Monday, March 22, 2010

#PoBo #5

Apropos tech is good but we also need to bring back Story, personally, I tend to remember the people rather than the graphs. Recently, the number of Kenyans on Facebook has been thrown at me like two hundred times. But the figure never exists beyond a Stick It on my mind saying: so what? Who are these people? What are they doing on Facebook? Is anyone using them for social or political organising… what? Is it all cute cats; causes and high school reunions, really?

The numbers never stay with me the way stories- the technology user’s social experience- do. One day my cousin told me that his wife had scrawled the phone numbers of all his clandies on their bed. That to me was mobile telephony penetration. Ages later Safcom hit one million subscribers and I was like: So?

What numbers don’t tell me, stories do.

Yesterday, I was sitting at my local veve base catching up on my daily dose of boy talk.

“Weee,” Mwenda the miraa guy ulizaed Jamo wa taxi, “bwana ulichambua ile kitu ya Facebook?”
“Kwani?” Jamo chekaed. “Na imeshaanza kujileta kwangu ka hobby.”
“Facebook?” I asked, “yaani roundi hii Jamo unawakunywa na mtandao?”

My taxi guy picking up girls on Facebook? The internet has finally come to Kenya. Actually, as far as Facebook goes I am no longer interested in the numbers just how the street has gone Funga 2.0.

I mean, he drives a taxi and I am the guy with the blog.

1 comment:

John Powers said...

"It takes a whole village to raise a child."

At the peak of the frenzy about Bill Clinton's blow job, Hilary Clinton borrowed from Nigerian Igbo culture for a book title. And the book set off a bunch of debates about clan versus community that really hasn't settled out yet in the USA.

I thought of the proverb in re stories needing a village. Stories like songs are tricky, they can cross borders. One of the issues you've always had to contend with is how your stories are eaten up far from the community the stories rightly belong. That's not altogether a bad thing; especially not when there is a sufficient Kenyan community of commentators and story tellers to engage with the stories.

In the tech realm lots of the the bright lights are happy to tell their stories to whomever is a ready listener. This seems okay at first for the employees of such folk as it seemed a little like advertisement. But the employers have discovered that most folks are content to hear the stories without seeing any need to buy the products.

Anyhow Forrester, one of the companies that shrink wraps stories, has an engagement framework in pyramid shape: watching at the base, sharing, commenting, producing, and curating right at the top.

It seems to me that the problem isn't so much there are not enough stories being told, that is not enough producers, but that the curating aspect is deficient. I'm not sure that it's a matter of not enough curators, so much as we haven't invented ways to curate online production. A big part of that is finding ways to make what's online live offline.

I could easily be a poster boy for "white guys can't dance." Your blog turned me on to JaB. I like the music, but more than that I love how they are experimenting with the tip of the engagement pyramid. Makmende is genius.

One of the things I like best about Potash is you keep talking about book clubs. Probably it's just my advanced age, but I still think stuff on paper, if it's cheap enough, is an excellent way to share stories in the villages. But I don't think it's necessarily the storytellers who will get the stuff on paper, but rather the fans of stories who will.