In short, #BlogCamp13 was a success and well-worth the agitation, excitement and fever!
What I’d failed, by design, to mention was that BloggingGhana would be giving out Ghana’s first Social Media Awards and that yours truly was part of a three-member judging panel for the awards. The awards had created such a buzz online, especially on twitter, in the weeks leading up to BlogCamp13 as some finalists canvassed for votes. On my part, I looked forward to meeting up with fellow teammates of GhanaDecides (GD). A compelling draw of BlogCamp is the opportunity to see and greet the people we interact with online!
The Long Recap
(Please note: @missbwalya asked me for a recap of #BlogCamp13 and I couldn’t refuse, pan-Africanist twitter sisterhood and all that! I’ve decided to give her as real a sense of the event as I can. Hence this recap is long. And in true African movie fashion, there’ll be two parts. Part 1 for BlogCamp proper and Part 2 for The Ghana Social Media Awards, You can also just skip to the Gallery of pictures at end of post, lol).
(I used tweets on #BlogCamp13 for information in spaces and convos that I wasn’t privy to. So my sources include anyone who tweeted on the hashtag. Thank you!)
I arrived at the Kofi Annan ICT Centre at 9:45am and fount it awash in blue. TigoGhana were major sponsors of BlogCamp13. Other sponsors including Google, Intel, Samsung has their banners up as well. The US Embassy had a table manned by @Kwabena, that’s where I camped and stored my various bags. Of course, Kwabena complained about abuse by Ghanaians. He felt like those African travelers at airports who are asked by other random Africans to carry on an additional suitcase or two!
We register, network, set up blogs in the Blog Clinic, drink juice and locate our friends in the first hours of the event. Then calls ring out to gather in the Main Auditorium, where I make sure to sit close to the back and surrounded by people who either know that I’m prone to misbehave or who are better at making snide and funny comments. I luck out majorly; the irreverent journalist Osabutey Anny (@OsabuAnny) sits to my left, @Mawuli Tsikata ( a GD team member) sits to my right, in front are; the most irreligious humanist Graham Knight (@grahamk5) and the calm blogger/lawyer/legal education activist Nana Yaw Aseidu (@AntiRhythm). I’m in good company as the morning session starts!
A welcome and presentation by Kajsa Hallberg Adu (@kajsaha) co-founder and executive of BloggingGhana. She talked about the growth of the organization and our soon-to-be launched website. Then she elaborated on why BlogCamp13 focused on content. She also touched on lack of internet penetration and cost of data as impediments to our work as bloggers and social media enthusiasts. Then she went around the room asking participants “When was the last time you uploaded original content?” Anticipation of exactly such a question is what’s had me frantically blogging in recent days! Indeed, a very engaging intro to the day’s event. Quotes from Kajsa culled from tweets:
It’s our responsibility to tell the world about about Ghana… Better we upload our own information that for CNN to write about us @D41XY
Content is democratic @attigs
It’s much easier to reweet something that to create original content. But original content is the future @bloggingGhana
Next, a message from TigoGhana , well, it was a speech actually. Company ‘proud to support this great initiative” and also outlined their many data products and services. We thank TigoGhana for their support! I couldn’t tell if folks bought as much Tigo goods this year as compared to Vodafone’s last year.
Then a talk on Plagiarism and Copyright by@AntiRhythm (operator of the weekly tweet-info-session #GhLawHour). He stresses the huge difference between creating content and copying content, takes us through plagiarism, copyright infringement, attribution, famous examples of plagiarism. As always, an insightful and highly educational presentation by @Anti-Rhythm. Tweets of quotes from presentation:
There are two ways to generate content, Create and Copy @Enock4seth
Plagiarism is a fancy word for stealing @MawuliTiskata
Give credit to the creator @MawuliTsikata
Question of the year: ‘Is Alingo Azonto’? @chiloslim
Then Ghana’s first Internet Freedom Fellow Mac-Jordan Degadjor (@Mac-JordaN) spoke on internet freedom. He first asked for a minute of silence in honor of the late Chinua Achebe. MJ regaled us with details of his participation and issues discussed at the IFF conference. He talked about internet freedom around the world and described the various uses of internet and content by global citizens. I think MJ demonstrated well how free the internet is in Ghana and inspired us to do more with it
This was followed by an open discussion on “How do we increase local content on a free world’? Issues such as how to create original content, what constitute content, content beyond writing, writing in English and in our languages, inequality of access to internet, fear of putting content online. social media in the classroom, content that impacts Ghana and effects change. Well, you get the picture; a most lively discussion.
Next I got up to talk about Ghana Decides (@GhanaDecides), BloggingGhana’s project on social media and the 2012 Elections. We began with a behind-the scenes video, curated by Sharifah Issaka (@WizSharifah), of the team and its work. This was followed by a Q&A session with the GD Team. We were applauded. Sweet, very sweet! (Note: will provide link to video as soon as it is uploaded)
Estelle Akofio-Sowah of GoogleGhana then talked about Google’s efforts in Africa and their work to promote online content. She touched on Ghana’s competitiveness as compared to Kenya and Nigeria. Our small population is a challenge and that’s why we should strive harder. I failed to mention, during the Ghana Decides presentation, that the GoogleGhana team had been so supportive of our work! Really, my bad. Ghana Decides and GoogleGhana collaborated on the Women+Politics Hangout, which were just awesome. And Google convened three roundtable discussions on Elections and Technology for organizations and institutions using tech to cover and support Ghana’s 2012 elections. Thank you Estelle and Nana Amoah!
That wrapped-up the morning session. With folks hungry, lunch, or Item 13, was served.
Observations after first part of day:
- The Main Auditorium was packed. People everywhere. Most importantly, young women and men eagerly observing, networking and talking everywhere.
- There were more women participants at this year’s event. Another win.
- Bloggers and newbies had travelled from other regions of Ghana – Navrongo, Keta and Cape Coast – to attend.
- Organizations that Ghana Decides had worked with attended BlogCamp13! Shoutouts to Mr. Kumah-Drah of Ghana Community Radio Network, the youth of Obrapa and POSDEV. Thank you for coming!
- @kajasha and @adjoaofoe set up the BloggingGhana’s table resplendent with an offering of bananas.
- A type of TwitterFall program showed #BlogCamp13 tweets on a screen and it provided a source of humor throughout the day.
- Our two MCs were good as one would expect. However, a bit more chemistry and bantering between the two was needed. *Mischief*
- Prolific blogger, Jemila Abdulai, who followed the day’s events via livestream (!) got into Twitter jail even before the conclusion of the morning session. Only @jabdulai can achieve such a feat!
- @OsabuAnny’s funny tweets were only bested by the usual Twitter antics of @MutomboDaPoet. As some point, DaPoet was tweet-hawking Ahomka ginger toffees!
- My six year old, Kobby, arrived at event at noon and proceeded to assert his presence and interfere whenever he could! There’s a lesson here somewhere, but what? 🙂
- Long queues for lunch so I organized a Kenkey and Jerk Pork run from Tasty Jerk.
- Note to self at this junction: Channel your inner @Kwabena and Storify tweets from #BlogCamp13.
After lunch and afternoon session: there were six break-out sessions divided, by time slots, into groups of three:
Blogging 101 led by Lanre Aina of GoogleNigeria and our own Nana Yaw Sarpong (@osarpong). I sat in on this one though it was a session mostly meant for newbies. The two guys talking about blogging, types of blogs, platforms, choosing topic and focus for blogs, microblogging, mixing up different types of content in one blog post, video blogging etc. Lanre also focused on power and reach of social media in advocacy (@omojuwa taking on Jeffrey Sachs, #MyOgaAtTheTop) and making money/advertising on blogs, citing successful example of Nigerian blogger Linda Ikeji. Kudos to Lanre; his presentation on the Evolution of Media was most fab, insightful and inspiring. Did I mention that he pushed video blogging a lot?
Tips and Tricks led by funnyman Dela Nyamuane (aka Efo Dela @Amegaxi) for those alrealdy blogging. Topics discussed includes; Comments and commenting systems, keywords, tags, measuring blog traffic, frequency and schedules for posting, niche vs general interest blogging, widgets, spam, focus on passion to survive blogging, good and engaging content is everything
Social Media for Organizations led by Kwabena Oppong Boateng (most apt as @sirboateng trained over 170 organizations during first year of Ghana Decides). Issues discussed include connecting organizations with young people online, using social media to make organization’s work visible, using social media to share knowledge.
Women and Social Media facilitated by me, @kinnareads. We discussed: Societal and self-imposed barriers for women bloggers, Ghanaian women self-policing and willfully silencing ourselves in order to be nice, general vs. niche blogging, the wide variety of issues and topics that women can blog about, breaking out of the kitchen, how to combat missing voices of Ghanaian women online, promotion of blogging and writing in secondary schools, finding inspiration and reasons to blog (@Kajasha said women blogging is akin to role modeling), not waiting for perfect moment/ perfect posts to dive into blogging, microblogging and women, anonymity as possible avenue to encourage women to blog, overcoming and ignoring criticisms, citizen journalism, etc. Dorothy Gordon reminded us of the book title :“Well-behaved women never make history’. Women, lots to think about and definitely tons to write about!
Blogging in 1,000 Words led by storytelling photographer Nana Kofi Acquah (@GhTog). First, any blogger anywhere in the world would be most privileged to sit through a presentation by Nana Kofi! On photo blogging, @GhTog touched on: serious photographers must have websites and/or blogs to showcase and promote their work, using mobile devices to take pictures especially since cameras can intimidate people, discipline, your best photos, taking time to choose and upload your best, making it all fun, how to setup and choose the best angles, tagging pictures brings traffic to blogs, respect of subjects in photos, photography as personal expression and much more!
Social Media Pays. Issues discussed included establishing your reputation as blogger before monetizing your blog, using online presence to make money offline, offering social media services for hire (eg to politicians etc)
Thoughts and tid-bits during afternoon session:
- @jabdulai came out of Twitter jail and proceeded quite admirably and effusively to run a concurrent Twitter session in support of most of the afternoon sessions. Seriously, check out her tweets on #BlogCamp13. Like wise, @USEmbassyGhana tweeted a lot of blogging tips and tricks for individuals and organizations.
- @gamelmag and @kajasha held their own twitter discussion on the merits, feasibility and costs of video blogging from Ghana
- Again, Storify anyone? Kinna? 😉
- Goodies from sponsoring organizations were handed out to those who participated in discussions. This was @paakoti’s job and I tell you, his selections were not informed by science!
- My son trolled @osarpong throughout the Blogging 101 session and video’ed (his version of videos anyway) a lot of responses from the audience. He run a concurrent sideshow with his antics throughout #BlogCamp13.
- The sessions were all engaging. All! And that’s not an exaggeration.
- One of the session rooms become unbearably warm and stuffy as the afternoon progressed. Problem with the AC there.
- We drank so much water and ran out of the precious stuff before the evening events. I think the cases of water were provided by Voltic, a sponsor of #BlogCamp13.
- The organizing team were all knackered. But if they were going through challenges, if there were any serious mishaps, we the participants didn’t hear a thing. And that’s good organization!
- I wasn’t privy to any such conversation, but I’m sure there were all manners of hooking up going on! Lots of smiling, lots of hugs, some shade and a world of happiness!
Pictures in the gallery provided by @bloggingghana and @kwabena. Gallery subject to updates at any time!
#BlogCamp13 folks: Please feel free to fill in any gaps I might have missed.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Ghana Social Media Awards! Ah, I also see a Part 3: Suggestions for #BlogCamp14