Barcamp Nairobi, What you missed!

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Barcamp Nairobi came to an end yesterday and damn it if you missed it completely. Or if you only  picked the last piece, now that if how to make coffee is considered. Yes that was the last  part.  What is Barcamp and why is it a great deal if you missed it? A BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment.

So if you were not there , what is the big deal..here is what you missed?

Chance to Learn and Share: Chance to get involved in something greater, something more than usual oneself. It’s all about sharing and learning in an open environment. This means you meet the greatest minds around, share together, learn together, come up with solutions to common problems. Barcamp is where some of the amazing and innovative ideas get talked about most of the time for the first time:

  • Start with the juicy one…money. ICT Board explained on how the grants which they announced around ten days ago would be distributed.  The grant will be given out in 3-4 tranches, starting in October 2010. The funds have to be spent within 12 months. There will only be 46 grants given out this year (2010). So if you have not applied..it is high time you do so and remember competition is tight on this one and in that you better give watertight idea
  • Still on the government. The dream of Government transparency and openness. This might take years and years but yeah a great dream. Good citizens who attended Barcamp pay taxes but can the Government account on how it uses the money. Great Budget speech, wise allocation of the money, but where are the deliverables, is the money reaching the initial intended targets.  In perfect world transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Kenya??
  • Google went all out to fly their top Engineer to Nairobi specifically for the Barcamp. He gave overview on what can be done using their API. The API is meant to address specific problem and should not just be thrown out there for the sake of it. The greatest example from Google is Google Maps API. How about offline maps? Forget about this one, as the world is moving away from being offline to always being online..through whatever means
  • Blogging, many people ask how to own a blog, how to make it successful. Owning is easy, with the open source CMS like Bloggers and WordPress, you can own a blog in 30 seconds. The hard part is how to make it successful. Tips given: you need to blog frequently to get momentum and your name known. Set target on how many blog posts per day or per week and ensure you stick to it. Participate on the other people’s blogs. Comments are not necessarily the measure of how popular a blog is. Most people like a blog post but have nothing to say about it. So a post without a comment does not mean you wasted your time doing it. I agree!!!
  • Building an Online community. Not an easy task, but can be done easily with the right approach and the approach is to give give and give. Social media has made it easy to build a community, get the right people in the group and the flow of information would be endless.  Facebook for example has proven to be the point for access and connection between people in villages.  To conclude on this one mobile web access is the best approach to social networking
  • Civic Hacking. The point of saving people during crisis can be delivered through civic hacking as was witnessed during Haiti crisis. The base-layer maps that connected Haiti’s thousands of orphans with potential adoption families. Ushahidi, paved the way for crowd sourcing and the humanity will continue to be grateful in many years to come for this great piece of technology.
  • ICT skills and access in rural and slum areas. Sometime techies forget that any piece of technology should be aimed at solving everyday’s problems in common people’s lives. That is why it does not matter what platform one uses, what matters is does it help. On that note it was great to hear about the great projects like shika which is aimed at providing ICT skills in slums.  Another one is Kibera news network, get news about Kibera from local youth.

2. Chance to network. From what I saw and what I gathered all the great people around and far beyond were at iHub and iLab in those two days. Meeting right people at the right time. The value of networking can never be exhaustively discussed here but we all know it is priceless.

3. Chance to get Lucky. Some of the big corporate names were involved and if you have looking for possible partners or investors, this was the place for you.  Google, Zuku, AccessKenya, FrontlineSms, Ushahidi, SevenSeas, SpatialDev, Mocality, Servir, K24, ICT Board, Maduqa, Whive.. were all in attendance.

4. Chance to have maximum fun. Time to be yourself, time to shine and time enjoy. Free beers, free soft drinks and free WiFi, free Dstv, what else do you need in life? So you are a fan of Football, dont worry, you know how to play table soccer don’t worry. Big big fun at iHub

Finally over 20 volunteers from Barcamp attended the Nairobi Digital Literacy project meeting organized by Simeon Oriko (@mtotowajirani). The project is aimed  to teach high school students how importance the use of technology can be in their lives, the benefits and dangers of social media and many more.  Spare a little of time and get involved in this great project

What is your opinion on the topic?
Kennedy Kachwanya
Lead Blogger at Kachwanya.com
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Kennedy Kachwanya is a technology blogger interested in mobile phones both smart and dumb, mobile apps, mobile money, social media, startups ecosystem and digital Savannah. New media must not forget the strength of old tech.
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