30 July, 2008

Around The Blogosphere:Blog Idols

It's interesting the stuff that goes around the blogosphere.Now that the East and Southern Africa Idols music competition is over with Zimbabwean Eric Moyo having won the competition on 28th July, 2008 at the Bomas of Kenya something new needs to come up and capture your attention...blog idols may just be it if if you maintain a blog.

Surprising the blogging idols competition has been ongoing and is in its third week as we speak!How we know little but thanks

The Competition:

The competition aims at getting the best of the best bloggers around the world and all bloggers are eligible provided that they sign up to Feedburner .The competition focuses on getting the most number of new subcribers for ones blog within a particular period.When one enrolls the number of subcribers for the blog is indexed then the challenge of getting new subscribers to one's content begins.The blog with the most subscribers carries away the grand prize of $3000, or an equivalent of Kenya shillings 189,000/=

The Rules for the BlogIdols Competition are:
  1. All participants must activate the Feedburner feed count at the beginning of the competition.
  2. Participants will need to send a short email weekly (100-200 words), describing their strategies to gain RSS subscribes, and what they are doing on their blogs.
  3. The emails will be published on a weekly basis at http://www.dailyblogtips.com so that readers can follow and understand how participants are competing.
  4. Blackhat methods will not be allowed, so bloggers can’t fake stats, try to damage the blog of competitors and so on.
  5. Paid promotion will not be allowed, else it would become a “who can spend more” contest.
  6. If you have a blog with over 1000 RSS subscribers and will create a brand new one for the competition, you can’t use your established blog to promote the new one
  7. All other strategies and techniques are allowed (guest articles, contests, give-aways, controversial articles, free eBooks), so you are free to get creative
Well thats quite a competition and requires quite some amount of strategy, i just wish they had a special category for African blogs, alternatively we can borrow a cue and start our own competition! Any willing sponsors for Afria's blogging Idols Competition?????

26 July, 2008

Africa's First Pro Blogger !!!

Its another Monday and as usual i always dirt around my mail to approve and reject comments.I have been blogging for nine years now, i have built up a reputable blog, but thats not just it! I realize that blogging need not just be a hobby for me- but an avenue for self expression.It could also be an alternative medium for passing across information that is not readily available in mainstream media.Blogging can be used also as a tool for personal branding-creating an image of self out there that can be easily accessed by customers, employers, competitors etc.The benefits of quality blogging are immense but theres something thats on my chest, a conversation that needs to !

Musing on this thoughts and the benefits of blogging, im left to wonder who is going to be the first officially recognized African Pro blogger(we must just have this conversation going,i take the honors to begin it)!Yes who indeed is going to take blogging in Africa to a professional level,change perceptions, influence markets and perhaps in the venture make a living from it?who is going to demonstrate to the world that Africa is not lacking in fresh ideas and innovativeness in this rapidly developing communication world-Africa's first pro blogger!The thought just amuses me and im left wondering...what just is stopping me, or my fellow comrades...i believe nothing.I hope that such exciting themes will feature in the upcoming Technology For Africa Conference set for October 3rd and 4th 2008 in Johannesburg South Africa.Among the Guest speakers to feature in the TechforAfrica conference will include:
  • Joe Stump-Lead developer and Architect for Digg(i remember sometime back i submited a blog post to DIGG and one of my friends therein was stunned that an African Actually DIGGS post....thats just so sad! Comrades please join up inDIGG only fellow Africans can vote on posts that they can identify with and realte with.Problogger John Chow had his big kill and recognition by virtue of DIGG)
  • Andy Budd: internationally reknowned user experience Designer and webstandards expert
  • Stafford Maissie :Google SA country Manager
  • Vinny Lingham of Synthasite website,a web2.0 startup site
  • Andrew Turner :Co-founder of mapufacture
  • Nii Simmonds :Founder of NAFRICOM and blogger of Nubian Cheetah Fame
  • Emeka Okafor:blogger of Africa Unchained
  • Soyapi Mumba:afacebook applications specialist
  • Josiah Mugambi (Kenyan) of stockskenya/skunkworks fame
So as you can see the gust list feature who and who...i believe perhaps among this should come Africa's first pro blogger!

By the way Guys you can read and join this blog at Facebook(my appeal to Kenyan bloggers is plaese put up a profile on Facebook and join blognetworks..dont miss out ) via this link : http://apps.new.facebook.com/blognetworks/blogpage.php?blogid=12668

24 July, 2008

Googles Latest Invention;KNOL

From blogger google has come up with a new online platform to share information called Knols, will these attract massive new users as blogs have always been?Thats left to be seen however i came to know of this new program through an interesting and exciting article on the official Google's blog entitled "Encouraging People To Contibute Knowledge "The article in part provides:

The web contains an enormous amount of information, and Google has helped to make that information more easily accessible by providing pretty good search facilities. But not everything is written nor is everything well organized to make it easily discoverable. There are millions of people who possess useful knowledge that they would love to share, and there are billions of people who can benefit from it. We believe that many do not share that knowledge today simply because it is not easy enough to do that. The challenge posed to us by Larry, Sergey and Eric was to find a way to help people share their knowledge. This is our main goal.

Earlier this week, we started inviting a selected group of people to try a new, free tool that we are calling "knol", which stands for a unit of knowledge. Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it. The tool is still in development and this is just the first phase of testing. For now, using it is by invitation only. But we wanted to share with everyone the basic premises and goals behind this project.

The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors. Books have authors' names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors -- but somehow the web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted. We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content. At the heart, a knol is just a web page; we use the word "knol" as the name of the project and as an instance of an article interchangeably. It is well-organized, nicely presented, and has a distinct look and feel, but it is still just a web page. Google will provide easy-to-use tools for writing, editing, and so on, and it will provide free hosting of the content. Writers only need to write; we'll do the rest.

Now that is some interesting news.But what will make knol different and more useful than blogger? The article above highlights that Google's intent is to highlight authors at the same time that Google seeks to encourage the development of strong ethical standards on online writing especially using the knol project(could this be some form of censorship of content!)
I have just viewed a couple of the knols and they range on interesting topics such as:
  • How to Backpack by Ryan Moulton
  • Solutions to toilet clogging
  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Entrepreneurship 101 etc
There are endless topics that one can write on like how to make the most efficient and classic makaa(swahili for charcoal etc) and claim that they are an expert on that field!The official Knol page has a tutorial to guide users on how to maintain objectivity and write a good Knol.The good Blogger: A Nairobian's Perspective ! - Create Postpart is that one can generate revenue with adsense on ones own knol!So here i am off to write Africa's first knol,question is on what am i an authority??? any suggestions dear readers???

23 July, 2008

Is Google Algorithm Relevant to African Content

This post is in the way of a question for good reason and i hope Google Africa will have an answer to it!I write around four blogs, but siku-moja is my main blog, the number of backlinks to this blog the last time i checked was around 170, im sure it has grown!This blog is featured and has been featured in various forum's relevant to the African Diaspora i.e:
  • Blog Africa
  • Global Voices online
  • Afrora
  • Kenyaunlimited
  • A post in Mashada
  • Kenyaimagine
  • World bank Blog etc...
the list is exhaustive yet its page ranking indicating its relevancy dropped from 4 to 3 and now two.I was left wondering, well i have enrolled to Google Webmaster and closely follow the webmaster guidelines including assigning the "rel="no follow"" attribute to outgoing links.I continue to avoid black listed Directories.I further disclose any posts that are sponsored by advertisers.I have 77 subscribers to my feed.The site is listed in various reputable human edited directories, one would think that with this background this site would we well ranked.The truth is that my dormant blogs have better page ranking than this blog!

Perhaps that just my case, so i decided to visit some of the authoritative A-list blog sites in Kenya to see how my fellow bloggers are ranked and this is what i found( i am of the opinion that the Google algorithm is not authoritative in Africa and rates sites in a manner that does not capture "the African Spirit" or experience online:
  1. Bankelele Page Rank 2
  2. Al Kags 5
  3. Afro Musing 5
  4. hapa Kenya 3
  5. Jikomboe 6
  6. Gathara's World 4
  7. Wanjiku Unlimited 0
  8. Kenyan Pundit 6
  9. Mentalacrobatics 5
  10. Kikuyu Moja's Realm 4
Some of this bloggers are the best in Kenya , have been around for quite some time, write quality posts and are leaders in their niche.I believe its absurd to rank them using the same algorithm that Google will use for blogs in America or the rest of the world.For one i admire Bankelele and his financial blog and believe he more than anything deserves a better page rank.What is relevant and authoritative in Africa may not be perceived the same way in the west.I understand that sometimes google uses human editors /website assesors or raters to be able to rank websites(sometime back i actually received an invitation by a company named Lionbridge UK to manually assess somewebsites and was required to pass a test before being enrolled,though Google denies outsourcing this task).

Its time we advocated for google to rank African websites according to their relevancy in Africa and how the same is perceived locally.I know that is quite a task but getting their current algorithm was indeed a task but they were succesful,i therefore believe such a move is within their means.As they continue to open more offices in Africa , i hope they will also continue to customize the African experience online!

19 July, 2008

The Paypal Campaign

Some time back i did a post on Paypal here at Siku-moja, by so doing i expressly stated that i was beginning a campaign to ensure that Africa is given an opportunity to utilize all the facets and services available at paypal because we are loosing out in our e-commerce due to being sidelined by Paypal !That campaign has been given favorable response and highlighted in various forums, i therefore will hereby provide a link to the various discussions and websites that this matter has caught attention:

  1. First link is at http://www.blogrunner.com/snapshot/t/news/international/countriesandterritories/kenya/
  2. David adjao highlights the Paypal plight at http://www.davidajao.com/blog/2007/09/29/why-paypal-features-in-africa-are-limited/
  3. PSD World Bank Group also chose to highlight my post at :http://psdblog.worldbank.org/psdblog/2008/07/paypal-not-in-1.html
  4. Squidoo highlighted the post at https://www.squidoo.com/paypalweb
  5. Global Voices Online also caught the que and highlighted the post at http://globalvoicesonline.org/2008/06/19/africa-is-paypal-effective-in-africa/

And how did paypal respond(this may be of interest to Erik of White African blog):

"I work for PayPal and wanted to let you know where we are in expanding our services more widely around the world. PayPal's intent is to expand our services globally wherever there is demand for our product -- whether that's Africa or anywhere around the world. Because PayPal has to comply with local regulations and integrate with the local financial infrastructure, these things take time. We are watching this market closely and will let you know when we roll out more advanced services. Thanks for your interest in PayPal.

Sara Gorman
PayPal Inc."

Yes, this was a campaign that was worth undertaking and i hope Paypal will hasten their initiative to tap into this emerging markets!the sooner the better.Once again this highlights the power of citizen media- the posts on this blog are not just for entertainment purpose but to improve the African experience online, and you will agree that together we are doing good !My blogging experience highlights the fact that one has to consistently keep up on what they believe in if they intend to achieve any good!I hope Africa will benefit from Paypal activities to the fullest extent in the near future!

(some good news just got the CNBC interview DVD , will upload it soon, though i hate how i looked-must have been the lighting!)

17 July, 2008

Entrecard Gets Serious About Comments !

There's nothing more satisfying and fulfilling for a blogger than to open his in box and find that his posts are appreciated as most often indicated in the traffic to the site and the number of comments thereupon.Imagine a program that enables you to get tons of traffic and comments at the same time!If you are serious about comments im sure you would readily join!Well, i take this opportunity to announce a new exciting alliance and opportunity between Entrecard and Sezwho that will make this possible for many bloggers! African and Kenyan bloggers take the cue and start real deal serious blogging by joining at entrecardsezwho register

The benefits of this partnership between entrecard and SezWho are innumerable for one:
  • By Installing Sez who on your blog!Registered Users who comment will earn points for commenting.
  • You will get more comments as entrecards who drop on your blog will be more motivated to comment on your blog.
  • You will earn credits for comments you have already left
  • by users rating your posts you will get a feel and a leaning on what topics to write more about
As you comment more and more you will get more subscribers ,more traffic and more comments !Ive found that there are only a few local bloggers out there who use entrecard.Most have begun doing so after visiting my blog!Trust me i only share information that i know will be useful and effective particularly for Kenyan and African bloggers.My encouragement is that they should take traffic generation seriously, write quality content and interlink for them to remain relevant in arapidly growing digital/online divide between the developed countries and the developing or underdeveloped countries.So join up today and its free, doesnt cost a shilling!The official announcement of the marriage of convenience is at Http://entrecard.com/blog/?p=368

14 July, 2008

Monday Blues-A Little Nairobian!

It is a crazy Monday! The cold is biting, how i would love to be back at home snuggling under my warm blanket but alas i have to be at work(i need to change work soon)!5 more days of the office-mid month blues,seasonal July cold here at the equator and its drizzling outside!

I definately need something to cheer me up and then my screen saver flashes open and the my blues wane away!I am left smiling at the picture of my "little Nairobian" Darrel!!! I giggle at the thought of how he disturbs me at home when im working at the computer !And how he loves to fiddle at the keyboard.Barely a year and a half and the little Nairobian is typing way.Vision2030 here they come!It is said a smile is infectious and so i share my sons smile to my loyal readers to keep them happy amidst Monday morning blues!

12 July, 2008

Cool Obama Tee-Shirts

Campaign season in the states is yet afar off but Barrack Obama tee-shirts are already out!I think the Obama t-shirts below look classy(and the models too) what do you think! now this is going to be a hot race(USA Presidency 2008) with the t-shirt campaign already out!!! what do you think????

The Best T shirt vote goes to Mac Caine $3#*#*#???

yes or no?

So whats your vote on the shirts???


(by the way picked the photos from a friends website at http://www.wizeguyztees.com )

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10 July, 2008

Mars Group Org-Kenya's Online Ombudsman!!!

In this post i would like to recognize and acknowledge perhaps the most influential blog in Kenya that is: Mwalimu Mati's Media Analysis and Research Group (Mars group Org) website for its gallant efforts to fight, expose and sensitize the online public against the biggest threat to Kenya's social coherence and development to wit: CORRUPTION!!!!

Very little is known or is available about the biography of Mwalimu Mati except for his efforts, bravery and frequent expose' on corruption especially during his hey days as the Executive Director of Transparency International before some concerted effort were made to oust him on allegations of graft.He has had brushes with the law, its enforcement officers and even engaged top ministers in the current and previous Government on their corrupt dealings.He exposes corruption for the vice that it really is, an enemy of society, frequently puts himself in harms way to ensure that the ordinary Mwananchi's rights, freedoms and possessions are safeguarded by the high and mighty!Mwalimu Mati and his comrades educate the lay public on issues of law that they hardly know its import such as " the irrevocable promissory notes",Quite selfless in his approach and his website is ingenious in addressing the issue of corruption by public authorities.He may not have been appointed by the executive or the legislature but his role as an online ombudsman far exceeds statutory bodies such as the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission, though the latter continues to rake in so much funding from the central Government with little to show for it!

True to its adage "watching out for you"Mars Group Org has been relentless in ensuring it watches out for Kenyan Civil Liberties and freedom.The website frequently publishes reports on corruption such as Ndungu Land Commission Report, Kroll Report, extracts from Wiki leaks,Githongo's Dossier on Anglo Leasing etc...The blog also has an interactive column where members of the public air their opinion, media clips are uploaded,a cartoon column gives corruption a human face, and of course subscribers get regurlar email updates.Mars group is right on -on its spotlight on corruption. While very little is known/atleast available online with regards to Mwalimu Mati one thing is certain ;he is a true defender of public interest Kudos to him!

09 July, 2008

Zenni Optical Stylish Frames!

For USA Audience
Its almost impossible to get stylish glasses for as little as Kenya Shillings 500,no doubt there are cheap and stylish frames around in Kenya being sold by optica and Baus Opticians but nothing will beat the price of zennioptical.com an online optical products store.Just going through their stylish online product catalogue leaves you craving for a change in your eye wear!I just wish they were shipping to Kenya i would get myself one of these titanium spectacles(however the opportunity lists that these service is available to Africa)!

For one i wear spectacles and im getting ideas from their huge selection of frames, with single vision lens, sunsensor (potochromic)lens, tinted suglasses lens, bifocal lens and progressive lens.
The Secret to Zenni’s Low Prices is that they sell only their own manufactured frames direct to the customer, with no middlemen and virtually no advertising budget. No wonder they have such an unbeatable price offer!Give the site a visit!!!

(sponsored post by payperpost)

08 July, 2008

New Bold Standard Newspaper-relaunched!

Traditional news media is morphing in response to changing technological advances.The East African Standard was yesterday relaunched in a fun filled ostentatious occasion at the Tamarind owned Carnivore Restaurant in Langata.The occasion which was graced by the Honorable Prime Minister-Raila Odinga among ,members of the diplomatic community,members of the business community among others culminated in a fireworks display and the presentation of an award to the Prime Minister for his galant and consistent efforts in championing press freedom!

The newly revamped paper is being guided by a new mantra "Fairness,Justice & Prosperity".Among the new features apart from the layout,design is that the online version of the newspaper features an interactive blog section where members of the public can have their say and contribute their opinion on the content.This is indeed a bold move in the right direction.We welcome them to the unhibited world of blogging!

Unlike Nation online, the Standard does not limit its readership with a paid up premium content.That is already advantage and for sure the Standard Newspaper will continue to be the premier source of news and information.The revamped edition including the Standard website will attract more readership base.Its time the daily Nation (Nation Media Group Kenya)took cue and allowed users access to its premium content at no cost, this will greatly impact its readership base and generate massive online advertisement sales!At the moment they are just limiting themselves .

I believe that this was not just a re branding exercise but a market optimization strategy by the Standard Group!These is quite some achievement and proper stewardship by the Standard Group Deputy Chairman/Strategy Adviser Mr Paul Melley and the Managing Director, Mr Paul Wanyagah. We wish them all the best!The challenge for the East Standard now is to remain objective and politically neutral-will that ever happen in Kenya???

03 July, 2008

African Court Of Justice and Human Rights!

It is said that the rights of humans- both individually and collectively as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) are universal, inalienable and immutable. However, there seems to be a new school of thought/concept of human rights developing especially among the international community in the west with regards to African affairs that African human rights can be abrogated under the guise of a now common cliché albeit lame excuse “African problems need an African Solution’”

For example if one unlawfully steals or forcefully takes away the rightful possession/life or even dignity of another in Africa the justiceable solution is not restitution but power sharing or division of the loot! At the same time its ironical that treaty organs set up by member states of the African Union such as the African Court of Peoples and Human Rights (ACPHR) and the proposed African Court of Justice (ACJ) are the most unknown, irrelevant, toothless, useless and hardly referred to international redress organs yet they are supposed to be the defenders of justice. I am sure that most of my readers don’t even know there is an African Court of Justice; this is especially so in the light of the different crisis that have hit the continent such as the Darfur-Somalia crisis, Congo/Sierra Leone wars, Zimbabwe Presidential poll impasse, Kenya post election violence, et cetera. The fore said treaty organs are no good than the paper they are enshrined in!

The world has quickly forgotten that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ and that all states have a collective duty to protect the universal fundamental rights ,freedoms and duties that make the possibility for justice to prevail world wide! The fact that injustice is a cancer is exemplified by the 2007 Kenyan election scenario which has now become the SI standard for African despots to follow –fraud has become a basic survival necessity for the power seekers and retainers. It is quite interesting to note how international protection of human rights has degenerated under the current watch of the UN Security Council in the recent past. The Nuremberg Tribunals pointed out that ‘international law imposes duties and liabilities upon individuals as well as states and that crimes against international law are committed by men and not by abstract entities, and that only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced. Now manifest breaches of international law, norms and opinion juris/jus cogens (loosely referring to state practice) are treated as “domestic affairs” and the UN turns a blind eye. What a fallacy- who is fooling who? Is international intervention justified only where oil, precious gems other natural emoluments and state economic interests are present? That has to stop-we all are humans created equal in all respects. Hitler and his generals are no worse than unmentionable African despots now reigning who use state machinery and security forces against their own citizens! Africa Union should be disbanded for its passive role, abject abandon and its aiding and abetting crimes by African states against their own citizenry. The AU has not lived to its mandate as set out in Set out in Article 3 and 4 of its constitutive Act/document

I write this post under the backdrop that a Kenyan Professor Githu Muigai has been appointed a Judgewhich peoples?)And Human Rights. of the African Court of People’s and Human Rights(ACPHR) which became effective on 30 July 2006.Congratulations are in order. He just goes to join another toothless bulldog but at least he will earn money and recognition for doing nothing and sitting tight! That is the African Court of “peoples”-(lends itself to the question


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