Posts tagged ‘south africa’

Blogging for Poverty

15 October 2008 is Blog Action Day, an annual event in the blogosphere that’s aimed at getting bloggers around the world to discuss one topic of global concern. This year’s topic is poverty.

We invite bloggers to examine poverty from their own blog topics and perspectives, to look at it from the macro and micro, as a global condition and a local issue, and to bring their own ideas, views and opinions on the subject.” – The Blog Action Day Blog

Seeing as how 45-55% of South Africans live in poverty, here’s our chance to do some digital good and raise awareness and discussion around poverty through blog posts, podcasts and videos. 

To participate in this event, you can do one or all of these 3 things:
– Register to participate on the Blog Action Day site.  You’ll be given a bit of HTML code to add to your blog post so that it can be tracked on October 15.
– If you earn income from your blog through ads or product sales, you can also donate a day of your earnings to a poverty-related charity in your area or one supported by B.A.D.
– Promote the event by spreading the word or adding a promotional banner or video to your site.

Mass support

Since its inception in 2007, Blog Action Day has received huge support in the blogosphere and from organisations like the United Nations, Opera, and BlogTV Inc.  This year, there are currently 4770 sites participating in the event, with more than 9.5 million RSS readers.  

To follow the latest developments, you can check out the Blog Action Day Twitter feed, or Flickr, Facebook  and MySpace groups.


It would, ofcourse, be silly to believe that Blog Action Day is going to decrease or put an end to poverty.  What it will do though, is get us thinking and talking about an issue of global importance that doesn’t get enough attention in the blogosphere.  I think this event is also crucial in changing the narrow mindset that social change and awareness is only possible by “real” activists or organisations in “real life”.

We all – activists, bloggers, geeks, social media addicts – should play a part.

And just for a day, it will be interesting to see if we bloggers can resist our narcissism for a bit of altruism. If we can talk about real issues instead of the iPhone 3G or the parties we went to on the weekend. Just for a day. And then, maybe another, and another.


29 September, 2008 at 9:48 am Leave a comment

The underdogs of social networking

Despite bandwidth issues and warnings from their bosses (in my case, the Rhodes IT department), South Africans have gone gaga over social networking. Justin Hartman’s nifty stats show that there are over 730 000 of us on Facebook, making SA the country with the 10th highest number of Facebook users in the world.

What’s equally interesting is that many local social networks have emerged in the past year or two, some aimed at connecting the general SA online population, and others at forming interest-based communities.

Home grown

There’s Blueworld, where users can network, share pics and videos, and set up a blog. It also has a free SMS service, and a feature that’s similar to Blueworld “photographers” cover various clubbing scenes, and then upload the pics to the site. Vrinne is another social network aimed at connecting South Africans from around the world. It’s still a work in progress though, and offers only basic features at the moment.

MyGenius and BizJam are geared towards young entrepreneurs. It seems like a good way for freelancers and small businesses to market themselves.

GayPeers is another network aimed at connecting the South African LGBT community. It has the usual features: blogging, chats, polls, and video and photo sharing. Judging by the number of blog posts, this social network seems to be quite popular.

Then there’s Digspot and StudentVillage, geared towards connecting university students across campuses. One can catch up on the recent events across universities in the form of news bulletins. StudentVillage seems to be more interactive though, due to its live chat option and classifieds section.

My personal favourite is ZoopedUp, a social network for car lovers. Members can create their own “cyber garages”, share pics and videos, and chat about everything automotive on blogs or forums.

Local vs. Global

Despite the variety of local social networks available, South Africans don’t seem to be using them that much. I had a look at South Africa’s Alexa ratings this morning, and Facebook and MySpace featured in the top 20 of the most popular sites in the country. None of the local social networking sites above made the list.

A possible reason for this could be that users simply prefer the “global original” rather than the local equivalent. I’ve joined the BlueWorld and StudentVillage networks, but their novelty has already off for me because none of my friends are members. What’s great about Facebook though is that because its so popular, you’re most likely to find people you know on it, and you can then network with them in a single, convenient space.

While I think social networks like ZoopedUp and BizJam are useful and innovative, those aimed only at South Africans can’t compete with their global counterparts. Partly because of the latter’s colossal appeal, and partly because a South African – or Canadian or Spanish – social network restricts users’ scope of communication. We’re in the age of globalisation, not nationalism, after all.

14 April, 2008 at 3:41 pm 1 comment

Blog Debut

Having just completed an academic essay on social media, I could regurgitate the wonder of Web 2.0 and how it has turned users into producers; how social media use blurs the boundaries between media/audience and reception/production; how the new web allows for a reconstitution of… I’ve started to lose you already, right?

The purpose of this blog is to unpack social media for the average web user (that’s me included).  I’m an avid Facebook user and blog reader, but I haven’t given much thought to the medium, and if and how the incalculable hours I’ve spent online have changed anything about me.   

There’s so much that’s already been said about social media, but also quite a bit that hasn’t.  Through a blog series that begins next week, I’ll be looking at a range of social media forms – blogs, social networks, wikis and the rest – and reviewing some of them.  I’ll also consider social media’s general impact, its influence on users’ identity, its utility for businesses and traditional media, and its democratic potential.  All this, I promise, without causing you to keel over your keyboard from boredom.

As I’m proudly South African (except when the electricity cuts off), I’ll also be covering our flourishing social media scene and finding out what the “experts” have to say.

Now excuse me while I go change my Facebook status to, “Qudsiya is now a blogger!”

6 April, 2008 at 2:38 pm 4 comments

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