Why don’t tech bloggers write about Kenya

I got slammed on some blogs for not writing about Kenya’s problems. Truth is I missed that story because I was busy with CES and MacWorld and Fast Company stuff. Ethan Zuckerman, who founded Global Voices Online (which +is+ the right blog to keep up with human rights blogging from around the world comes to my defense, which I greatly appreciate).

Guy Kawasaki had a great guest post from a blogger who was staying in Kenya and barely escaped.

But the question about why the tech blogosphere doesn’t write about these kinds of things isn’t really a fair one. I write about technology. Gadgets. Interview technologists (last night, for instance, I videoed from inside Yahoo’s Brickhouse on my Qik channel).

I don’t usually write about stuff that I don’t have first-hand knowledge of. I’m not in Kenya. The Kenya story, as awful as it is, really doesn’t impact the tech world that much (and if you read Global Voices Online, which you should, you’ll see that Kenya is far from the only place in the world where awful stuff is going on).

That said, if I hadn’t been so busy and hadn’t been keeping up with my feed reading I would have put more things about this story on my link blog.

But you should read Ethan’s blog post. He’s right. We write about things we know about through a personal connection. I’m hoping to expand my personal connections next week at the World Economic Forum where we’ll talk more about this, and other issues that don’t seem to — on the surface — affect the tech industry.

74 thoughts on “Why don’t tech bloggers write about Kenya

  1. If you want to get a hands-on perspective from different parts of Kenya, we launched a Kenya channel on our site at http://www.kenya2.0television.com that has about 3,000 members from around Kenya who have been blogging and writing in special groups pages about the situation on the ground. Here is the most recent post from member Otuonick based in Kisii: http://2.0television.com/blogPage.php?bid=525&buid=543

    I don’t think you can be blamed for not bringing the topic up in any other way than you did. Yes, there is a tech angle in the way SMS was used pre- and post-election to spread hate and false rumours, and also to disseminate factual information and mobilize people…unless you were very familiar with the situation on the ground it would be easy to walk into a minefield with a tech-angled post.

    Thanks for giving your audience pause to think about the country…young people are suffering in the name of a chess game of old men.

  2. If you want to get a hands-on perspective from different parts of Kenya, we launched a Kenya channel on our site at http://www.kenya2.0television.com that has about 3,000 members from around Kenya who have been blogging and writing in special groups pages about the situation on the ground. Here is the most recent post from member Otuonick based in Kisii: http://2.0television.com/blogPage.php?bid=525&buid=543

    I don’t think you can be blamed for not bringing the topic up in any other way than you did. Yes, there is a tech angle in the way SMS was used pre- and post-election to spread hate and false rumours, and also to disseminate factual information and mobilize people…unless you were very familiar with the situation on the ground it would be easy to walk into a minefield with a tech-angled post.

    Thanks for giving your audience pause to think about the country…young people are suffering in the name of a chess game of old men.

  3. The traditional counterpoint to Davos Economic Forum, the World Social Forum, is being held all over the world this year with an online presence at WSF2008.net. As such, it does a little bit to bring together technology, injustice, and even Kenya ;-)

  4. Robert

    There is a tech angle to the Kenyan crisis and everyone’s missing it.

    The blogosphere is how democracy is being built, and every type of blogger is involved.

    Where else has that happened?

    SMS is very, very important – especially when there’s a news media blackout. This is being tied into the blogosphere by Kenyans.

    Where else has that happened?

    We have something to learn here. Don’t look at Kenya’s blogosphere out of guilt, look out of interest and be prepared to learn something new about the Web and what it can do – yes, from Africans!

    More on my blog.

  5. Robert

    There is a tech angle to the Kenyan crisis and everyone’s missing it.

    The blogosphere is how democracy is being built, and every type of blogger is involved.

    Where else has that happened?

    SMS is very, very important – especially when there’s a news media blackout. This is being tied into the blogosphere by Kenyans.

    Where else has that happened?

    We have something to learn here. Don’t look at Kenya’s blogosphere out of guilt, look out of interest and be prepared to learn something new about the Web and what it can do – yes, from Africans!

    More on my blog.

  6. Robert,
    here are some other things you are woefully amiss in blogging about:

    Zimbabwe
    Deforestation in Borneo
    Japanese Whaling
    Burma

    And you have the cheek to call yourself a tech blogger ;)
    In case anyone gets upset – I believe all of the above are very important. But I wouldn’t come to Scoble to read about them, in the same way I don’t expect detailed analysis of the US recession on a football programme. That’s the beauty of the blogosphere – you can find the info you want from someone, you don’t have to get it from one provider.

  7. Robert,
    here are some other things you are woefully amiss in blogging about:

    Zimbabwe
    Deforestation in Borneo
    Japanese Whaling
    Burma

    And you have the cheek to call yourself a tech blogger ;)
    In case anyone gets upset – I believe all of the above are very important. But I wouldn’t come to Scoble to read about them, in the same way I don’t expect detailed analysis of the US recession on a football programme. That’s the beauty of the blogosphere – you can find the info you want from someone, you don’t have to get it from one provider.

  8. Kenya is a problem for sure, but the idea of a tech blog is people blogging out of the technology perspective. Not blogging about human rights related events probably caused by the single interest. It is good to see some of us focus on the other stuff in life and the world.
    Here in The Netherlands there is a lot going on at the moment about the upcoming Olympics and if we all sould boycott the games, do we need to boycot them too in your opinion? Or should we take the offensive and change a communist country by means of technology?

  9. Kenya is a problem for sure, but the idea of a tech blog is people blogging out of the technology perspective. Not blogging about human rights related events probably caused by the single interest. It is good to see some of us focus on the other stuff in life and the world.
    Here in The Netherlands there is a lot going on at the moment about the upcoming Olympics and if we all sould boycott the games, do we need to boycot them too in your opinion? Or should we take the offensive and change a communist country by means of technology?

  10. Amongst other places where I seem to be seeing lots about Kenya is in Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins’ shared items feed. He has tons of Kenya news there, and I learn from it there.

    Why I don’t write about it (or other things of that nature) is that in my flavor, I tend to write about the tools and methods that would enable others to go off and do that. Hopefully, some will.

    Write where your heart and inclinations take you. It will deliver the best of what you can produce.

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