Apologies for sparse blogging – there have been a number of factors that have kept me largely offline. I haven’t had connectivity at the hotel we’re staying at in Cape Town, and while I’d had high hopes of making it out to a cybercafe today, my travelling companion and I both got a nasty case of food poisoning last night and have spent today, for the most part, asleep in bed.
Today’s events aside, it’s been an excellent trip for meeting new folks. Tony Carr and Stephen Marquadt at the University of Cape Town’s Center for Educational Technology were good enough to host me for a small, informal bloggers dinner Thursday night. The only actual bloggers there were me and Tanzanian blogger Obe Indya Nkye, a PhD candidate in economics at UCT, who blogs in Kiswahili. It turns out that Indya and I have a friend in common – Ndesanjo Macha – who helped convince Indya the value of blogging about complex economic development issues in language average Tanzanian readers could understand. He’s now planning on starting to blog in English as well, which should be very much worth reading.
Tony and Stephen invited me to give a talk at the Center for Educational Technology, speaking on the subject of community blogging both from the perspective of Global Voices-style bridge blogging and from the perspective of academic class as community. Good turnout, great questions from the crowd and I’m really enjoying showing off the pretty new Global Voices site.
The main focus of my trip here is to visit with interesting IT projects for Open Society Institute. Some are projects we’ve already funded – some are prominent players or innovators in the local IT scene. I had the great pleasure of meeting part of the team behind Highway Africa on Thursday morning – an amazing conference for African journalists, Highway Africa is starting to look at ways to take blogs seriously as a tool for journalists, and the folks working on the project tell me that several of their journalists are now blogging. I also got to meet with one of the guys behind the Shuttleworth Foundation’s TuxLabs project, an effort to build thin-client Linux based computer labs in schools around the country, and to visit with some of the folks at CSIR, South Africa’s leading technical thinktank. A number of CSIR teams are working on projects I’m enthusiastic about, most notably OpenTelephone, an effort to create an easy-to-use graphical interface to creating interactive voice systems. More about all these folks – and functioning links! – when I’m back in the land of broadband. (Which might be the Cape Town airport, Heathrow Airport, or Amman…)