Thursday, August 23, 2012

Think Out Loud: An Online Experiment

Folks, life dealt me a bit of a bad hand about ten days ago which means that I am currently confined to the couch/bed until I can heal some broken bones. I had all these plans to spend the time thinking and writing and being productive- because that's what Capricorns do, obsess about work- but this hasn't materialized. Thing is, having learned the hard way that sometimes life wants you to stop and change directions, I listened this morning to The Quietness and It said to me: "Hey, blogging is about dialogue, right?" Right..." I answered. "Well then," said That Inner Voice Which Sounds A Lot Like Morgan Freeman*, "Stop being a one-woman showboat and try to get some dialogue rolling why don't you?"


As I said on Mgahawa** this past weekend, one of the challenges of blogging is the near-lack of reaction or feedback from the readership- which makes the dialogue aspect of this work somewhat one-sided. I have had about four years to think on this issue and I understand some of the limitations. Some of them are mine, most assuredly: blogging in Engrish-is-not-Home isn't conducive to a broad discussion in Bongo. That said, this blog has benefited immensely from those who have reached out and written or reached out and spoken on various topics covered herein***.

So I would like to try something with your help, folks. I want to throw a question out there for you to answer whichever way you want to do it. It's a question whose answers might touch on issues of technology or globalization or policy or even political ideology. Email, video, graphics, audiofile, fingerpainting, anything is allowed. I will even put up a polling thingy on the right side of the blog for the week's experimental question. You can use the comments section or you can email me direct at elsieeyakuze at gmail dot com with instructions (do you want to be edited or not, posted or not, that kind of thing). Let's see how this goes, eh?

I have free speech in mind. To bring up Mgahawa again, one of the questions Omar posed was whether or not we should explore a way to control how people enter public dialogues online. This was particularly relevant in the Olympics this year, and affected the performance and in some cases the careers of several athletes. I want to hear from you: should we or should we not censor or attempt to control for the quality of public dialogues online using popular platforms?

*Listen, if you're going to hear voices in your head you can do worse than Morgan Freeman. And before you ask, my CT scan came out clear. :)

** A weekly program hosted by Omar Mohamed who is (finally!) on his way to becoming the broadcaster the universe intended him to be. Check it out, it's a good show.

*** Oh ye Facebook stalkers, you orators, you email correspondents of note whom I have so underserved: can I please, pretty please, post some of your excellent, humorous and thought-provoking musings on the blog? Please write. You know you want to.


  1. That brings up a question of power… who will say what quality public dialogue is? Different people might have different ideas of what quality dialogue is.
    So what to do? Well, probably what is already being done by most online forums… establish a clear set of guidelines on what is acceptable in advance (like no biting, spitting, trolling… only better) and let it be accessible to everyone so before they post they are reasonably expected to be aware of what the rules are about posting.
    I think problems come when censoring appears arbitrary to the readers/audience. So yes, it is ok to do some quality control but let it be based on objective, pre established grounds.

    Get well soon.

    And chicken.

  2. Interesting, I hope you get some good debate here.

    If by "quality" you mean respectful and non-abusive, I think that's a reasonable aim, even if it's very hard to achieve in practice. The dividing line between firmly expressed views and abuse is not black and white, there are plenty of shades of grey. And who has the power to decide what's acceptable and what's not?

    But even more challenging, for me, is the issue of anonymous comments. Look at Jamii Forums, for example, which would be a very different place if all those commenting had to use their real names. It would probably lose much of the most interesting content, as people can have very good reasons not to say what they really think in public. But it would probably be a lot more civil and more reliable as a news source as well.

    And as a more close-to-home example, I have on occasions commented here anonymously when I wanted to bring something to wider attention without drawing attention to myself. If I had not been able to speak anonymously, I would have stayed silent. Readers would have missed out, though its hard to know whether something posted anonymously should be believed.

  3. Should we (Tanzania?) "explore a way to control how people enter public dialogues online"? I dunno. Can we? I don't think so. The mob will merely migrate to where they can find the freedom they want. Next question. I prefer steak.

  4. Get well soon Elsie! Your diet of realism is being missed!

  5. This is my first visit to your blog, and I gotta say I'm liking it. You're "blogging in Engrish-is-not-Home" comment really cracked me up. Kudos on the good work.


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