In the early morning hours of the 5th of July 2004 the Kenyan Blogs Webring was born. Today we are three years old. Happy birthday KBW! It seems like only yesterday that I was sitting down to write the post celebrating our second birthday. Time flies when you are having fun!
Thank you to all KBW members for making this one of the most vibrant online communities on the internet. As always it has been an amazing experience.
The Year of Emergence
Emerge: become known or apparent;
The emergence of Kenyans built for blogging
When I think back over the last 12 months what I notice is that this year has been a year of emergence for KBW and her members. If you will forgive the farmer in me for a moment, in our first two years we were finding our feet, exploring this blogging thing, figuring out if we wanted to do it or not, we were germinating.
The most frequent support question we would be asked in the Admin Team during the first two years was, â€œWhy should I start a blog?â€ or â€œWhat is a blog?â€ or variations on that theme.
In the last year we mainly get asked, â€œI have a blog, how do I join the webring?â€ or â€œHow do I get your aggregator to syndicate my content?â€ or variations on that theme. They “why” and “what” questions are decreasing, the “how” questions are increasing.
That is a good sign and KBW members have played a big role in convincing Kenyans to blog. These days when someone asks me why they should blog I simply point them to the KenyaUnlimited aggregator. I can almost guarantee you that they will read something that they either agree with whole heartedly or disagree with completely, that fuels an urge in them to get to a keyboard and start typing to contribute to the debate.
In this way we have emerged from within ourselves. Where else will you find a community composed of Maasai Market traders, IT geeks, undergraduates, pastors, self styled â€œsex therapistsâ€, financial journalists, university professors, professional sports players, political commentators, rural farmers, many times many of these all rolled into one person?!!
Emergence within KBW – Internal
This is where we crunch the numbers.
- In our first year we signed up: 69 members â€“ for a total of 69 members
- In our second year we signed up: 171 â€“ for a total of 240 members
- In our third year we signed up: 293 members â€“ for a total of 464 members
293 new members. Remember this is not a web forum where we have one central site where each member writes a sentence here or a sentence here. These are bloggers, generating new and unique content (in the most part) every single time they write. 293 new people giving us their unique insight on the issues they feel are important, in the way they want. You are effectively talking, in web 1.0 terms, of 293 new webmasters and web content editors joined together in a single community. Now those are numbers to be proud of. This has been achieved without a single penny spent on advertising; the only emails we send out as KBW are to bloggers who are already members.
However what is increasingly clear is that the majority of these new members had heard about KBW either through word of mouth, through reading a KBW member or simply by bumping into us online. Many start a blog so they can join KBW rather than joining KBW because they already had a blog.
If this rate of growth continues soon we will be signing up more than 400 bloggers a year, that is over a blog a day!
On the technical side, we have moved from an ordinary shared hosting account, to a more advance shared hosting account, to our own VPS, and soon to our own full fledged dedicate server.
KBW in the world – External emergence
This past year has also been marked by KBW and KBW bloggers being recognised outside our own community and emerging as leaders in some of the most interesting projects that use web 2.0 Here are some examples of this:
- KenyaUnlimited was Kenyanâ€™s ambassador on Blog Day 2006.
- KenyaUnlimited was nominated as a Finalist in the 2006 Black Weblog Awards.
- At the Digital Indaba held at Rhodes University, South Africa KBW was frequently mentioned as an example of bloggers organising themselves into a online community.
- At the Global Voices Summit 2006 in Delhi, India, KBW was again highlighted as an example of how to organise a blogging community.
- At TED Global again the importance of the KBW to the African blogosphere was frequently mentioned and clear to see and on and on.
- Three dedicated women, KBW Admin members Mshairi and Kui led by KBW member Sokari are the forces behind the African Womensâ€™ Bloggers website and webring.
- KBW members, lead by the indefatigable White African, together with JKE and Afromusing are pushing AfriGadget to amazing new heights.
- The most radical, innovating forces in ICT in Kenya a.k.a the geekosphere a.k.a Skunkworks-KE are active members of KBW.
- The Kenyan main stream media, while still feeling threatened by blogs (why??!!), are beginning to understand that ignoring us is a mistake, ironically the main stream media outside Kenya can not seem to get enough of Kenyan bloggers.
- ICT magazines within Kenya have started carrying regular blogging columns for example KBW member Al Kags’ regular column in ICT Village magazine.
I could go on for hours about this, The Year of Emergence.
As we shared good times, as mentioned above, in these past 12 months we have also shared some sad times, in August we learnt that Kachumbari author of Kenyan Villager had passed on. As the tribute to Kachumbari on KenyaUnlimited reads, “Gone for now but forever a member of the KBW family, Kachumbariâ€™s presence shall be missed.”
The Kenyan blogging community through the Pamoja blog on KenyaUnlimited led the online tributes for the victims of Flight KQ507.
KBW in the community
Sylkwan has used her blog to mobilise resources for St. Francis Childrenâ€™s home in Karen/Langata, Nairobi and JKE has done the same for The Nest childrenâ€™s home in Limuru. In the past 12 months I have been lucky enough to visit both homes in the company of other KBW members and it is fantastic to see what positive change a few individuals can make when they decide to take a stand. The staff at St. Francis and The Nest are an example to us all.
As many of you know KBW and KenyaUnlimited are run by a team of three volunteers. This year, in many ways, we have been victims of KBWâ€™s success. As more and more bloggers sign up and join the webring we spend the vast majority of our KBW time dealing with support questions and various sign up queries. It is not unusual for KBW Admin Team members to spend 2 hours a day everyday of the week dealing with various support queries. Then take into consideration that the three of us have full time jobs, are located in three different countries and in three different timezones! While the primary task of the Admin Team is to provide this support and we enjoy it (in the most part) we have noticed that other KBW projects, especially those which are manpower heavy have suffered.
For example, last year it took a team of 6 of us to run the Kaybees. Towards the end of the process four of us basically gave two full days to counting and verifying the nominations and counting and verifying the final votes, sometimes roping in boyfriends and girlfriends to help with spreadsheets! LOL. The main, in fact the only, reason we have not held the Kaybees this year yet is because we understand immediately that we would be spread too thin with the team as it stands. This has also extended to other KBW projects such as Kenyan Bloggersâ€™ Day.
In the past we have expanded the Admin Team by sending out invitations to one or two bloggers. This time we have decided to do something different and instead send out an invitation to all of you! We shall soon be advertising Admin Team positions on KenyaUnlimited. If you are a member of KBW and want to contribute back to the blogging community, want to get involved in some interesting and innovating projects, like helping people and are dedicated we would be grateful to hear from you. Watch this space and the Admin Team blog as we shall soon be putting up a profile of what we are looking for and what you can expect as a member of the Admin Team.
KBW members â€“ thank you!
Non KBW Kenyan bloggers â€“ join us!
KBW supporters – members or not, especially those from far and wide who are always ready to lend a hand, share advice and are constantly encouraging us, thank you. An extra big shout out to the Global Voices crew, from php and cron jobs code, to translations, to moral support we owe you big!
PS/ You would think that having had a year to prepare I would have started writing this post in good time instead of 2pm Nairobi time on the bleeding day eh! Any typos, missing links (no not that one), broken links please let me know!