It’s getting near the end of the weekend here in Dubai (Friday-Saturday), but it’s been a productive two days getting through a few big jobs on my to do list. One of the big ones was to go through the initial nominees (around 40) in this year’s Ivoire Blog Awards (the website is here, though as I write e-voir has been hit by a virus so the site is currently down http://e-voir.net/eba14/). I have the honour of being a judge this year. Rather prophetically I complained on Facebook a couple of months back that the Ivoire Blogging Awards were a good initiative that helped reveal the talents of Yehni Djidji and Roland Polman and yet hadn’t been repeated since 2011. As it happened, this year’s competition was days from being announced.
I follow many of the nominees in this year’s competition, but I discovered some new blogs as well. I realise there are plenty of blogs out there that haven’t been entered. For some perhaps they weren’t informed. But there are a good number that I would think haven’t entered because they belong to an earlier generation of bloggers who hope the competition can shed light on some new names, rather than give prizes to old well-known names. Jean-Luc Houedanou on his blog expressed this thought.
Some general thoughts on the exercise…
– The ivoire-blog.com platform pioneered by one of the founding fathers of blogging in Ivory Coast, Theophile Kouamouo, is still in use, but it’s definitely showing its age on the presentation front (my memory may be fading, but the design doesn’t seem to have changed in around five years). It also seems contaminated by those awful pop-ups that used to dominate that era of web-design. It was used by around four of the forty entrants, so it clearly still has a place (and of course for those who read blogs in a reader, presentation has less importance).
– Perhaps unsurprisingly, the better blogs generally have their own URLs.
– RFI’s blogging platform, monblog, seems to be more popular among the newer bloggers, many of whom bring a fresh vitality to the sector.
– I find it interesting that so few bloggers talk about politics. In many ways, that’s a huge relief from a country with such a partisan press. Blogging allows a new voice to come from a non-political space where young people can give their own opinions rather than the black and white tropes of the newspapers. Nevertheless, it’s sad that it’s still really difficult for Ivorians to talk about politics without raising heckles.
– The sorts of interest groups that are out there are quite narrow – geek/tech bloggers, fashion, poetry/creative writing and street stories. I’d prefer a few other interests to find a place (business blogging, day-to-day stories, agriculture, hobbies), but for the time being, almost all the blogging rests on young people coming with new ideas, rather than an older generation who still seem to feel the transparency/openness of blogging is un-Ivorian.