BAKE’s response to post on bloggers

Yesterday, before I wrote this post I had a tel con with Kachwanya and he said “oh my gosh, I was supposed to send you something and I haven’t,” to which I responded, “I am actually writing the post this afternoon.” This conversation had started on twitter earlier last week.
I wasn’t surprised to receive the email below, as a response to the post. There is a rule in journalism that if you are given the chance to comment and you don’t, then you waive the chance to say it wasn’t fair.
I will not go into a shouting match or altercation over what is right or what is not, just that I am not saying that I have the moral high ground, indeed, given similar powers, I would probably do the same. You know, you my leadership position, get deals coming to the association and divert it to my many side hassles 🙂
All what I am saying is; expand the table for others who have the fork and knife. Let others new and old come, if you get the feet, liver, intestines or the colon, thats what you get, but at least they are sitting on the feeding table.
Who wouldn’t like to receive a free S4 from Samsung, to review and not give back?
Maybe its the communication of the opportunities coming in and what is what, I don’t know but I just want those who want to eat from the table to also have a chance. I am all for BAKE and I will always root for it, let there be more people getting chances 🙂
Read on………
“Dear Wanjiku

The BAKE Management Office at Nailab is always open to all bloggers. This notion that there some people more special in BAKE than the others does not hold. If that is the perception that we give, we will work on correcting it. We are always available in person, on phone, Facebook, Twitter, Google+  and via e-mail to respond to any queries.

As for the Transparency and how much money BAKE has made. We have only done three commercial ad campaigns, one with Kiwi, one with Samsung and one with Nokia. In Kiwi and Samsung cases BAKE paid the bloggers involved 90% while BAKE remained with 10%. The 10% in question ware 20K for Samsung and 12K for Kiwi.

The Nokia campaign is not yet settled and when its done, it will be closer to the other two scenarios. We have done a number of quotations to companies and most of them are still under considerations.

So is the public perception is that BAKE has made money and the so called Kitchen Cabinet has eaten it or what? Also I feel like saying people have to suck to us is malicious. To say the truth when a company asked for bloggers in certain category, we give the names of all those who agreed that their names can be given out and have identified themselves as falling on a given category. I hope you read the survey we sent out to all the members. By the way I checked and you did not fill.

As a founding member, I feel that you can help BAKE grow. We are willing to work with you on any project you feel we should undertake as BAKE.  Please get in touch as soon as you are ready.

Having said all that, you have and will continue to have the freedom to blog on whatever you want.

Thanks”

How you can benefit from bloggers body

Sometimes in 2010, bloggers in Kenya had several meetings to explore ways to for an association and in April 2011 I did this post on the formation of  BAKE (Bloggers Association of Kenya).

After two years, I thought it was nice to just follow-up on the progress it has made so far. Within two years, BAKE has entrenched itself within Kenya’s corporate and NGO sector, it is the de facto body that speaks for bloggers and can hook you up with a gig and if you are an organisation, they hook you up with the bloggers.

From an outsiders view, I think it has made meaningful impact in the lives of some bloggers that either were unknown in 2011 or were struggling. This is a great thing, I wake up every morning to pursue a better living and if I get an opportunity for making some money, I pursue it with all my strength.

Who are the officials? 

I dont remember ever being elections but for the last two years, official affairs have been ran by @Kachwanya @Martingicheru @uqweli and @mwirigi. Just to be clear, I talked to Kachwanya and he confirmed that there were no elections, guys just anointed themselves 🙂

How are the anointed accountable? I don’t know the answer but I am told the association will be fully registered in a few days or months and after that there will be elections.

How much money has BAKE made? Err…. wellll…you see…. (insert your own cock and bull story here)

Moving on…..

I am involved in several projects and whenever I have the opportunity, I talk to people about blogging and I also talk about joining BAKE. One of the common questions is; how does the new or old member of BAKE benefit from this membership?

I have asked around and I got a few answers.

1. Suck up to the core team a.k.a BAKE interim officials

I like calling this team the kitchen cabinet, they guard the secrets of how much money came in, which corporates are in need of blogger (s) services etc. I always thought that an association is open for members to ask questions. One time I saw a post of a company that needed a blogger, I just needed the name, just for curiosity and I was given some long reason of why I am not one of those that can get such info.

That was the day I knew there was a kitchen cabinet.

If you want to get phones to review, you know the type that you dont have to give back? Well, this is the team to be close to, they draw the names that is then forwarded to the corporate.

Just to be clear, I got one of those to review, and a nice meaty dinner at Fogo Gaucho. So you see, you can also benefit this way.

 

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2. Come up with a nice niche blog

If you are an expert in an area or you are wondering how to make your way in, just pick an area that is not crowded and build a following; money and opportunities will follow you 🙂

For instance, I write on more hard tech that is boring and has its following, you know the kind that understand terms like DNSSEC, ICANN, ISOC etc and I have a way of getting my opportunities. You can start one of those boring ones too.

How does this fit into BAKE? Just make use of the platform to promote your blog.\

 

That is what I have been able to think of so far…..

Media Training: Africa Youth With Disability Network

This week I had a fabulous week with a group of young people; training on media, whether new or old is never easy.  The media in every country is almost guilty of similar things; they don’t cover our issues, they entrench prejudice and stereotypes in most cases never have time to write and air positive stories.

That could apply in any country in Africa but the best part is that its not all grim, there is hope that media is working hard to change their image and outreach to the communities.

Africa Youth With Disability Network (AYWDN) is comprised of a great team of energetic men and women who are determined to bring about change and better lives for people living with disabilities in Africa. This is through impacting policy and most of all, giving hope to others who may be in worse situations.

I teamed up with Tidiane Kasse, a long time journalism trainer from Senegal; he was training journalists when I was still learning the ropes in technology journalism, so there was no better guy. I cross between old and new media but I love technology, so I train mainly on new media e.g interactive websites, optimization, social media, etc.

When you think new media training, you probably think I do all the sexy stuff like using infographics to make your website interactive or how to have a dancing or a fancy AVI on twitter. No, think basics on how to set up a Facebook page, why it is important, why you should be on twitter, looking for other people in your country on twitter and seeing why they have so many followers and why or what you should do to get followers.

"My ignorance made me think social media was tough"

Technology is tough…… I can not make it

This is a statement I have heard over and over again in my work with different groups. The first time I met AYWDN team was at Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos last year, i could tell it from their insistence to discuss more of mainstream media that new media was still a year away.

That time, we discussed traditional media issues but this year, all of them were on Facebook, they had set up a Facekook page for the network and it was easy to get them to increase the content and images, which would attract more users.

Twitter was a little tough, if you check @wanjiku timeline yesterday, it is full of tweets that were mainly meant to teach and demonstrate how social media was effective. It is sad that @Marthakarua , one of the Kenyans said to be active on twitter, did not get to respond to the Kenyans so that at least we could drive the point home. But I am hoping at some point she will get to her #askmarthathurs and answer some of the questions.

“My ignorance had made me believe that social media is tough and I can not make it, now I can do it and I feel good,” said Medi from Uganda.

Good people, I feel so good when I hear that after training. It makes all worth it. If I can “convert” or make one person who wasn’t  media do it, its worth it.

In this training, I had lots of people who used twitter for the first time, integrated it with Facebook, and you could see the smiles on their faces. At the beginning of the twitter training, Nicholette from Namibia tweeted me that she was confused…. but at the end of the day, she was tweeting and replying through @AYWDN_Namibia which goes on to show that it can be tough at the begining, but it all comes together.

Boaz, Gladys and Medi

So what?

People wonder what is the use of new media when you have more population still listening to radio and reading newspapers. That is the reason why training have tips on how to engage mainstream or old media and new media and you can take your choice.

New media gives you space to share your messages in unrestricted way and to reach new communities that are not reached by old media. If you combine the two, you can find a winning formula. Its your choice.

Lessons

I may be making it look like I was the one teaching but I learnt a lot of lessons too. This team reminded me to go back to basics; when you think life is tough or unfair to you, think about someone else who struggles to do the things you take for granted.

I had a chance to talk to Medi, a human rights lawyer working with the Human Rights Watch (HRW) in New York. He is doing great things and has reached heights that many of us probably never will- by design or default.

Think about growing up in rural Uganda, in a wheelchair, motivated by a mother who believes that you must get educated and achieve your potential no matter the circumstances, think about pushing a wheelchair through the muddy roads when it rains, but most of all, think about the village schoolmates in primary school who had to wake up two hours earlier so that they can help push you two miles to the primary school.

What would you do if in spite of all that, you performed great, were the best in all primary schools in your district and you are excited to go to secondary school. There are celebrations in your village that in spite of all challenges you have made it. Your mother feels vindicated that the child will achieve what she probably never did and you start planning for your life in that prestigious national school.

Imagine your first day in secondary school, with your parents, your metallic box with  blankets, sheets, you even get new shoes or you get to wear shoes for the first time. Well, the school head sees you and calls your team, you can tell it will not end well. The school says no to you, why? Because you are in a wheelchair.

Your first, second, third and fourth choice schools say no to you- and you have to take just any school that will admit you, and in the meantime you have lost almost a year of schooling.

And you think life is unfair?

But years later, you are hired in New York and the organization chooses to change their doors to be more accessible, their office arrangement changes, why? Because you are the first person living with disability that they hired.

I can go on and on about Medi’s life at Makerere law school but I will let him share that in a blog post 🙂

 

Kenya: Disappointment of local hosting

I have been a proponent of buying African domains- .ke, .tz .za etc this is well demonstrated by the number of posts on this blog, over the years. There is a lot of controversy but thats not the topic for today, local hosting is.

I think its important for us to host our content locally, for a number of reasons- in case of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), internet serices can continue, its faster to retrieve content if its hosted in Kenya and you are here too, when the fiber optic cables experience outage, your services continue, and you can get responses from your hosts faster because you are in the same time zone, even though this is not always the case.

These are few reasons compared to the problems; its expensive, you don’t always get responses faster, some companies lie that they host locally and the lack of hosting specialized companies which means that the people serving you are probably handling several other projects. Like an ISP whose core business is selling internet, they may not care if you are down or up.

There is also the issue of jurisdiction, when you need content to stay up or down, depending on laws of the country. This is highly contentious, depending on which side you are 🙂

Many people will also tell you that with affordable connectivity, it doesnt matter if you are hosted on Amazon cloud or local, especially if the price difference and other costs will be high.

So, when mm.co.ke a.k.a media madness decided they wanted to host locally, it made sense, coz most of their visitors are local. I have written about MM before and how they have a large following base.

That is why I smiled to myself when I read that they were going local because I wondered if the host clearly understood what would happen the first morning when the followers started on their daily readings. You guessed right, the site crashed the first day and I could imagine everyone running helter skelter trying to wonder who in the ISP/service provider was responsible for ensuring the site up and whether the money had been paid, etc…

The site has had its up and downs but MM serves to demonstrate that probably local companies are not ready for hosting huge traffic sites but am sure they will tell you the SLA is for 99% uptimes, with a straight face.

When techies meet, there are all these possibilities that are floated, of independent cloud centers where owners can come with their boxes and host, with all other services constant…. Kenya Power… no comment. Most of us host abroad in some basement or garage but all that matters is that the content is up all the time.

I am sure there are other instances of disappointment, its a bit of a disorganized post but you can also read this post on ISPs and interconnection.

So, should/can/do you host locally?

Want to interact with Kenyan bloggers? WordCampKE is here…

Often I get questions on how one can be a blogger, writer, make money from blogging etc… I usually respond to questions directly but most of them require one-on-one lengthy sessions, so they may not be as sufficient as  I would like an answer to be.

I am sure many wonder why people keep on blogging or why it is glorified and may never ask the question. Well, there is a perfect forum for that- Wordcamp Kenya.

Earlier this year, I saw a tweet from David Mugo that that he was at Wordcamp Cape Town and I knew it was a matter of time before Wordcamp came to Kenya. You can get more information about Wordcamp and the sessions coz I want to talk about the people who will be there and the benefits. The link will give you better info about the benefits of wordcamp because there is so much written about it and am just a jenny-come-late as far as blogging about wordcamp is concerned.

As you can deduce from the word, Wordcamp is all about WordPress blogging platform. I started my blog on Blogger but then migrated to wordpress for this blog. The sessions will entail the tech part and ways to generate content.

I am sure most of the conversations will be in the meeting hall but I can also imagine the important conversations and networking that will happen during tea and lunch time as well as in the evenings. You may get to learn as much outside the meeting hall as you will in it.

So, if I were you, I would look out for David Mugo, of course, Kaboro, Kachwanya, Njeri Wangari a.k.a KenyanPoet, and Wamathai, why? mainly because I have interacted with these folks and am therefore biased and probably because I see they will be presenting lots of stuff on the prog. And here are some other reasons why.

Njeri a.k.a @Kenyanpoet

Whenever I meet Njeri, the muchene never ceases but in between we get to speak about teaching new entrants about blogging, generating content in Gikuyu and how to improve Poets and writers Online (POWO). I studied Gikuyu in lower primary and I still find it hard to read and write but talking is easy. So, when you meet Njeri, ask about POWO, how you can be a poet, why be a blogger and how to benefit is the process, monetary or otherwise.

Kachwanya

If you want to learn more about the tech space in Kenya, in a more simplified way, look to Kachwanya. He gives a better analysis than this blog, that can tend to go all techy with terms like DNSSEC, IPv6, ccTLD, etc.. Dont worry, I have my audience that understands the terms but if you want stuff that is well explained and in detail, talk to this guy.

So, if you meet, ask him how you can be a writer and coder, coz he does both and if you run a business and require quick and affordable solution, he will sort you. Pretend he was a doctor and you were consulting for another person, you know the way you ask; “there is a friend who has been having pain in the privates while peeing, what do you think is the problem?” while that time you are the friend. You can ask, if a friend has this biz challenge and needs a software to make it easier, how much do you charge? If he is expensive then you say, “ohh well, I will pitch it and if its acceptable I will get back to you.” But if its within range, you get on with biz. Am sure am digressing but you get the drift.

Kaboro a.k.a PK

I do not get to meet PK as often as I would like but whenever I do, I always feel challenged. He is a guy who has gone out of his way to establish mentorship for young entrepreneurs under Skunkworks Kenya, you may have heard of the mailing list.

He is an expert on virtualization, integration, hardware, etc  but a conversation with him goes beyond. He will talk to you about how shallow tech journalists are, and he will go ahead and give you valid justification of how issues are mangled, mambled and jumbled all in the name of people being tech writers (dont look at me 🙂 am in it too). But you also get to argue on the other side, where CIOs, CTOs and CEOs in Kenya dont care about spending time to communicate but am sure you can find a post to that effect somewhere in this blog.

He also gets to discuss matters of coffee and economics and how to generate content even when you think there is nothing to write about.

Wamathai

If you have ever wondered where you can read interesting poems and short stories, then Wamathai.com is the place to be. I have also contributed one piece but my writing can not compare with some of the writers on that blog. People give thought and take time before writing, the language and flow is just sweet. Eloquence perfected!

I will not be surprised if some of the publishers who are not caged look into Wamathai and discover writing that can be published, or maybe it has already happened.

For an accountant, Wamathai will be a perfect example how you can find your space and write on what you love even if its not related to what you do.

If you meet, ask him how to make money from what you love. His blog audience has moved from just online to physical meetings and he is making money too 🙂

I am sure you think this post is too long and the common denominator is money. Others will blog about writing for passion and therapy but I like to ask, what is in it for you? What does it mean to your land lord?

So, now that you know my stand, have it in mind as you engage with the folks at wordcamp, it could be the change that you want or dont but better still, you get to interact with great people 🙂

Enjoy!

Of Kenyan bloggers uniting and why

The other day we had a meeting for Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) and very weighty issues were raised. If you do not know much about it you can read the introductory piece by Kachwanya, the comments section is very informative too. Kenyan poet has also made a nice summary on the Global Voices site.

To be honest, I can’t remember how I became a member but I remember the idea being discussed and somehow I was in… it doesn’t matter now….am in 🙂

Some of the issues raised are common during the formative stages of most associations or movements that involve many people. Here is my take on some of the issues, that I know will come up at one stage or another.

1. That BAKE is mainly composed of known bloggers and may end up being elitist

I am always fascinated when people say something is elitist, yet they have never attended or tried to make their ideas heard and they were declined. I think it depends on how you view yourself, whether you have the conviction and courage to speak your mind, and contribute, even though your contributions are minimal.

I am the kind that pushes her way around; no matter what, if I feel like the group has any value to me, I will stay, it doesn’t matter if my accent is not good enough or what am contributing is not valuable now, who says it will not be tomorrow?

I remember the days we revived the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), the women in that group were very good journalists and I was not even a good writer then. My only contribution was in dropping proposals from one donor agency to the other. I had much more free time than they had. I hang on there until I had my big break, which I got through AMWIK. The point is, I was the social climber,  my contributions were probably unnoticed, but I got what I wanted.

Sorry to digress but if you know what you want, the the body can not be elitist, because you will have a way to achieve your objective. For instance, if your goal is to interact with others and learn how to make money from blogging or become a better blogger in a certain field, then the group will have value to you.

If you still think its elitist, come join us, we have room for one more elite.

2. That there is no need to organize

My feeling is, we do things because we like. If you are not the kind that is comfortable in groups, please dont get into one. The idea of coming together is for those who think there is strength in unity and not everybody does.

There is no doubt that at one point we have benefitted because we participated in a particular event, then you met someone who ended up impacting your life in a certain way; you just never know.

3. That there will be control

I can imagine that when we hear about an Association, we start thinking registration fees, soon there is a committee that will be in charge of our money, they will eat it, wrangles will start and it will become like a party etc…

I am not sure whether this is the control that was being alluded to or is the control by authorities but either way, I don’t think control is good for anybody. There is the element of responsibility, which has been discussed in other forums; if you go around insulting and defaming people and you are known, its only a matter of time before the jurisprudence catches up with online antics.

The upshot of it is; if you defame people and the government unmasks your username or traces your Internet Protocol address and arrests you, it will not be because you are a BAKE registered member, it will be because you did something wrong and they are lifting the veil (that you may be hiding in).

4. That bloggers will lose their independence

Now, I will disagree with anyone who tries to tell me what to do or how to do it. Your blog is your free space, say what you want, as long as your conscience allows.

The funny thing is, at a past BAKE meeting, we were discussing how some people had gotten warnings from companies that wanted to gag them. Its a way of sharing ideas and knowing that you are not alone. There are various ways you can lose your independence but I don’t think BAKE will be one of the ways, it has to be your choice.

5. Who gets to join?

Anyone. Whether you have been blogging for years or started yesterday, you are welcome to join.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that all bloggers must join or that they must buy into the idea, of course there will be those who are better at destroying than building, they will say all manner and sort of stuff but I don’t think it matters.

All what matters is whether you think BAKE will add any value to your work, if yes, join, if not, don’t join. But remember, value can be one way but in most cases is reciprocal.

I am sure you have heard stories of how online engagement has helped people break barriers and sail in unchartered waters, the online space in Kenya is barely scratched, you never know!

Bottom line is that most of us came to this city to make money, at times you may never know where that money comes from and the opportunities that may spring from nothing.

This may be one of them, so, seize the moment, and if you dont know how to do business, thats your problem!