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Month: August 2007


A couple of weeks ago I ran a workshop for the leaders of The British Council’s East and West Africa teams. It was a really interesting morning looking at engagement with audiences in Africa via the web. There were too many of my preconceptions shattered during the research and our discussions to detail here, but in brief the web is forming an increasingly important component in the lives of (predominantly urban) young people across a number of countries.

I was impressed at the pragmatic, open-minded and cost-effective approach and this group exemplifies the work. WAPI (Words and Pictures) is a group for hip hop, graffiti and underground collaboration and expression:

WAPI events, piloted in Nairobi and recently extended to Dar Es Salaam, are a platform that makes it possible for visual and verbal artists in the underground to showcase their art (in words and/or pictures). We take the underground to mean the upcoming, the undiscovered, those who, by design or default, are not part of the mainstream. WAPI brings undiscovered talent to the fore for the discerning public through a regular (monthly) WAPI programme. WAPI also aspires to become a talent-spotting platform – the place where tomorrows best acts and today’s best-kept secrets are identified and enjoyed.

Rather than spending money creating a monolithic site and thereafter spending money on marketing, the BC have used free software (Facebook) to create a group. They moderate rather than control (which is of course appropriate to a self-defining community) and focus their efforts on supporting, celebrating and developing the ‘real world’ events. This is a refreshing approach.

One interesting point I learned was the prevalence of blogs within the WAPI participant community. It’s clear that once young people have access to the web and computers that there’s a rapid adoption of all relevant technologies – from mixing music, creating and publishing CDs, digital downloads and blogging.

One further benefit of FB is the access it provides to an international, supportive community of like-minded people.

It’s difficult to leave aside the pressing social and economic issues that the continent faces, but there’s a great deal of energy and hope here for a future for young people beyond the very real privations and less real preconceptions. I’m pleased to have come across this initiative – it’s certainly rounded my view of the web, communication and engagement.

Facebook – can’t rely on the news feed


One of the great things about Facebook (FB) is the ability to ‘keep tabs’ on friends and see what they’re up to. One assumes (assumed!) that this information was correct (it’s a computer, after all, dammit!) and that one’s own activities would be faithfully reproduced.

However, it looks as though FB’s having a moment of poetic licence by claiming that I’m heading off to a rave on Friday.

Flattered though I am to be portrayed as someone who can still remain awake after 10pm and a second pint of cocoa, it was clear to Jon Bovard that this was an error…

Thanks for sending through the evidence Jon – not quite sure what to make of it (other than taking my news feed with a pinch of proverbial salt from now on).

It’s the complex system taking on a life of its own…

UPDATE: 20070808 – Julian’s just mailed me to say:

Just read your note – i saw that news feed item, as it also told me my wife was attending same.

Similarly it told me you had written on my wife’s walll, and since i don’t think you’ve met her, i thought it was odd, until i discovered it was in fact a farcebook lie .. I think its Borked !

I’ve mailed Facebook’s “Help” pixies – let’s see what they say…

Oh – if your newsfeed say that I’m approaching your wives and children to go clubbing it’s not true. Necessarily…. 😉

UPDATE: 20070809

Facebook’s help pixie says:

We are aware of the problem that you described and hope to resolve it as
soon as possible. Sorry for any inconvenience. Let me know if you have
any further questions.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

Customer Support Representative

That’ll be an answer, then.

InCirculation – Monetisation Model article

I was pleased to be asked to write a column for InCirculation Magazine on the “monetisation model” that I’d developed with Craig Hanna of e-consultancy. We’d been engaged by one of the UK’s leading publishers to work with their senior teams to incorporate digital revenue streams into their daily activities. This model was the result – a workshop-based approach that takes a structured approach together with brainstorming, forming and evaluative techniques.

Here’s the pdf archive of the article.

If you’re interested in hearing more about the Model, or the workshop/training programme it supports, please either contact me or Craig Hanna (Training Director) at