Thursday, February 09, 2006

Invisible Children bracelet production at Koro Camp

Invisible Children Bracelets

I'm such a scatter-brain. Yesterday my browser had some fault or another and it seems I've lost my bookmarks. So I've spent some time just getting my surfing environment back to a workable space. I can't believe how many passwords are involved, and how utterly disorganized I've been about them.

A friend from Vietnam caught me online this afternoon. Recently he'd sent me an invitation to his Yahoo 360 space which I'd accepted, but really hadn't looked around yet. My friend is in college and looking over his page, I'm reminded that young people really do get the idea of Internet communications a whole lot better than I do.

At Tribe there is a discussion going on in Technology for the Developing and Third World about a 2004 essay by Ethan Zuckerman,
Making Room for the Third World in the Second Superpower. Zuckerman's blog is so smart. I find African blogs and blog aggregators like Blog Africa essential for getting and understanding current events in Africa. One of the things I learned from the Tribe thread is that there are plenty of people still quite wary about the wonderful world of blogs.

Surfing around my Vietnamese friend's Yahoo 360 space was quite encouraging because young people today feel so comfortable with Internet tools and concepts. Many Africans have very sparse Internet access, but even with my limited sample of contacts, it seems to me they find Web stuff, which I often have a hard time understanding, easy. Still, Zuckerman makes some good points about not assuming that blogs and social networking environments will follow the same path as they do here and in other developed countries. So I'm always on the look out for ways my friends in Africa can extend the usefulness of these technologies in their communities.

The ways that organizations are using Flickr are really exciting to me. Today's photo was posted by Life in Africa. Life in Africa is a membership organization in Uganda working to better our community through webbed empowerment. Here's what they say about the photo:
A team of 20 producers have already started learning to make Invisible Children solidarity bracelets, thanks to Life in Africa trainers Gilbert Matsiko (in the chair) and Grace Ayaa. Those 20 will teach others in additional IDP Camps in Gulu District during 2006, with the aim of creating 200 part time jobs that Life in Africa's member benefits will build on.
Still want to know more? Well then, the Global Youth Fund has got more. And the good folks behind Invisible Children have a Web site Visible Children to learn more and buy a bracelet.

At my age, I should be able to say: "These kids today" with crticism in my voice. I'm just as clueless, probably a lot more than most, about youth culture. Still, I see so many acting in such positive ways. I'm convinced that African young people will find many innovative ways to use the Internet. Following the African and Africa bridge blogs one of the very encouraging things I've observed is conversations between Africans in Africa and Africans living abroad.

My Vietnamese friend has several Vietnamese friends attending school in the United States. When I was in college--and this is yet another of my goofs--I sponsored two refugees from the war in Vietnam. Both were my age and their passage here was the result of being in a place in Vietnam where they were offered a chance to come to America, but only if they made the decision right then. Adjustment for immigrants is huge. I utterly let those two down. I hope they've survived well enough, now two middle aged men like myself. What if there had been an Internet for them? It would have helped enormously. They were scattered like the wind, not knowing where any contacts they knew were. The Internet is a great machine. Sure there are problems, but there is great promise too. The greatest part is that that ordinary people create and contribute. It's up to us to discover cool new things to do using it. And we can do it together.


thakadu said...

Hi Kaunda

Since you mention blog aggregators, I wondered if you had seen muti yet? Its a site where anything, not just blogs, can be posted by members and then other members get to vote on the posts. Many of the African blogs are posted there.


Kaunda said...

No I hadn't discovered it. Thanks for the link!