Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Blogging Don'ts

Don't post 20 times in one day just because you missed a few days the previous week. Many blogging services let you plan posts to go live at set times in the future, so use this feature to spread them over a few days.

Don't post personal information like your address, mobile number or birth date. Identity thieves get everywhere.

Don't delete comments just because someone disagrees with you. Blogging is a two-way conversation, not a one-sided rant.

Don't copy and past other blog's post and pass them off as your own. Obviously.

Don't think you can earn lots of cash by clicking your own ads. Google is wise to this sort of thing. Really

Don't write punning or obscure titles for your posts if there's a more down-to-earth alternative that get major keywords in. It'll make help you get more traffic from search engines.

Don't get involved in pointless flame wars with other bloggers. You might think its sophisticated verbal jousting, but your readers will probably just think its boring.

Related posts

Blogging Do's

Tweets or Blogs - A Personal Perspective (1)

Offline Internet User in a Development Context

Tags: Blogging, Web2.0

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Blogging Do's

Do post regularly, preferably at least once a day. The Internet is full of discarded blogs where the writer lost the habit, so it’s essential to decide how often you want to post, and stick to it.

Do keep your posts interesting and to the point; and enjoyable to read; rather than making people plough through 3000-word essays. If you do have a longer post, consider splitting it up into three or more separate posts, and running them over a few days.

Do keep a close eye on comments being posted on your blog. Partly because they can be a great basis of feedback and help put together a community of regular readers, but also make sure nobody's being rude, or posting spam links to dodgy porn site.

Do use other blogs as source stuff, adding your own spin on things they've posted and providing a link back to the original stuff. These outbound links are an important part of building traffic to your own blog, since it makes other blogs more likely to link back to you.

Do have a look at advert on your blog like Google Adsense - it’s a way to make money from simple text advert on your blog. It takes 10 minutes to set up, and could eventually fund your creation.

Do add two or three "related posts" links to the end of every post, pointing people to previous stories on your blog. If they come in through a search engine, it might tempt them to explore.

Do get to grips with a good online RSS feed reader to keep track of your favourite other blogs. It'll make it much quicker and easer to find source material for your own posts.

Related posts

Blogging Don'ts

Tweets or Blogs - A Personal Perspective (1)

Offline Internet User in a Development Context

Tags: Blogging, Web2.0

Alan Cash Resigns From NPP

I had been following the resignation of Alan Cash with very insightful contributions from members of brainstorming-Ghana Google groups network. However, though I am not a politician or political scientist and taking from my background, I will be discussing the issues and not the personalities. This new development requires answers to serious question vis-a-vis its implications for Ghana politics and national development. NPP

Being first runner-up to NPP presidential candidate indicates Alan has a large following and has an influential position in the party. However, breaking away from the party is not good news for the party nor the country, though it may be good for him personally. There is a common saying that 'unity is strength. So for a political institution to be split is a sign of another deep routed divisions within our society and if not handled with care could have serious consequences come December 2008 elections.

Learning from the advanced multi-party democracies, a two-party election is near to a country in unity than divided. Sorting out differences requires great courage and understanding of each sides. This has been one of the major causes of conflicts within major thriving democracies in recent times (e.g. Kenya, Zimbabwe and guess who is next). Ghana is more than matured and experienced to go through such conflicts.

Some may ask:

Will Alan form his own political party or run independently?

Will he join the another party who he shares common ideas?

What are the implications for national development?

Unfortunately most people vote on issues of personality, ethnicity, language, and religion in this part of the worlAlan Cashd ( as discussed by Baba, Mic and Bossman in a earlier post - titled 'vice presidential candidates') . Mr. Alan returning to join the NPP would be good news for the country provided he is given an influential position within the party. But would he be given any position with this kind of split? Linking with another party would be welcome news for Ghanaians but will he be welcome at the other side? These issues have development implications for the country and what civil society organizations (CSOs), charities and NGOs should be doing to prevent post election violence.

So the questions are

What are the causes of post election violence?

How can post election violence be prevented?

What role can Charities, NGOs and CSOs do to fill this gap?

The debate continues.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Building a Website That Sells

Read this doc on Scribd: Building a website that sells

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

UNCTAD XII in Accra, Ghana.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) XII will be held at the Accra International Conference Centre, Accra, Ghana from 20th to 25th of April 2008 after a pre-conference from 17th to 19th April 2008.

The Theme for this year is 'Addressing the opportunities and challenges of globalisation for development'. It has come at the important moment when the goals of globalisation had not been achieved.

It is therefore imperative to take stock of the past and find the next step for development when the world leaders gather to deliberate on the future of the world.

There will also be a live blogging session of the opening and closing ceremonies by SIL Charity Solutions.

Monday, 14 April 2008

African Tweeters

The other day I had been blogging about Tweets or Blogs - A Personal Perspective (1) and how twitter had been doing as a social network tool. But here comes something else about how many Africans are on Twitter. This little piece shows how teenagers can be vulnerable to twitter vices especially in Africa where regulation is poor or non-existing.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Offline Internet User in a Development Context

Introduction

This post is being discussed in the context of ICT for development. In a blog post Web2.0 - potentials or obstacles for connectivity? ckreutz had been discussing Internet related connectivity problems. Checking the upload and download speed using dial-ups, he came up with this...

"I checked it through CNN.com and it took 4 minutes to load the website with a 20kb-normal-African-university-connection. I, myself, had an interesting experience when I was in South Africa last year. I was faced with volume packages for internet. Suddenly, a YouTube video was not a choice, and Skype calls were much shorter. I had to think it twice whether to go on overloaded fancy news sites or not".

Speed might not be the only problems facing poor countries. Working offline and later connecting to the Internet for updates can make a lot of difference in the development context. This post discusses how this can be done using an email client, a web browser, blogging and tweeting. This list is not conclusive. There might be other good ones out there. Using calendars offline/online would be discuss in a later post.

E-mailing

Emails can be easy to read when swapping between online and offline usage. Online emails are downloaded to computers and read later when the Internet is not available using an email client. There are various email clients, common among them are Microsoft Outlook and Windows Mail. A beginner would like to choose Windows Mail since it comes preloaded with Vista. To add a new email account click ‘accounts’ on the ‘tools’ menu and click ‘add’ to open the dialog box. Follow procedure in the linked video.Windows mail_

Apart from that, message rules can be set to incoming mails to be redirected to a created folded depending on your needs. So you get your mails how you want it and where you want it. This can provide enormous flexibility to the user who has to switch between staying online and offline.

Browsing

You can subscribe to feeds to automatically check for and download updates that you can view when offline. Feeds are alternatives to email. They provide you with an update to a website when something new is added. Internet Explorer 7 (IE) can discover and display feeds as you visit websites. IE finds available feeds, the Feeds buttonclip_image002, located on the Internet Explorer toolbar, will change from gray to orange and/or play a sound.

  • To subscribe to a feed, click the Subscribe to this Feed button ie7three, and then click Subscribe to this Feed. Type a name for the feed and select the folder to create the feed in. Click Subscribe.
  • To view feeds click the Feeds button (see below). If multiple feeds are available, you'll see a list of available feeds. Select the feed you want to view. When you click the feed, you'll see a page displaying a list of items (topics and articles) you can read. ie7two

There are other third party add-ons that can support offline experience with IE7. These include Google gear, PDF Creator and Microsoft XPS Document Writer. Web pages can be stored using these tools and used when offline. The PDF Creator and Microsoft XPS Document Writer would give you the same results except that the former is compatible with the widely used Adobe Reader

Blogging

writer_screenshot Blogging can also bring a wonderful experience to the offline user. Writing new and editing old blogs is possible with Windows Live Writer. Windows Live Writer can create and post entries on your blog and works with a variety of blog services as seen in this linked video. To configure Writer to connect to Windows Live Spaces, or a blog service you must already have an account with a Windows Live ID or created an accounts with blog service like Blogger. After the account is created you can then blog online and offline.

Tweeting

One useful tool for offline tweeting is the twhirl. Loic Le Meur blogged about 20 reasons why Seesmic acquired Twhirl highlighting some good uses of twhirl. In addition to that, the offline user is able to read tweets using twhirl. To use twhirl you must have a twitter account and/or Pownce and Jaiku. You can also use it on aggregators like friendfeed. This linked video shows how to setup twhirl after downloading.

Emails or RSS Feeds?

Sometimes people are caught in between receiving updates via email or RSS feeds. Emails work well if the communication is personal and intimate otherwise RSS feeds is the ideal. With RSS feeds you choose who to receive updates or information from and not the other way round with emails. It also complements anti-spam objectives giving you much control over your information needs. But not many websites has an RSS Feed so in that case the obvious choice is email.

Blogging or Tweeting?

Beth answers this question by asking

What does the person want to accomplish?
What types of conversations are they hoping to engage in?
What type of learning?
Who are the people they want to talk to?
What are the preferred communications channels of those people?

[She answers by deliberating on twitter first...]

The 140 character limit forces you to be succinct and zero in on the essence. That's a good skill. The downside is that it can lead to miscommunication or misunderstandings. And beyond quick information exchange -- if you want a deeper reflective conversation, twitter is not the place to have it. Summarizing Twitter responses - if you want a facilitated conversation - is not easy, although with tools like this - that may change.

[She went on giving examples...]

Twitter is great for just-in-time, quick answers. What's your best tip for x? What camera should I buy? Help, I'm stuck in Minneapolis airport, anyone to share a cab?

[What about blogging?..]

A blog is great for more reflective practice. And while some say it is difficult to track conversations on blogs, it is possible to have a cross blog conversation (it is messy, like conversation threads on Twitter.) Blogs are also an excellent place to aggregate conversations - on twitter that difficult, although the 08NTC Twitter account helps to do that more effectively.

[It is also possible with friendfeed. Twitter can also be aggregated using RSS feeds like xxxx/with others]

Twitter brings the flow to a conversation like the normal human chat but it is one-to-many that makes it look like everyone is shouting a message across [a one-to-one add-on interface would enhance it use or probably an integration with an IM]. Blogs on the other hand is like someone giving a speech and comments follow after that [this is ideal for one-to-many conversation]. One commonality with the two is there is a recorded history of it unlike the human interface.

Conclusion

For the offline user an email client can save connectivity problems as well as using the facility to sort mails to folders of choice. Browsing using RSS feeds have enormous benefits when offline and the user can decide who to receive information from. Windows Live Writer is an offline application for blogging so does Twhirl for tweeting. With these applications and tips users who do not always have Internet connectivity can be able to do their work with ease. There other very useful offline applications beyond my knowledge. If you have any other application that can help the offline user do not hesitate make it known.

Related post: Tweets or Blogs - A Personal Perspective (1)

Further reading:

Ray Sims' Does Twitter fill a communication void? discusses communication alternatives.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Globalisation Challenges

Last Saturday's Progressive Governance Summit presented a number of mixed reactions in the international community and this blog is not left alone.

[In a paper by Jean Pisani-Ferry summarising the highlights of the progressive governance agenda on globalisation in the 1990s]

“It highlighted opportunities offered by globalisation, and therefore the need to embrace it…two-handed strategy, it advocated a combination of bold domestic reforms and a strengthening of global governance to make the most of economic globalisation.”

That objective however, had not been achieved. But the blame...

“However the speed and magnitude of the transformation affecting the world economy are larger than initially envisaged, while domestic policy reforms and redistribution have often been insufficient to cope with this adjustment challenge.”

The paper admits...

“…the two-handed globalisation strategy has not been invalidated by events, but has not been fully implemented.”

looking at the years ahead..

"The return of scarcity and mounting concerns over economic security; the re-emergence of state capitalism and the rise of Sovereign Wealth Funds; and financial instability represent new challenges to address. The continuing development of an open, multilateral world economy is less able to be taken for granted today than it could a decade ago.”

[what of Social Stock Markets, Microfinance, Fair Trade and EPAs]

On the whole globalisation has failed the world when most individual companies make more profits that the GDP of more than five sub-saharan African countries combined. Globalisation only help the rich nations to become more richer. There might be others who disagree but the results are there for all to see.

The discussion of globalisation can not be done without touching on Development, Climate Change and international Institutions which are also sub-themes of the summit.

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Handkerchiefs for Development

On Sunday, a friend invited me to church and since I needed more human interaction than computers didn't hesitate to go. But one thing surprised me while at the service. There was a an offer handkerchiefs to church members for protection, security and hope. I have not been to church for a while so I asked. I was told it is a point of contact to the spiritual world. But why would someone want get contact from the spirit world when he/she is in the physical world?

People are turning to churches for hope and security....

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - A Call for Action

At the progressive governance summit last Saturday, Kevin Watkins, Director of UNESCO’s Education For All Global Monitoring Report put in a paper on three proposals on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for renewing the vision and reshaping the future. This is an addition to other institutions' ‘Call for Action’ on MDGs and high-level summit in September 2008. The paper argues that “many countries are currently off track for the MDGs.” And that “renewed commitment to the MDG ambition should go hand-in-hand with a renewal of the targets and goals themselves”.

The three proposals are

  • Putting social justice and equity at the heart of the MDG agenda.
  • Strengthening and renewing the goals – beyond primary education.
  • Looking to the future – climate change and development.

There are other commentators who called for more investment in training adults to become teachers in their own country. Adding that, “not only is this beneficial to their communities but it could also inspire other people to learn and when their time comes, to pass on the things that they have learnt.”

The issue of poverty and development is much more complex than some of us think. Against this background, is the activities of SIL Charity Solutions to complement what others are doing.

Development can not be discussed without Globalisation, Climate Change and International Institutions which are also sub-themes of the summit.

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Thursday, 3 April 2008

Tweets or Blogs - A Personal Perspective (1)

Introduction

I found the use of twitter and blogging interesting, challenging, informative and sometimes addictive. I had being using twitter in the last few weeks or so and equally started blogging not more than six months ago. Whether following Crossing the Chasm theory for adoption of new technology or not, the use of web2.0 tools started when I considered setting up a charity/NGO website. This was partly driven by Google tools. Before then I thought the use of these social networks were for teenagers having fun in their own world. Apart from that, technology was not advanced for the ease use of these tools without having to consult a specialist. Another reason for the wait was the all important question on start ups. Will it scale? This piece is in three parts. The first one is about twitter and how it had been doing as a social network tool. The second is about blogging, the different blogging platforms and it use as a social network. The final one compares twitter and blogging, entities that use them and how it is shaping the world.

Twitter

I joined twitter when I was forced to follow other bloggers after commenting on their blogging posts. Interestingly, the response was phenomenal and I was not alone. Beth was able to use twitter to collaborate responses to discussions on a conference and other users on twitter. This activity can come at price though, when things go wrong. Ray Sims highlights the learning experience from the twittering that has enabled him to offer that knowledge for money.

Linking twitter and blogging is another way to engage others in discussions. I had most of the time used twitter to announce my blog posts. Twitter can also be linked to cell phone so messages can be sent and received. One important thing about tweeting is check out whether your target audience is twittering or whether twitter users are potentially interesting for your work. Twitter has a network effect for mobilization, internal communications, and extra organizational activism for the non-profit sector said Christian Kreutz. Examples include the twitter Kenyan news service, Ghana elections, afritwit, kumasiproject. Twitter could also fill the gap where radio is used for mass communication in developing countries. Ethan Zuckerman' describes how people broadcast news of deaths and funeral announcements - using the radio like a telephone in Africa. This is also highlighted by Soyapi Mumba on twitter in Africa.

Language is not alien to twitter either. For example Google is now being used in 48 languages and twitter is not an exception. Kreutz have an extensive discussion on the multilingual social web as key to collaboration. Ray Sims also has an in-dept discussion on uses, likes; dislikes, tips and the nitty-gritty of twitter. There are tools within twitter that enhances its use. These include friendfeed twhirl, twurl, tweeternotes, tweeterboad, quotably etc. Surprisingly twitter is also measured. There are others who think it is measured by the number of people following you rather than who you are following whiles others think it is vice-versa. Stoweboyed had been trying to digest this measure.

Before the conclusions here is a two and half minute explanation.

Conclusion

There use of twitter in social networks has increased collaboration on different issues than ever before. However there are others who disagree on the collaborative effect. There is another issue of flow as stoweboyd describes how he is able to make his point across. Tweeting can be challenging as most of the top tweeters spend most of the time behind the computer screen. It can also sometimes be addictive and takes away human interaction. There are other who discuss its effect at the workplace. This is subject on my next blog on twittering. Despite this it is an effective communication tool if used purposefully.

Further reading:

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Release of Near Final Version on XBRL by IASCF

The oversight body of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC) Foundation XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language) team yesterday released the near final version of the IFRS Taxonomy 2008.

The development of XBRL, an XML- based language, is for the automation of business information requirements for

  • preparation,
  • sharing and analysis of financial reports,
  • statements and
  • audit schedules.

The effect of this language is a dictionary of tags that explains what each tagged element is and how it should be treated under IFRSs. Participants in the world capital markets such as:

  • banking supervision,
  • securities regulation,
  • filing and registration of companies financial statements,
  • statistical reporting and
  • tax filing

are expected to adopt and implement this XBRL.

The IFRS Taxonomy 2008 has undergone extensive external review by XBRL Quality Review Team (XQRT) and represent a complete review of past taxonomies. Interested parties can access this version via http://www.iasb.org/xbrl/taxo.asp. Comments are expected till 30 May 2008. The final version is expected at the end of June 2008

© Copyright International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation.