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book highlight: Digital Kenya

Now is the time of year when we are wading through the flotsam of the passing semester (grading, entering grades, firefighting “emergency” cases, etc.) and preparing for the next semester (more of the same?).

Nonetheless, a new semester always brings the prospect of joining the cutting edge…

Inside Africas Hubs-17.jpg

For those of you looking to update syllabi or reading lists on technology and  organizations, have a look at Bitange Ndemo and Tim Weiss‘s co-editted new book Digital Kenya: An Entrepreneurial Revolution in the Making  (2016, Palgrave), which with the support of the Ford Foundation is (bonus alert!) also available as an open access PDF.

DigitalKenya_front_digital.png

The book’s press release (digitalkenyapressrelease_december2016-final) promises insiders’ perspectives of what it takes to launch and sustain organizations in a growing tech sector.  Its conversations with social entrepreneurs and founders of leading organizations rounds out research that is usually conducted of high-tech firms  in North America.  For example, in conversation #3, Anne Githuku-Shongwe explains how she founded Afroes to counter negative Western stereotypes with positive images of heroes and heroines for her children.  In conversation #6, Su Kahumbu Stephanou, creator of the mobile App iCow, recounts her journey, along with various setbacks, towards sustainable, organic farming.

Inside Africas Hubs-16.jpg

For the open access publication, visit www.tinyurl.com/DigitalKenya-free.

To order the book in print, visit www.tinyurl.com/DigitalKenya.

 

Written by katherinechen

December 20, 2016 at 6:37 pm

don’t be fooled: trump gave a remarkably effective speech 

I woke up this morning and started reading the post-mortems on Trump’s speech.  Andrew Sullivan pronounced it boring and lacking substance. Michael Barbero in the New York Times called it a missed opportunity.  People are getting comfortable that Hillary’s point-spread will hold and we will ride Trump out.

Those people are wrong. First, I’ll say this up front and as clearly as I can: I do not support Trump for President of the United States. His temperament, his instincts, his tactics and his values are antithetical to mine and I cannot support him. But having said that, I will also say that he gave a remarkably effective speech. And I think it will get him elected. Let me be specific: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by seansafford

July 22, 2016 at 4:58 pm

reddit on fire

The recent news in Silicon Valley is that Reddit CEO Ellen Pao was fired. The infraction was that Pao fired a manager who was very popular among Reddit moderators, who do most of the work running and editing the website. Chuq Von Rospach, a programmer, has a very skeptical take on Reddit. Von Rospach thinks it’s doomed no matter who runs it. From Rospach’s blog:

My favorite visualization of online communities is the community bar. I’ve used, managed and built online communities going back into the 1980s, many of them sports related, so it’s natural to look at those communities as sports bars. The thing I’ve always told people interested in community management is this: if you’re running a sports bar, and you have a gang of bikers move in, you have two choices. You can either eject the bikers, or you’re running a biker bar. I never set out intending to put my time and energy into a biker bar, so I always worked to prevent the rowdy elements from taking over my communities, because I knew that would cause the people I wanted to be around to leave and find some other place to be.

To carry this visualization to Reddit, what you have is a really large, multi-floor building with a large ground-floor common space and a huge bar area filled with a wide variety of people. Much of the rest of the building are community rooms that people can use for their organizations and meetups to get together and interact. it’s a huge — and very successful — community space.

Reddit, however, has a basement, and in all honesty, the owners of this building would prefer nobody look down there, because again, it’s a big space full of community rooms as well, but down there are the groups Reddit feel are part of the community but would prefer most of us would stay avoid. In some ways Reddit should be lauded for being inclusive of all community groups, even the uncomfortable ones, but down in that basement is a big part of the ultimate death of Reddit.

And:

Don’t try to fix it. It’s broken. It can’t be fixed. Instead, it’s time to decide what the service you want is, and build that service out of the ashes of the failure of this Reddit. A great starting point is the AMA and the most popular reddits. Figure out the revenue model and make sure it’s baked in to this new model. Anything that isn’t part of this new model that exists on the old site will end up being shut down. you can expect that won’t go well when you announce it.

Identify your top 25 community mods and your 50 most popular/largest/busiest subreddits with topics you plan on supporting in the new Reddit. Hire them and make them your core community team, with a charter of working with and training talking to and listening to all of your other mods. This is the crew you need to build a strong communication and camaraderie with you unpaid mod teams.

The 2nd tier mods who run large and successful groups but aren’t part of this team (say, the 100 most important or influential) are all put on some kind of contract that pays them something for their time and the success of their reddits. It may not be huge, but it’ll help give them incentive to align with company interests and make agreements with them more easily binding legally.

All mods will have to agree with the new site T/C and the rules of engagement and behavior for groups and mods. Make it very clear any that won’t will have their groups taken over and run by Reddit until a new moderator is found and takes over. The old mod should no longer have the ability to delete or lock the community, at least through this transition. If they want to run off to 8chan let them, and if their users follow, let them. But you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised how many will stick around in the mainstream groups, even if the lead mod gets huffy and bolts.

Bottom line: Reddit has a lot of toxic built in elements that might prevent it from successfully monetizing. Changing that is possible, but a lose/lose situation for the CEO who tries it.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

July 13, 2015 at 2:09 am