Barcamp Nairobi 2014 Edition

Barcamp Nairobi 2014Barcamp Nairobi 2014 is set to begin, seven years after the first one was held. It’s one of those events that brings people out of the woodwork around the city, where techies who don’t normally meet end up having great conversations, and relationships are formed.

This Saturday, Aug 30th at 08:00, your chance to lead a conversation on something interesting begins. Nailab and iHub are hosting it, and we’re expecting 400 people to show up for the event.

Go register now, if you haven’t already, it’s free.

It was while sitting around after Barcamp Nairobi 2008 that the seed for what would become the iHub was planted, and why this post was written (many old blog posts from 2008 here). Many of the people I work with today on the teams at BRCK and Ushahidi were at these same events over the years.

Past Barcamp Nairobi Pics

Discussion topics

You’re the one who decides what the discussion will be, and we’ve seen everything from “how to make yoghurt” to “Python 101” to “blogging for women” conversations (and everything in between).

This year, there’s bound to be some discussions around government surveillance and personal privacy in Kenya.

We entrust our most sensitive, private, and important information to private technology companies. At the same time the increasing usage of technology has attracted the attention of authorities eager to provide caveats on the openness of the Internet and the range of freedoms, which we enjoy online.

That’s sure to be a firestorm, of the best kind…

Barcamp Nairobi 2010: Day 2

Today is only a half day at Barcamp Nairobi 2010. We’re getting underway, and there are 5 talks so far:

  • 9 colloquial Kenyan languages in Whive.com by John Karanja
  • Live mapping using OpenStreetMap and GPS units by @mikel
  • “Build a Drupal site in 20-minutes” by @batje
  • “Geek girls in Nairobi” by the Akirachix
  • Explaining the Kenya ICT Board $3m grant by @Kaburo
  • Google Geo API

The $4 Million Kenya ICT Board Grant

“US$ 4 Million of the proceeds for Grant Applications for the development of digital content and software applications.”

It was announced 10 days ago, and there are already 500+ applications. Final applications are due by July 19, 2010.

$10k for individuals and $50k for organizations. That is a Kenyan citizen and above 18 years old, for companies, you have to be registered in Kenya. You have to show your resume/CV for the leadership team.

The application can be done online.

Two main areas of the grant:

  1. Government services and applications (5 ministries)
  2. Any innovative ideas around digital content and software

The first 46 grants will be handed out to both private and public sector ideas and applications. More grants will be given out to companies (30) than private individuals (16), but there will be an equal split between the two groupings.

Grants announced on August 15th, 2010, at which point they will be working on contracts. The grant will be given out in 3-4 tranches, starting in October 2010. The funds have to be spent within 12 months. There will only be 46 grants given out this year (2010).

A single company can apply in multiple rounds for a grant, but will only be given one grant per round.

What protection will your idea be given? The team looking at and reviewing/judging the applications will be signing NDAs. There are 9 judges who will decide the winning proposals, and they do plan on sharing the names of those individuals.

Some people are worried that if they have a new idea, and they’re working for a company, that that company will own it and not them. Kaburo Kobia is suggesting that if they believe that is really the case, then the individuals should break away before then.

If you have any questions, make use of their website, send them an email at grants@ict.co.ke, call them at +254-020-2211960 or visit them on the 12th floor of Teleposta towers.

Google Maps API

IMG_0978

Mano is one of the top engineers from the Google Maps team and he was flown out to Kenya specifically for Barcamp Nairobi. He’s giving an overview of what can be done using their API, well beyond the normal pointal use that we see all the time.

I asked him what they’re doing about offline mapping, especially for those of us in Africa who don’t have the same access to connectivity. Mano says that they’re concerned about offline maps as well, which they don’t offer, but not for the reason I suggested. Instead, they see most of the people in the world accessing maps via mobiles, so they need to be able to let that happen when data capability is not within range.

Barcamp Nairobi 2010 is Humming!

It’s our first chai break and there’s easily 250+ people at Barcamp Nairobi 2010 already. The hashtag is #BarcampNairobi, there is a @BarcampNairobi Twitter account. We’re streaming it LIVE here.

The Barcamp Nairobi 2010 Flickr group is here.

There is blogging going on at the following links (ping me if I miss you):

KosmoReporter (Pictures)
iHub blog
Wannabe Geek (Live Blogging)
Multiplicity

Some amazing things have happened to get us to this point. Phares Kariuki led the organizing team, where people volunteered of their time to organize and create the logo. Sponsors really stepped up, including:

Ushahidi
Mocality
Seven Seas
Zuku
K24
Google Kenya
Kenya ICT Board
iHub (facility)
NaiLab (facility)

Barcamp Nairobi this Weekend

It’s that time of year again, so I hope all of you Nairobian techies, bloggers and programmers are ready for Barcamp Nairobi. [Twitter: @BarcampNairobi]

Barcamp Nairobi will take place at the iHub and NaiLab, starting at 9am on Saturday June 12th and going late into the night. It keeps going on Sunday with WhereCamp Africa, so all you geo/mapping geeks get ready.

As usual, those who get in early will get a Barcamp t-shirt, until they’re all gone.

Register here. There are already about 300 planning to attend.

A Barcamp Primer

Barcamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from participants who are the main actors of the event.”

Those who haven’t been to a Barcamp need to understand something: You make the event. It’s a very democratic event, it doesn’t matter if you’re the Permanent Secretary of a university student, if you have something people want to hear, you’ll have a chance to sign up for a time and room to talk in, and people will vote with their feet on whether or not they like your topic.

We start the morning off with a session where everyone gets a chance to put forward their topic and then sign up for a time and room. The day then begins, and it’s a madhouse of great talks and even better people and connections. Food and snacks are provided, and the new iHub coffee shop is open for you to buy your caffeinated drinks all day long. :)

Potential Topcis

  • Using my (GPS Enabled) cell phone to avoid traffic
  • Cloud Computing Applications in Kenya
  • Business Skills for Techies
  • Rural ICT
  • ICT initiatives for youth
  • Mobile Application Development
  • Using Google Fusion Tables
  • Web design, and why it’s not as good as it should be in Kenya
  • Hardware hacking
  • Tips and tricks for internet connectivity around Nairobi
  • Merging mobile and electronic commerce concepts
  • Walking-papers.org: openstreetmapping without a GPS
  • Drupal, WordPress, Joomla and other CMS hacks

Get your talk ready!

Map & Directions

The iHub is on the 4th floor of the Bishop Magua Centre, directly opposite Uchumi Hyper on Ngong Road.


View iHub – Nairobi’s Innovation Hub in a larger map

It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years since we last did this, letting 2009 slip by us… I’m really glad we’re doing this in 2010 and happy that Ushahidi is sponsoring it, as well as the iHub providing the space!

Barcamp Africa Finds a New (virtual) Home

A couple years ago, the first Barcamp unconferences started to show up around Africa. These loosely organized events end up having a large impact on the local grassroots tech scene and blogosphere. The open and unstructured format ends up fitting the African style of community and discussion around ideas and projects that just isn’t found in normal conferences.

Barcamp Africa Logo - large

The first “Barcamp Africa“, however, was a little different than the normal local events. It was put together by individuals in the US (at the Google office in California), some of whom were diaspora, and others who had a deep interest in the continent.

Maneno LogoThat was a year ago, and now the good people behind Maneno (a blogging platform made for Africa) have taken over the hosting of content around Barcamp’s that take place in Africa or that have an African focus. Beyond that, they have created a simple way for those putting on new Barcamp’s to setup an online home for it.

“The primary objective of the new BarCamp Africa hub is to encourage a continuous stream of participant driven content from African barcamps before, during, as well as after the events take place. Barcamp Africa allows each barcamp to have a simple, hosted, lightweight site specific to their event with a custom url. As an example, check out the recent barcamp’s in http://barcampafrica.com/swaziland, http://barcampafrica.com/madagascar, or the upcoming http://barcampafrica.com/abidjan. Stories published on this site as well as others on the platform aggregate to the main BarcampAfrica.com page (as well as the Maneno home page) and are exposed to the larger audience of barcampers all over Africa.”

As someone who has helped put on a couple Barcamps, I’ve found that there are really two components. First is the simple organization, which self-organizes best around a wiki – specifically the Barcamp.org wiki. Second, is the communication to everyone else around the community of the upcoming event, done best with a dedicated blog/website.

This second area, communication, is where the greatest value for organizers will be found with the new Maneno hosting for Barcamp Africa. It will be with the those who simply want to setup a site that will get them good, dedicated exposure and allow multiple people to write on it, with updates on location, place, attendees and initiatives arising out of it.

For those who haven’t tried it, Maneno has an incredibly fast loading blogging platform, specifially designed for low bandwidth areas in Africa. On top of that, it is available in local African languages that have traditionally had little web presence. Articles can be easily translated between multiple languages and sit atop one another to overcome the linguistic divide facilitating open communication between the different communities.

If you’re interested in upcoming Barcamps around Africa, check out the Barcamp Africa calendar.