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The Monrovian Analog Blogger 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the old-school dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Motherboard.TV reports, 'In Monrovia, Liberia, there’s a guy taking the matter of a lopsided, state-run media and reshaping it into a free-of-charge, independent news-aggregator—all accomplished with dry-erase board and couple markers. (Sorry, internet!) Each morning, at 10:45 AM, Alfred Sirleaf wakes up and heads down to his bulletin board to post the day’s news, culling together a slate of stories his countrymen might otherwise never see. Grateful readers line up in droves, on foot and in cars, to read these updates, in what has been described as the country's — and probably the world's — only analog blog.'"

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The Monrovian Analog Blogger

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  • Not for long... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nhytefall (1415959) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:23AM (#29907165) Journal
    He'll probably be properly "censored" soon. Can't have the state lose control of the media...

    Seriously though... props to him for taking a stand!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:27AM (#29907195)

    Just another case of "blog" being used to describe something that people have been doing for ages. And now it's suddenly all great and shiny.

    • by physicsphairy (720718) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @02:01AM (#29907389) Homepage

      I don't think people have been using the internet to aggregate information for display on public chalkboards "for ages."

      And the point is not that this is some ingenious invention to rock civilization. The point is that you have this phase boundary of (technology and free information) against (poverty and state oppression) and this guy is using his postboard to create a bridge which lets information flow across the boundary.

      It is actually a fair bit more significant than, for example, having some cool new feature designed for your next gen phone.

      • >>>I don't think people have been using the internet to aggregate information for display on public chalkboards "for ages."

        No instead they used the wire services and chalkboards. If you time-traveled to New York City in the 1890s, especially around the central business district, you'd see public chalkboards everywhere, constantly updated with the latest news. Same thing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by atheistmonk (1268392)
      I'm not fond of the term "analogue blog" for these reasons. I prefer to call it legacy blogging.
      • by xSauronx (608805)

        its a fun term, but not as fun as "bob loblaw's law blog"

        Bob Loblaw's Law Blog [ytmnd.com]

      • I'm not fond of the term "analogue blog"

        Indeed. Since the guy uses his fingers to write it, the blog is truly "digital".
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm not fond of the term "analogue blog" for these reasons. I prefer to call it legacy blogging.

        Not only that, but doesn't the "b" in blog come from "web", as in "weblog"? So a blog, by definition, is on the web. Therefore an analogue blog could only exist on an analogue web. I don't see no web in this story.

      • Well, it is a blog analogue.

      • by The-Bus (138060)

        Just use the term analblog.

        Wait...

    • Don't be a party pooper and join the web two-oh revolution. Nowadays, you hear people say snail-mail to make sure people understand it's the pen-and-paper version, biological virus to differentiate between a case of the flu and a piece of malware, or sneakernets to refer to swapping floppies (well, usb keys I guess these days).

      Technologies change all the time, and those who bathe in it every day end up having skewed ways of looking at the non-tech world. Case in point, my colleague, who's a lathe/mill opera

      • if I knew whether women who have had a baby got "freeplay"...

        That, sir, is truly funny. A perfectly good mechanical engineering term applied in a gynaecological context. :-D

        J.D. Hogg
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mwvdlee (775178)

      Well, if you watch the video and actually try and read some of what is on the blackboard, you'll see it's just somebodies opinionated, baseless and highly speculative interpretation of the news filled with misinformation and twisting of facts. So yeah, it IS just like a blog. Then again, calling it "Fox" would have been more accurate.

    • by pseudonomous (1389971) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @02:32AM (#29907523)
      If it's not a "web log", isn't it just a "log"?
      • If it's not a "web log", isn't it just a "log"?

        Yeah, but when you call it a log (or bulletin board) it's not hip anymore. Sort of like the recent article about vishing, which I gather is a scam carried out over a phone that happens to use VoIP for its connection. Now, I need to tweet my instant message to the usenet message board shared web log discussion thingy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:27AM (#29907197)

    wait til gnaa hears about this.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    it's a blog analogue! ...
    Thanks, I'll be here all night.

  • I love this idea. It's straight-up. I used to use a white-board to schedule development for the team for the day. This is even better. I love it!!
  • He could take a picture of the board and then duplicate it onto paper [wikipedia.org]. News, on pieces of paper! That way they can take the news with them to read it at home, on the train...they can share it with their family and friends. Avoid the crowds of people standing around all trying to read the same board.

    Some people might like to receive the news on pieces of paper at their home for convenience's sake. He could offer a pricing model whereby they commit to a certain number of months- and it could be called a

    • People steal copper wire in Africa, my friend. It's not that simple... Having said that, why not invent a timekeeper that you can put in your pocket? Oh... It's called a watch.
      • Hear that? That's the sound of a joke, going right over your head.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cjfs (1253208)

          Hear that? That's the sound of a joke, going right over your head.

          The only joke here is that your post was modded insightful.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Last time I checked "making fun of people who cannot afford even basic things that are outdated for us" was not particularly funny.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well what he does is read the morning newspaper and summarize the top stories and so on and puts it up for those who can't afford newspapers or other forms of media.

      He's more along the lines of a filter for the news or a free distributor.

      You could probably call him a thief if you're really up in arms about copyright. He's not going out and finding the news himself, he's taking it from actual newspapers, infringing on their copyrights. Bit of a dick move, but you could.

      Also, was he short or was it just the s

      • You could probably call him a thief if you're really up in arms about copyright. He's not going out and finding the news himself, he's taking it from actual newspapers, infringing on their copyrights. Bit of a dick move, but you could.

        It isn't an infringement of copyright (and certainly not theft) to write a precis of published content. Otherwise every literature reviewer on the planet could be pinged for the same offence.
    • by cjfs (1253208)

      Some people might like to receive the news on pieces of paper at their home for convenience's sake. He could offer a pricing model whereby they commit to a certain number of months- and it could be called a subscription.

      He explains in the video that most of his readers couldn't afford that.

    • by Paradyme (950782) *
      While the joke was appreciated, he did mention that many of the people there that use his service are the ones too poor to pay for newspapers. That was the original reason why he decided to go with this. There are places where people actually cannot afford the paper that the news would be printed on.
    • by danzvash (447536)

      I presume that, behind the smug hilarity of your post, you understand (even to some very limited extent) what conditions are like in countries like Liberia, and thus why things like newspapers and trains are not viable options for the majority.

      Or perhaps you hadn't actually heard of Liberia, and didn't in fact give a shit anyway. Perhaps you just wanted to make a comment that would fill you with a sense of self-satisfaction. Aren't you all big and clever now?

      Seriously, it makes me sad that such a smug "joke

    • by selven (1556643)

      The point is to reach the people who aren't already reading the internet because they can't pony up the money for a connection.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:54AM (#29907347)

    Each morning, at 10:45 AM, Alfred Sirleaf wakes up

    That's the kind of job I want.

    • by Krneki (1192201)

      Each morning, at 10:45 AM, Alfred Sirleaf wakes up

      That's the kind of job I want.

      Go to Africa.

    • Each morning, at 10:45 AM, Alfred Sirleaf wakes up

      That's the kind of job I want.

      I think that is too early to be healthy. This guy is a hard worker. I usually wake up at the crack of noon.

  • BB(S) (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cybereal (621599) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @01:58AM (#29907373) Homepage

    So apparently Slashdot is sooo out of touch they have forgotten why the word "Bulletin" precedes the word "Board" for a bazillion years before now? They never heard of a marquee?

    Besides, wouldn't every single printed op-ed page in every newsPAPER be an "analog blog?"

    I mean really posting news isn't even blogging, because blog is short for weblog, not webnewscaster.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by glwtta (532858)
      I mean really posting news isn't even blogging, because blog is short for weblog, not webnewscaster.

      I agreed. The obvious name for what he is doing is Analog Twitter.

      (ok, that made me hate myself)
  • This is both awesome and scary at the same time.

    Awesome because he's bringing news to the masses, in a way that they can afford it and understand it.

    Scary because he is selecting the news they get to read, and translating it first. That means he's able to put his spin on what his readers read.

    For all we know, he could be an employee of Fox News.

    • by mpoulton (689851)

      For all we know, he could be an employee of Fox News.

      Did you watch the video? I think he is. He sure likes to emphasize that the UN is the devil!

    • by wizardforce (1005805) on Thursday October 29, 2009 @02:43AM (#29907547) Journal

      All news has a certain degree of "spin" to it. It's always the readers' job to challenge what they read and thus think for themselves.

    • Erm. Could it be that pretty much every media outlet does that? It's not like all the news sites pipe out AP feeds verbatim.

      • Erm. Could it be that pretty much every media outlet does that? It's not like all the news sites pipe out AP feeds verbatim.

        Have you read the AP feeds? The AP does it as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Comboman (895500)
      While he certainly must summarize news stories to fit on his board, he doesn't need to translate. The official language of Liberia [wikipedia.org] (founded by liberated American slaves) is English.
  • Did you catch Tux @ 3:21 :)
    • A high proportion of clothing in developing countries is second hand clothing from the west. So it's likely that the guys got no idea what it is that he's wearing. Apparently the second hand clothing trade creates employment but does undermine local textile industies. People like the cloths because they are cheap and they appeal to some more than the traditional garb. Oxfam did a report (although it doesn't mention Liberia): http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/trade/downloads/research_shc.pdf [oxfam.org.uk]
  • Here we had this [wikipedia.org] before, but I suppose that similar examples can be found also in the ancient Greece.

  • what will it be when a news gets the liberia slashdot effect ?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Thank goodness he can't have comments, look at the inspiring material /. has to offer in response to one man's struggle against a state-controlled media. They used the term analog blog because he's not printing a paper or taking the news to anyone, he's putting it all up on a blackboard and people are coming from miles around to see it. And we the people of the internet have nothing better to do with our lives than pick apart the semantics of the news report and mock it because it's been done for a long tim

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tarsir (1175373)
      To be fair, pointing out that it's stupid to call it an analog blog is not a criticism of the Monrovian guy, it's a criticism of the bloggers who saw a noticeboard, and called it an analog blog. And it's a perfectly valid point. It's much like seeing Firefox, and exclaiming that Mozilla has copied IE's innovation of tabbed browsing. The causality is backwards, and displays cringe-worthy ignorance of the history of the subject matter.
  • 3:21 ftw (Score:1, Insightful)

    by dvh.tosomja (1235032)

    Did anyone else noticed that Linux nerd at 3:21? Behold Microsoft, they are everywhere, and they are spreading.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by c6gunner (950153)

      I don't think that Microsoft is worried about the "too-poor-to-buy-a-newspaper" market segment.

  • by firefarter (307327) <[chris] [at] [cecube.de]> on Thursday October 29, 2009 @03:12AM (#29907655) Homepage

    I know the tone on slashdot is more on the humorous side, but seriously, stop belittling this.

    After the war, Liberia had no functioning utilities for over 14 years - no sewage system, no water, no electricity, no telephone. Nowhere - not even in the capital!
    Without painting a stereotype, Liberians aren't exactly known for their entrepreneurship. This man should really be applauded for what he is pulling up despite difficulties.

    • In India, many (most?) people in the cities don't have sanitation, either. And they don't have a war to blame--just a pathetic government.

      • In India, many (most?) people in the cities don't have sanitation, either. And they don't have a war to blame--just a pathetic government.

        Well, I don't know much about their government, (except that on a recent trip a friend's mother had to pay off cops just to visit public areas), but I suspect the state of infrastructure has more to do with plain old momentum. It's harder to change the cultural directives of a nation once it's already established. North America had the advantage of offering a fresh star

    • by number17 (952777)
      It looks like they are doing fairly good now with cars and cell phones.
  • If it is a blog, how do I read his old posts? Yeah, he's got a few boards there with older stuff on it, but what about what he said last year? Does he have a huge stash of them and (carefully) store the old ones in a shed somewhere?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Provocateur (133110)

      He uses this thing that he wipes across the board to store it in compressed
      format; out here we normally call it an "eraser". I don't know if he has a
      drawer to keep them, and I think (like most so-called 'sysadmins') he keeps
      using the same one over and over.

      • Why is this so funny? I use the digital equivalent all the time. No need to store massive amounts of data when you can backup the md5 hash instead. It's never more than thirty-some bytes so I haven't even needed to overwrite older backups.
  • This man deserves a Nobel.
    • by cfa22 (1594513)

      This man deserves a Nobel.

      "Today's news: I have been awarded a Nobel prize."

  • I expect the copyright goons are already on their way.
  • "Blog" was the short, cool way of saying "weblog".

    Where's the web?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Check it out. There's a dude in the crowd ... in LIBERIA ... reading a CHALK BOARD BLOG ... and wearing a t-shirt clearly sporting TUX, the Linux penguin.
    Our thing is mainstream now, I guess?

  • Now, I know people change their names out of admiration for or loyalty to someone in Liberia -- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's grandfather did that to her father -- so there's no guarantee that he's any relation of the president of Liberia but I wonder.

    I looked around for the names of her four sons -- but couldn't find them. Even wikianswers had a post asking for their names, an as yet unanswered question. There's a certain amount of press-coverage density that's required before real transparency thrives. Liberi

  • Why am I still seeing this type of story?

  • At 3:20 in the video, there's a guy wearing a t-shirt with Tux on it.

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