My BlogCamp Switzerland Talk

As announced on Twitter, I presented a talk on mobile technology in Malawi at today’s BlogCamp in Zurich to share what I’m learning from the African blogs and tweets that I follow on a regular basis.

I started my talk with a short intro on Chiperoni (I am a bridge blogger somewhere between Basel and Blantyre) and why I blog. How much I appreciated Alex Antener’s news stream published on a Polytechnic server during the last Malawi general election. Then pointing to White African’s blog post discussing Twitter’s decision to discontinue its SMS service to the rest of the world. I tried to point out the potential a “Twitter to SMS” service could have for Malawi, where most of the population does not have access to the internet or even a plain old fixed telephone line.

Soyapi Mumba's Blog: The Potential of Twitter in Africa

I described the current situation. And how this is changing with mobile technology. I pointed to Mike McKay’s blog post about a rural area in northern Malawi where villagers climb an ant hill to get a better signal.

In Switzerland we take a lot of things such as the excellent infrastructure we have for granted.

I shared some of my observations from my recent holiday in Blantyre, some data on the pricing models and how public wifi is being introduced in urban areas.

tnm || always with you

Zain Malawi - SMS text messages - Prices

I was a little shaky on the stats side of things, telecommunication regulations, as well as who owns the major cell phone service companies, TNM and Zain. I’ll need to do more research here. I might have got some of my facts mixed up.

I did refer to the new airtime tax that is being introduced.

Examples referred to:

This talk was inspired by White African’s and Soyapi Mumba’s tweet streams. Zikomo kwambiri. Keep on tweeting.

Flickr credits: White African, Hackerfriendly, all other photos are my own.

Big zikomo to Persillie and Mlle A. for reviewing my slides!

I enjoyed presenting very much (note to myself).

Oh and I forgot to mention my chat with a Limbe internet cafe manager during the talk…

Limbe Internet Cafe

At BlogCampSwitzerland

Listening to a talk on “Getting Blogs Done” and eating chocolate.

The talk’s about applying “Getting Things Done” concepts to blogging. Getting kind of boring. I guess, I’m not really into GTD.

I enjoyed Patrick Zoll’s talk on Corporate Podcasting.

Looking forward to Sarah’s talk on the blogs and politics.

Enjoying Krusenstern on writing better blog texts.

Some text snippets at:

Some Flickr snaps at:


corporate podcasting





Good food = good conference ? The catering service deserves a special mention.


I attended today’s BlogCamp in Zurich; a so-called unConference because it organizes itself like BarCamp. But heh, we’re in Switzerland so it was fairly well organized.

I saw a couple of familiar faces. Maybe I should get a t-shirt saying “Blog conference tourist”… And I invited some of the Basel bloggers to the upcoming Basel Flickr group meeting.

Here are some short notes on the talks I attended:

Jürg Stucker showed a knowledge platform they’re using internally at Namics; it’s sort of like a wiki and blog combined with email functionality, i.e. you can post and email an entry at the same time. One of the questions asked was what would happen if it was turned off: Jürg said probably the number of emails would increase and probably some of the fun entries would disappear cos it’s not the kind of information you send around by email. Another question was is there a tool like this available out-of-the-box.



Stephanie Booth talked about multilingual blogging, the pain of translating blog articles, and the technical difficulties of using 2 languages in the same blog. And even in multi-lingual Switzerland, our language skills vary, i.e. we might not feel comfortable commenting in our second or third language. There’s a need to bridge the gap. Her suggestion: Post a short summary to give your readers an idea if this topic is worth ploughing thru or not. Write in a simple and concise style, if you’re addressing a multilingual audience. On the Web, the language barrier is the real separator: Swiss French bloggers look towards France, while Swiss Germans focus more on Austrian or German sites.

benbit gave a live demo how easy it is to hack into a web portal, thanks to XSS and JavaScript. His advice for users: don’t use auto login. Many companies are careless in the way they handle customer data. Even if they are informed about the security hole, no action is taken to secure the site. He suggests getting a tool like RoboForm.


And in the final session, I attended Denis Nordmann’s talk on the future of podcasting. This was an honest overview of the current market situation in Switzerland, which is dominated by public TV and radio broadcasters. Business models based on advertising are difficult to implement, because in general advertisers are interested in regional markets, very few companies advertise globally. And secondly it seems that the big player in this market is somewhat hesitant to fix a “bug” in iTunes which would allow podcast platforms to find out more about their podcast audience, again valuable data for advertisers. Note to myself, check out the podcast platform at:



My feedback for the organizers:
I’d prefer one day instead of two, and I think a Saturday is great.

Disclaimer: this is my interpretation and view. If I get something completely wrong, please leave a comment 😉