blogging Malawi-related

Nom de web: Nchenga

Today I talked to @sufranke about an event I am planning at the day job.

Before long I was explaining how I was fascinated by the power of blogs and Twitter and the possibility they offer to bypass the gatekeepers who decide which media content you are supposed to consume. In my case, blogs and Twitter help me circumvent traditional Western euro-centric media with their pre-set opinions on Africa to learn about news in Blantyre.

The story of Nchenga at is hidden in this blog:

My initial idea when I set out was to help cross the digital divide and point to content about my home country, Malawi.

Example of the power of blogging: During the last General Elections in Malawi, Alex at the Polytechnic helped to keep us informed by posting regular information and allowing Malawians to comment. In general, blogging has increased the amount of direct infos available on Malawi in the Internet.

Why use the nom de web Nchenga and why is my blog called Chiperoni?

No real reason except that I set up this blog shortly after a visit to Blantyre:

Chiperoni is a kind of drizzle rain in the Shire Highlands. Nchenga or mchenga means “sand” in Chichewa. Shortly before I set up my new blog, I heard a TV talk show in Blantyre, where people were complaining about bad TV reception. One lady called the show to say “All I can see is nchenga nchenga”. i.e. it means something like “blurry image””¦

Somehow I felt “blurry image” describes my blogging adventure and cos it also means “sand” I was happy.

I am enthused by the sound of words.

Chiperoni describes the weather here in Europe. And it sounds like home.

Did you know? I am one of the admins of the largest Malawi photography group ever. And I maintain a list of Malawians on Twitter.

architecture basel blogging culture tech wordpress

A Sunday evening in mid-November

Instead of watching Tatort, I went for a short jog combined with lots of walking. I am still not back in my jogging routine. Yet.

But I am enjoying being outside. It was so beautifully warm today.

And. It is a good way to reflect.

Time for mind blogging.

I like being outdoors.

I really like living in Switzerland. I think it is great that people take such meticulous care of their houses and gardens.

This afternoon I went to see “Wien 1900 ”“ Klimt, Schiele und ihre Zeit” at the Beyeler Museum. I liked the architecture and poster designs. And Klimt’s landscapes.

I didn’t like the additional shopping area they added for Wien 1900 merchandise. One shop is enough.

A couple of Wikipedia links:

You’ve probably heard of poetry slams. But there are also science slams: 10 mins to present your research project. There is one in Freiburg im Br. on 29th November and 17th January. I would love to go and see one.

The incredibly influential a. of Handmade 2.0 invited me to a new web app called Pinterest. We have been blogging since January 2003. And it has been an incredible journey…. Thank you a. for the billions of emails, links and ideas. I am truly amazed at the amount of data we have collected.

I am still trying to figure out how to use Facebook as can be seen occasionally in my tweets. I worry that a platform like Facebook could replace the web. That would be the end of HTML pages, simplicity, transparency and diversity.

That’s why it’s important to support and use other platforms and tools. Try out WordPress and Drupal. Learn HTML. Write your own articles. Voice your opinion. Become involved. Think before you click re-tweet, like or comment.

It is my belief that after the fragmentation of the media scene and citizen journalism and the removal of the gatekeepers, we will see consolidation and the rise of new media giants with new gatekeepers.


Trying out Open Atrium

I started playing around with Open Atrium, a Drupal-based tool for open and closed groups.

open atrium

The install was smooth and easy.

Setting up a closed group is easy as well.

I would like to remove the introductory video on the dashboard but couldn’t find out where.




I like this quote:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Attributed to Theodore Roosevelt but sounds like it could have originated in my childhood somewhere.


Flickr keyboard shortcuts

I spend a lot of time on Flickr but only now I am discovering the power of the Flickr keyboard shortcuts:

keyboard shortcuts:
← previous photo
→ next photo
L view in light box
F favorite
< scroll film strip left > scroll film strip right

The main commands are listed below the comment area on each photo.

And a Google search reveals more shortcuts:

c = goes straight to comment box
g = add to group dialog pops up
p = add a person to the photo
s = add to set dialog pops up
t = goes to “add a tag”

bracket keys = changes filmstrip focus

comma key = jumps left in filmstrip
period key = jumps right in filmstrip


Chiperoni via RSS reader and email

I was surprised to see that I have over 60 subscribers on Feedburner. Maybe RSS feeds are not yet dead after all.

Feedburner stats:

The Chiperoni feed is here.

If you would like to receive Chiperoni website updates via email, subscribe here:

Enter your email address:

Related quote via Dave Winer, the inventor of RSS feeds:

Anyway, RSS is doing fine. It forms the pipes through which news flows. Nowadays there are some new-fangled faucets called Twitter and Facebook. But behind the scenes, connecting it all together is RSS. Formats that are as deeply entrenched as RSS is stay deeply entrenched. It’s how technology works. It’s why we still use QWERTY typewriters and why pages are still 8.5 inches wide and 11 inches tall.


Where are you from?

Many years ago in Hannover, I was standing next to my Persian friend and overheard the following conversation:

Where are you from?
Persian friend responds: Hannover
No, I mean where are you from originally?

The nerve. My friend insisted that she was from Hannover. But the other person effectively conveyed the message: you are not from here.

Similarly the integration debate in Germany and the SVP sheep poster campaign (yes, it’s back) here in Switzerland are leaving their mark, in a negative way.

Alienating all the law-abiding, hard-working immigrants. For political gain.

The more you talk about the need to integrate, the more you emphasize that another person isn’t integrated. And instead of improving integration, it may cause more divide as people are made aware of differences.

Even if you just move from one neighboring country to another, there are loads of unwritten rules and ways to behave and differing politeness levels, that all the natives adhere to and you don’t know anything about.

The readiness to adapt is higher at the beginning.

But how will I learn if there is no contact? No way to interact? If fear increases on both sides? If i experience rejection?

It helps if

  • i know what i believe in and where i come from.
  • i am open to get to know others from different backgrounds and cultures.

Life lessons

Today I stumbled across this Flickr snapshot, while searching for something else:

jack's life lessons

I need a haircut.