No power? No computers? No smartphones? No problem. Blogging by blackboard in Liberia

How a Liberian uses low-tech to solve his community’s information deficit:

Many people in the West African city of Monrovia can’t afford to buy newspapers or electricity to access the internet, so Alfred J Sirleaf had to come up with a way to bring information cheaply to the people. He believes a well-informed people are the key to Liberia’s rebirth so he’s been providing valuable news every day on a huge blackboard in the centre of town. For local news, he relies on a team of volunteer reporters who come to him with stories, while for international events he goes to an internet cafe. Then, in the newsroom, a small wooden shed attached to the back of his blackboard, he updates The Daily Talk with chalk.

Via The New Zealand Herald

Economist – blogs make us yawn

Could the Economist be any more patronising?

“I noticed that the doormat was at a slightly crooked angle. I reached down and moved the mat back into its correct place.” Thus began a recent entry on The dullest blog in the world. Although this publication is something of a satire on the internet’s inane blogs, scientists are finding—to their surprise—that useful information can actually be mined from the tedium of the blogosphere.

Especially when, in the very same issue, it hangs the business end of an article on cloud computing around the work of two bloggers:

Amazon’s “Spot Instances” have also led to an animated debate among the cloud cognoscenti about how computing will evolve. Some argue that it will go the way of power and even financial markets, complete with arbitrage, derivatives and hedging. Reuven Cohen, a blogger and co-founder of Enomaly, a maker of software that allows firms to build public clouds, thinks that such things will come quickly as technology improves. In contrast, James Urquhart, a blogger who works for Cisco, argues that there are barriers that could prevent computing from becoming freely tradable. [etc. etc.]

No links, of course – after all the Economist wouldn’t want to risk diverting precious traffic to other websites. But for those of prepared to risk the boredom, you can find Cohen’s blog here, and Urquhart’s is here. Oh and here’s the Dullest Blog in the World.

Urquhart has an especially good piece on the intersection between the cloud and geopolitics – which I thoroughly recommend. Bet it’s had more hits than the average technology post the Economist puts online.

Labour takes the fight online (and loses)

Last month saw the launch of several new online initiatives by Labour, as it desperately tries to find a strategy to beat the Tories in the coming election.

John Prescott, who is apparently a star on Twitter (I find this hard to believe but that’s what they say), is writing a new blog, called , so called because that’s where Labour will end up being placed in the next election, ha ha. Apparently Alaister Campbell is also involved in the website, somehow…

In the same month, Derek Draper, who briefly showed an interest in psychotherapy but now appears to be a full-time party apparatchik, launched a site called LabourList, which will try to be the same sort of ‘indepenent grass roots website’ as the influential

The Tories have widely mocked these initiatives, saying the government just doesn’t get the net – it is de-centralised, off-message and spontaneous, and therefore completely different to the Alaister Campbell model of spinning and bullying the press corps. The fact that LabourList is run by Peter Mandelson’s former assistant is testament to how much Labour doesn’t get it, and how worn out the grass roots Left is in the UK (just read New Statesman if you’re in any doubt).

That much is said, with the accompaniment of a great gangsta beat, by Raplog, a blogger who’s declared aim is to ‘bring some hip hop panache to political blogging’:

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