" ITREALMS: Blogging as a trend in Nigeria

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blogging as a trend in Nigeria

Features of the week:

With the debut of the NigerianBloggers.com recently, Nigerians are catching the bloggers’ fever, reports REMMY NWEKE.

Second slavery
AFTER listening to the immediate past president of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem and his counterpart at the Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Mr. Chris Uwaje, and some other notables in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry, on the need to minimize download of contents from the World Wide Web (www) and maximize upload of local contents for sometimes, a young Nigerian graduate, Mr. Isola Isiewu, was extremely worried.
His worries bordered on how he, in his late 20s could contribute to make this kind of change in the area that is of utmost need, a realty. Based on these experts’ preaching, continuous download would further endanger this generation into what all agreed would be ‘second slavery’ or ‘self enslavement’ of 21st century.
Escape from second slavery
And for such to be allowed to happen in this age of Information Society is not only unacceptable, but also unpardonable.
Thereafter, at a workshop in South Africa, he heard one of the young speakers talking excitedly about his blog and blogging, just three years into another century.
At the end of the workshop, Mr. Isiewu decided to search the Internet for what blog is all about and came around ‘blogit,’ he registered but due to lack of constant access to the Internet except at the cybercafe where the idea went to bed literally for another one year until he participated in yet a different workshop, where the issue of weblog re-echoed.
Boosting blogging
By now the advent of the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) had aroused competition in the telecommunications industry for Private Telecom Operators (PTOs) especially for the Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) operators, to include Internet access on their networks as a Value Added Service (VAS), mostly, dial-up service.
Consequently, on return, he took a firm decision to have Internet access at home as a way of bridging his own digital divide by linking his family telephone at home to the Internet, resulting in a dial-up access, which is better than nothing.
Though, he has to deny himself some good clothing with the little income, less than a $100 monthly he earns as a System Administrator in a Lagos suburb. Mr. Isiewu, with the support of relatives, bought a second-hand desktop Personal Computer (PC) and soon after, he logged on to create his own weblog, where he has continued to raise issues of importance to his generation with his peers both locally and globally, even some of his friends have taken after him in creating their own weblogs, hosted somewhere in Asia or in any of the developed countries for f-r-e-e, and with already formatted webpage outlay; just feed in their text and post or publish; that’s your blog.
According to the searchwebservices, a ‘weblog’ is often shortened to ‘blog’ or written as ‘web log’ or ‘weblog’, which refers to a personal website with initially non-commercial origin that uses a dated log format that is updated daily, or as frequent as possible, of course, with new information centering on individual thoughts streamlined into periodic articles normally in reverse chronological order, which could be accessible on a specific subject with some sub-themes, such as money, transport, communications, technology, education, travel, tourism, health, rental and books, just name it, there is a blog for it.
It may also contain recorded ideas of an individual like a personal diary or one open to others for commentaries, though it could be moderated. Also, noteworthy is that weblog is a name of a South Korean software that analyzes website’s access log and reports the number of visitors, views, hits, most frequently visited pages, and so on.
In the beginning
The first weblog was traced to the renowned father of the Internet, Mr. Tim Berners-Lee at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the first website, http://info.cern.ch/, which contents sooner than later, pointed at all new sites as they emerged.
Proprietor of the Scripting News weblog, acclaimed as the longest running weblog on the Internet, Mr. Dave Winer, notes that weblogs are usually updated sites that point to articles elsewhere on the web, often with comments and there is also friendship and politics between those who run blogs referred to as ‘bloggers’, they point to each other based on interest in all kinds of structures, graphs, loops, etcetera.
Mr. Winer was quoted by Weblogs.com news as saying that nowadays, hundreds of thousands weblogs exist and demand has continued to grow unprecedentedly, just as his firm UserLand manages two weblogs, namely Manila – a centralized server-based content management system; and Radio UserLand, which provides easy and powerful weblogging from the desktop.
He did his first weblog in February 1996 as part of the 24 Hours of Democracy website, which helped to create community with common interest and has kept them together, in addition to a long mailing list that was hosted by the American On-Line (AOL) and in April of the same year, metamorphosed into newspage for Frontier, which later migrated to Scripting News on April 1, 1997.
Other early weblogs include Robot Wisdom’s, Tomalek’s Realm and CamWorld managed by Cameron Barrett. By 1998, there exist about 23 weblogs, according to a collection of links made by Jesse James Garett, editor of Infosift, who in turn by November of that year offered it to Barrett for publication. This publication spurred other bloggers to send in their Uniform Resource Locators (URLs); short strings that identify resources in the web’s documents, for inclusion. These motivated Peter Merholz, contended by Rebecca Blood, editor of ‘Rebecca’s Pocket’ on ‘Weblogs: A history and perspective,” to suggest the word ‘wee-blog’.
By July of 1999, what was known as weblog – listing of contemporaries’ URLs advanced into an explosion as Pitas introduced the first known free build-your-own-weblog tool, then followed in August by the Pyra’s launch of Blogger and Groksoup influencing this bandwagon to really explode, even as Dave Winer introduced ‘Edit-This-Page” and Jeff Campbell’s Velocinews not excluded. All these were free and designed to encourage individuals to easily publish their own weblogs without much ado.
Although this trend of HyperText Markup Language (HTML) codes are fast changing even as those who are not masters of the codes now own and manage weblogs, which proprietors have continued to simplify its management system by making it another ‘Open Source’ benefit to the society, mostly with post-Bloggers’ explosion, which modules have become exemplary in nature.
Also history has it that the likes of Bloomberg, Boing-Boing started off as blogs, but today have been transformed into reliable news feeds and making their money coolly. Who says a Nigerian cannot do it?
Enter NigerianBloggers.com
This trend has persistently grown over the years in developing countries and Nigeria is not an exception as some web enthusiasts recently came up with the NigerianBloggers.com, a network founded by Mr. Kayode Muyibi, a young Nigerian student entrepreneur based in Cyberjaya Malaysia, in collaboration with the likes of the first Nigerian Information Technology Youth Ambassador, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, among others.
NigerianBloggers.com, is meant to increase and sustain blogs from this part of the globe, according to Mr. Muyibi. He informed that the network, http://www.nigerianblogers.com, is to act as the nation’s blog aggregator with different categories including technology, business, news, blog, search and a host of others.
He explained that the network was primarily developed as a venue to unite all Nigerian bloggers around the globe via syndicating their content and discussions through its forum.
“We’re really impressed by some Nigerian blogs and we decided to invite them to join our forum at http://forum.nigerianbloggers.com,” he said.
Stressing that the network encourages bloggers to invite their Nigerian friends too to join the network, even as the membership is free, bloggers must be over or exactly 13 years of age at the time of joining the network.
“Our main aim is to encourage Nigerians to start blogging about topics that interest them,” he declared, highlighting that this plan is expected to be achieved through aggregating and online forum, which offers the creation of an environment for everybody to read.
“This entails saving Nigerian blogs from isolation, which has been one of the main reason why Nigerians are discouraged to blog,” he noted.
Currently, he said, the network is open to suggestions and also volunteers as he looks forward to seeing Nigerians join the forum and to help encourage more Nigerians to start blogging.
“We need more Nigerian bloggers especially in the technology, culture, and arts department,” he said.
Membership of NigerianBloggers.com, as at the time of going to the press is over 50 as indicated in the forum, which cut across all professions globally.
Catching the fever
The beauty of it all as far as weblogging and the nation are concerned, is that Nigerians are making effort to catch up with the rest of the world and need support of the stakeholders, especially that of the Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) and PTOs who now list Internet service as their package, as well as via advert placement, even so, as the country prepares for unified licensing regime anticipated to bring about keener competition and probably better Internet connection at cheaper rate.
It is however, alarming that most Nigerian bloggers currently are resident outside the nation’s shores, an indication that something needed to be done with nation’s infrastructure.
In places like Asia, bloggers have grown to form a community of blogsphere and even organize awards annually to encourage members who toil daily sitting before their computers or systems as the case maybe, just as NigerianBloggers.com aims to ensure that not only the trend of download is changed to uploads, but equally to create a voice for Nigerians in diaspora to say it the way they feel about it in another format which is unusual from the norms, which is the news medium.
It could also be timely to begin the Best-of-Blogs (BOBs) awards for Africa, taking after BOB currently organized by Deutche Welle International in collaboration with Reporters Without Borders (RSF) with little or no attention given to Africa as a region, considering the continent’s peculiarity.
Although a journey of 1000 miles begins with a step, the step taken by NigerianBloggers.com is, no doubt a resounding initiative that should be sustained, especially with availability of relevant infrastructure locally in Nigeria – from cheap reliable PCs to constant power supply and telecom equipment to affordable Internet access.
One good thing about the coming of blogs the way it is presently, is that apart from fronting frantically as an ‘Open Source’ for expression of oneself, it affords whoever cares to start blogging in a time as short as 10 minutes; it also cushions the effect of hosting charges for bloggers, in addition to eschewing cost of designing your web page as there are several, to choose from.So, just have Internet access and join the fray of bloggers like Isola Isiewu did recently, you would definitely enjoy it; keep blogging.

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