares have the same rough shape, the details are interesting. Twitter sharing is much spikier, possibly driven by subevents in the overall narrative. And during the key hour in which Mubarak resigned, Twitter and Facebook sharing came very close to intersecting. Turning to the Facebook graph, you realize how big a beast the site really is. Its pattern conforms roughly to U.S. web traffic as a whole, peaking around 1:00 p.m.
That part about Twitter being "much spikier, possibly driven by subevents in the overall narrative" can actually be seen in realtime in an amazing visualization from Andre Padisson over at the Gephi blog, where he/she explains connecting, via a web server, the Gephi Graph Streaming plugin to the Twitter Streaming API, allowing the plugin to show twitter users as nodes and their retweets as links over the hour of February 11 when Mubarak stepped down. Watch:

Details - here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Egypt: A Luta Continua # Jan 25 (Day 10 - 11)

On day 11, the protests claimed the life of an Egyptian journalist shot a week earlier. At Bloomberg, from reporter Maram Mazen's narration of an assault by pro-Mubarak thugs and her abduction by the police, you get an idea of how the army negotiates the middle of pro and anti-Mubarak elements and the very thin line they have to tread:
A policeman looked me in the eye and said: “You will be lynched today,” running his finger across his neck. Others spat on us. They hit the two men in our group in the face through the broken windows, scratching Mahmoud and punching my other male friend. Someone pulled my hair from the back. An army officer was standing right next to the car as well. Several of us screamed during the hail of blows and grabbed his hand, asking for protection. He just looked at us and told us not to be afraid. Two soldiers were also present, one of them standing on the trunk of our car. He fired two gunshots in the air in what seemed to be an attempt to disperse the crowd. When it proved futile, he did nothing.
NYT Lens blog on the thin line the photographers on the ground in Cairo have to walk (+ pics):
Photographers of the increasingly violent upheaval in Egypt are being forced — in the interest of personal safety — to adopt practices that limit their range of coverage at exactly the moment the world is hungriest for as many images from as many perspectives as possible.
According to interviews on Thursday with nine photojournalists in Cairo, it is often hard to photograph demonstrators for President Hosni Mubarak, because they are so openly hostile to journalists. On the defensive, photojournalists also find themselves traveling in packs (which they do not typically like to do), staying away from whole sections of Cairo (which is anathema) and donning helmets (which raises the likelihood they will be mistaken for government spies).
You know we love us some Zizek. Below, on Al Jazeera, Slovenian philosopher says Americans should understand that what's happening in Egypt is not a choice between Islamic fundamentalism and Western liberal democracy. He implies that the Muslim world  has its own deep wells of secular thought and quotes an Iranian theologian who once wrote that it is only when a dude misses a train that he invokes faith. In other words, the real tragedy in the Arab world, Zizek concludes, has been the suppression or disappearance of a non-fundamentalist Left.

We recall Ayaan Hirsi Ali making a tangential argument a while back about threr being a more "reflective Islam". In other words, one has to wonder if this spate of uprisings is the huge carving out of a non-fundamentalist space for a non-ideological Left in the Arab world?

On the economic front, an oil market analyst explains on Bloomberg why the Suez canal doesn't really factor all that much when it comes to how oil gets around:

... effects on oil prices in terms of supply lines... Suez Max is not one of the biggest tankers out there. The ultra large carriers ... those don't fit in the Suez canal. Even if there were to be a bigger disruption in Egypt that would disrupt the Suez canal, it will not disrupt the largest quantities of crude that will be water-borne..
A Cape Town analyst concurs and tells ABNDigital that "on an inventory level, we certainly are not in any territory that would send out concerns...," so all Egyptian revolution presents at the moment is "a classic investor psychology issue". Even OPEC agrees ,  or all these guys have the same talking points.

Egypt's richest man, Naguib Sawiris, the chairman of Orascom Telecom Holding SAE, had some interesting views on what happens next:

And Facebook... Over at the Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal flags this Wa-Po article looking at why  Facebook isn't too eager to embrace its new role; Zuckerberg and co are wary of the long term fact that being a tool for revolution isn't good for business:
The recent unrest in Egypt and Tunisia is forcing Facebook officials to grapple with the prospect that other governments will grow more cautious of permitting the company to operate in their countries without restrictions or close monitoring, according to David Kirkpatrick, author of "The Facebook Effect," an authorized biography of the company's history. Facebook is also looking at whether it should allow activists to have a measure of anonymity on the site, he said. "I have talked to people inside Facebook in the last week, and they are debating this internally," Kirkpatrick said. "Many countries where Facebook is popular have autocracies or dictatorships, and most of the countries have passively tolerated their popularity. But what's happened in Egypt or Tunisia is likely to change other countries' attitudes, and they'll be more wary of Facebook operating there."
For a better handle on all this, check out Madrigal's definitive post on the inside story of how facebook programmers responded when they found out Tunisia's Internet service providers were running a malicious piece of code that was recording all Tunisian users' login information.

North Africa: Al Jazeera Vindication, Cont'd

Over at Mondoweiss, a comparison of the traffic to New York Times and Al Jazeera websites btw Jan 3rd to 31st, 2011:

And from the Wa-Po article about Egypt and Facebook:
Facebook ad sales teams have been helping al-Jazeera capitalize on Egypt's crisis to attract more eyeballs in the United States and build up a new, loyal audience. "They've been giving us strategic advice," he said. "We're targeting people over 18, and our big push has been toward the U.S. audience."

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sudan: Smell the Jasmine - # Jan 30 (Day 1 - 2)

In spite of the #Jan 30 twitter hash tag, students protests, police clampdowns and getting its "first martyr", over at SSRC' Making Sense of Sudan Khalid Mubarak gives 5 reasons why its highly unlikely yesterday's uprising in Khartoum will go the way of Tunisia or Egypt:
1- Uprisings happen as a result of suppression. The democratic transformation brought about by the Western brokered CPA has removed this factor. The group with the ability to revolt, the SPLM/A is an ally of Bashir and his NCP. Pagan Amum, the most provocative and anti-northern SPLM secretary general told a press conference in Khartoum last December that ”having a steady government in the north and south will contribute positively to ensure security and development.” He argued against change of government in the north.
2- Uprisings happen against docile leaders who ingratiate themselves to the West and put its interests above national dignity. Bashir was never groomed by the West which (as the Palestine Papers show) gives itself the right to choose leaders and depose others, even if they win elections! more
Muhammad Osman, over at Sudan Tribune, adds a 6th:
...The international community, which brokered the 2005 peace deal between north and south Sudan, will likely be loath to support a change of regime in Khartoum that could lead the final phases of that agreement to unravel. North and south Sudan are yet to thrash out a host of post-referendum arrangements, including oil revenues, currency, debts, borders and the status of the hotly contested border region of Abyei. Similarly, the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in south Sudan will definitely be disinclined to support an uprising that could see the process of its transformation to an independent state be disrupted by a falling partner in the north.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Egypt: A Luta Continua - #Jan 25 (Day 2)

Heart the pic. Caption it, 'Argh! Egyptian protester-Hulk smash puny Mubarak police.' NYT's Robert Mackay has you covered on day 2. We are all pondering how much Tunisian inspiration #Jan 25 has in the tank; Issandr El Amrani draws one parallel between both uprisings - they are organized, yet leaderless:
This movement, for now, has no leadership. Some opposition personalities participated, but it was mostly organized on Facebook by the campaign in memory of Khaled Said, the young Alexandria killed by police last year. The Muslim Brotherhood did not back it. Mohamed ElBaradei did not back it. The Wafd party did not back it. It appears to be largely a movement of young people inspired by the Tunisian example and the culmination of over six years of activism and rising resentment against the regime, the 30-year reign of Hosni Mubarak and the apparent acceleration of the project to have Gamal Mubarak replace his father in the last six months. It is also, of course, a protest against an increasingly unaccountable and uncontrollable police state, which is why Police Day was chosen (Mubarak must be kicking himself for making it a public holiday last year).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tunisia: Bouazizi, Sidi Bouzid, Social Media and the 'Struggle for Recognition'

Kareem Fahim profiles for NYT the 26 year old and dusty town that sparked a revolution. Excerpt:
His first name was actually Tarek, but he went by Mohamed. He was not a college graduate, as earlier reports had said. He had been a vendor since he was a teenager, and had worked odd jobs since he was 10, his relatives said. His father, a construction worker in Libya, died of a heart attack when he was 3, said his mother, Mannoubia Bouazizi. She later married Mohamed’s uncle. Mr. Bouazizi made it to high school, but it was unclear whether he graduated: a cousin said he devoured literature and especially poetry, but his mother said he preferred math. He had a girlfriend, but they had broken up recently. He was a soccer fan and spent much of his spare time at the Fustat cafe downtown, engaged in the local diversions of smoking and playing cards. Despite his struggles to work, he was easygoing and liked to laugh. His relatives saw no hint of depression, and though they said Mr. Bouazizi refused to pay bribes, they could not recall any time where he had made such an unyielding stand.
Al Jazeera points out that in relation to the use of social media in Iran's "Green Revolution" in 2009 and Egyptian protests in '04 and '05, what's different this time around ... how much the relationship between mainstream and social media has matured. FP's/George Washington U's Marc Lynch observes:
If you go back to Egypt in 2004 and 2005, you had many of the same things you saw in Tunisia. You had activists who are using blogs, forums and various kinds of internet sites, including facebook, and you had AlJazeera and various other satellite stations covering the protests and really helping to feed this notion of a dramatic change in Arab politics. So the raw material is the same, but this time there was a much tighter integration between the 2, with AlJazeera regularly and frequently using user-generated content and rapid interaction between the two. You need to have a framing process. It's not just the pictures. It's what people make of the pictures.
And Nawaat's Sami Ben Ghabia breaks down for Riz Khan what Lynch referred to - that evolution of a "much tighter integration" ...

... between social and mainstream media this time around in Tunisia:
...The Tunisian government [which had successfully integrated ICT in education] was very successful in preventing people from within the country to access information but in the meantime they managed to create a new generation, entire youth, who are skilled at using conventional technology to bypass the filter to get access to information - that's the big irony that played during the last month... The social media aspect to this played as a way of bridging the gap between people on the ground taking [the] footage and uploading it on their facebook accounts, another team [making sure the information was accurate]. We've seen tens of facebook pages with the 'Tunisian Streets News Agency' who were [making  the information accurate]; correcting the dates, the places. And you have people who are the taking the information out of facebook and putting it on dedicated blogs, translating the information and putting it into context and making that ready for mainstream media to pick the story up - that's what AlJazeera was doing; that's what France 24 was doing. So you have multiple nodes of activists online and each of those nodes [implementing its own] strategy - you have people who are translating, people who are putting stories in context, people who were trying to build hubs with the mainstream media and pushing them to write about Tunisia. And that's when we reached an information cascade and that information cascade helped convince the Tunisian people to go into the streets.
And on why the American media missed the boat on Tunisia's revolution or why, when they finally did get a boat, they went with "twitter/facebook revolution" angle instead, Lynch boiled it down to "pre-existing narratives":
It didn't fit anyone's pre-existing political interest... Twitter and Facebook fits the pre-existing narratives about technology. I think it is a sign of the fact that very few people in Western media really understand what's happening in Tunisia.
And finally, one could also argue that the same fundamental or dynamic that motivated a 26 year old fruit seller in an impoverished corner of the world to light himself up is, on another level, the same dynamic that makes a revolution, in its bid to matter, tap into social media to bypass mainstream gatekeepers in a "... struggle of recognition." Back in The End of History and the Last Man, Fukuyama, standing on the shoulders of Hegel, explains this oft ignored driver of historical process:
Much of human behaviour can be explained as a combination of the first two parts, desire and reason: desire induces men to seek things outside themselves, while reason or calculation shows them the best way to get them. But in addition, human beings seek recognition of their own worth, or of the people, things, or principles that they invest with worth. The propensity to invest the self with a certain value, and to demand recognition for that value, is what in today’s popular language we would call “self-esteem.” The propensity to feel self-esteem arises out of the part of the soul called emos. It is like an innate human sense of justice. People believe that they have a certain worth, and when other people treat them as though they are worth less than that, they experience the emotion of anger. Conversely, when people fail to live up to their own sense of worth, they feel shame, and when they are evaluated correctly in proportion to their worth, they feel pride. The desire for recognition, and the accompanying emotions of anger, shame, and pride, are parts of the human personality critical to political life. According to Hegel, they are what drives the whole historical process.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tunisia: A Revolution by Any Other Name...

Issandr El Amrani on why it shouldn't be called a "Jasmine Revolution":
But there's another reason to stay away from "Jasmine Revolution." It was the term that deposed President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali used in 1987 to describe his own takeover, in those initial years of his reign that offered some hope for a democratic transition. To reuse Ben Ali's propaganda phrase at this point seems perverse — whereas something like the Sidi Bouzid Revolution, marking ground zero of the movement that led to the dictator's downfall, seems so much more appropriate.
And enough with the twitter and wikileaks revolutions, please, writes Luke Allnutt over at RFE's Tangled Web. His diagnosis of the rush to label:
Twitter revolution narratives are popular because rather than being about Tunisia, they are often really about ourselves. When we glorify the role of social media we are partly glorifying ourselves. Some of us are not only praising the tools we know and love and use every day, but also the tools we build and have stakes in. To proclaim a Twitter revolution is almost a form of intellectual colonialism, stealthy and mildly delusional: We project our world, our values, and concerns onto theirs and we shouldn’t. We use Twitter and so must they. In our rush to christen the uprising, did we think to ask Tunisians what they wanted to call their revolution?

Saturday, November 6, 2010


If this blog had a rule, it's probably the bear hug embrace of remix anarchy.

And who says sampling and remixing--and the resulting recontextualization and knowledge creation-- should provide food for just for our thoughts?

As all cultural artifacts or scraps of mass understanding become just a google search away, we find ourselves in an age where the very act of sampling and remixing can be done collectively; similar people sharing a similar appreciation and understanding of a scarp of culture can physically come together to sample and remix, in some manifestation of small group lunacy a la Godard's...Outsiders or where the hell is Mattwhatever cultural actifacts make them bond:

H/T: Open Culture, see: Everything is a Remix

Friday, July 23, 2010

Africa: Facebook's African Users

Jumping off facebook's announcement on Wednesday that the social network now has 500 million friends users, Ben Lorica, over at O'Reilly Radar, chews the numbers into graphs in an attempt to show where facebook's half a billion users reside. He surmises:
Africa is the other fast-growth region and I'm expecting the region's share of active Facebook users to rise sharply over the next year.
To which a commenter adds:
Africa will certainly continue to be a growing segment. I was chatting on Facebook with a friend from Kenya and he said that wireless Internet access and cell phone coverage is generally more available than electricity. Keeping your devices charged seems to be more of an issue than access, especially in remote villages...
(click to enlarge):

Plus a list of countries where facebook grew fastest in the last 12 weeks, counting back from July 21 that is:

And with the 7,200 km Main One submarine cable (Capacity: a whopping 1.93 Tbps)...

...spanning from Seixal, Portugal, with landing stations in Ghana and Nigeria; branching units in Morocco, Canary Islands, Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, touching down a few days ago in Nigeria, look for West Africa's numbers to jump:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kenya: The Making of...

... Just a Band's Ha-He music video otherwise known as Makmende kills the internet:

Keeping the meme going, below is an excerpt from Steve Bloomfield's article at the Monocle on how the interactive marketing push came about :
No one is more surprised about the sudden popularity of Kenya’s newest fictional hero than the men who invented him. Just-a-Band, whose second album, “82″, was one of the most popular releases in Kenya this year, had not planned any sort of online campaign for the video short of putting it on their Facebook page. “I honestly don’t know how we ended up here,” said band member Jim Chuchu, who also co-directed the video. “As soon as I saw Makmende jokes from fans online I said let’s do a Twitter and Facebook page for him. Everyone said ‘really?’ They thought it was overkill.”
 Chuchu was keen to buy but “all of us were broke so we couldn’t do it.” Someone else has though and is planning to sell T-shirts with some of the most popular slogans. Just-a-Band can do little to stop them.
 Not that they are short of opportunities to cash in. The video is a fake trailer for Makmende the Movie. The Nation Media Group has now asked them to turn it into a television series while the band has received offers from businesses wanting to use Makmende as a marketing tool.

And to answer Kemibaro's fears about who owns Makmende, Just a Band's official statement.

H/T: My Hearts in.../ Kenya Christian

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Advertising: Story Enablers and Storytelling

A Creativity and Art's panel is asked how technology is changing storytelling in advertising.

Panel includes Mike Hoefflinger, director of monetization product marketing, Facebook; Ben Palmer, co-founder, CEO, The Barbarian Group; Allesandra Lariu, SVP, digital group creative director, McCann Erickson; John Mayo-Smith, EVP, chief technology officer, R/GA; Kevin Slavin, managing director and co-founder, Area/Code and Creativity editor Teressa Iezzi.

The whole chicken and egg conundrum about which comes first, story or cool technology, reminds me of the whole collaboration between John Gaeta and the Warchowski brothers from back in the day.

Remember when "bullet time" was still "whoa"?


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