Categories
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 Chiperoni.ch 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.

Categories
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:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egon_Schiele
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav_Klimt

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.

Categories
blogging

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.

Categories
blogger blogging

Get a blog!

Via this tweet, I stumbled across this article:

“A new study from Forrester Research has found a decline in the number of content creators across social networking sites, even while general use and participation on these sites has risen.”

High time to start blogging and creating content.

I personally feel that we are moving back into a media world where news is controlled by a handful. Simply ‘cos many of us (me included) have no time for citizen journalism.

Creating is more fun than echoing other folk’s content.

One of my fun projects is the boring flower snapshot set

Current projects:

  • Website project manager – Adding features and landing pages to a Drupal website
  • Testing a Powerpoint template for MS Office 2007 – I found out that PPT 2007 uses themes
  • Planning vacation – Going south I think. Tas and/or Malawi?
  • Learning about indoor photography – Asking Dive-angel how to take photos at an indoor event with my beloved DSLR

I am also planning to take a closer look at Open Atrium and Heart of Co.

Categories
blogging

More visits, more hits, more SEO tips

Food for thought:

(…) we should not be sacrificing our own personal ideals and our own internal moral compasses in a never-ending battle for position, for status, for scoops, or for access.

While 2010 is the year where many will find ways to monetize their online blogs, photos and apps (which is ok), don’t forget your personal voice.

Even if you have only 5 readers per day, you have influence.

There are enough echo chambers.

I spend a lot of time reading online. And there is a lot of repetition.

Don’t sell out to the latest SEO and social media marketing gimmicks. It’s a fact: google-bombing your way into Google’s top ten is getting more difficult by the day. Esp. for common terms. Even if you follow all the social media marketing advice out there. There is no silver bullet. Consider plain, old-fashioned offline marketing as well.

Remember why you started blogging and tweeting and have fun.

Stay independent.

I know why I am here. I enjoy writing. I like documenting my web world. The tools that I used. The feedback that I get.

Categories
blogger blogging tech wordpress

Chiperoni goes Mobile (kind of)

As part of my ongoing research regarding internet access via low bandwidth connections, I saw App+frica displaying a mobile version at http://appfrica.net/blog/.

I installed the same MobilePress plugin and activated it a few minutes ago. Based on the plugin description, it should detect if you’re accessing the website with a mobile device and display a version optimized for iPhone and Barackberrys and others.

A couple of Mobilepress URL hooks to remember:

  • ?mobile – display mobile version
  • ?nomobile – render the standard WordPress theme / normal blog.
  • ?killsession – kill any session data stored and render the correct version of a blog, based on browser / device type

In addition I just downloaded the latest WordPress app for my low and humble iPod Touch. According to @whiteafrican it is much improved compared to the last version.

Categories
blogger blogging General marketing tech

Intro to SEO and SEM

I am faced with the challenge to explain SEO and SEM in a 1 hour presentation. The audience consists of business folks.

Where to start explaining is the hard part.

Also there are so many myths in this area – garnered by SEO vendors selling their services as a “Wunderwaffe” for instant web traffic success.

As is typical at Chiperoni headquarters, here are a couple of ideas and a rough outline for my presentation.

Ideas and links

I liked this section of Derek Powazek’s recent criticism of all things SEO:

The One True Way

Which brings us, finally, to the One True Way to get a lot of traffic on the web. It’s pretty simple, and I’m going to give it to you here, for free:

Make something great. Tell people about it. Do it again.

That’s it. Make something you believe in. Make it beautiful, confident, and real. Sweat every detail. If it’s not getting traffic, maybe it wasn’t good enough. Try again.

Then tell people about it. Start with your friends. Send them a personal note ”“ not an automated blast from a spam cannon. Post it to your Twitter feed, email list, personal blog. (Don’t have those things? Start them.) Tell people who give a shit ”“ not strangers. Tell them why it matters to you. Find the places where your community congregates online and participate. Connect with them like a person, not a corporation. Engage. Be real.

Then do it again. And again. You’ll build a reputation for doing good work, meaning what you say, and building trust.

It’ll take time. A lot of time. But it works. And it’s the only thing that does.

‘Cos it explains why you can have all the SEO you want but without personal drive, it will take you nowhere. It’s the content that matters.

Within a larger organization, this personalized focused drive isn’t always possible and needs to be planned and managed carefully.

Derek’s approach misses some aspects. As pointed out by Danny Sullivan at “An Open Letter To Derek Powazek On The Value Of SEO”. Many aspects that long-term bloggers learnt between the lines while trying to google-bomb their way into the top 10 are unknown to website owners and need explaining. (May I take this opportunity to remind my blogging friends that I am still the top hit for “boring flower snapshot”? Yes, I may).

Rough outline
Here’s a first outline, which I’ll convert into PPT slides on Monday:

1. SEO – from directory lists to a secret search algorithm

2. White hat SEO vs. black hat SEO
Goodbye to link farms, Keyword stuffing, Cloaking, Redirects

3. Myths and legends

4. Technical Aspects of SEO

5. The Google Webmaster Guideline
Web developer must clearly have SEO thoughts in mind when building the site:

  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • Keywords
  • Clear navigation structure
  • Readable URLS

But this is only the basis…

6. Writing for the Web and SEO

How to get into the top 10 search items for a search phrase:

  • Technical aspects – is your website conform with Google Webmaster Guidelines?
  • Keyword research – identify 5 to 12 keywords that users will enter to find a service or product
  • Content – write copy that supports the buying process and incorporates your main keywords, see “Content drives action”. Write for people not search engines. Incorporate keywords intelligently. At the end of the day, it is people that will read and share your link.
  • Coherence – the whole site with its meta tags and content must fit together – in German we say the site “muss stimmig sein“.
  • Frequency – the Internet has become more dynamic than ever. The real-time web is here to stay. The companies and the technologies may/will change. But the concept will remain. It is like an ocean of data, seeping around us. Create a flow of articles, news items and events at regular intervals. To continue the analogy – offer a stream of data that grows into a river and forms a wide tributary when it reaches the ocean.
  • Outposts – Google decides how important a website is based on the number of back-links. Strive to get listed within your industry sectors leading websites and online directories. Publish articles at external news sites. Use online PR distribution services such as PRWeb. Build your online reputation. Links from non-relevant, off-topic sites will have no impact on your search engine ranking.
  • Patience – it takes time to build web reputation. No instant fix.
  • Old “traditional” media vs. new “online” media – don’t neglect one or the other. Use all distribution channels to make your marketing message known. But – an important but – read the TOS at Facebook, Twitter beforehand. Maybe your company cannot afford having its data locked in by some of the TOS we see these days. Just like with print, be aware that some new media may not be beneficial for your product or service.

What do you think?

Other aspects to consider?

Categories
blogger blogging flickr Photos tech

Return of the Blog

Gigaom recently published an article that highlights an important point. A point that has been resonating through my head since Lift 07:

In this incredible sea of data that surround us, what happens to my data when a service like Twitter or Flickr or FriendFeed is sold to another company.

Gigaom writes:

The cynical me believes that it’s foolish for any of us to expect that Web 2.0 companies be in the business of providing services for charity. They are, after all, for-profit entities and when opportunity arises, everyone looks out for themselves. That’s just the way of the world.

I really like Flickr, Twitter and I recently started using Friendfeed more actively. Mainly ‘cos I can search thru my Twitter content more easily.

But… what happens when these services are discontinued?

It is my data. I am the owner. As the owner I want:

  1. To be able to download a backup copy when I want to
  2. Close, shut down and delete all of my data whenever I want to
  3. Control who sees which data, where and when

These are my minimum requirements for online, interactive web applications. Sound easy and straightforward.

End of topic. Well, not quite.

Many web applications – and I’m kind of shying away from the omnipresent social media / social network term here – don’t offer an easy Export/Backup all of my data/Batch Download function.

Flickr Batch Download
Consider Flickr, by all measures one of the more established and mature tools. If you click Get Help this dropdown menu displays:

Flickr Help Topics

It doesn’t list an item how to download photos. titles, descriptions and comments or create a backup of photos and comments using a batch downloader or similar.

The tools page only lists applications to upload files.

Flickr Tools to upload and share

Apparently, the export feature is being discussed in the Help forums. I know that there are lots of threads, discussing download tools for Flickr, ‘cos I was worried about my data at Flickr. Yes, every dedicated photographer has a backup system in place for their photos.

There are some third party tools like Downloadr (I haven’t tested this yet).

Here’s an example how to create a backup of your Twiitter content using Dave Winer’s OPML tool:

How To: Backup And Search All Your Friends’ Tweets In Google Reader

But, my point is: the effort is on the users’ side. And I know many users forget or ignore this. Luckily, the RSS format offers a number of options.

One way street
Signing up and uploading is made as easy as possible. I have years of data at Flickr and I really like the application. So far the benefits outweigh the downsides by far. I like sharing my photos at Flickr. But since I signed up, Flickr was purchased by Yahoo and now Yahoo is partnering with Microsoft. Who knows what will happen in the next 1-3 years? A good web application should offer a batch export/download function.

My advice if you’re signing up for a web application:

  • Be aware of the fact that most web apps are one way streets. They are in the data business. They want your data to display on their website for business reasons.
  • Read the terms and conditions carefully.
  • Find out how you can export or download your data beforehand.
  • Find out how you can close and delete your account.
  • Be prepared to spend time and resources to learn the web application that you are using. Learn the advantages as well the disadvantages of the web application. It is important that you acquire web skills.
  • A good web application should offer a batch export/download function. If it isn’t available, ask for it. Remember: It’s your data.
  • Build your own blog. Get involved in building your own website. Your blog is your mothership. Consider services such as Twitter and Friendfeed as fast and zippy spaceship shuttles that bring visitors to your mothership. Rather than feeding Facebook and co., you will experience a learning curve that will benefit you in many other areas.
  • Develop your research skills. We need independent, ad-free blogs more than ever.

Remember the continuous bootstrap curve.

Gigaom writes:

But somewhere between my cynicism and people’s Utopian desires lies a happy place. It’s called the blog.

Your Opinion…
What are your thoughts on this? How are you backing up your Flickr and Twitter and Facebook and Friendfeed and Google data? Do you care what happens to your data? What precautions are you taking?

Categories
blogger blogging General Malawi-related tweet

Malawi Twitterers

As Malawi celebrates independence day tomorrow, here is a list of Malawi twitterers you might like to follow:

Vincent Kumwenda – currently at Muloza border, Mulanje; topics include Malawi news, world news, interesting Malawi web pages, and soccer. He also writes a blog.

Fred Bvalani – in Blantyre; tweets about mobile applications and phones, Oracle training in freezing cold Cape Town, Manchester United, movies, church, Escom power cuts, and Malawi news and websites. Check out his blog.

Dannie Grant Phiri – first started twittering during the recent Malawi elections; writes about Malawi and soccer in his blog at http://daniso.weebly.com/.

Soyapi Mumba – well-known Malawi blogger and twitterer, software developer, volunteer developer at Ushahidi, lives in Lilongwe. He writes about software development, interesting mobile and web applications, Malawi news. He is the programmer behind Owinna – a web app on Malawi football league fixtures and results, as well as the Premier league and other international championships. You can access this information through the website or SMS by texting FOLLOW owinna to +447624801423 or on Twitter.

Clement Nyirenda – blogs and twitters from Tokyo, where he is doing a PhD in computer science. He covers many IT and development topics related to Malawi. A good resource to learn about projects such as Seacom. He discusses entrepreneurial ventures and their effect on Malawi. Read his blog post on Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter stunt to raise awareness about malaria.

There are many more, which I might mention in a second blog post.

Categories
blogging marketing tech wordpress

Social Media News Room

Twitter / Home

Cyberwiter posted the above tweet on using social media to enhance your company’s online news room.

The article lists ways how to aggregate text, images, audio and video to make it useful for corporations and their target audience.

Ein gutgemachter Social Media Newsroom ist essentiell für die Online-PR: Er …

1. eröffnet einen schnellen Zugang zu den wichtigsten Unternehmensinhalten
2. lebt von aktuellen und vielfältigen Inhalten, die möglichst täglich erneuert werden
3. ist komplett per RSS abonnierbar und individualisierbar
4. basiert auf Pull-Elementen und nicht auf Push
5. spricht Journalisten wie andere Influencer gleichermaàŸen an
6. verweist nicht nur auf die eigenen, sondern auch auf fremde Quellen (Verlinkung)
7. öffnet seinen Pressespiegel für alle (Social Bookmarking erleichtert das)
8. ermöglicht den schnellen Kontakt für einen Dialog (Twitter, Facebook, Skype, etc.)
9. nutzt Real-Time-Elemente (Livestreaming auf Basis von Twitter oder Friendfeed)
10. erleichtert die Vernetzung mit den Ansprechpartnern im Unternehmen
11. bietet reichhaltiges lizenzfreies Video- und Bild-Material (gerne auch Pod- oder Vodcasts)
12. fordert alle Besucher zu Copy & Paste auf
13. regt Online-Diskussionen auf anderen Plattformen (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs etc.) an
14. Integriert eigene Corporate Blogs und Microblogs
15. bringt die News des Unternehmens zum Laufen

The article lists a number of corporate examples.

The web consultant hiding here at Chiperoni headquarters (errr… me!) believes this is one way corporations can profit from new media technologies.

  • Build a better online newsroom using these new distribution channels. Instead of sitting on the sidelines commenting on the quality of content. While I don’t know which services will survive the next couple of years, I do know that the real-time web is here to stay. Unless we run out off electricity to power all of the server farms.
  • Start small. Grow incrementally. Bring lots of endurance and patience. Remember that most people stop blogging after 3 months. A large percentage of Twitter is dormant.
  • Avoid PR speak. Press releases no longer target journalists alone. Publish useful content that supports the buying process. Read David Meerman Scott’s book.
  • Aggregate useful content. Become a subject matter expert on the web.
  • Offer a quality filter for your company’s specific area of expertise. Don’t try to copy private bloggers or twitterers. Be authentic and personable. But don’t swamp us with blog posts and tweets from your coffee break. And please do check for spelling mistakes. I expect a newsroom to have a higher quality.

And I’m not only talking. I have been using blogging technology and RSS feeds within a company context for over four years.

My experience… some traditional PR distribution services still don’t understand that it’s important to be included in Google News.

It is. Whether you like Google or not.

A newsroom is more than just collecting and archiving press releases…

To build a community around Twitter or Facebook or similar, you will need a concept and a company policy regarding behavior in your communities. And before you quote me wrongly. I am not saying your company should start a Twitter or Facebook channel. Think about your time resources and goals beforehand. Ultimately you will want to draw people to your site or sub-sites. And there may be a different way that is better suited for your corporate environment. And most importantly, read the TOS before you start posting your content on third party sites.

See my simple WordPress prototype here – a quick test install to demonstrate how WordPress can be used for a simple corporate newsroom.

I need to run and finish my MBA assignments for today…

Categories
blogger blogging tech tweet wordpress

Hiding in Full Public View

In January my stats dropped to an all time low. There are a number of reasons, I guess.

One reason is that I haven’t been writing much lately. Just an occasional link. Short cross-references to my Flickr stream. That’s it.

Another reason is my retro-style homepage, which points to my other life stream options (Twitter, Flickr, Google Reader, Delicious) and probably diverts (or puts off) a lot of people.

Maybe another reason is the second WordPress installation I’ve added to showcase an idea. Maybe the Google bot doesn’t like this kind of setup. I’m not sure. It’s not duplicate content.

Although I think I am still listed.

It is surprising because I have over 4 years of content here.

Fact is I could start a confessional style blog and publish details galore. And only five people would read it.

Because the amount of information floating around the Internet has exploded. Gone are the times where a blog post on a specialized topic would get hits.

Somehow I find this strangely comforting. I can hide in full public view. Hide on the Internet.

And the other message hidden in there is that building communities is hard work.

As enterprises try to follow their customers and consider integrating Facebook and Twitter into their marketing programs, I think it’s important to hold up some warning signs.

IMG_3782

There are no quick wins in this.

You’ll need Scoble-like marketing resources. Using a video-only communication strategy is not the answer. People are different. Some like screencasts. Some like text.

Scoble says:

Truth is that if you want to build an audience on the web you must use EVERY tool available.

You’ll need to walk the fine line in your choice of communication (no marketing glib, no sales talk, no PR gobbeldygook, a real personal voice, useful and good content at frequent intervals). I read somewhere that the first Flickr team greeted every new sign-up personally.

You’ll need to have a clear community policy.

And above all you need to be aware that you’re giving your data to a third party.

Twitter / Home

Everything you publish on the Internet is up for grabs. Everything.

I’m not saying that enterprises should not invest in social media. I’m saying enterprises should carefully consider the costs. Maybe that’s a possible business model for Twitter… corporations pay for the ability to export their data and contacts at all times. A service agreement for data?

What happens if Yahoo sells Flickr to a stock photo agency?

As I watch the demise of Technorati and Xing, I keep getting reminded of Adam Greenfield’s talk on “Everyware”.

As we used to say in Blantyre: Amakhala scared.

If you’re here and reading this. Thank you. I’m not here for the stats. I’m here to learn. So far the positive effects outweigh the negative bits by far. And I believe everybody needs to become aware of this ocean of data that surrounds us and become a social media expert of sorts.

Categories
africa blogger blogging flickr General Malawi-related Photos

How to Resize Photos

My family’s email account in Blantyre was blocked twice in the past week, due to well-meaning but over-sized Christmas and New Year email greetings. Attachments with over 2 MBs. The family is still on a phone line with a very slow connection rate. And downloading emails with a large attachment takes forever and a day. Luckily I can access their account via the web and move the large emails out of the way. But I thought I’d raise some awareness.

And point you to some resources describing how to resize photos.


Using MS Paint

How to resize your photograph by exact dimensions

  1. Right click on the image and select ‘Edit’. (This should bring up Windows Paint).
  2. On the menu bar at the top, select Image -> Attributes…
  3. If the image is a portrait layout, use a width of 640 and a height of 480. If it’s a landscape layout, use a width of 480 and a height of 640.
  4. Save the file. (You may want to ‘Save As’ to a different file so you don’t overwrite the original).

How to resize your photograph by percent

  1. Right click on the image and select ‘Edit’. (This should bring up Windows Paint).
  2. On the menu bar at the top, select Image -> Stretch/Skew…
  3. Change the percentages in the Stretch box for both Vertical and Horizontal. Make them both the same or else the picture will not be proportionate.
  4. Save the file (you may want to ‘Save As’ to a different file so you don’t overwrite the original).

Using Picasa

Resize by exporting

Exporting lets you resize your photos while controlling the JPEG compression (image quality) introduced by your applied photo edits. The result is newly resized copies of your photos, saved to any location on your hard drive. During the export process, you can adjust both the ‘Image Size Options’ and the ‘Image Quality’ settings in the ‘Export to Folder’ screen.

  • Under ‘Image Size Options,’ select the ‘Resize to’ option and adjust the size slider. The number of pixels you select with this slider determines the length or height of your photo (whichever is longer). The other dimension is determined automatically to maintain the aspect ratio of the photo.
  • Select the desired image quality for your photo using the ‘Image Quality’ drop-down menu:
    • Automatic: Preserves the original image quality
    • Normal: Balances quality and size
    • Maximum: Preserves fine detail for large file sizes
    • Minimum: Yields some quality loss for small file sizes
    • Custom: Enables you to select your own value

Resize by emailing

If you’re sending photos by email, you may want to resize then in order to get under the attachment size limitation. To change the size of the photos you email from Picasa, please follow these steps:

  1. Click the Tools menu.
  2. Select Options.
  3. Click the Email tab.
  4. Under ‘Output Options,’ use the slider to set your desired pixel size when emailing multiple photos. Use the radio buttons to set the desired pixel size for emailing single photos.
  5. Click OK.

Lazy workaround via Flickr

I sometimes use Flickr as a lazy workaround.

  1. Upload or email photo to the Flickr stream.
  2. Go to the photo page and select All Sizes.
  3. Select Small or Medium and click Download the Small (or Medium) Size.

File format:
Always use JPEG.

There are tonnes of other ways to resize photos with free software, such as IrfanView or The Gimp.

Within MS Word:
Don’t change the viewable size within Word (e.g. dragging the corners of the photo). Word will store the image in its original size. Resize the photo before inserting it into Word.

Adobe PDF:
Check the conversion settings.

Check the sizes of all files (Word, pdf, .jpeg) before sending them.

Be considerate and don’t send photos in their original size. Especially if you don’t know what type of connection the recipient is using.

It’s five minutes for you versus 30 minutes of expensive download time on a plain old telephone connection for them.

Categories
blogging General tech

RSS Feeds

Here are a couple of links in preparation for a meeting tomorrow where I get to explain how I use RSS feeds.

What is an RSS Feed?

There’s a video explaining RSS feeds in plain English:

How do I use RSS feeds?

  1. To follow niche topics: to keep up with news and topics that I am interested in. My advice: don’t subscribe to any high-volume news feeds like CNN or the BBC. Use it to stay up-to-date on topics that you are following regularly, e.g. I’ve subscribed to a number of websites that write about technology in Africa.
  2. As a single-source input base with endless distribution possibilities: I can distribute and cross-reference items  on other websites of mine using RSS. For example, I can display my latest Chiperoni.ch entry at another website and vice versa.  WordPress, the web technology I use at this site,  offers RSS feeds for comments, categories and tags. For example the RSS feed address for entries categorized as Malawi is: http://www.chiperoni.ch/wordpress/category/malawi/feed/
    This is a simple but great way to make a website more dynamic. See also my recent prototype.

Advantages versus a regular email newsletter:

  • I can easily unsubscribe a feed, if I want (less hassle than email newsletter).
  • I can decide in what intervals I would like to receive updates.
  • I can choose where I want to read a feed (in a desktop reader, in my email inbox or in web-based tool).
  • I can subscribe to an RSS feed via email.

Tools:

I currently use Google Reader, a web-based feed reader. I have used dedicated desktop feed readers, other web-based tools, and the feed reader of Mozilla Thunderbird and Apple Mail. My preferences change from time to time. A web-based reader has the advantage of being accessible where ever I have Internet access and a browser. Email clients are great for a corporate environment.

More on Google Reader:

I can share, email or tag an entry within my RSS reader:

Google Reader (1)

What else? Feel free to comment and describe your usage, while I catch some sleep.

Categories
blogging

Chiperoni weather in Bern

Just showing WordPress and how fast publishing has become!

Categories
blogging General

The Fabric of the ‘Net

Kevin Marks picks up the recent meme on blogging being dead/old-fashioned/out-dated. He says:

Blogging…

has become part of the fabric of the net

See these blog posts and articles:
Nick Carr: Who killed the blogosphere?
The Economist: Oh, grow up!

Some things don’t change, though. Old and dying media still feel the need to criticize blogs and the authors for not being critical or original enough. Or whatever. Articles like this show a lack of understanding. A recurring theme in old media vs. new media. I write about Google, iPhones, new MacBooks and the US election ‘cos these topics have become part of my life. I’m reflecting. Collecting. Writing. Sharing. Remembering. Learning. Trying out new technology instead of sitting on the sidelines and waiting until it gets mainstream. I’m not a news site. I don’t have a budget. I don’t earn any revenue.

Categories
blogging flickr General Photos

Blogging is so 2004

LOL at this Wired article!

Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.

I agree with the author. Blogging is so 2004. For the record: I installed WordPress on this server in September 2004. Time to pull the plug.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr instead.


(BTW I’m still the top entry at Google for Boring Flower Snapshot)

be bold, be strong!

😉

Categories
africa basel blogafrica blogger blogging marketing tech

Zemanta

I am learning a lot from the African blogs I am reading…

App+frica recently wrote about useful web applications for bloggers in developing countries.

In his list he mentions Zemanta:

Zemanta, which just scored a new round of funding from Union Square Ventures, is a huge time saving tool. It’s a browser-side plug-in that scans the context of your blog posts (even as you’re writing it) and offers up a ton of time saving shortcuts like related links, photos, wikipedia articles, blogposts and suggested tags. With the click of a few buttons it can help you format your post in a way that normally takes hours! For instance, if you’re writing an article about Google, Zemanta will find recent articles about Google from other blogs, photos, logos and more.

It works with all the major blog platforms including WordPress, Livetype, Blogger, Drupal and more. When I had an abundance of time (and internet) I would usually just do all those things myself but Zemanta speeds up that process significantly.

Zemanta analyzes your text and then searches the web to suggest related articles, photos, tags. For some texts, the results still need tweaking. But this is a cool tool and a sign of what’s coming.

Thanks App+frica for sharing. I hadn’t heard of it before. And I live in a so-called developed country.

Categories
blogging tech

Is the blog hype over?

Today I* was asked:

Is the blog hype over?

My answer:

Yes, the hype is over, but blogs are still around and will not disappear any time soon. In my humble opinion, blogs are becoming more and more mainstream (read “boring” for all of those geeks looking for the next big wave).

Reasons:

  • I no longer need to explain the term “blog” as often
  • The Web 2.0 party crowd has moved to Friendfeed and Twitter and similar services
  • (i’ll try and think of more reasons tomorrow…)

There’s a lot of people that read blogs, but don’t know it’s a blog from a technical point of view. For them it’s a dynamic website with frequent changes.

Some blogs are evolving into new media outlets, a lot are serving niche purpose like providing an easy and fast way to get the news out on a specific, dedicated topic.

There are people in “old school” PR and marketing that are starting to adopt blog software, as well as journalists that use blogs to enhance their online presence. A sign in itself.

There’s the SEO aspect and the regular stats mining that blog technology has made more accessible than in Web 1.0 times.

But, obviously a lot of people have noticed that creating a good blog is hard work. Blogging isn’t an easy way to get rich quick. At least not in Switzerland.

*As somebody that jumped onto the blog bandwagon early on, I guess I’ve evolved into an expert of sorts. I’m curious what blogs will eventually develop into.

I believe that individual blog sites or collaborative, mini social networks (formerly known as home pages) will remain attractive, cos I control and determine what happens on my own site (cf advertising, server downtime, centrally controlled maintenance, data ownership) instead of some corporation.

Categories
blogger blogging

Meeting Mlle A.

panama kaffee

Last Saturday I met the elusive and mysterious Mlle A. at a coffee place* in Hannover.

Once or twice during the conversation there was a cross-reference to something I or Mlle. A. had written or linked to. And for me that’s one of the powerful side-effects of blogging: there’s a regular reader’s familiarity built over time.

* We were assured by an architect that the shop design featured in various architecture magazines a few years ago.

Categories
blogging marketing

Blogs can kill brands

good quote:

In a pre-web world, marketing was synonymous with advertising; today, the customer is active and has true recourse.

via Swissmiss

Categories
blogger blogging

Publishing, the future thereof

1 + 1 = the book (for web and print)

simple really

Categories
blogging

If you have something to say

The case for blogging, beyond the hype:

If you have something to say, then a blog offers a cheap, easy global medium in which to express yourself. This is as true now as it was three years ago, regardless of what the groovy cats in Silicon Valley may be up to.

Whether you have the time and the talent for it, “i.e. the skill and the will”, is another matter altogether. Also, whether other people will want to read it, is something one has little control over. But in both cases, the same is true for all other media.

That’s a big if.

Categories
blogcampswitzerland blogger blogging

BlogCampSwitzerland on Saturday

I’m de-lurking on Saturday….

Hope to see you at the BlogCampSwitzerland

Categories
africa blogging Malawi-related tech

Ant hill phone booth

Remember I wrote about the villagers in northern Malawi that climb an ant hill to get GSM reception?

Looks like Soyapi saved the newspaper article and passed it on to Mike:

Ant hill phone booth

(Insert comment on power of blogging, impossible is nothing, etc.)

Categories
blogging

Draft status

Fun event:

Finish your %#&*@ blog posts. at Citizen Space (Thursday, October 18, 2007)

I’ve started deleting blog post drafts, that have been lingering in draft status for over a year…