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Independence 2.0

Welcome back readers. Its been a long time since I posted my 100th post, which I have been wallowing in its miasma (whatever that phrase means). There have been several changes. First the title of my blog changed, and so did the domain, which are still in the process of changing.

This takes me back a few years back when I was in campus and started blogging. Then blogs were rare, and access to the internet for many meant going to a cyber. Over time, this has changed as undersea fibre arrived and mobile operators passed this on to us through modems.

We now have several bigger blogs that have come up and surpassed this one by several factors. Nairobi Nights, the diary of a Nairobi prostitute is battling out for the International DW Best Of Blogs Awards (that German News TV station that KBC used to screen over lunch hour), Walalahoi is a forum that has a few times brought us the intimate moments of several Kenyans, from Kakamega Muliro Gardens to Ladies Hostels in our campuses. On the other hand we have Idd Salim advising us on several aspects of a programmer to criticising the policies of a few firms here and there. There is also Media Madness Kenya which has more gossip about our entertainment industry combined than what gossip columns in our dailies and tabloids offer.

Back before I started blogging, back when having a number 1 album on billboard meant several millions in sales rather than a couple hundred thousand, corporates had a good time handling communications. Then, to get good coverage, you mostly needed to keep media houses and journalists happy, which is not a hard job. A few goodies, trips here and there would iron things out. Furthermore, journalists are usually quite busy trying to cover several events and other news issues in a day, not much time for them to scrutinise a corporates decisions and policies.

Then generation 2.0 came in. Born in the late 70s and mostly in the 80s and later, the generation was not satisfied with the traditional media and communications industry. They invented what the called a web 2.0, an internet that went beyond a few large firms generating content and several million users accessing it.

To them, e-mail came with Instant Messaging, friends were not called, or send an SMS, they belonged to an online community that exchanged lots of multimedia and went by the name Facebook. They had free pages to express their opinions courtesy of Blogger and Wordpress. Soon, they had an open network through which to express their opinions to the rest of the World, in 140 characters. Twitter they called it.

Now we have many people who are able to afford internet connections, have them and access content on the net. What's the implication?

It means that corporates now have several million people who can give their opinion. Exposure is very high. A media house will likely ignore a small controversial bit of your policy, but the online generation is unforgiving.

There is more, in Kenya, there is a generation that has new ideologies and sense of pride. Its is a generation ready to walk the talk when it comes to supporting Kenyan. It has long been argued that we are a neo-colonised nation. Independence to us meant a change of the ruling class from our colonial masters to the so called "our people".

Impacts of the above two factors is just starting to crop up , and last week saw a this issues raised.

There is a local arm of a South African on line retail marketplace who were recently showcasing their product to techies at the iHub. On their brochures, it said that their product was developed using "superior European Technology." This saw them brought to task the following day, starting with roomthinker claiming that his porridge had been made using superior European technology, and later in the week through a blog post in which Kachwanya questions our lack of national esteem.

Safaricom also found themselves in hot water when a story appearing on the Daily Nation claimed that the firm was looking at Vodafone to bring in foreigners to fill in the CxO positions. Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO was quick on Twitter to point out that the article was eroneous, and the Daily Nation corrected it. However, the damage had been done as people still believe that Safaricom does not think we have credible managers locally.

The ICT Board and the Government have also found themselves been questioned in a couple of occasions. At first,Permanent Secretary in the Kenya's Ministry of Communication, Bitange Ndemo had to explain to KICTANET, a prominent mailing list on why the government's Twitter campaign was been run from Washington , USA. His explanation was that the Twitter campaign was a value add for an image campaign been run in USA by a publicity firm. But even before he was done, the ICT board was on the receiving end, this time round for hosting a Kenya Marketting event in the "prestigious" Bellagio in Italy. Argument here, if the target audience thinks Kenya is too filthy for them to come here, we should not bother doing business with them. The ICT Boards argument was that the conference was funded in Italy hence we had nothing to loose.

There is also a local hotel that is accused of  giving whites priority in service, and many other 'top' hotels have been accused of this.

Now you may understand why Michael Joseph does not like bloggers.

It is just a beginning where corporates are receiving extensive coverage for their policies and strategies. They may be feeling the heat and shifting in their seats. In the future there will be more heat as consumers will peg their purchase decisions on what is reported in their social network.

Corporates need to be aware of this exposure and ways of damage control. They can even meet bloggers halfway in their marketing, like Nokia has done in Kenya where it hands sample products to bloggers who then come up with undercover marketing schemes.

As I finish off , I am seeing Tweets stating that NTV news is no longer giving politics a priority, for the second day in a row. At this rate, I may be getting an aerial and a TV set.

post blog update:
Just before I posted this post, I came across new information which suggests that probably Collymore is looking to Vodafone for staffing as he finds it hard to trust any of Safaricom current employees due to rampant cases of graft within the firm.

While the above may be just a rumour, the issues raised are serious.

Self Esteem as a Nation will have to go hand in hand with integrity. If we have low integrity, we even find it hard to believe in ourselves.

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