Social bookmarking in Africa

Geeks in the West are infatuated with social media. And for good reason, sharing makes good, selfish sense. It allows processing the infoglut through the filter of people you know and trust. And yet, as in so many things that computers make easy, social sharing of data requires nothing more than a communication medium and a community.

Two weeks ago we visited Mfensi, a village outside of Kumasi graced with a clay-banked river. It is, thus, a pottery-making center. I’ll post about the fascinating process from river-bottom to pottery in a bit, but for now have a look at this. It isn’t graffiti, but rather the village phone book.


The mobile phone is king in Africa, of course, but there are no add-on services as in the West. No voicemail, no server-side contact list. You can call and text and that’s about it. So why not have a community address book? Scrawl it on the wall. No downtime — and if you need context you just ask someone. Simple and wonderfully efficient.


2 Responses to “Social bookmarking in Africa”

  1. Darren says :

    I really like that a lot, there’s just no beating simplicity.
    Don’t think you’re not being missed. Jay and I were discussing the likely outcomes of your time in Ghana today. Some of them were even complimentary.

  2. Jay says :

    Hello John,
    I have to agree with Darren, the simplicity of this is beautiful. It looks like you are having a truly amazing time over there, and I have to admit I am a little green with envy (a positive envy I might add!).
    Of course, such a wall wouldn’t last long over here. You would be up in front of the beak for writing on it, and regardless, the council would have it painted over with some anti-graf paint within a matter of hours.
    I look forward to reading more of your exploits, and to hearing about them in even more detail when you get home. Be safe my friend 🙂